Hollywood recently petitioned the FCC so that the ban on selectable output control (SOC) would be lifted. The articles go on to say that the this could impact the way you record with your HD DVRs, but it really isn't the case. As DirecTV HD DVR, TiVo HD and Vista Media Center owners (among others) can tell you, there are already flags out there that can either limit the amount of time you can keep a show, or prevent you from recording something entirely. The copy never flags are not supposed to be used, but it's obvious that they are, and the copy once flags get abused by some providers as a rule, rather than the exception. But SOC has nothing to do with recording on your HD DVR; SOC is all about closing the analog hole.
This is an old issue, in fact the ban that the MPAA is petitioning to have removed was part of the Plug and Play agreement from back in 2003. The real reason we are seeing this again, is because something changed recently in the world of HD analog recording; the very first affordable consumer analog HD recorded device was released from Hauppauge. For the first time ever, the new HD-PVR makes it a trivial task for us to record HD via component video. This obviously scares Hollywood, because despite the fact that most consumers would rather rip a Blu-ray Disc -- skipping the whole 2nd generation copy thing -- the MPAA sees every hole as a potential avenue for piracy. The real risk here is not the possibility that we won't be able to record movies with our HD DVRs, or skip over commercials, but that anyone who prefers component over HDMI -- because they have an older TV or because of HDMI handshaking issues, etc -- will be stuck watching standard def programming on their High-Def TVs. But honestly, we think this is a long shot. Even Hollywood knows how much of a nightmare this could turn into, which is why one by one, every studio came out and promised they wouldn't use the Image Constraint Token (ICT) on their new Blu-ray titles -- a comparable feature to SOC included in AACS. They knew that this could be the death knell for any new HD format, and decided that the success of the next generation HD disc was more important -- plus they left the door open to close it up later.
So everyone can put their foil hats away, and get on the right track by helping to tell the FCC that we love component video and aren't ready to give it up just to have some early access to movies at home.
Read - Arstechnica
Read - ZatzNotFunny
Hollywood can already control what you record on your DVR
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.