There’s a lot of fear and consternation out there right now over a recent decision by the FCC which would allow the MPAA and Hollywood’s movie studios to bypass theatrical runs for their films and instead of sending them to theaters, send them directly to your television set. This is only groundbreaking if you’ve never heard of direct to DVD.

The thing is, Hollywood has already been doing this in one form or another for decades. Whether it’s direct to DVD or day and date releasing done by indie studios like Magnolia through On Demand, this is kind of old hat. The difference, from the consumer’s point of view, is practically non-existent and it’s unlikely that it’ll do anything to keep Hollywood from releasing movies in theaters in favor of beaming them into your television. Non-theatrical releases will still be the realm of low-budget, leftover refuse or independents with such a small potential audience that probably no one was going to buy a ticket to see them anyway. People go to movie theaters for the experience, it’s an experience that can’t be duplicated in the home, no matter how or when the content is delivered to the idiot box sitting in your living room.

The bigger concern here, and the one more people should be worried about, doesn't have anything to do with movie theaters. It's about control. Specifically, Selectible Output Control. Selectible Output Control would let the MPAA basically disable your DVR, whenever they feel like it, to keep you from recording things being broadcast on your television. The really heinous thing in this ruling is that it would seem to give the MPAA direct power over your livingroom, sitting there next to you pushing the buttons on your TV for you.

Check out the full statement issued by the MPAA below, detailing the FCC’s decision to let Hollywood run wild with digital content, and see if you think there’s anything here to get hysterical over:
Washington, D.C. — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), saying it was “in the public interest” today approved a request by the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) to permit recent movies to be sent directly to American households over secure high definition transmission lines from their cable or satellite providers prior to their release on DVD or Blu-ray.

“This action is an important victory for consumers who will now have far greater access to see recent high definition movies in their homes. And it is a major step forward in the development of new business models by the motion picture industry to respond to growing consumer demand.” said Bob Pisano, President and Interim CEO of the MPAA. “We deeply appreciate the recognition by the FCC that recently released movies need special protection against content theft when they are distributed to home televisions.”

Specifically, the issue before the FCC was a request by the MPAA for permission to use selectable output control (SOC), which would allow televisions with digitally secure interfaces to receive high-definition content from a cable, satellite or IPTV provider, before its release on DVD or Blue-ray. Using SOC protects content because during the broadcast it essentially disables non-secure, analog outputs to avoid illegal circumvention and distribution of copyrighted material.

In its order, the FCC said: “On balance, this limited waiver will provide public interest benefits– making movies widely available for home viewing far earlier than ever before – without imposing harm on any consumers.” “The first, and best way to view movies will always be in movie theaters – and nothing can replace the pleasure this brings to millions and millions of people all across our country and the globe,” Pisano said. “But for those people unable to make it to the theater and interested in viewing a recently released movie, thanks to the FCC, they will now have a new option. For other consumers who prefer standard, linear, on-demand or DVD or Blu-ray options, these services will be unchanged."

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