In the course of his long career, Sen. Orrin Hatch has often gone to bat for Utah’s families. Telling examples are his leadership in creating CHIP — the Children’s Health Insurance Program — and his advocacy of the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. These efforts form a significant chapter of the enduring legacy he will leave after his retirement.
Thirteen years ago I worked with Sen. Hatch and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, to pass the Family Movie Act of 2005, which provided critical protection for technology that allows families to filter mature content from movies and video entertainment in the home. The bill was supported by Utah families, but vigorously opposed by the Hollywood studios, which lobbied heavily and spread campaign contributions liberally across Congress.
Despite these efforts from the studios to block the bill, Hatch stood his ground, sponsored the Family Movie Act and spearheaded its passage. Having a front-row seat, I can attest that for Sen. Hatch it was a principled effort on behalf of families and in support of his constituents.
Fast forward 13 years and the same battle is once again being fought, in the courts and in Congress, led by Disney’s assault against the family filtering industry. This time, the war is over filtering for streaming video, which is how most of today’s families watch movies. Disney and its coalition of studios have unleashed an onslaught of litigation in another effort to deny families the right to control what content is viewed privately in their homes. This time their target is VidAngel, the leader in filtering technology for video streaming services.
The simple solution on behalf of families would be to update the Family Movie Act of 2005 to clarify that it covers streaming. Without this legislative protection, the big movie studios, with their battalions of lawyers and bottomless coffers, will deal a death-blow to the family filtering industry by limiting it to DVD and prohibiting streaming. And while it may sound a bit melodramatic, there’s only one man in Washington with the clout to save family filtering through legislation — Sen. Orrin Hatch. And common sense suggests that less exposure to explicit sex and graphic violence would benefit children.
If Hatch wants to put a capstone on his legacy of defending families, this is the way to do it. One approach might be to add a Family Movie Act update to a bill Hatch recently introduced to protect the rights of music creators in the world of streaming music. It’s another interesting parallel to the 2005 FMA, which was joined with the first anti-piracy legislation for movies — something the studios desperately wanted — resulting in a win-win.4 comments on this story
Hatch has already weighed in on the issue, sending a letter to the MPAA urging the studios to allow filtering for streaming services. So far, the studios have seemingly ignored his request. So now it’s time for the senator to take action, like he did in 2005.
On behalf of the 180,000 people who have signed an online petition, many of them Utahns, and the dozens of prominent family, children and faith advocates across the country who have voiced their support, we plead for Hatch to once again demonstrate his leadership and commitment to children and families and introduce legislation that will save the filtering industry.
That’s legislation that will benefit generations of families. That’s the stuff legacies are made of.