MPAA Asks FCC For Control Of Your TV's Analog Outputs

The Motion Picture Association of American wants to rent movies to TV viewers earlier in the release window, but they don’t want anyone potentially streaming that video out to other appliances. That’s why last week they went back to the FCC to once again ask for the power to disable analog ports on consumer television sets.

This capability is called selectable output control or SOC, and the FCC banned it back in 2003. SOC would allow “service operators, such as cable companies, to turn off analog outputs on consumer electronics devices, only allowing digital plugs” such as HDMI. The MPAA is arguing that if they could directly turn those plugs on and off, they could offer more goods to consumers and therefore make everyone happier.

But that’s not what over a dozen public interest groups think, notes Home Media Magazine:

[Groups] including Public Knowledge, the Digital Freedom Campaign, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Consumer Federation of America and the Media Access Project, are fighting the MPAA over the request, saying it puts control of privately owned consumer electronics into the hands of the movie industry, hurts TiVo and Slingbox owners, and leaves out consumers who own TVs without digital connections.

“The MPAA has failed to provide a reason as to why the limited interests of its six member movie studios should be allowed to outweigh the interests of those consumers that will be forced to replace over 20 million television sets and countless other devices in order to view content that their current equipment is capable of displaying,” the Nov. 4 letter from the interest groups reads. “Furthermore, granting the waiver effectively would allow MPAA member companies to control the types of connections and features offered to all U.S. consumers, forcing consumer electronics designers and manufacturers to agree to almost any consumer-unfriendly conditions just to display SOC content.”

Here’s a video from Public Knowledge that addresses SOC. (Hey Public Knowledge guys, record your audio in a room with less background noise!)

“MPAA, Consumer Groups Battle Over FCC Waiver” [Home Media Magazine]
“MPAA Wants to Control TVs in Your Home; Consumer Groups Fight Back” [The Wrap]
Public Knowledge page on SOC [Public Knowledge]

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