FCC Lets Hollywood Distribute First Run Films As VOD — And Block Copying


A Federal Communications Commission rule change has granted two big wishes to the Hollywood film studios on Friday. Rejecting pleas from cinema operators, the FCC’s Media Bureau issued a waiver allowing movie studios to deliver first run theatrical releases via video-on-demand systems, The Wrap reported. On top of that, the NYT noted that studios will be able to use a signal that can block attempts to copy or somehow re-use movies distributed through the VOD system.

The FCC’s approval for the use of VOD for first run movies was sought by the Motion Picture Association of America for the past two years. The National Association of Theater Owners joined with the Independent Film and Television Alliance to fight any change in the regulations.

While the ability of studios to turn off “second outputs” on TVs, satellites or cable boxes during the viewing of any film before being available on store shelves as a DVD has eased producers’ concerns over piracy. The rule also allows studios to block copying of a release for up to 90 days or a title gets released on DVD.

While this would seem to be a win for both the studios and consumers, digital rights advocate Public Knowledge said that it could actually make it more difficult for movie fans to see videos of films that take a long time to make it to DVD, if ever.


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