The Motion Picture Association of America took a step Thursday toward gaining control of how living room equipment may send signals to TV sets. Pitching a technology called selectable output control (SOC), it responded to critics in a July 31 filing with the FCC. From Ars Technica:
SOC lets video distributors close down analog outputs on broadcasts to block the so-called "analog hole" that MPAA fears can be easily accessed by movie pirates. This security will, in turn, encourage Hollywood studios to partner with cable companies and release early-run studio films to TV, with the guarantee that the movies will pass only over protected digital links...
Ars' Matthew Lasar writes that the aim is to allow cable companies to show movies shortly after release, killing the market for physical media – but only if the consumer has no ability to record it. From an earlier article:
MPAA says these studios want to release their movies to multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) "significantly earlier and prior to DVD release"–although the trade groups' filing won't say exactly how much sooner. But in exchange for the accelerated service, MPAA wants permission to obtain SOC blocking of recording capabilities.
The FCC currently restricts SOC, though Lasar links to a fellow who points out that Comcast's on-demand system already fulfills the technical requirements implied by the MPAA's proposal.
Though the MPAA says that it will only use the technology to prevent consumers recording brand-new content, the obvious fear is that it's a foot in the door for killing home recording off for good