Blu-ray &Entertainment &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 17 Jun 2008

DRM reaching TV broadcasts

DRM reaching TV broadcasts

Imagine paying your cable or satellite provider for DVR service and setting it up to record your favorite show. Now imagine flipping on your TV to watch this show and finding that it did not record. This has happened before with the hit CBS show Survivor. (It may be a stretch to imagine Survivor is your favorite show, but bear with me.)

This also happened with the slightly more popular American Idol, only this time it cut the recording off just as the winner was announced. Again, I won’t judge the quality of the content being cut off from viewers, but there is a principle at play here. Paying viewers should have a right to the content they’re paying for.

Where these errors, or is there a malevolent source behind this?

While it’s true that I’ve lost some recording simply because cable boxes aren’t terribly reliable (thank God for Hulu!), but it is now surfacing that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has worked a deal with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement the Selectable Output Control (SOC) to cut off signals to DVRs in the USA on certain content. Yes, the dreaded “DRM” is coming out of the dark, fetid land known as MPAA.

MPAA lair

There is a trade off though, the agreement allows Hollywood movies to reach television before it is released in stores on DVD or Blu-ray Disc. The SOC will be removed once the film is provided at retail as well. This content may also be available via Video-on-Demand (VOD).

So maybe there is a second front. Maybe this is an anti-competitive move by the cable providers (CableLabs) to put the squeeze on video renters. Why not just make the content available day-and-date with retail? Mark Cuban and Magnolia Pictures have tried day-and-date with TV, Blu-ray and theaters even.

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