MPAA Tries Out Its New 'Up Is Down, Day Is Night' Strategy

from the how's-that-working-for-ya? dept

The MPAA has been pushing the FCC to allow it to basically add a kind of DRM to broadcasts. As it stands, the FCC blocks broadcasters from using "selectable output control" (SOC) to stop people from recording shows broadcast on television. They do this realizing that recording for the purposes of time or place shifting is perfectly legal, and allowing broadcasters to block consumer rights would be tremendously undesirable.

The movie studios, however, are trying to figure out yet another way to get money, and they want to rejigger release windows for movies. The way they're done now, movies are released to theaters, then special locations (airplanes, hotels), then DVD, then cable and finally network TV. What the studios would like to do is charge cable companies a lot of money to show movies on cable after they're in theaters but before they're released on DVD. Their (misguided) fear is that, if they show them on TV, people will record them and make them available via file sharing sites, killing off the DVD business. This is wrong on many levels, especially since high quality versions of the movies are almost always available on file sharing networks long before they are released on DVD, anyway. So, blocking the ability to record the movies on your DVR (which is what loosening SOC restrictions would do) wouldn't actually do anything to stop piracy -- but would piss off an awful lot of DVR owners out there, who want to know why they can't record the latest movies on TV.

The MPAA has been saying a lot of funny things in trying to defend its position, claiming that this form of DRM is necessary to let the studios release the movies early. That's simply wrong. There is nothing stopping the studios from releasing the movies in this manner right now. It's just their own misguided fear of people doing what they're legally allowed to do (record stuff on their TV) that's stopping them.

Yet, now, as a bunch of you have sent in, it seems the MPAA is going even further in this "up is down, black is white" argument in favor of being able to use SOC. It's claiming that it's the movie studios who are being pro-innovation here, and it's the consumer electronics companies (and consumers) who are anti-innovation:
"At its core, the position of CEA is that technology should be frozen in time, and any new services that require advanced technology should be banned," the MPAA told Adelstein on November 25. "This position is quite astonishing, coming from an organization that in the past has advocated in favor of technological innovation."
This is a neat bit of intellectual judo. Take your opponents (accurate) argument, and claim that it's actually your argument. The MPAA is lying, of course. They don't need SOC to innovate and release movies however they want. And, the CEA is quite pro-innovation, in letting consumers actually make use of their rights to record content. It's quite a statement for the MPAA to claim that taking away consumer rights is innovation. But, I guess that's what you get from a dying organization fighting for its life.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Dave, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 10:32am

    Why not?

    Why not try this tactic? It's worked for the Bush administration for the last eight years.

     

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  2.  
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    anon, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 10:38am

    i never understood SOC. it just never works... maybe im 'illegally recording' incorrectly?

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Matt, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    If only they didn't take so damn long to die! I just worry that they have too much money and power to actually die, they just might be successful in some of these crazy ideas, and then we're all screwed! Well... unless you already break the law, then who really cares right?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    mslade, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 10:52am

    Haha

    Cable TV is becoming obselete and these people want to make it less convenient for the consumer? You're right. Up is down, and inbreds are running big business.



    Hm... that might have been unfair to people who really are inbred.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Erv Server, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:09am

    boring

    This one is so unexciting, I prefer tales like the MPAA suing a single mom with 4 kids who shared a Winnie The Pooh movie or something

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:10am

    they are just tightening their own noose. I say cheer these idiots on to keep doing what they are doing so whenever I get off my fat chip eating beer drinking ass to make a company it'll be easy for me... cause I won't be an asshole!

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:15am

    Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense!

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:21am

    It could be worse

    Don't be so hard on the MPAA executives, at least they are trying something. They could do like the Banking and Auto industry execs and just go to DC to get taxpayers' billions. Then they can sustain for a little while the businesses that they have themselves destroyed, so they can milk them a little longer.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:29am

    Re: It could be worse

    They could do like the Banking and Auto industry execs and just go to DC to get taxpayers' billions.

    They may be forced to prove their economic hardship for a bailout, I have a feeling they wouldn't want to have to do that. It would be harder for them to pass the bogus numbers as reality then...I would hope anyway :)

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:32am

    This backfires

    Recently, my DVR wouldn't record an Episode of the new animated Star Wars show on cartoon network. I happened to be watching another channel at the time, so I saw the warning pop-up. I probably could have worked around it, but instead I just quit watching the show.

    Make ads interesting and non-repetitive and I'll watch the ads. Show me the same ad 400 times and I want to skip it.

