MPAA wants to randomly break your home theater depending on which channel you're watching

The MPAA is petitioning the FCC to lard cable television with "selectable output control," a DRM system that allows broadcasters to specify which of your TV devices can decode which shows. With selectable output control, parts of your home theater would go dark as you flipped up and down the dial: this show won't play through your Dolby, that one won't go to your PVR, this one won't go to your DVD recorder, that one won't work with your DTV set. It's the digital TV equivalent of one of those absurd Bond-villain world-domination schemes -- the idea that every device that can plug into a TV (including PCs, game consoles, etc) will be designed to shut itself off in the presence of a flag saying, "This device may not receive that program."

Previously, the FCC told the MPAA that this was a dumb idea and to get lost, but Hollywood is nothing if not persistent (as is amply demonstrated by the number of Police Academy sequels produced). The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed some great comments in the docket:

Right now, your consumer electronics are designed by the consumer electronics industry, which reacts to consumer market demand in choosing how to innovate. That consumer-focused approach makes sense. But if the MPAA has its way, however, we'll be well on the way to a world in which every new feature to every home theater product has to be pre-approved by the content industry.


  1. Aggression begets violence. Thousands of minds are turned every day to the question: How can I Really, Really Fuck Hollywood?

  2. Baahh, I’d like to see them try. Our media boxen’ll be patched faster than you can say “fool’s errand”.

  3. when will there be enough cash and fresh, chopped blow to satisfy the lust of these *******s (self disemvowelled)? they just can’t handle the death of their outdated paradigm, so the fans must pay! i found a cool new band from warsaw, poland last week. after downloading a few of their tunes, i went and bought 3 of their c.d.’s! i will also go see them live should they ever make it thisaway. as a musician/artist/filmmaker, i would rather give my stuff away than let these bastards make coin from it!

    1. minTphresh,

      Find an insult that’s insulting to the subject rather than the bystanders, please.

  4. when will the madness end?


    cannot run media catalogue like it was still 1982.

    please please catchup before bollywood surpasses us.

  5. This kind of stupid reasoning and fascist (or, more precisely, nazist) way of conducting business will ultimately kill MPAA and their felon friends.
    Here in Brazil cable TV piracy was a problem as long as carrier companies insisted in charging unreal fees. They tried everything from criminal charges against house wives to aggressive people cutting cables. After they land in the grounds of the real world, they adjusted their prices and the problem was solved.
    But there are damages that can be permanent: around here video game industry will never recover from mistaken commercial strategies. Everything you buy (from PS2 to PS3 passing through Wii and XBox360) comes “mod-chipped”…
    IMHO “Hollywood” must rule out MPAA before this association destroys their business.

  6. Lets hope this never falls into the hands of Baron Greenback, he’d use it to force everybody to watch his Barry Manilow channel ALL THE TIME.

  7. “Right now, your consumer electronics are designed by the consumer electronics industry, which reacts to consumer market demand in choosing how to innovate.”

    If this were the case, all DVRs would have a Commercial Advance feature.

  8. antinous, don’t ever watch Deadwood (HBO tv)! you’ll drop from a coronary w/in the 1rst 5 mins. dude, sorry if i offended. i thought the self disemvowelling would ease the sting. oh, well. live n loin.

    1. Well, I don’t care personally. I have the filthiest mouth on the planet. But many people would be upset, and we would get notes.

  9. Am I the only one that doesn’t really care anymore about how the MPAA ultimately destroys television?

    I haven’t had cable or satellite in years. I watch no over-the-air broadcasting save public TV. I do, however, have a decent little home theater system through which is pumped exclusively things from my Netflix subscription (both discs and streaming).

    I’ve mostly forgotten what watching commercials was like, I only watch things I really want to instead of “what’s on,” and the selection is unparalleled.

    Only problem is waiting for TV seasons to end and go to disc.

  10. I say let them have everything they want, every last repressive-penny-pinching-rent seeking desire they can think of, and when they kill the fatted calf, something interesting will come out of the wreckage. Now that might be something worth tuning in for.

  11. So .. MPAA messing with TV and AT&T rolling out bandwidth caps in October … Where will it end?

    From CNN Money article.

    AT&T To Create Tiered Internet Access For Subscribers

    In October, AT&T will establish discrete tiers for subscribers at various levels with the goal of giving them Internet speeds in certain ranges.

    AT&T plans to change its customer contracts and disclosures to reflect the change, Quinn said. Those notices also will “clearly identify any limitations on the amount of usage that may apply to a customer’s service plan.”

    The notices also will explain the difference between the speed capabilities that AT&T provides and the throughput speeds that are dependent on other networks.

    CNN Money article

  12. two words: class-action lawsuit! wait, that’s three. sue the ____s into the dirt! kill’em with their own meds!

  13. Two words come immediately to mind:

    Cripple Ware…

    Or is that one word, crippleware?

    Anyway, this sounds like I’d have to change how my wires are configured if I couldn’t watch a show through the DVR… I don’t have normal channels programmed in the TV except through the DVR.

