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New Barred Pay-TV Window

The past week the FCC approved a new mode of protecting movies streamed over cable and satellite systems.  It will still allow subscribers to watch movies in HD before they are available on disc.  But the way it is streamed will be different.  Instead of allowing it to be pirated, there will be a new feature called “selectable output control”.  The way it works is that a movie studio will instruct pay-TV operators to turn off the analog connectors on viewers’ set-top boxes.  This will only allow the movie to be transmitted through encrypted digital outputs.  The catch is that archaic controls that were taken advantage of media pirates like HDMI or DTCP can be programmed to at least limit copying.

Sure it is just another way of combating piracy (which I’m all for).  But you know that someone out there will create some sort of hack, post it online, then it’s another free-for-all.  The FCC needs to stay more on top of these things and try to outsmart the hackers.  If they really want to clamp down on this, they need to limit the ways that we watch media.  That will be virtually impossible because now people cannot live without their iPhones, PCs, and Xboxs.

One simple way would be to eliminate the ability to pause a film midway through viewing.  But I believe that this would deter many people since they want to watch things when they want.  Very rarely does one have two straight hours of free time that they know of five days before it occurs.  Maybe it also requires us as subscribers and viewers to be more patient.  If the rampant piracy still continues, then really the only way would be to not pre-release viewing and only release it on disc.

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