MPAA: Release movies to TV sooner, block recordings

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The Motion Picture Association of America wants to release movies to TV, pay-per-view, on-demand, and premium movie channels before releasing them for sale on DVD. Sounds good, no? There’s a little catch, though. The MPAA wants to block these early releases from being recorded on your DVR.

Traditionally, new movies get released into theaters, then get shown on airplanes and in hotels, then are made available on DVD and over the Internet, then on-demand/pay per view, then premium movie channels like HBO, and finally to regular broadcast TV. The whole cycle typically takes about three years. Well, the industry now wants to get its movies onto people’s televisions a whole lot sooner, before the movies are released on DVD, even.

The problem, however, is that the MPAA is asking that the FCC allow it to selectively block high-definition movies from being recorded on our DVR systems. This process is called Selectable Output Control, and is currently restricted by the FCC, and, according to Ars Technica, “The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) wants a waiver on that restriction in the case of high-definition movies broadcast prior to their release as DVDs.”

MPAA argues that, in addition to getting first-run movies to the public sooner, giving movie studios a break on this issue could also aid the DTV transition. The enhanced service "will encourage the purchase of HDTV sets by consumers, and thereby ensure that a greater number of citizens have the necessary equipment to receive broadcast digital programming by February 17, 2009."

The FCC warns that consumers expect their high definition digital televisions to work correctly and that Selectable Output Control flies in the face of that expectation.

I’m all for being able to watch movies on TV before they’re released on DVD, but the idea of not being able to record them or skip past commercials leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This just seems like a plan by the movie industry to get us to pay twice for the same movie, either by renting it on-demand or sitting through commercials first, and then buying it again on DVD because we couldn’t record it before.

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