MPAA Freaks Out In Response To FCC's Revised Set Top Box Plan

from the because-of-course-they-would dept

So Karl has already pointed out the ridiculousness of Comcast complaining about the new FCC set top box proposal — a proposal that is basically identical to the one that Comcast itself had proposed in response to the FCC’s original, more comprehensive set top box proposal. And a bunch of other organizations have rushed out statements slamming the FCC proposal as well, despite their previous support for an “app-based” solution.

And now the MPAA has stepped into this mess with a hilariously misleading, to downright false, claim that this revised proposal still violates copyright law:

If Chairman Wheeler’s revised proposal is as it has been described to MPAA members and others in meetings, it still amounts to a compulsory copyright license that the FCC does not have authority to grant. The MPAA does not support compulsory licenses, has never supported compulsory licenses, and we cannot do so here. Whether through a licensing body subject to FCC review or otherwise, the FCC must not encroach upon copyright holders’ discretion in how they exercise or license the exclusive rights Congress granted them in section 106 of the Copyright Act, or jeopardize the security of their content, as the Copyright Office explained in its expert analysis.”

Except, of course, there’s nothing in there that’s a copyright issue at all (just as there was nothing in the original proposal). The new proposal doesn’t impact copyright licensing at all. Just read it. It only requires that TV providers offer apps that are fully controlled by the provider, enabling subscribers to then access licensed content. There is no infringement here. There is no compulsory license. The TV providers still have the same license they’ve always had with the content providers. The end users still have the same contract they’ve always had with the TV providers. The only difference is that end users might not have to rent expensive boxes any more, and now the TV providers will make apps available to those subscribers, which can work on various boxes to access the same licensed content.

The complaint here is really about the loss of control for the cable providers and the ability to shake down the public in renting boxes. The MPAA’s ridiculous complaint seems to be that it doesn’t like the content being made available on new devices without some sort of additional payment. But that’s not the law, and it’s certainly not copyright law. For years, we’ve known that it’s legal to use other devices to access content — the VCR and DVRs have both been declared legal. The MPAA’s complaint here is basically that it doesn’t like the fact that those court cases have gone against it, and it’s trying to pretend they did not.

There is no additional licensing that needs to be done to record TV or movies via a VCR or DVR, just as there is no additional licensing necessary here to make apps available on other devices. The licensed providers aren’t doing anything different — and the content is not going to any unauthorized party. This is just the MPAA (and others) flipping out because they hate the idea that they’re losing any amount of control.

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Comments on “MPAA Freaks Out In Response To FCC's Revised Set Top Box Plan”

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jilocasin (profile) says:

Compulsary licensing closes some windows

Just like in the music industry, a blanket compulsory license to all major manufactures would limit their ability to discriminate like they currently can.

As things stand, they can demand that Tivo remove certain features, or not allow any content at all on Apple TV if they want. If the FCC’s plan goes through, as long as the consumer has a cable subscription and that cable subscription includes those channels/movies, they can no longer say that XBOX and Roku are O.K., but PS3/4 and Apple TV are out.

The MPAA are all about the windows; staggered releases, different pricing depending on format and geography are unfortunately all to common.

Personally, the sooner we get to the point where they either release it everywhere at once or not at all, the better off we will all be.

TruthHurts (profile) says:

MPAA / RIAA - Not government entities

I guess I’d say that it’s a damned good thing that neither the MPAA nor the RIAA are government entities.
That means that nothing they say or do means anything when it comes to the discussion of copyright or in this case cable-boxes.

It’s funny that they are asking congress “not to free up” billions of dollars that the consumers could spend in other ways, perhaps even going out to more “movies” or buying more “music”.

Wait, what’s that you say? They just stepped on their own detachable penises with track cleats? Yup, they sure did.
They just backed the cable industry in keeping RIAA/MPAA member corporate profits lower than they could be if they supported the end of the cable-box monopolies.

Jim says:

More Than Just a Loss of Control

The entertainment industry isn’t just afraid of loss of box rental and recording/time-shifting control, they’re afraid of what features a true third-party app developer could add to a cable-subscription access app running on a Roku, Fire, etc.

A quick example would be, to collect data, that only the user could see, about how much a viewer actually watches each channel, either live and/or on delay. This would exacerbate one of the industry’s biggest problems, the bundling issue, where viewers are tired of paying for what they don’t watch. If you know exactly what you’re watching, you might find that you’re watching a lot less of a channel than you thought, and thus would demand either a lot fewer channels (the “skinny bundle”) or even a la carte.

Pissedoff Vet says:

Re: More Than Just a Loss of Control

We dumpped Cable after a 1985 house fire. Moved where it was not available. Didn’t miss it. Then bought Satellite. Dumped it about six years ago. As you talked about we paid for bundles for a small amount of real entertainment. We do use Internet boxes for the online crap but we have a hell of a lot more contol for what we buy and actually watch. We pay for two monthly systems at eight bucks average. More entertainment than we ever had with options still open for much more. Bye Dish, DircTV and to double hell with Comcast! Reall criminal all of them.

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