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FCC mulls blocking users from recording films on DVR

boxed in to buying DVD set instead
Mon Jun 09 2008, 12:26

IT LOOKS LIKE yet another roadblock is to be plonked down in the way of digital television transition. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has petitioned the FCC to block people from recording newly released films on their DVRs before they are officially released as DVDs.

The move means that people who shelled out for a DVD recorder may now be limited in what they can and can’t record from satellite, cable, and even broadcast TV.

How? All thanks to a little built in Selectable Output Control (SOC) switch, already lurking inside every DVR player out there. The FCC can decide when to activate these switches, making it impossible to record a programme, even if you have (and paid for) the right equipment.

Apparently, the MPAA reckons that this move will help to protect the ‘poor’ studios who want to make money from people buying the high definition DVD movie release in its shiny, overpriced packaging, rather than simply recording it from the television for free.

As could be expected, consumer advocates are up in arms about the MPAA’s request, with the likes of the Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC) calling on the FCC to play fair and avoid creating, what could well turn out to be, a rather slippery slope. The organisation also points out that if the move went ahead, people would be far less likely to purchase DTV, which the FCC is supposedly an advocate of.

But the plot thickens with reports of dodgy insider dealings, mainly that one of the main MPAA lawyers is a former FCC commissioner. Ehem. Nothing to see here, move along.

Still, if the move does go ahead, it could mean that high definition films would have to be released much earlier than they otherwise would have been. And then of course, there’s always the pirated copies. µ


Ars Technica


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