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PK Responds to the MPAA on SOC: VoD Before DVD is OK Today

November 10, 2009 , , , ,

Last week the MPAA sent another letter to the FCC trying to defend its Selectable Output Control (SOC) proposal and calling out Public Knowledge. We sent a formal reply to the FCC today. All of this means that what we are doing is working, but it also means that the MPAA is not giving up. Here’s Mr. X-Parté to recap the action so far, along with PK’s response:

For those of you too good for video, here is a quick summary of the MPAA’s claims and Public Knowledge’s responses.

MPAA Point #1

SOC will provide consumers a new service that does not currently exist.

PK Response

  • The technology is not new. People have been using Video on Demand (VoD) to watch movies at home for years.
  • The content is not new. The MPAA is offering the same movies that people already watch in theaters or at home via DVD or VoD. It is not like they are offering SOC-only films.
  • The business model is not new. People have been watching movies at home for decades now. First it was Betamax and VHS, and more recently it has been VoD, DVD, and Blue Ray. If letting people watch movies at home a few days (or even weeks) earlier qualifies as a “new” business model, the word “new” has lost its meaning.
  • Even if you consider VoD the day before DVD release to be a fundamentally different business than VoD the day of DVD release, studios already offer this without SOC protection today.

MPAA Point #2

Public Knowledge opposes innovation unless everyone in the country can already use it.

PK Response

  • PK is all about encouraging innovation – in fact, we talk about it all the time. We just understand “innovate” to mean “providing new, additional services,” not “cripple existing products.”
  • PK’s objection to SOC is not so much that people will be left out, but rather that existing devices will lose functionality. I know my HDTV won’t necessarily play a 3-D movie, but I should be able to be confident that it will be able to play everything that I throw at it in HD.
  • MPAA’s example of color TV is a great example of how innovation and existing products can work together. The United States chose a less vibrant color TV standard specifically to protect consumers with existing black and white TVs.

MPAA Point #3

The SOC wavier is all that stands between consumers and early release content.

PK Response

MPAA member studios are all that stand between consumers and early release content. Other studios are already releasing films on VoD before the DVD release date without SOC. This comment sounds an awful lot like Viacom’s claim that they would not broadcast in HD without the Broadcast Flag. Seen anything in HD on CBS lately?

MPAA Point #4

SOC is necessary to prevent piracy.

PK Response

As MPAA member Paramount Picture’s recent FCC presentation and filing documents, “excellent” quality DVD rips of Star Trek have been available online since September 21. The DVD release date for Star Trek? November 17. Pirates clearly don’t need to wait for a VoD release to make perfect digital copies available. Also, it only takes one person to turn SOC into the next CSS.