FCC Grants MPAA Request to Disable Analog Outputs

Ryan Whitwam

The FCC took a stand back in 2003 saying that Selectable Output Control (SoC) was unnecessary, and could harm consumers. But a recent petition from the MPAA has resulted in a partial waiver , allowing SoC to be implemented in certain circumstances. SoC is an anti-counterfeiting technology that would force digital content to be output only to an HDCP compliant HDMI port.

The FCC will allow SoC to be used only on "high value" content. Specifically, any digital content (i.e. video on demand or streaming) that is not available on DVD or Blu-ray at the time, can be protected with SoC for up to 90 days. The rationale for this is a bit confusing. The FCC statement says, "Consumers simply cannot expect to be able to access something that does not yet exist." In short, the FCC doesn't need to fully protect people with older TVs because the expectation of getting this high value content is not assumed.

What this comes down to is that for owners of older TVs without an HDMI, you may be denied access to some special content that is made available before an official DVD release. Those with newer TVs however, may be able to get pre-release access to upcoming movies. How do you feel about this? Is it a reasonable trade-off, or should the FCC have held firm?

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