  14. stop picking on police academy! police academy 4: citizens on patrol was awesome. the skateboarding scene blew my mind back in the day. :-D

  15. As soon as they start doing this, I can see a lot of cable/satellite subscriptions being canceled.

    If the MPAA want to kill television, this is the way.

  16. There needs to be more work done so that the whole Web 2.0 Jeremiah Owyangs, Brian Solis, Peter Cashmore’s mini-tech celebrities stop hyping up Web 3.0 and whatever b.s. about it relating to social conscience.

    I just went to the LA social media camp and their was so much HYPE and BS and then the Mashable Party at night was so over-the-top that I sometimes fear Zittrain is right and the train has far left the building and the future of the Internet is all dark and shitty.

    But as Mr. D. inspired me, I took the time to add stuff to the Media Camp wiki, not that anyone will prob. look at it….

    Still, the first step is hearing the bad news and thanks for being on the front lines!

  17. And more and more people will pirate TV shows… much like DVDs the best versions of media seem to be pirated versions, no unskippable commercials, full audio, full crisp quality. Its the best way to see anything your interested in watching, DVD or TV. Yeah sometimes its a few hours later after it airs that you see it, but waiting a few hours to get something in amazing quality with no commercials is better than actually turning on the TV these days.

    how to fuck hollywood in one easy lesson:




    i did and i am glad. it gave me my mind back.

  19. This news is giving me more burnout than anger. It feels like it’s time to pick my fights; rather than get my undies in a twist over TV, write congresscritters about FICA and network neutrality.
    Not to hate on TV, I would miss Daily Show and my new hero, Colbert, if TV disappeared and they didn’t make the jump.

  20. I’m with TheSpecialist. I have a new digital antenna for my 20+ year old 20″ TV, which has been turned off for about 3 weeks straight now.

    There is an old saw (that I am about to massacre) about a man who asked a woman if she would sleep with a man who she found disagreeable for a trillion dollars, and she supposed she would. When he asked if she would do the same for twenty dollars, she was mortified, and asked if he thought her a whore. The man asserted that that fact had been determined, it was just a matter of the price.

    That is on-topic, believe it or not.

    1. mdhatter,

      Winston Churchill: “Madam, Would you sleep with me for one million pounds?”
      Unknown woman: “Yes sir, I think i would”
      Winston Churchill: “Well, how about one pound?”
      Unknown woman: “Winston! What sort of woman do you think i am?”
      Winston Churchill: “Madam, that matter has already been solved. Now we’re just bartering over your price.”

  21. Aye, that’s the one!

    And my point is that I think anyone who has these gadgets is already overpaying for crap.

  22. Winston Churchill: “Madam, Would you sleep with me for one million pounds?”
    Unknown woman: “Yes sir, I think i would”
    Winston Churchill: “Well, I’m still drunk and you’re ungly braaarrrfff…”

    I’m pretty sure that’s how it really went.

  23. And my point is that I think anyone who has these gadgets is already overpaying for crap.

    I’m sure that’s not quite my point.

    The gadgets aren’t crap, the programming is crap. Any of the programming likely affected by this sort of DRM is just going to be more corporate crap, and they’re going to find out your price point, then raise it, every time.

  24. Shouldn’t the consumer products people be seriously against this.

    This is why sony lost the portable music market which it had a stranglehold on.

    This is why apple is slowly taking over the cell phone market.

  25. Why does the MPAA insist on making illegal downloading the preferable, most consumer-friendly method of consuming media? The torrenters won’t have to deal with broadcast flag crap or any of this other nonsense that goes against the common good, they’ll hack it the same day it’s released. This will only affect those of us who actually pay for our media.

    Perhaps because of the downward spiral of advertising viewing, the MAFIAAs have decided on a new business model:
    1. Make the legal consumption of media torturous.
    2. Sue everyone who uses a less-loathsome distribution model.
    3. Profit!

    They make the underwear gnomes look like business geniuses.

  26. This is pay-per-view macrovision rehashed. The MPAA wants a waiver to apply SOC specifically to on-demand content that has not been released on DVD/Bluray yet. Nothing about applying this to regular cable channels. Sorry Cory.

    There is a very good reason the MPAA is pushing this again: the Hauppauge HD-PVR. $250 and you can record close-to-perfect HD from the component outputs. You don’t see many on-demand movies that haven’t already been released on disc. The reason you don’t is because you can use the component outputs to make a copy that is at least as good as the DVD release.

  27. Thinking about this a little more, I’ve come to the conclusion that the MPAA shouldn’t have to ask the FCC for permission to apply SOC to on-demand, because the FCC should have no business regulating it.

    Cable channels (digital or analog), sure, but on-demand is a point-to-point system. It’s no more a broadcast than Internet via cable modem, and in fact some operators do use IPTV for on-demand.

    So, if the CableCos want to DRM the hell out of on-demand, they have as much right to do it as Sony, Apple or Microsoft, and the FCC shouldn’t have any say over it. It’s ultimately up to the consumer to decide whether to pay $5 for a movie if they can’t watch it in HD.

  28. This is why you should convince people to not go to movies, buy movies, or buy home theater gear. The message will become clear to the content providers very quickly.

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