The Hollywood Studios Want To Control Your Television Set-Up

In a rather desperate and intrusive attempt to quell piracy, the collective forces of Hollywood have been revving themselves up to put their weight behind a new anti-bootlegging solution. So far, that sounds okay, I would hope you'd agree. It's what the solution entails that turns the stomach.

Nicknamed the Kill Switch, the Selectable Output Control device is a system by which certain outputs on your cable box or DVR – or, frankly, whatever player of any kind that they could force the specification onto – would be turned off when films or programming with a risk of piracy are being played. Essentially, if you were to turn your cable box over to see some studio film on one of the movie channels, half of the outputs on your system would be instantly disabled.

The problem is that this can't happen without some nasty side-effects. One, this will limit the amount of new add-on devices and clever ancillary bits of kit that could be invented for your boxes and players; two, only licensees could produce equipment with the technology in place, potentially limiting the range of manufacturers and keeping everything close to the studio's powerbases; three, everybody would have to shell out for new, SOC equipped pieces of tech to get access to the programs at all.

What can we do? Until the FCC have approved this rather extreme new piece of kit, it can't be actioned. The FCC are the pass at which we can cut Hollywood off.

Public Knowledge (via Boing Boing) tell us to take action and reach out to the FCC now:

The battle over your home entertainment equipment is heating up again and the time to make your voice heard is now... Thirteen public interest groups today said the FCC should not respond to the "whims of industry" and grant the motion picture lobby the ability to control how consumers use their television sets and set-top boxes. As many as 20 million TV sets could be affected.

I often feel that there's an awful lot of pro-piracy propaganda out there, some of it under cover of being public interest monitoring of copyright laws, yet I've still got to hear an argument for piracy, particularly movie piracy, that doesn't sound like the selfish whining of greedy people feeling entitled to have access to anything and everything they want at no expense. On the other hand, these plans for the SOC seem quite obviously to be a threat of infringement to consumer rights.

You can contact the FCC by e-mail:



or mail:

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street SW

Washington, DC 20554