by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
blocking, business models, drm, dvrs, fcc, mpaa, soc

Hollywood Takes Another Crack At Getting Permission To Break Your DVR

from the they-just-won't-stop dept

The movie studios and the MPAA have been pushing hard over the last year to get the FCC to let them use "selectable output control" to basically block DVRs from recording certain broadcasts of movies. Their somewhat creative (but totally ridiculous) argument is that this would allow more consumer choice. Now, you might ask how limiting what consumers can do with products they already purchased can possibly allow more consumer choice, but this is where the MPAA tries to play a bit of a jedi mind trick. It claims that if it's allowed to block recording of movies, then it would add another window to its windowed release program of movies (i.e., theater -> special locations (airplanes/hotels) -> DVD -> cable TV -> network TV). If they can break your DVR, they claim that they'll also release it to TV before it's even out on DVD.

Now, it doesn't take much thought to see the logical flaw in the MPAA's plan, but since some politicians are a bit slow, we'll spell it out for them. You don't need to block recording to release the movies early. There's absolutely nothing stopping the MPAA from offering this "consumer choice" right now. The MPAA is simply trying to confuse politicians into thinking that they can't possibly add this other way to get paid for the same content without this DVR-breaking DRM. The simple fact is that (a) selectable output control won't stop the movies from being recorded by some and (b) it won't stop the movies from being offered in unauthorized format online. It won't do a damn thing to stop "piracy." But it will annoy an awful lot of people who bought a DVR to record what they see on TV and are seriously pissed off at why they can't actually make the product they bought work legally.

In other words, it's not at all about "expanded consumer choice." It's about giving the MPAA another way to block legitimate watchers from doing perfectly legal time shifting of the content on their TV.

The good news was that when Kevin Martin ran the FCC, he turned down the MPAA. Though we heard mixed reasons on why (one story is that he tried to do some "horse trading" whereby he would give the MPAA what it wanted if they would side with him on things like a la carte cable), it at least kept the MPAA down. Of course, with Martin gone, it hasn't taken long at all for the movie studios to rush right back up to the new FCC yammering on and on about "expanded consumer choices." Hopefully Michael Copps (the temporary FCC boss) and the rest of the FCC are smart enough to recognize that you don't expand consumer choice by breaking their DVRs.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 1:45pm

    Great argument, MPAA

    It ranks right up there with breaking your kneecaps to expand your mobility.

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

  2. identicon
    Jeff Rife, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 1:57pm

    Since "selectable output control" requires that the DVR support it in some way, older commercial DVRs and any homebrew DVRs (MythTV, for example) won't respect this and will allow recording.

    And, what we all know--but what the MPAA forgets--is that just one non-compliant DVR will allow the content to be shared on the Internet.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 2:28pm


    You underestimate the power of congress to pass laws prohibiting the use, manufacturing, or distribution of devices which fail to respect their broadcast flag.

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

  4. identicon
    hegemon13, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 2:36pm


    My guess is that viewing the content will require some sort of "handshake" which would simply disallow older/homebrew DVRs from viewing the content at all.

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

  5. identicon
    hegemon13, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Great argument, MPAA

    Yes, then you get the convenience of wheels with the option of a electric motor.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re:

    What sort of handshaking takes place with an over-the-air broadcast? Aren't TV broadcasts one-way streets? Otherwise, TV stations wouldn't need Neilsen to tell them who watched what -- they'd just ask your TV what you're watching.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    They do this and I'll cancel all my shit.. I really hate these bastards.. Someone needs to take a shot at one or five of them.. Let them know that we think they can kiss our asses.

    Dam Nazi ass bastards.

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

  8. icon
    ConceptJunkie (profile), Feb 6th, 2009 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Re:

    However, you are overestimating the government's ability to enforce laws that couldn't possibly be enforced. Of course, it's still dangerous. We're not far from a point where anyone deemed an enemy of any politician can easily be found to have committed some violation of our byzantine and draconian Federal laws.

    How different is a maze of unknowable, unenforceable laws from complete tyranny and utter anarchy at the same time?

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

  9. identicon
    Overcast, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 3:40pm

    lol, I already play more video games and read that watch TV - I guess they are hoping I'll watch even less?

    Would save me money.. I go do some decent upgrades ditching cable, DVR, and not buying any new TV's.

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

  10. identicon
    Car Mechanic, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 3:54pm

    MPAA's Car needs work

    It's been a long time since they've been in to have work done. So, here's the initial tab:

    The Blinkerfluid needs changing,
    Muffler Bearings and carburetor belts need replacing,
    Hollow Plug Wires are not hollow anymore.
    Let's also replace that seasonal Tire Air while your here too.

    But the regular mechanic is out this week. We'll have to buy new tools so he can work-- like a left handed screwdriver set.

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

  11. identicon
    kantill, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 4:05pm

    Already been covered???

    Maybe this has been already covered in one of the many post like this but where the hell did the riaa and mpaa come from and who was the asshole who put them in charge??????????????????????????????????????

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

  12. identicon
    ToySouljah, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Re:

    How much you want to bet that the "handshake" required to view the content will be cracked by the time it hits the market? lol

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

  13. identicon
    BillDem, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 11:46pm

    You underestimate the stupidity of our government

    All of our elected officials are easily frightened and manipulated by the rantings of big media. Remember their declaration that piracy was much worse than terrorism? The idiots in Washington even fell for that retarded rhetoric. The DMCA is clear evidence of Washington's lack of technological understanding and their willingness to suck the ass of every big media lawyer and lobbyist.

    Do you really believe the people sitting at the desks now are any smarter than the last bunch? I doubt it, but I'd love to be proven wrong. *shrug*

    In reality, our officials haven't protected the rights of consumers for decades now. They are prostituting themselves to whoever has the most cash. Our only real hope for a better future is to put the RIAA and MPAA out of business by boycotting the products of their member companies. If these evil organizations have no money, the politicians will stop climbing into bed with them.

    If I purchase the right to use a piece of media, I should damn well be able to use it on any device I own. Restricting that ability in any way will only encourage law-abiding folks to become pirates. These morons should stop attacking the people who actually PAY them to use their media and start going after the real criminals - those who are illegally making money copying their products. Maybe then, people wouldn't hate them so much.

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

  14. identicon
    Negrodamus, Feb 7th, 2009 @ 6:42am

    Fuck these niggers and there piece of shit content they call TV, Movies, and Music

    Let all of the die and brun in the pits of hell

    The artist themselves should be charged with sedition, for trying to make money off of their works

    For the better good people should not be compensated for their talents

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

  15. identicon
    Linicx, Feb 8th, 2009 @ 2:35am

    Re: Great argument, MPAA

    There isn't anything better than common sense combined with humor. Thanks for the laugh!

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

  16. identicon
    Chris, Feb 8th, 2009 @ 7:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Except that a lot of people ignore these laws, and circumvent any technology used to enforce them.

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

  17. identicon
    linda Paquette, Apr 11th, 2009 @ 12:36pm


    I recently visited Hollywood and this is my perception:

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

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