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Digital TV Approaches 283

renard writes: "The LA Times is running a story, which I have not seen mirrored elsewhere, on how the TV manufacturers are banding together to encrypt digital television. The stated goal: you watch when - and only when - the broadcasters say you can watch. No duplication (well - maybe analog); no time-shifting. Our friend Rep. Rick Boucher raises the question of whether this will undermine consumers' fair use rights. Undermine? How about `obliterate'?" One quibble with the article - when it talks about Firewire, it actually means the Digital Transmission Content Protection spec., which is implemented over Firewire. So your television may exchange data with various other boxen via Firewire connections, but data passing over them will be encrypted and will only pass with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Digital TV Approaches

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  • No, it's not the same.

    If I'm given one copy of a set of information, I see no moral issue with making as many copies as I like -- as long as I don't redistribute them. Thus, this is not at all the same as Napster or Gnutella.

    I entirely agree that distributing (or accepting from others) unauthorized copies of material is wrong -- but making additional copies for your own personal use and not distributing them? This by no means violates the (original) spirit of copyright, even if it does violate the letter.

    Timeshifting falls into the latter category, and thus the former; thus, I see any attempt to subvert it as dangerous.

  • Yeah boy. If you liked what happened with Napster, you're gonna love this. I don't care whether you think present analog TV is piracy or not, this is one of the most blatantly anti-consumer policies I've ever heard tell of. My parents generation fought WWII and couldn't care less about the Napster flap but they will care about this. So will my generation. I've little doubt there will be a hue and cry once people can no longer receive analog signals. The FCC is out of touch with the citizenry on this issue. This pay-per-view, limited life license crap ain't gonna fly, particularly in light of the content they have to offer. To reiterate the point, Napster is esoteric to older Americans but TV ain't and I just can't see them settling for what the media industry wants.
  • by alewando ( 854 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:44PM (#217987)
    Many of you are against encrypting digital television signals because of some ephemeral notion of your "natural right" to fair use, as though fair use weren't an artifact of positive law (passed by Congress) in another act of positive law (copyright law itself). But let's assume for a moment that you're correct, that there is a fundamental right here that's being abused by the industry. I'll grant you that, if you think it'll help your case. But it won't, and I'll tell you why.

    Rights aren't absolute, no matter what Ronald Dworkin tells you. Your right may trump my interest, but your right cannot trump my right; trumps cannot trump each other without reference to a hierarchy of trumps (which is lacking in this instance).

    That's all well and good, you say, but how is it relavent here? What right of mine are you abridging by having this turf-war with the television industry? Why, the most fundamental right of all: the right to continue existing without molestation by other moral agents.

    You see, it is critical that digital television be encrypted. Every second of every minute of every hour of every day, television signals are being broadcast from our television towers to our homes, but not just to our homes, no. Into outer space.

    There is an archaeological record of our daily human experiences being broadcast to extraterrestrials as we speak. Forget Species. The greatest horror won't be when aliens get our DNA sequences; it'll be when they get our reruns. Some time in the distant future, an intrepid band of extraterrestrial warriors will reach that distant blue planet that has been polluting their atmosphere with high-frequency radio signals, and they will know exactly how to destroy us at our precise weak spots; for they will have studied the Three Stooges ("Poke 'em in the eye!") and Survivor ("Give 'em money and they'll self-immolate!").

    It will be a bleak day for humanity, and I will not countenance any industry policy that allows it to transpire. It is critical that we take steps today to encrypt our television signals so that if they ever fall into enemy hands, they will appear like mindless garbage and a waste of time to try to comprehend.

    Thank you.
  • by Karpe ( 1147 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @05:05PM (#217989) Homepage
    has been revoked by the united corporations of America. It's bad for the economy. Get over it.

    It's said how a country with such a beatiful history of defense of citizen's freedom rights is being changed by transnational conglomerates. The fact is that much of the role of the USA in the world economy is determined by these companies (You can't imagine how much intelectual property we get from you. Movies, Music, Cable TV, product brands. That means dollars flowing in your direction. Your government is pretty aware of that).

    I guess that if the american citizen has to choose between it's civil rights and a good economy, he will choose the economy, afraid of losing his job. Fortunately I don't know the american citizen enough. :) Unfortunately, the decision may not be in citizen's hands, but politicians, and they will choose the economy.
  • So I have my local station sending out a HDTV signal into the air.
    And my $3000 HDTV-ready television
    And my $700 HDTV tuner.
    And my $1000 Dolby Digital receiver.
    And my $2000 PowerMac G4 with Firewire (or a $1000 yet-to-be-created HDTV recorder)
    And I have a job during my favorite show's HDTV broadcast.

