[LINK] US FCC to allow blocking STBs

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Sat May 8 15:09:44 AEST 2010

[not sure how they can technically do this, but 
then again, it may be confusion by the writer]

FCC allows blocking of set-top box output

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100507/ap_on_hi_te/us_tec_fcc_movie_recordings; or

By JOELLE TESSLER, AP Technology Writer Joelle 
Tessler, Ap Technology Writer – Fri May 7, 7:15 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Federal regulators are endorsing 
Hollywood's efforts to let cable and satellite TV 
companies turn off output connections on the back 
of set-top boxes to prevent illegal copying of movies.

The decision by the Federal Communications 
Commission, announced late Friday, is intended to 
encourage studios to make movies available for 
home viewing on demand soon after they hit theaters or even at the same time.

Bob Pisano, head of the Motion Picture 
Association of America, said the FCC's action 
will give consumers "far greater access to see 
recent high-definition movies in their homes."

But critics warned that the FCC order could 
prevent 20 million Americans with older, analog 
TVs from seeing these new-release movies at all. 
That's because the order allows the studios to 
limit delivery of new movies to only those households with newer digital sets.

In addition, critics say the blocking technology 
could prohibit legal recordings on some video 
recorders and other devices with analog connections.

"We are unsure when the FCC has ever before given 
private entities the right to disable consumers' 
products in their homes," the Consumer 
Electronics Association said in a statement. "The 
fact that the motion picture studios want to 
create a new business model does not mean that 
functioning products should be disabled by them."

Public Knowledge, a public interest group, said 
the FCC "has succumbed to the special-interest 
pleadings of the big media companies."

The FCC prohibits the use of so-called 
"selectable output control" technology, which 
encodes video programming with a signal to 
remotely disable set-top box output connections. 
The FCC granted a waiver from those rules on Friday at the request of the MPAA.

Allowing movie studios to temporarily prevent 
recording from TVs could pave the way for movies 
to be released to homes sooner than they are 
today. The FCC said the waiver is therefore in 
the public interest, because the studios are 
unlikely to offer new movies so soon after their 
theatrical release without such controls.

Companies such as The Walt Disney Co. have been 
trying to shorten the time between theatrical and 
home video releases, partly to benefit from one 
round of marketing buzz and partly to head off 
piracy. With DVD sales declining, studios are 
looking for new ways to deliver their content 
securely while still making money.

In its decision Friday, the agency stressed that 
its waiver includes several important conditions, 
including limits on how long studios can use the 
blocking technology. The FCC said the technology 
cannot be used on a particular movie once it is 
out on DVD or Blu-Ray, or after 90 days from the 
time it is first used on that movie, whichever comes first.

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the 
world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

_ __________________ _

More information about the Link mailing list