Saturday, December 30, 2006

Register Your Home Theatre? That's Outrageous!

I heard about this on the radio last night and had to Google it, and sure enough, I found the story:
The MPAA is lobbying congress to push through a new bill that would make unauthorized home theaters illegal. The group feels that all theaters should be sanctioned, whether they be commercial settings or at home.

MPAA head Dan Glickman says this needs to be regulated before things start getting too far out of control, "We didn't act early enough with the online sharing of our copyrighted content. This time we're not making the same mistake. We have a right to know what's showing in a theater."

The bill would require that any hardware manufactured in the future contain technology that tells the MPAA directly of what is being shown and specific details on the audience. The data would be gathered using various motion sensors and biometric technology.

The MPAA defines a home theater as any home with a television larger than 29" with stereo sound and at least two comfortable chairs, couch, or futon. Anyone with a home theater would need to pay a $50 registration fee with the MPAA or face fines up to $500,000 per movie shown.
Ready to write your Congressman yet? Not so fast...

You see, the article is a hoax. It's on a site called, and it specifically says that "BBspot is a satire news and comedy source and meant to be funny. If you are easily offended, gullible or don't have a sense of humor we suggest you go elsewhere."

Of course, it says that at the very, very bottom of the page (below the banner ads, sponsored links and the like). A lot of people took the bait, including the national talk-show host whom I was listening to last night. I only heard a short segment, so I don't know if anyone called in to correct him or not. Now there's even an article about it on, the urban legends debunking site.

But unlike stories from some sites that are clearly satire (The Onion, Scrappleface, etc.), this one roped me in for a second, because it didn't seem that far outside the realm of possibility. As you know, I"ve been ranting against the Machine of Big Music for almost as long as this blog has been in existence, and after reading true stories like how the RIAA filed a lawsuit against a grandfather here in Texas over the downloading activities of his visiting grandchildren and the whole flap over Sony BMG's copy-protection software on its CD's that damaged users' computers, it wouldn't be all that surprising if the movie-industry Machine tried an even more outrageous tactic. (It was also interesting to me that, while researching the above links, I found out that I've met the grandfather who got sued; he played trumpet in my big band at jazz camp this past summer. If I'd known he was that guy, I would have loved to have sat down and talked about it with him; I bet it was a great, if frustrating, story.)

So don't worry, you're not going to have to pay a registration fee to show movies in your house anytime. But hopefully, a story like this will remind people that the Big Content Providers are still being dragged kicking and screaming into this new era of technology; with any luck, they'll devote their energies to adapting to this new reality instead of lashing out at the very people they depend on to buy their products.

Stupid criminal of the week #1: A Florida man hired a taxi to drive him to his bank robbery.

Stupid criminal of the week #2: A carjacking suspect got hopelessly lost while fleeing in his stolen vehicle, crashed the car twice and ended up having to call 911 on himself.

Stupid criminal of the week #3: A guy tried to avoid paying for two hot dogs at a convenience store by stuffing both of them in a single bun. When the clerk called the police on him, the dog-napper was also busted for failing to pay child support.


Eric Grubbs said...

Based on an Onion piece earlier in 2006, I think we could see the ADHDTV format. We're getting close already.

Kev said...

Ha, I think I experience ADHDTV on a regular basis already; whenever I'm watching the tube, I'm usually also reading and maybe listening to music as well.