    These sorts of moves can only decrease viewership.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:34am

    Mighty big words, Please provide names.

    "At its core, the position of CEA is that technology should be frozen in time, and any new services that require advanced technology should be banned,"

    That's some allegation. I would be interested in knowing who is "Stuck in Time".

    Hell, 1st Generation Mini-Dish Satellite had the capability to output the digital bitstream to TVs in 1995. It would be the equivalent of 480i, but it worked... In 1995! Then someone got in the way the HDTV standard was re-written over and over and over. I can't blame CEA for not wanting to work with these guys.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:39am

    Re:

    That's the most sense you've made all year.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Kung Fu Panda, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:41am

    Black is white...

    What astonishes me is that it still astonishes anyone what big corporations will do to earn a buck - the lie, cheat, steal and then when things don't work... ask US to bail them out.

    Basically, it's like a rapist going back to his victim and then demanding that she (or he I guess) pay for treatment of a STD they rapist caught from the victim.

    So bend over and take it like a man!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Greg, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Why not?

    I see what you're doing. You're using the liberal tactic of trying to accuse conservatives of something that liberals always do.

    Nice try, dumbass. Go troll elsewhere.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 12:14pm

    SOC is apparently already in use.

    Unless the comment was directed at OTA movies. My DVR will not allow me to record movies from premium channels despite the fact I'm paying for the damn thing.

    At any rate, and to sidetrack a bit, I'm getting pretty sick and tired of the entertainment industry screwing consumers. Since the DVR was mentioned, I don't find it a coincidence TV schedules are purposely programmed despite the show actually running over.

    For example, Heroes has been programmed for 9pm-10pm, yet it clearly runs into the 10pm slot.

    I'm guessing these assholes do this on purpose as to force you to give up trying to record additional shows, given many people often record two shows (the limit) at once.

    Mike, you need to focus your blogs on the dying entertainment industry as it's quite clear people are finding other alternatives rather than stick with movies, music, and TV which they pay for.

    Hell, even I'm about to give up cable TV. All I'm doing is paying for ads which I do NOT believe is "content" worth paying for. ;)

     

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  16.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Dec 4th, 2008 @ 12:22pm

    Re: SOC is apparently already in use.

    I would almost guess its because Heroes freaking rocks (in my opinion) so the ads probably have to pay more to air during the show.
    Although, I would not be shocked in the slightest to find out your thoughts are true and they are doing it to "combat" dvrs.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    John, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 12:46pm

    Re: SOC is apparently already in use.

    My DVR will not allow me to record movies from premium channels despite the fact I'm paying for the damn thing.

    Wow. That's evil. Who are you with?

    I don't find it a coincidence TV schedules are purposely programmed despite the show actually running over.

    Shameless plug: there's a super easy 3-click process to "start recoding ontime" or add buffer to either beginning or ending of the recording in Tivo.

    I'm not up to date on SOC, and if it's related to HDCP. I read in the Ars Technica article that it may be loosely tied into HDCP. If true, many early adopters have TVs are not HDCP compliant, and the number of affected TVs may be in the millions. Is there any truth to this?

     

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  18.  
    icon
    Mark Rosedale (profile), Dec 4th, 2008 @ 1:22pm

    Pot calling the Kettle Black

    The MPAA is the one stuck in time. They are stuck in the 90's where they thought that DRM was necessary to compete. Great article Mike I hope one day the MPAA will figure out how to compete in a modern day market place.

    @Twinrova I use MythTV and I can setup any recording to start either ontime or with whatever buffer I decide. It is a little bit of a pain if I were recording 2 shows back to back, because it just wouldn't record the second show, but that doesn't normally happen to me. So my dvr still works.

    I should also add that recently I am finding the streaming options from various stations rather compelling. I am really thinking about dropping TV altogether and opting for the streaming method...but I only do basic anyway so what is $10 a month?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Why not?

    oh stop bitching

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Ben, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 4:09pm

    They're not worried about piracy

    I don't understand why anyone takes what the MPAA says at face value. They talk about piracy because that gets them traction, but they're not the least bit worried about piracy with respect to SOC, and that should be obvious.

    They don't want people to record stuff on their Tivo and watch it later. And then just keep it on their Tivo forever and watch it again whenever they want.

    Similary DRM is almost never really about piracy, it's about making you buy the same thing over and over again. Making it so that if your sister owns a movie, you have to buy it too if you want to watch it. Everyone in the family should have to buy their own copy and then buy another copy if they want to watch it on their TV or on their laptop or on their iPhone.

