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Those crazy guys down at the MPAA are at it again.

A few years ago they went before the Senate Judiciary Committee and asked them for help.  Their claim was that they were losing billions in revenue through the so-called “analog-hole.”  For those unfamiliar, the claim is that people can use the old analog inputs (those red/white/yellow wires in the back of video equipment) to stream digital content to another device in the name of piracy.  Congress was unconvinced.  In fact a man I am normally very critical of, my beloved Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter, actually did something positive for a change.

The Congressional smackdown apparently didn’t deter them, though.  Since mommy (Congress) said no, the MPAA is running to daddy (the FCC) and asking again.  And what exactly is it that they want?  They want to be given the right to shut down the analog outputs on our equipment through a little known procedure called SOC, or Selectable Output Control.

This, my friends, (and pardon my language) is bullshit.

If they are given this power, which I highly doubt given the attitude of the new FCC chair, they will have power over the consumer electronics and media landscapes that no industrial organization should ever be granted.  They will decide under what circumstances we can receive digital content.  They will dictate certain aspects of design in new electronics.  But, more importantly, they will have the power to shut a large portion of Americans off.

How is this possible?  If they can kill the analog ports on TVs, then anyone using these ports will be in the dark if the MPAA says so.  That means anyone who is using one of the much touted converter boxes or many  pre=”many “>non-difital cable services can be left out in the rain.  Suddenly, the equipment you bougth expecting it to deliver entertainment, news, and the like to your home is a doorstop.

This is just plain un-American if you ask me.  Since when do we give that level of power to industry groups?

I understand that piracy is a problem.  I don’t argue that point.  And, I understand the need to take steps ti control it.  However, the MPAA and RIAA have both become thugs at this point, in my opinion.  They are demanding that the government enact laws and policies to protect them.  All the arguments about piracy, Digital Rights Management, Selectable Output Control, and other technologies has gotten to the point where we are skirting the edge of fascist controls.  In addition, given the amount of piracy that results from leaks from the studios or their contractors directly, perhaps they should clean their own house before pointing the finger at us.

The MPAA and RIAA both need to realize they are not arms of the government.  Their interests do not supercede the rights and interests of the American citizenry. 

In short, keep your hands off my outputs.


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