Ray Lines





Chief Executive Officer of CleanFlicks

Born c. 1960, in Utah; married Sharon; children: Rashelle, Tiffani, Elisse, Camille, Celeste, Savanna, Makenna. Education: Brigham Young University, B.A. (broadcast news).

Addresses:

Office —CleanFlicks, 533 West Center, Pleasant Grove, UT 84062.

Career

Served as a Mormon missionary in Tonga, 1978–80; worked as a sports broadcaster for an ABC–TV station in Rapid City, SD; promoted to position of sports director; moved into production work, traveling around the country in a TV production truck to cover sporting events, concerts, and conventions, 1990s; edited material he considered offensive from Titanic for rental by a video store, 1999; founded CleanFlicks chain of video rental stores, 2000.

Sidelights

CleanFlicks chief executive officer Ray Lines has raise the ire of Hollywood by renting and selling edited versions of popular movies. Lines removes from the movies he distributes material that he deems offensive, including nudity, violence, and profanity. With more than 70 successful CleanFlicks video stores around the United States, Lines has proven that he is not alone in his desire to watch sanitized films, and says he is fulfilling a definite need, particularly among those whose religious beliefs make unedited movies offensive to them. The Directors Guild of America—along with a group of

Ray Lines
movie studios—believes otherwise, however, and in 2002 named CleanFlicks and several other companies engaged in the same business in a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement.

Lines grew up in Provo, Utah. His father supported his family by working as a safety engineer while his mother was a homemaker. Early on, he developed a love of movies, fostered by weekly trips to a nearby drive–in movie theater. He later recalled the movies of those days as much cleaner and more wholesome than the movies of his adulthood. His favorite movie is It's a Wonderful Life.

After graduating from high school in 1978, Lines traveled to Tonga—a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean—as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints (the Mormon church). He returned home after two years of service, and shortly thereafter, an event occurred which was to plant the seeds of his future career: he took a girlfriend to see a movie. The film was rated PG, so he thought it would be free of any material he or his date would find offensive. He was therefore caught off guard when a woman in the firm exposed her breasts. "I was totally embarrassed," Lines later told People.

Lines attended college at Brigham Young University in Utah and graduated with a B.A. in broadcast news. Soon after graduating, he went to work at an ABC affiliate in Rapid City, South Dakota, as a weekend sports anchor. He moved up rapidly in the company, and not long after he started at the television station, he was promoted to the position of sports director. In this capacity, he anchored sports on weekdays, not only on television, but also on radio. He also broadcast play–by–play for both the professional and college sports teams in the area.

After three years as an on–air personality, Lines shifted his focus to production work, moving behind the scenes to a television production truck he put together himself. In the truck, Lines covered sporting events all over the western United States. He also branched out to cover not only sporting events, but conferences and concerts. A highlight of his career at this time was covering the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wanting to help other people avoid the embarrassment he had suffered on his date in 1980, particularly fellow Mormons, Lines put his video production skills to use by creating edited versions of popular films. For instance, in 1989, Lines used video editing equipment to remove profanity from the film Top Gun for a family member. He went on to edit films for viewing by his seven daughters.

A personal crusade turned into a career in 1999. This was when he helped a local video store cut nudity from the film Titanic. The store did need help: employees of the store, lacking Lines's skills, had resorted to using scissors to cut the offending material from the film. Lines was only too happy to show them a better way to edit video, and he soon realized that there was a wider market for cleaned–up films, especially in Utah, where 70 percent of the population is Mormon.

In 2000, Lines opened his own stores that rented edited videos. These first CleanFlicks stores were in Utah, and soon he was turning out cut versions of major Hollywood films for anyone who wanted them. His primary motivation, he told People, is to sanitize films "so that families can watch the movies in their homes."

By 2003, more than 70 video stores around the country were offering videos of films edited by Lines's company. CleanFlicks also launched a website to sell and rent movies online. Thus, Lines became the first company to widely distribute cleaned–up versions of major films. Features edited out of Clean-Flicks versions of films include sex, nudity, violence, profanity, and even bathroom humor. Lines, working with a single assistant, still does the bulk of the editing work himself.

This activity met with strong disapproval from the motion picture industry. In 2002, the Directors Guild of America, along with a group of major movie studios, named CleanFlicks, along with a dozen other companies who edit films, with copyright infringement. Lines and his colleagues, the suit argued, have no right to edit for broad distribution materials whose copyright they do not own. Lines remained resolute, saying he had every right to edit copies of films he owns. To suggest otherwise, he asserted in People , would be like trying to forbid the purchaser of a pair of jeans from making shorts out of them.

A University of Southern California law professor, Daniel Klerman, predicted that Lines and his co–defendants would lose the lawsuit because, he told People, copyright law gives movie studios the exclusive right to edit their own material. But he did acknowledge that the demand for edited movies was there, and wondered why the movie studios did not get into this business themselves. However, studios have in fact long been in the business of editing films for television and airline viewing.

Lines, for his part, feels that his company, rather than harming Hollywood, is bringing its films to audiences who would not otherwise watch many of them. Since the studios do not offer edited versions of their films to the video renting public, it is up to companies like CleanFlicks to provide them. "I'm not cramming anything down anyone's throat or campaigning for anything or trying to get Steven Spielberg to edit or direct in a certain way," Lines told Michael Janofsky in the New York Times. "I'd never do that. I'm just providing the community an option."

Sources

Periodicals

People, February 17, 2003, pp. 111–12.

New York Times, January 31, 2001, p. A11.

Online

"Executive Biographies: CEO Ray Lines," Clean-Flicks, http://www.cleanflicks.com/company/index.php?file=bios (July 11, 2003).

"Startups in Utah Clean Hollywood's Act," Wall Street Journal, http://www.startupjournal.com/ideas/services/20020720–buckman.htm (July 11, 2003).

Michael Belfiore



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