FCC allows Hollywood studios to block copying of new video-on-demand movie releases

MUMBAI: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved a request by the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) to permit recent movies to be sent directly to American households over secure high definition transmission lines from their cable or satellite providers prior to their release on DVD or Blu-ray. The move is in line with Hollywood’s efforts to let cable and satellite TV companies turn off output connections on the back of set-top boxes in order to prevent illegal copying of movies.

"This action is an important victory for consumers who will now have far greater access to see recent high definition movies in their homes. And it is a major step forward in the development of new business models by the motion picture industry to respond to growing consumer demand. We deeply appreciate the recognition by the FCC that recently released movies need special protection against content theft when they are distributed to home televisions," said MPAA president and interim CEO Bob Pisano.

Specifically, the issue before the FCC was a request by the MPAA for permission to use selectable output control (SOC), which would allow televisions with digitally secure interfaces to receive high-definition content from a cable, satellite or IPTV provider, before its release on DVD or Blue-ray. Using SOC protects content because during the broadcast it essentially disables non-secure, analog outputs to avoid illegal circumvention and distribution of copyrighted material.

In its order, the FCC said, "On balance, this limited waiver will provide public interest benefits – making movies widely available for home viewing far earlier than ever before – without imposing harm on any consumers."

"The first, and best way to view movies will always be in movie theaters – and nothing can replace the pleasure this brings to millions and millions of people all across our country and the globe. But for those people unable to make it to the theater and interested in viewing a recently released movie, thanks to the FCC, they will now have a new option. For other consumers who prefer standard, linear, on-demand or DVD or Blu-ray options, these services will be unchanged," Pisano said.