Last month, we reported that the MPAA was petitioning the FCC to allow the MPAA to shut down the analog outputs of your cable and satellite boxes when viewing certain material. Now it's your chance to actually do something about it. The FCC has a petition that you can fill out until June 25 to voice your opinion. (Put 08-82 in the first field to identify this docket.) What is the MPAA trying to do?
The MPAA wants to start offering pay-per-view, video-on-demand movie releases significantly earlier than before, closer to the theatrical release than the DVD/Blu-ray release dates. However, to protect themselves against piracy, they want the FCC to allow the MPAA to use a feature on cable boxes that shuts down the analog outputs (selectable output controls, or SOCs,) which don't have the copy protection that the digital signals use. If your HDTV is pre-HDMI, or you use the analog outputs for whatever reason, you're SOL.
In their proposal, the MPAA states they want to "provide high value, high definition content to consumers prior to the normal release date of prerecorded media (e.g.,DVDs) for general in-home viewing. Such a valuable offering necessarily would require a higher level of protection against copyright theft than is currently permissible under the Commission's rules, and therefore requires a waiver of the current rule restricting the exercise of selectable output control." The MPAA says these movies necessarily would require a higher level of protection? They don't require anything at all if you trust consumers. It should be noted that they only want to use the SOC restriction until the movie is released on DVD/Blu-ray.
Although SOCs exist, a ruling in 2003 restricted their use. Now, the MPAA wants to use them to protect their property. The problem is, it's putting restrictions on consumers who've paid, legally, to watch a movie, and they should be able to view that movie however they wish. I guess everyone's entitled to their opinion. Let your opinion count. Let us, and more importantly, let the FCC hear your voice. —Leslie Shapiro
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