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.