    It's about *control*

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 4:55pm

    These wouldn't be the same movie companies that flocked to California to, among other things, avoid paying royalties to Edison? Maybe the decedents of Edison should be suing the MPAA?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    farkus, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 5:16pm

    Re: They're not worried about piracy

    You are absolutely right. That is has been mentioned many times on this website. It is absolutely about control, but certainly part of that is an irrational fear about piracy, or at least to say that piracy threatens that control. So maybe it isn't directly piracy, but eventually can come down to that.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    cram, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 5:50pm

    funny stuff

    for those who haven't checked it out yet:

    http://tinyurl.com/4acnsc

    Funny, true and makes you want to kick the MPAA.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    unphazed, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 7:53pm

    Don't really care anymore

    I stopped supporting the Follywood machine long ago. Dropped cable, don't bother with the crap that does show up on a set of rabbit ears (its all infomercials, or crap like Maury Povich anyway). IF (and its a BIG *IF*) anything worthwhile does come along that I want to see, I torrent it, watch it and toss it.

    Seriously, all they seem to be able to produce are superhero movies and crappy remakes of 60's & 70's tv shows. Who cares if I don't get to see that garbage? I'd rather lay face down in a shallow water-filled ditch than pay to get in a movie theater to experience slow brain death.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 10:08pm

    What a remarkably pleasant surprise it would be if people actually took the time to read each of the MPAA petitions pending before the FCC prior to ranting, is essence, that the MPAA is the "devil incarnate.

    Perhaps after doing so many people may still disagree with the petitions being granted, but at least they would be doing so with some semblance of information describing the pros and cons, and not simply on "pavlovian" reliance to what is posted ad nauseum on anti-MPAA (and likewise anti-RIAA) blogs that at best cherry-pick statements for presentation.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:10pm

    Re:

    What a remarkably pleasant surprise it would be if people actually took the time to read each of the MPAA petitions pending before the FCC prior to ranting, is essence, that the MPAA is the "devil incarnate.

    MLS, what a remarkably pleasant surprise it would be if folks like MLS actually took the time to understand the positions the people here are talking about, before making slightly oblique statements in elitist tones, suggesting that everyone else is a moron.

    Perhaps, after doing so, we might still disagree, but at least people wouldn't think that you weren't so condescending and obnoxious without bothering to understand anyone's opposing views.

    I guess that would just be too difficult.

    Btw, why DO you no longer use your initials when you post here?

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Comboman, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 4:34am

    Pay-per-view

    I thought pay-per-view movies on cable and satellite already had the SOC flag.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re:

    MPAA Tries Out Its New 'Up Is Down, Day Is Night' Strategy

    You set the tone with a headline, base your information on another blog article, and then mention nothing about the totality of the actual petitions in which the quote appears, and a partial quote at that that I believe is taken out of context.

    If it is obnoxious to note that positions and opinions are being made without a factual foundation, then I plead guilty.

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'll note that you still haven't answered why you no longer use your name?

    If it is obnoxious to note that positions and opinions are being made without a factual foundation, then I plead guilty.

    Noting that positions are made without factual foundation (which, in actuality is factually incorrect in this case, but I'll let that slide) is perfectly fine. But that's not what you did. You made a snide condescending remark suggesting everyone here is a moron WITHOUT actually providing a SINGLE ounce of support as to why you were right.

    That's obnoxious.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Whether I use initials of just the default you provide is irrelevant. It does not seem to confuse you in the least, nor does this seem to be an issue whenever anyone else uses the default.

    You are the one who called me "obnoxious" and that I was suggesting people were "morons". If pointing out the obvious is obnoxious, then so be it. However, it is you who used the word "moron", and certainly not me. If you read my post you will note I was merely lamenting the fact that it seemed no one making comments had actually read the petitions before the FCC. Had they done so they would have learned that the issue is much narrower than as you describe, not to mention they would have seen the full quote in context.

    You hold yourself out as an expert on the subjects you write about. Assuming, arguendo, this is the case, then at the very least I would expect a balanced presentation. You have done so in other of your articles, but in my opinion this is not the case with this article.

    As I noted in my above post, the actual petitions do help to place the matter in context. You do not have to agree with what they say, but at least you would have a basis for explaining why you believe all or portions of them are incorrect.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Dave, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Why not?

    Exactly. They want as much as they can get for the DVDs. They would rather trample our rights to unnecessarily re-enforce theirs.

     

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


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