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.
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