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Consumer groups block MPAA bid to FCC to control TVs

updated 04:25 pm EDT, Tue July 22, 2008

Groups fight MPAA FCC bid

A request to the FCC by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to waive previously set rules and thus allow it to send video content to select TVs and entertainment devices is being contested by seven public interest and consumer groups. Led by consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, the request was made on Monday, after the MPAA's May 9th request to be exempt from the rules which were set in 2003. Such exemption would allow studios to deny access to material, or postpone it, to owners of specific brands of TVs, for example, argue the public interest groups.

One such example put forth by the groups includes Sony's announcement to offer Hancock via Video-on-Demand services to owners of Sony TVs before releasing it to individuals with TV sets made by other consumer electronics manufacturers. The MPAA, on the other hand, argues the ability to selectively send content will allow it to better control copyrighted content.

The groups go on to say such a move would foster a bad attitude towards studios, and the move would further deter customers from paying for movies and encourage them to obtain them illegally. Giving the MPAA such control over who gets what content would provide confusion among consumers, forcing them to adopt connections and purchase devices that may not be the best, the joint statement of complaint says.

Public Knowledge is joined by the Consumer Federation of America, Digital Freedom Campaign, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Media Access Project, New America Foundation and US PIRG in fighting the MPAA's request.

The 2003 rules forbid the use of Selectable Output Control signals that would allow content owners to remotely turn off individual video connections used in specific televisions or other consumer electronics. In May, the MPAA petitioned the FCC to let movie studios selectively disable video connections for movies offered via Video on Demand services.

by MacNN Staff



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