    I spent all of this money and I have to watch my show in analog format?
    I do not mind digital copy-protection. But, as I have said before, let me have that ONE digital copy, in all of its HDTV glory). Make copying more than once illegal, that is fine with me. But give me that one copy!*

    *Yes, I realize that this will be hacked quickly. However, I am fully in support of cracking down on people that distrbute digital copies of movies. But please do not make it illegalfor me to have that one copy!
  • Additionally, let me point out that Fair Use is not a postive law. Fair Use is a judicial doctrine dating back to IIRC the early-mid 19th century. Congress didn't recognize it unti very recently, and _it_didn't_matter_.

    Congress can certainly create statutory exceptions to copyright, and they can likely be quite arbitrary. Music in analog format can be indiscrimently copied. Movies - even on DVD - can be partially copied if the snip is for certain types of purposes. (e.g. criticism, scholarly works)

    But even if Congress claimed that no fair uses were legal, and even named a number of them, such a law would be unconstitutional - the Fair Use exceptions exist regardless of what the law is, until you start mucking with the Constitution itself. It's nice to have it recgonized, and maybe even expanded, but these aren't things that can legally be taken away.
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @06:09PM (#218002) Homepage Journal
    My wife and I have three TV sets in our house - a 27" in the living room, a 19" in our bedroom, and an old 13" in the guest room. All we have for cable is the basic antenna service - and that's just because our reception otherwise sucks horribly. Here's what we watch:

    Most evenings, we watch either the 10PM news or the 11PM news.

    About once a week, we stay up for a while and watch Letterman.

    She likes the occasional cheesy drama (I believe she's currently on a "Dawson's Creek" kick), and I usually watch WWF SmackDown! on Thursdays (I can't help it - I've been a wrestling mark for years).

    Besides all that, I watch some sports - I like to watch Red Sox games and I'll watch most Patriots games and the Giants when I can get them.

    We also like the occasional Discovery Channel program (Steve Irwin rules!), and she and I both love the Stooges (which proves that I married the perfect woman).

    Why do I bring this up? Because for one, when you add it all up, we watch so little TV on a weekly recurring basis that we could easily learn to live without it, I think. I've considered getting a widescreen TV, but I'm so pissed off at the MPAA that I haven't bought a DVD in almost a year, and I only rent them when I get free coupons from West Coast or Blockbuster. The last time we went to the theater was in February to see CTHD. So I can live with my "obsolete" TV sets just fine.

    And how do we survive without all this broadcast media? Well, today we read books, newspapers, and magazines, work at our jobs, do fun activities together, and go places other than theaters. I get current news and weather off the Web, and it's on my own schedule, not broadcast schedules. We went on vacation a couple of months ago and survived nicely without watching TV. We'll do it again (go away with no TV) a couple of times over the summer.

    My point here is that the broadcasters need us more than they seem to realize. We're not just statistics or "consumers", we're people, dammit, and if push comes to shove, and we're only allowed to partake of their media on their terms, maybe we're not the only ones who can get by without them.

    Memo to the big media conglomerates: You need us a lot more than we need you. If you're smart, you'll stop pushing us. Don't piss us off too much. You may have lots of money and power, but without our eyeballs, you've got nothing.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • by Kiwi ( 5214 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:40PM (#218003) Homepage Journal
    When will the manufacturers ever learn that putting strong copy protection in to consumer devices simply does not work. It does not work because the first people who will adopt a new technology are the technology-savvy users, users who do not want to be told by the big media companies how they are allowed to use their technology.

    DAT died for anything but professional (read: Not copy protected) use in the early 90s. DIVX's failure is well known among the Slashdot crowd. Don't think for one second that DVD would have caught on the way it has if mod chips to defeat region coding were not so readily available. CPRM caused such an uproar that it was forced to be stopped, despite the refusal of many major media outlets (ZDNet,, etc.) to discuss CPRM.

    I do not see digital TV replacing analog TV until a form of digital TV without the onerous restrictions becomes available.

    - Sam

  • Gotta agree with the other AC: Why'd you bother posting?

    Yeah, 99% of all good stories are in books - not.

