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Television Entertainment Your Rights Online

MPAA Pushes Once Again To Close the Analog Hole 275

Tyler Too writes "The MPAA is once again trying to badger the FCC into approving Selectable Output Control, which would plug the 'analog hole' during broadcasts of some prerelease HD movies. MPAA bigshots met with seven staffers from the FCC Media Bureau last week, calling the petition a 'pro-consumer' (!) move designed to 'enable movie studios to offer millions of Americans in-home access to high-value, high definition video content.' At least the studios are now acknowledging that SOC would break the functionality of some HDTVs, an admission they were previously unwilling to make: 'What's interesting about the group's latest filing, however, is that it effectively concedes that the output changes it wants could, in fact, hobble some home video systems. "The vast majority of consumers would not have to purchase new devices to receive the new, high-value content contemplated by MPAA's" request, the group assures the FCC.'"
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MPAA Pushes Once Again To Close the Analog Hole

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  • Re:Oxymoron (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ollabelle ( 980205 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @09:15AM (#29310087)
    No, it's high-value all right. To them; and once they monopolize the output stream, then it'll become ever more high-value, i.e. expensive.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @09:33AM (#29310257) Homepage

    Not to mention that they'll need to patch the digital hole. Before the big breakthroughs on AACS/BD+ there were HDCP breakers and HDMI capture cards to make pure digital copies, even though it had to be transcoded since it was already decoded. AACS/BD+ isn't totally broken in that AnyDVD must release new versions of the decrypting tool but HDCP is, just like CSS is for DVDs. There's no fixing that without replacing every HDMI and DVI/HDCP connection out there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 04, 2009 @09:56AM (#29310489)

    They're much cheaper and the stories aren't ruined by screenplay writers.

  • by Seakip18 ( 1106315 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @10:03AM (#29310557) Journal

    Heck, like many other problems, you can just throw a little less money than they are extorting out of you to solve the problem.

    For $180, you can begin get a HDMI to Component converter. [] It's not as cheap as those other solutions but it's still cheaper than running out to get your MPAA approved device.

  • by mttlg ( 174815 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @10:18AM (#29310779) Homepage Journal

    >If their DRM only effected pirates,

    DRM has nothing to do with pirates. The goal of DRM is to give the content providers full control of the distribution system, right up until the point where the light hits your eyeballs (and I doubt they'll stop once they get that far). Ideally, they would want every viewer to pay every time their content is heard or viewed, but for now they'll settle for ensuring that every view is through an approved path that they have been directly compensated for. This ensures that people aren't using content in any non-approved manner, regardless of whether such non-approved use is legal. The pirates may be inconvenienced, but they will continue to operate. The real payoff is in convincing the public that following the **AA's mandates is perfectly acceptable, thus allowing them to do as they please with home entertainment, without regard for individual rights.

    This is a dangerous path to go down, but we're already a fair way along and there seems to be no way back. HDMI and Firewire are already locked down, so it's not surprising that they want to turn off component. Regardless of their "pre-DVD release" example cited in the article, it is clear that if this is allowed, it would be applied to all HD content across the board by default, except where otherwise required by law (e.g., DTCP). From there, it's only a small step to disabling SD video altogether (after all, everyone has an approved HD viewing device now, right?).

    The biggest threat to this industry isn't the pirates, it's a population that believes that how they view content should be up to them and not dictated by a higher power. This is the mentality that allows people to justify turning to piracy when the legal route is too difficult. Rather than making the legal route easier (as the music industry seems to have figured out in only a decade or so), the MPAA is committed to creating a world where they are an altruistic god showering the people with "high-value content," asking only for our money and obedience in return. The scariest part is the thought that some of the people in control might actually believe that what they are doing is for the public good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 04, 2009 @11:21AM (#29311565)

    What I see as a possibility of happening is that there will be a HDCP2 standard, or a HDCP+year standard. Then every several years, you have to buy a new TV with the latest DRM upgrades, or else you get locked out of watching movies, or perhaps locked out from receiving any and all channels at all. This would be worse than the move from analog to digital OTA reception because older sets would not be able to be retrofitted to the new shackles. The reason I can see this happening is that it would churn TV sets, benefiting one market segment, and allow newer, more restrictive forms of DRM, which makes another market segment happy. Of course, the losers will be the customers/subscribers.

    This happened when the first row of buyers bought HD sets and then realized that their Blu-Ray movies had issues playing.

  • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @12:21PM (#29312467) Journal

    Then don't download it.

    1. If purchasing it is not a value proposition to you, then ignore the work. "I wasn't going to buy the movie" means the movie is worth less than they charge. Fair enough. But they own the rights to the work, and they set the price. If you disagree with the price, call them and tell them that lowering it means you'll buy it. If everyone who pirated called the movie companies and said, "you know, I'd buy Matrix 12 if it was $2 less", someone in marketing might figure out that they've set their sweet spot a couple of bucks high.

    2. Someone put work into that product, and if you don't intend to give them money for it, you don't get to take it.

    3. Why would you want to risk a massive RIAA/MPAA settlement for a movie that sucked?

    4. It's not their fault you think it doesn't, and if it's not a good movie by your standards, see #3.

    5. Don't pay. Don't accept the terms. Don't buy the work within their terms, and don't take it outside their terms. Ignore the work. Problem solved.

    6. Because piracy simply justifies DRM and stupid effing laws. The controls, though useless, get more and more complex and harder for paying customers to deal with.

    If you demonstrate to the studios that their work has no value (or not enough value to justify their prices), they'll have to think about how to make their work have value or lower their prices. The only way to show that the work is valueless (or of lower value than their prices justify) that is to stop buying *and stop downloading* the work. Also state loudly your reasons for ignoring it, preferably to the studios who, after all, just want to sell movies.

    If no one is accepting the present value of their work, then the studios can start realizing that they need to add more value or charge less. They might decide that, say, actually writing a good script is cheaper and makes a better product than millions of dollars in special effects. But right now, they are making what they think people value, because that means people are going to want it.

    By downloading it, you are acknowledging that the work has value to you (which may be less than what they want to charge, but it obviously has value), but that you choose not to pay that value. You are assigning a value to it, because otherwise you wouldn't be going to the effort to download it and risking a multimillion-dollar settlement (at a very low chance of happening) to get it.

    A side effect of piracy is that the RIAA/MPAA can then turn to our venerable Congresscritters and have new silly laws passed that eat away at legitimate user's rights and pay for stupid ads like "piracy = supporting terrorism". But the primary effect is to communicate that their works have value that people are willfully choosing not to pay.

    I'm not saying the studios are right. By my standards, they charge too much for their work. But it's THEIR work to sell on their terms.

    Generally I rent movies. If I don't like a movie, I don't buy it. I also don't download it illegally, because I don't like it. If I like a movie a whole lot and think I'll watch it again and again, I'll buy it, because the potential risk of having my life utterly ruined ain't worth saving $20 on a movie. Plus I don't want to feed the MPAA trolls.

    If everyone who pirated a movie stopped, and instead approached the studio and said "gee, that movie really blew steaming monkey chunks, but it had some mild entertainment value, could you sell it to me as a download for $(name what you'd pay here) and save yourself the packaging and distribution costs?", the studios might just react by coming out with a reasonable download option. Then again, they might not, but at least they couldn't justify draconian new DRM schemes to "prevent piracy" - they'd see that their dropping sales really WERE a matter of their content sucking or being too expensive, and not because a bunch of freeloaders would rather take the content than pay for it.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle