MPAA wants to control your TV

Defective by DesignThe MPAA is pressuring the FCC for the authority to cripple recording devices using so-called “Selectable Output Control” (SOC).

Basically, SOC would enable Hollywood to actually shut off the video outputs on your cable box, DVR, or other recording device when particular movies or shows come on. When the movie’s over, the outputs might turn back on. Your devices would dance to Hollywood’s tune.

Most cable boxes and DVRs already include Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and operate using proprietary software — both of which we need to work to eliminate. But just because many of these devices already use DRM, that doesn’t mean we should let Hollywood and the FCC keep adding more. This new form of control would take even more freedom away from people using those devices, would restrict people using free software like MythTV to watch broadcasts and record them, and would set a dangerous precedent elevating Hollywood’s desires over the public’s freedom.

We’re not talking about an imaginary threat here. Hollywood has already tried this sort of nonsense with the Broadcast Flag — which the FCC rejected.

Who gets to decide which outputs you can use on your home entertainment gear — the movie studios or you? File a comment with the FCC and tell them to keep Hollywood’s restrictions out of your living room.

Please file a comment with the FCC. Before you follow the link, you may want to select and copy this sample text:

Dear Chairman Genachowski,

I urge you to deny the MPAA’s request seeking waiver of Section 76.1903 of the Commission’s rules. This waiver would allow studios to engage in “selectable output control,” or “SOC.” SOC would let Hollywood decide remotely which outputs I could use on the cable box and recording devices in my home. The waiver would take freedom away from people using these devices, would restrict people using free (as in freedom) software like MythTV to make and watch recordings, and would set a dangerous precedent against the public’s interest.

People have a basic right to not be controlled by the technology they use. Hollywood and set-top box manufacturers already violate this right by imposing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and proprietary software on the public. If you granted the waiver, you would be giving them even more power to trample on our rights.

Now that audio and video are a natural part of how people communicate, the ability to record, archive, share, and remix audio and video is essential to free speech, political debate and cultural participation. Hollywood and the MPAA are pushing these restrictions because they want a world where they are free to communicate with us, but where we cannot freely communicate with each other. The FCC represents the public, not Hollywood. Don’t give them more power to restrict our freedom to use media or to participate in politics and culture.

As I understand it, the FCC also considers things like convenience, affordability, and economic impact in making its decisions. Other people have presented you with persuasive evidence that SOC will needlessly inconvenience viewers, will unfairly require the purchase of new equipment in order to watch certain movies, and will raise the price of basic equipment. But these questions should not even be considered when the cost is the public’s freedom. Even if Hollywood does find a cost-effective and convenient way to enforce these restrictions, they should still be rejected.

I urge you to deny Hollywood’s waiver request.

Sincerely,

DefectiveByDesign.org is a campaign of the Free Software Foundation
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