    You somehow feeling smug? Guess what - there's some good stuff on TV too.

    Films. News broadcasts. Drama. Comedy. Current events. I don't know what things are like where you are but I enjoy my Discovery Channel programs, CBC's "Counterspin", "The Passionate Eye", PBS's "Charlie Rose", not to mention Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" the other night. Plus my sweetie laughs himself silly at "Allie McBeal".

    Books are a great thing, I've got two rooms full of 'em & loved reading most of them. However they're not the only medium. TV, film, live performance, all have their strengths and all have their jewels.

    Media-bigot is as inane as OS bigot.

  • So what's it like living out back in a shack? And how are you online anyhow, big telecom corporations control the net infrastructure...

    I'm sorry but your avoidence strategy seems half-baked. Last I checked Z-Rays weren't radiating from my TV set into my brain, or at least not any more then leak from the text megapublishers.

  • You've got a choice: Buy a TV / hard drive / solid-state-music-player / whatever that has encryption or don't buy one.

    Most folks, all things being equal, will purchase the unfettered product.

    The way manufactures, content folks etc. prevent this is by getting laws set preventing non-encrypted hardware. This is the case with DAT, DVD, etc.

    However this is not yet the case with television and isn't likely to be. The public is getting wise to these tricks and lawmakers are starting to clue into the changing attitudes.

    Furthermore this isn't putting limits on a new technology but attempting to reign in an existing one.

    US Congress-critters are getting tired of feeling like TV's-patsies giving away spectrum and receiving nothing in return, no HDTV, no additional services. To now attempt to require content-protection on TV sets, that ain't gonna fly.

    This hits Joe Sixpack in the couch with his remote in hand & as powerful as the lobbyist's are they don't match a nation of TV junkies.

    Don't expect to see this sort of law get passed easily; it's too easy to make a cause cellebre against. It'll be an uphill battle & a very highly publicized one. I for one don't think it'll make it.

    Without a law the model breaks down. Gonna buy a new TV set with all the new features? Manufacturers will quickly discover that the models with content-protection don't sell and those without do.

    Are TV manufacturers in the business of protecting IP (except for Sony?) No - they just want to sell as many boxes as possible and don't have any stake what you do with 'em.

    Short term: Companies will try to get away with anything they can. The long-term: In this case they probably won't but it'll be a fight. In the meantime get ready to write your own Congress-critters & tell them how you expect them to go on this issue.

  • I think as long as there is demand for recording devices there will be a supply. There is no ways they can stop people recording stuff, if you can decrypt it to watch it you can decrypt it to record it.

  • Recording copyright material is already illegal. The question is can it be prevented. I don't think it can.

  • Don't buy their product. If other people want to that's their business. It's not as if you have some god given right to watch TV, if you don't like the terms that they supply their product under don't use it.

    Fucking hell slashdot's 2 minutes between comments gives me the shits!

  • Well since everyone can record analog signals there's really no point to this.

  • > Anyone with a fat enough pipe could launch their own channel, and if you can build a box to let the average Joe watch it on his TV, you'll have the chance to break the video stranglehold of the media companies. You wouldn't even need slick programming. Many people would try it just for the novelty.

    Yawn. If you think the current programming on tv is awful, try the utter crap produced by the average tv viewer. Ever watch public access cable?

    On the plus side, this won't fly. Starving a million iraqis to save a nickel on gas is one thing, but mess with an american's god-given right to television and you're in for an uprising, baby.
  • I vote with my wallet.

    I turned off the TV set years ago until something worth watching came on. Its in a back room now gathering dust.

    I almost never listen to the radio (Its sounds like an elevator with ads.)

    I stopped wasting time and money on ephemera. Instead I participate in /. :-)
  • by flamingdog ( 16938 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:36PM (#218024) Homepage
    I don't get it. All this worry over all this copyright protection is just plain dumb. The fact remains that if you can see it or if you can hear it, it can be duplicated.

    First off, music:
    If you can hear it, it can be duplicated. For one, theres always the age old method of RECORDING it with a microphone. And actually, yes, you can get a nice quality sound from that especially with some tweaking. Hell, I still have a 1/8th to 1/8th cord I use to rip tapes to mp3. Just plug it from the headphone jack to the microphone jack. Works wonders. There are MANY other methods that I really don't feel like getting in to.

