U.S. Lets Hollywood Disable Home TV Outputs to Prevent Piracy
The film industry can block outputs on home television equipment so studios can offer first-run movies while preventing viewers from making illicit copies, U.S. regulators said.
Home viewing of recently released movies over cable and satellite systems would provide revenue for studios such as Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures and Sony Corp.’s film division, which have seen DVD sales drop as more people get films through Internet, mail-order and kiosk rental services. The advocacy group Public Knowledge is among opponents who say the plan interferes with viewer choice.
The FCC order “‘will allow the big firms for the first time to take control of a consumer’s TV set or set-top box, blocking viewing of a TV program or motion picture,” Gigi Sohn, president of Washington-based Public Knowledge, said in a statement.
The Motion Picture Association of America asked the FCC in 2008 for a waiver from rules against disabling video outputs so that its members could send movies over cable and satellite services using “secure and protected digital outputs,” according to the trade group’s petition at the agency.
“This action is an important victory for consumers who will now have far greater access to see recent high-definition movies in their homes,” Bob Pisano, president and interim chief executive officer of the MPAA, said today in a statement. “It is a major step forward in the development of new business models by the motion picture industry to respond to growing consumer demand.”
The Washington-based MPAA represents Paramount Pictures, Sony’s film unit, News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal, Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. Pictures.
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