U.S. approval allows first-run movies to TV sets

WASHINGTON Fri May 7, 2010 6:38pm EDT


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hollywood studios won regulatory approval on Friday for the limited use of anti-piracy technology that will allow the showing of first-run theatrical movies on television.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved a 2008 petition from the Motion Picture Association of America seeking to disable the out-put functions on TV sets and copying capabilities of video recorders linked to on demand premier films.

Essentially, consumers will be able to watch first-run feature films before the DVD release, but will not be able to record them. Companies can use the blocking technology for 90 days once the on-demand movie is offered or until the release of the DVD, whichever comes first.

The approval applies to high definition movies transmitted in digital signal from satellite and cable providers to set-top boxes already capable of using the technology.

MPAA filed the petition on behalf of Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures Corp, Sony Corp's Sony Pictures EntertainmentInc, News Corp's Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp, General Electric Co unit Universal City Studios, Walt Disney Co's Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Warner Bros Entertainment Inc, a Time Warner Inc unit.

Consumers would not have to attach any additional hardware to their television sets or video recording devices.

Independent studios and others seeking to do the same can file a letter of notification with the FCC.

Public Knowledge, a public interest group, criticized the approval, saying it would allow the big companies to take control for the first time of a consumer's TV set or set-top box, blocking viewing of a TV program or motion picture.

The biggest cable providers are Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable Inc, Cablevision Systems Corp Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.

DirecTV is the leading satellite television provider, which competes with DISH Network Corp

(Reporting by John Poirier; editing by Andre Grenon)

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Comments (3)
Baldr wrote:
This doesn’t solve the piracy problem at all. Major pirates run their satellite/cable boxes into computer just like the computer was a television(stuff like Hauppauge products). It has software to record the input into the computer.

May 07, 2010 8:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Vicore wrote:
This is per normal hurt 99.99 percent of people going after that .01. No need to call out a Company like Hauppauge that makes good quality products. The issue is that I even have to use a POS cable box from a provider, to gain access to cable. They might sell the law, order, letter to Congress the FCC whoever by saying it targets the pros but simple fact is short of getting ride of TVs and computers the world across your don’t even slowing those folks down, they are after the average Joe’s that buy an on demand movie they like so they don’t need to buy it on DVD or Blue-ray these guys they can slow down this type of stuff. But for $200 you buy a box that turn the components cables into USB and said box will stream mpeg2 right to a computer, they even have built in IR blaster to operate a cable box. Free market for the win, sorry average Joe.

May 07, 2010 9:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MekhongKurt wrote:
The entertainment industry does have some legitimate concerns. It’s a shame they’re apparently either too hard-headed or plain too stupid to figure out how to protect those interests AND have something other than “we’ll meet on the street at high noon” relationship with the public.

In this instance, it’s easy: don’t make a movie available on demand via cable until AFTER the DVD has been out for awhile — maybe three or four months.

People eager to see a new release will either go to a cinema (assuming the film has been released to the cinema circuit), and/or buy the DVD, whether that’s the first avenue the film is available or after the release has made the movie house rounds.

A residual audience will still wait, I suppose, until they can both watch and record the movie for free. If a three-four-month wait isn’t enough to shrink that audience and increase the box office/DVD take — then make the wait longer. A year, say.

Meanwhile, quit trying to be “substitute congresscritters” writing laws, Mr. Moguls, as you now do — and to other readers who may not know, that’s what they do, really: write laws that actual, elected officials in Congress then rubber-stamp as LAWS. Also, Mr. Mogul, QUIT TRYING TO TAKE A BIG-BROTHER-LIKE CONTROL OF *MY* TV!!!

May 08, 2010 2:46am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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