We don’t often cover news stories here at 40Tech, but this one bears mentioning. A recent FCC decision [PDF file from FCC site] now allows the movie industry to disable analog outputs on your equipment in certain situations. Say what? Yes, you heard that right- in some cases, a content provider can reach in and mess with your gear.
This started back in 2003, and an FCC ruling concerning Selectable Output Control (SoC). SoC is what the MPAA wants to use to close the analog hole, by disabling outputs that don’t support HDCP. Previously, such conduct was prohibited.
Under the FCC ruling, a movie that has never been released on DVD or Blu-ray can be restricted for 90 days, by using SoC to disable the analog outputs on your gear. As some have pointed out, this isn’t all bad, because the content in question would be content that isn’t currently available, so those with analog gear won’t be missing anything that is currently available.
What is the practical effect of this? It really has three ramifications, two of which are bad. First, owners of older equipment without HDMI ports might be unable to get some of this new content. Second, all owners will be unable to make backups of this new type of purchased content, as the analog hole will be closed (some articles solely discuss streaming or on demand content, but it is hard to imagine that the industry won’t try to sell you movies, too, leaving you at their mercy to save it on their system). Third, if you have a newer television, you may get access to new content.
Is this a good thing? Does the ability to get new releases, earlier, offset the control the movie industry will be able to exert over your gear?
Photo by RocketRaccoon