FCC Grants Hollywood Control Over Your TV

Hollywood wants you to watch new release movies at home, but it doesn't want you copying them to the internet. They just got some help from the FCC, who granted them permission to remotely disable analogue streams from pay TV boxes.

The MPAA has spent years trying to get the FCC to waive its ban on Selectable Output Control, seeking the power to disable analogue streams in the name of piracy prevention. They're particularly worried about the piracy of films that are still in cinemas, as they start to offer such films to viewers at home on demand.

The FCC's decision ostensibly only applies to these new movies - cable companies only get SOC powers for a 90 day window, or until the DVD release - and all of this business really only concerns older HDTVs that connect to set top boxes with component cables (there's already all sorts of DRM that keeps digitally transmitted content under lock and chain). So the FCC won't be able to fiddle with analogue users' existing content, they'll just be able to prevent them from getting the new stuff, which isn't all that bad, because there's already more stuff on demand than any one person could ever watch.

But still, this sort of thing sets a dangerous precedent, as many have been quick to point out. The FCC maintains that giving Hollywood these controls is the only way for consumers to get cinema movies in their homes, but if this decision turns out to be the thin end of the SOC wedge, I imagine a lot of people will wish they could've said, "thanks but no thanks". [Wired and Ars]

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