MPAA Asks FCC To Allow It To Block DVR Recording Of Certain Movies

from the winning-fans-all-over dept

The entertainment industry lobbyists are basically working ever possible angle to get more "control" over its content. We've already seen how they mess with the legislation process and the international treaty process, and now they're trying to use the FCC as well (not for the first time, either). The latest is that the MPAA is asking the FCC to remove certain restrictions that forbid it from blocking the recording of certain movies and from downgrading the ability to record certain movies. Basically, the MPAA is asking the FCC let it make use of "Selectable Output Control" to keep its rapidly disappearing "release windows" business model possible.

As you probably know, the movie business has worked for many years on the model of "release windows," where films first show up in theaters, then at special locations (hotels/airplanes), followed by video, then PPV, cable and finally network TV. This is a legacy of an old business model, where the studio had a lot more control over content -- but it makes less and less sense these days, in a world where people have a lot more options for their entertainment time and money. These "windows" have been shrinking, because that's exactly what the customers demand -- and it actually has worked out well for the studios, because with shorter windows they actually get more benefit from a single advertising campaign plus consumers are happier since they have more options about how they consume the content. But the industry is so focused on these windows, that when anyone dares to upset the norm, they freak out.

The latest situation is because the studios want to keep this totally unnecessary window process in place. So they're asking the FCC to let it either degrade recordings or block recordings of movies if they occur before the movies go to DVD/video rental. The MPAA reasoning behind this is pure bunk, claiming that it would encourage more people to buy HDTVs, speeding up the transition to digital TV. There are multiple inaccuracies in this claim by the studios. First, while HDTV's are digital, one does not need to upgrade to HDTV to switch to digital TV. More importantly, basically, the studios are pretending that it's someone else's fault that they're unwilling to put good HDTV content on TV. They're basically saying "oh, if you let us block copying, then we'll put much more good content on TV." That's hard to believe for a variety of reasons. There's plenty of demand for content on TV, and if the studios aren't willing to put on good content, then others are finding plenty of ways to fill in the gaps.

Furthermore, there's nothing stopping the studios from releasing movies earlier. Claiming that they need this extra copy protection is a myth. The copy protection won't actually stop copies from being made. "Professional" pirates will easily get around the protection schemes. The only people who won't are your average home family user, who the industry is trying to screw over by making them pay over and over again for the same content. Besides, even the FCC knows that the MPAA's argument is incorrect. In its own report, it stated:
"In particular, we are concerned that selectable output control would harm those 'early adopters' whose DTV equipment only has component analog inputs for high definition display, placing these consumers at risk of being completely shut off from the high-definition content they expect to receive."
In other words, for every person that "more HDTV content" encourages to upgrade, you're probably going to get more than one person pissed off that their DVR can't record that content. Hopefully the FCC tells the MPAA that its regulatory power isn't designed to let it prop up an obsolete business model.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    freakengine, Jun 9th, 2008 @ 10:00pm

    I don't get it...

    How does bloacking DVRs from recording movies have anything to do with release windows? By the time the movies are available on cable (and DVR recordable) most release windows will have come and gone.

     

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  2.  
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    woodhead, Jun 9th, 2008 @ 10:50pm

    I have an idea...

    ...how the MPAA can make more money! Make a DVD player with a chip in it that has the owners credit card information stored. That way every time a DVD is inserted the MPAA can charge the viewer for watching the movie AGAIN! It's BRILLIANT!





    I should get that copyrighted so I can sue them when they use my idea.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 12:08am

    @1

    When it comes out on PPV you can record it on the dvr, that means you wont watch it when it comes out on Hbo or whatever and then you definetley wont watch it when it comes out on network tv

     

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  4.  
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    Ulle, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 12:13am

    This is just my 2 cents but if the studios really want to make more money why dont they try making quality movies again?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 12:28am

    Re:

    That is crazy talk

     

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  6.  
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    Paul`, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 2:22am

    Re:

    Because they already make stupid amounts of money, despite the way they are crying all the time, with the shit quality movies they make these days.

     

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  7.  
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    Moi, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 2:35am

    RE: woodhead

    dude, dont give them any more silly ideas ! Besides, i might just implement this ;) jk.

    The problem as i see it is that in this day & age they need to release film GLOBALLY a the same time. Here int he UK its sometimes MONTHS before we get flims. No excuse in this day & age. I'll stick to torrents thank you.

    This is all about CONTROL. When will they learn, Bluray has already been hacked.

    There are already Varying Standards on Bluray. Seems like a case of they want to force us over so that they can restrict more.

    Sry guys but i'll stick to torrents which are COMPLETELY unrestricted, DRM free, Advert free.

    MPAA, you lose AGAIN.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 4:25am

    Gee, remember when Disney used to re-release all of it's old movies like "Cinderella" and "Snow White" every seven years or so to cash in on the next generation of rugrats? That was like having a license to print money!

     

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  9.  
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    Ima Fish, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 5:45am

    "This is a legacy of an old business model, where the studio had a lot more control over content -- but it makes less and less sense these days, in a world where people have a lot more options for their entertainment time and money."

    God, you've got that right. In a world when you can download a screener of a movie the day it's released in the theater for free, this delayed "window" crap is nonsense. The studios should fully release the different forms of their movies at the same time. Let the market work out how people want to see them.

     

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  10.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 5:48am

    it's funny

    These kind of restrictions have a tendency to piss of the legit users and one pirate... for about 5 minutes.

     

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  11.  
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    Ima Fish, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 6:10am

    Re: it's funny

    Yep, but not only will it piss of legit users it will turn him or her into a so called pirate.

    This move by the MPAA is extremely petty. You can get any movie you want for free, and plenty in 720p HD, via bittorrent, and yet the MPAA is concerned about people time shifting movies?!

    I'm thinking of the captain of the Titanic worried about silverware and napkin placement while his ship is sinking.

     

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  12.  
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    hegemon13, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 6:16am

    Ridiculous and self-defeating

    Does the MPAA not realize that PPV customers are PAYING customers? By the time a movie comes out on PPV, there are plenty of cheap/free ways of getting it. One can rent it at a Redbox for a dollar and make a copy, or get it for free from a torrent site. The people buying a PPV movie are choosing to pay, and they are paying MORE than any other rental method. So, now the MPAA wants to take away the feature of convenience that drives those sales? Do they really not realize that taking an item whose sales rely solely on convenience and removing the convenience means that those paying customers will no longer pay?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 6:50am

    Re: Ridiculous and self-defeating

    This is like talking to my 3yo about sharing his toys with his little brother. All We hear is 'not yours, not yours'. Along with the screaming and crying. MPAA/RIAA are doing exactly the same thing. Glad to know that these needle dicks grew up to be as mature as my 3yo.

    Way to go natural selection.

     

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  14.  
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    Hulser, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 8:57am

    Re: I have an idea...

    I should get that copyrighted so I can sue them when they use my idea.

    Too late. Circuit City already tried basically what you're talking about with DIVX a few years ago and it failed miserably. DIVX died the horrible death it deserved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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