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Hollywood wants to, "to strip consumers of their home viewing and recording rights," say groups
By Jon Newton,
(more articles from this author)
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Music Industry News - as it happens
Source: MusicDish/Mi2N - June 11, 2002

The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) has joined cable operators in urging the FCC to allow remote shutoffs to set-top boxes, say the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC).

"By supporting what is referred to as 'Selectable Output Control', both the MPAA and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), are betraying assurances recently given to the Congress and to consumers," says the HRRC on its web page at

The Selectable Output Control capability is, "unconscionable remote control of America's living rooms and which Hollywood studio executives rebuked earlier this year during congressional hearings on digital copy protection," states the CEA.

CEA VPt of Technology Policy Michael Petricone says, "Earlier this year, Hollywood executives told Congress selectable output controls were outdated and no longer needed, provided home copies are not redistributed over the Internet; but MPAA's filing yesterday supports the notion that cable should have the capability of controlling a consumer's television set. Which position are we to believe; the one expressed before Congress or this latest stance taken with a federal agency?"

Hollywood's mixed messages underscore the need for a more productive and transparent approach to a competitive digital cable equipment market, he says.

Commenting on the PHILA in its FCC filing, the CEA wrote, "Numerous provisions of the most recently released PHILA directly violate the Commission's navigation devices rules. Moreover, CEA believes that the PHILA contains onerous and draconian copy protection provisions, which if implemented, would lead to irate consumers and a stalled digital television (DTV) transition."

The filing continued, "It is notable that, after more than two years of negotiation with CableLabs, none of the manufacturers anxious to sell competitive navigation device products has been able to sign the PHILA license. Clearly the current process is not working."

The HRCC says in the February, March and April congressional hearings on digital copyright this year, it warned the Congress that, in addition to the MPAA legislative agenda, it should monitor closely the language and restrictions in the mandatory PHILA license proposed to the FCC by the cable industry.

"Even if no new legislation should pass, consumers could still lose their rights to home viewing, as well as recording, if this license were accepted by the FCC in the form in which it is currently being offered," it says.

"In its Senate and House testimony, HRRC specifically warned of PHILA provisions as to both Selectable Output Control - including turning home connections off entirely; and the 'downresolution' of high definition programming - degrading signal resolution (quality) by three-fourths," it states.

It also quotes Fox executive Peter as saying, "We have no problems with people using our content in multiple ways inside their own home."

However, the MPAA filing stated, "MPAA does believe ... that the cable industry has a legitimate interest in providing its subscribers with set-top boxes that have selectable output control capability," the coalition adds.

Related News from Mi2N:
» HRRC: MPAA Betrays Congressional Assurances On "Selectable Output Control"
» CEA Objects To Hollywood Attempts To Control Consumers' Living Rooms

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