Selectable Output Control

MPAA want to turn analogue video outputs off

2nd January

Update: Selectable Output Control Freakery...

FCC decline media companies the right to control recording and playback

Ars Technica are reporting that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has declined to accept the MPAA’s request to allow selectable output control flags in streaming content during his tenure.

This is an undeniable win for consumers, as potentially up to 20 million HDTVs could have suddenly stopped working for new on-demand movies had the FCC gone the other way.

Further, it poses little to no additional piracy threat to movie studios, since the proposed release timeline would have been months after those movies already became available on other publicly-accessible pirate outlets.

Selectable output control (SOC) is a technology that would restrict a consumer’s ability to use particular output plugs on their devices for certain types of content. For example, a movie studio could stop you from using your composite jacks to view a legally purchased on-demand movie over cable.

In his press conference, Chairman Martin acknowledged the analysis, indicating that he … wasn’t ready to move forward with [SOC] in light of some of the concerns that were raised by the public interest groups.

Update: Selectable Output Control Freakery

8th February 2009:  See article from

It looks like Hollywood's bid to take over your home video system got a second wind this week. On Tuesday two top executives from Sony Television and Sony Pictures, accompanied by an influential lobbyist, met with the Federal Communications Commission to talk up (PDF) "the advantages of expanded consumer choices in the marketplace" which would supposedly come with a waiver on the agency's ban on Selectable Output Control. That bright idea originates with the Motion Pictures Association of America.

Update: Trying again under Obama

5th September 2009:  See article from

Hollywood's bid to force a yet-to-be-agreed-upon number of households to buy new home theater gear is back in business.

The Motion Picture Association of America has once again asked the Federal Communications Commission for the right to selectively control output streams to the TV entertainment systems of consumers. The pro-consumer purpose (!) request is to enable movie studios to offer millions of Americans in-home access to high-value, high definition video content, three MPAA biggies explained during a meeting they recently held with seven FCC Media Bureau staffers.


9th May

Update: TV Remote Control...

US film industry given permission to turn off analogue TV outputs

The film industry has been allowed to block outputs on home television equipment so studios can offer first-run movies while preventing viewers from making copies.

Temporarily disabling the outputs will enable a new business model that wouldn't develop in the absence of such anti-piracy protection, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in an order.

The FCC order will allow the big firms for the first time to take control of a consumer's TV set or set-top box, blocking viewing of a TV program or motion picture, Gigi Sohn, president of Washington-based Public Knowledge, said in a statement.

The Motion Picture Association of America asked the FCC in 2008 for a waiver from rules against disabling video outputs so that its members could send movies over cable and satellite services using secure and protected digital outputs, according to the trade group's petition at the agency.


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