November 3rd, 2009

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5 Minutes With Harold Feld: Before the FCC Gives Hollywood a Waiver, Make Them Submit Proof.

This is one of those little technical detail thingies where special interest get +10 on their die rolls. As I explain below, the MPAA has asked for a waiver of something called the "Selectable Output Control" rule. Basically, Hollywood wants to be able to turn off selected outputs from your cable box or TV, like to your TiVo or Sling Box. In exchange, they will make movies available on Video On Demand early.

The supposed justification for needing to turn off these outputs is that it would somehow make it easier to pirate this stuff. As I observed in a previous meeting with the Commission, if that were true, we should see a spike in piracy after a movie goes to VoD. We don't. Moreover, the studios are increasingly moving up release of the VoD window. If piracy were an issue, we should see significant increase in piracy for early-to-VoD movies as compared to movies released in the standard window (controlling for all other relevant factors). Again, there is no such evidence.

This is where the rubber really meets the road on commitments to being a "data driven agency" and no longer doing "business as usual."