The MPAA wants to control your DVR

by James

Seeking permission from the Federal Communications Commission (an no doubt buying … er … lobbying for the right to do so) the Motion Picture Association of America has requested a hearing from the FCC to determine if the MPAA has the right to allow video distributors to block digital video players from recording movies on television. Swell.

The practice, known as “Selectable Output Control,” is currently banned by the FCC. But with the deadline for HD broadcast rapidly coming in February, the MPAA is seeking a waiver to protect the Hollywood community, and DVD sales, when a movie is broadcast prior to DVD release.

The FCC proceeding, which includes a public comment period through July 7, was very quietly opened Friday. The MPAA, working on behalf of all the major studios, retained the services of former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy to clear away the red tape and keep their intentions hush hush until the public comment period had nearly expired. Fortunately, this quiet request has perked the ears of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRCC) who both oppose the waiver request.

The reason for the request is that the studios want to speed up their broadcast release schedule by releasing films through multichannel video programming distributors before DVD. Ordinarily, a movie’s three year distribution life goes from theaters, to airline and hotel pay per view, then DVD distribution about three months after that. The MPAA has assured the FCC that once films have run through the DVD sale/rental stage it’s blocking of a broadcast film will cease.

One has to appreciate the MPAAs position to a certain extent since High Definition movies, plus DVRs plus DVD burners equals a prescription for piracy. But it’s profoundly disturbing that Hollywood seeks the power to determine when we can and cannot use our own video property.

Hat Tip – Ars Technica

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