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Selectable Output Control: Why?!

October 15, 2009 , , , ,

You may remember that at the end of last year, the FCC declined to give a small group of Hollywood studios the ability to turn off the video inputs that over 20 million high definition televisions rely on. Almost a year later, the MPAA is back, threatening not make content available, responding to year-old arguments while trying to pretend 2009 never happened, and making a lot of noise without saying anything new. So we're back, too, with a letter detailing why the MPAA's petition to use Selectable Output Control (SOC) at worst imposes millions of dollars of costs on consumers and at best leaves us scratching our heads asking why the Commission would even consider it.

The MPAA claims it needs this power in order to prevent infringement of “high value content” its members would make available to Americans “for the first time” — or, as we like to call it, “the exact same content in the exact same format at the exact same quality, 30 days earlier.” It also continues to ignore the fact that other studios already release content this early, and that the content in question is available on the Internet long before the proposed window. Clearly, something else is actually at work here: the MPAA is attempting to hold content ransom to convince the FCC to give them the ability to control how consumer electronics are built and used. And to get there, it has asked the FCC to give them a special immunity to the (pro-consumer rule that bans SOC)[http://www.cedmagazine.com/plug-and-play-leaves-analog-hole.aspx] without a single iota of evidence that it is necessary.

After more than 100 years of big content trying to put a stop to that pesky “innovation,” you'd think it would learn: misguided attempts to close the fence after the cows have already left end up harming consumers and innovators while doing no good for the legitimate concerns of copyright holders. Let's hope the FCC has learned the lesson that the MPAA has not, and denies the petition for good.

For more details on why Selectable Output Control is a Bad Idea(tm) with no legitimate justification, read our letter or check out the issue page.