Selectable Output Control: What’s the Big Deal?

A new use for TV cables has got some consumer groups up in arms. Yes, you read that right: a new use for TV cables. What is this “Selectable Output Control”? Ars summarizes:

SOC lets video distributors close down analog outputs on broadcasts to block the so-called “analog hole” that MPAA fears can be easily accessed by movie pirates. This security will, in turn, encourage Hollywood studios to partner with cable companies and release early-run studio films to TV, with the guarantee that the movies will pass only over protected digital links such as those that use HDCP.

The MPAA wants to partner with cable companies to release movies on a pay-per-view basis before they get to DVD. But the studios want to make sure that people can’t easily copy the movies they get and distribute pirated copies. So, you can only use the new distribution service if you view it with HDCP output, instead of analog output.

Is this any reason to freak out? I don’t think so. The cable companies are just offering an additional service that you can get if you want, but you don’t have to if you don’t. If you don’t want to – or if you don’t have a TV with the right inputs to get it – then your experience will be the same as it was before.

So, who is behind all this opposition to the new technology? Partially, theater owners, who don’t want to see their business decline as people watch movies at home soon after their release in theaters. Same with indie studios that are not part of the initiative; they fear the competition that will ensure.

The FCC should ignore the special interests lined up in opposition to new business models and approve the MPAA’s petition.

Keep a lookout for Ryan Radia’s upcoming (and much better) post on the subject.