FCC Grants Hollywood Control Over Your TV

Hollywood wants you to watch new release movies at home, but it doesn't want you copying them to the internet. They just got some help from the FCC, who granted them permission to remotely disable analog streams from cable boxes.

The MPAA has spent years trying to get the FCC to waive its ban on Selectable Output Control, seeking the power to disable analog streams in the name of piracy prevention. They're particularly worried about the piracy of films that are still in theaters, as they start to serve them up for people to watch on demand in the comfort of their home.

The FCC's decision is geared towards these new movies—cable companies will only get SOC powers for a 90 day window, or until the movie's DVD release—and all of this business really only concerns older HDTVs that connect to set top boxes with component cables (there's already all sorts of DRM that keeps digitally-transmitted content under lock and chain). So the FCC won't be able to fiddle with analog-users' existing content, they'll just be able to prevent them from getting the new stuff, which isn't all that bad, considering there's probably more stuff on demand at this moment than any one person could watch in an entire calendar year.

But still! This sort of thing sets a very dangerous precedent, as many have been quick to point out. The FCC maintains that giving Hollywood these controls is the only way for consumers to get movie theater movies in their homes, but if this decision turns out to be the thin end of the SOC wedge, I imagine a lot of people will wish they could've said, "thanks but no thanks." [Wired and Ars]