06.13.2008 12:00 AM
MPAA Gets FCC Fast-Track on Selectable Output Controls
Selectable output controls could control the copying of premium content such as high-definition movies, accelerating the deployment of systems to deliver that content into the home.

Others say selectable output controls steal fair-use rights from consumers so that content owners can sell those rights back to the consumers, and that’s why the FCC has generally banned such electronics.

Represented by former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, MPAA has requested—and received—a fast track (“expedited”) process on its request for a permanent waiver to the SOA ban.

MPAA says it plans to offer a new business model, namely early release of content over cable and satellite, and that only by tight copy control can it make such a venture.

MPAA says the waiver is justified for such a discrete purpose and is exactly the kind of new business venture that furthers the DTV transition. MPAA doesn’t yet have distribution partners, equipment or business plans for such a venture, but is “interested in exploring opportunities” for early home release of movies.

“While each studio would have its own independent business model developed through private negotiations with existing and potentially new partners, the purpose of this petition is to remove a general regulatory impediment that prevents implementation of the content protection required in the specific case of the services,” MPAA wrote in its petition to the FCC.

Several commenters to the FCC argue against the MPAA move.

“Hollywood has been trying to restrict or outright stop home recording of movies and TV shows since the first consumer level VCR hit the market,” said one such filing. “They have been trying for years to get a ‘Broadcast Flag’ written into law. That failed and now they are using the argument that they need to stop people from recording movies that are released to cable before DVD. This is nothing more than an attempt to ‘get their toe in the door.’ Once they gain this power, they will want to expand it to include other programming.”

The expedited public comment period ends June 25.

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