    Second off, Video:
    DVD ripping will ALWAYS be possible as long as it can be played on your computer. I have a million and a half programs that clock in at under a few megabytes that can rip video directly from a desktop. Hell, I use those to copy the realvideo movies that I can't download but want to watch without downloading again. On TV? Again, just use the age old method of screen camming. And again, you CAN attain a VERY nice resolution with the proper equipment. Again, there are also about a million methods of manual copying that I haven't mentioned.

    "I'm not gonna say anything inspirational, I'm just gonna fucking swear a lot"
  • but where exactly does our right to "fair use" come from?

    Good question. This is what the law reads:

    Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified in that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

    In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include --

    1.the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    2.the nature of the copyrighted work;
    3.the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    4.the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors. (Emphasis added)

    While IANAL, it seems to me that this is very different from the concept of 'Fair Use' that is thrown around on Slashdot - that is mostly limited copying for education purposes is allowed as 'fair use'.

    The following links give some examples of 'Fair Use'.

  • Copyrights applied to sheet music even in Einstein's day.

  • I agree people waste too much time on TV. But blaming shortcomings of current society just on TV is not all that insightful in my view.

    The point is that TV is not necessary to a rich and meaningful life. I have some friends who live today without TV, DVDs and all the other assorted electronic gimcrackery that corporations have enticed me into buying. I haven't noticed they are the worse for it.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @06:54PM (#218030)
    One of the most thought provoking photgraphs I ever saw was a picture of the interior of Albert Einstein's house when he was living in Princeton NJ. The picture showed a bookcase, desk with papers and open books, and a piano.

    There were no electronics in view.

    It seems to me that in the overall scheme of things the encryption of digital television signals is not exactly important. If you personally are put out by this, I think that you should take a step back and think about what is important. I can guarantee that in the long run cheap mass entertainment and the materialism that it engenders is a dead end. What really is important is your humanity, spiritualism and your personal relationships. Real quality of life does not come out of Hollywood.

  • tsk tsk, you forgot the golden rule: he who has the gold, makes the rules
  • by J.J. ( 27067 )

    When will they learn?

    If they make it, we'll break it. Period.
  • Geez, there, A.C., go back and re-read my post. It was heavily anti-piracy. My agenda, plain and simple, is anti-pay-per-view.

    As for CNET testing things (got a link? Their search engine turns up nil), I've tested it, too. Soundblaster Live, with the 5.1 surround, and Cambridge Soundworks speakers. Played the 300-something rate against the CD, and alternately muted. There were audible differences, and the audio spectrum thing I had showed diff's, too. Not double-blind, but enough that I could hear it, but not enough that I care. MPEG is lossy compression, so it's going to lose information no matter what the bitrate is. It shows in DVDs (rarely), it shows on digital cable, and you can hear it.

    And, even if MP3 is a digital format, it's not a perfect digital copy. I'll call it the generic version of a prescription consumer good.
  • by scotpurl ( 28825 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:53PM (#218038)
    First, most of the music that is distributed over the internet (music wise), is MP3 files, which are not perfect digital copies of the original. They are highly compressed, high-loss, low-quality versions of the original. In short, they are sort of an analog copy of the digital original.

    Second, pirates do not, will never, need to break encryption to create pirate copies. Pirates get copies of originals (that's from inside the industry), be it film negative, multi-track studio tapes, or whatever, and make their copies from that. That is exactly how songs and films appear in public before they have even reached, or gone beyond, their debut.

    Third, a pirate just needs the same mastering equipment that the studio owns. And a factory to churn out those copies.

    Fourth, the digital nature of things has not changed the laws. The laws about copyright are stronger now than they ever have been, and somehow that's not enough. I beleive that the ultimate goal is pay-per-view, with the retention of ownership and all rights in perpetuity, which may go against the U.S. Constitution, but certainly seeks to reverse a few Supreme Court rulings.

    Fifth (and finally), if there is piracy, pass new laws to increase the number of police officers. Pass new laws to stiffen existing penalties. We have a legal system. The legislative branch creates law, the executive branch enforces the law, and the judicial branch does political favors to their appointers. Be that as it is, this is a problem of enforcement of existing laws, not the lack of laws.
  • Hmmm... A feeling creeps upon me, that evolution as described by Charles Darwin to be the engine of creation, also rules over human endeavour...

    The Romans were happily feeding Christians to the lions, and Thracians to eachother in the arena, but a time came when they longed for other entertainment. Even feeding a whole flock of Christians to a horde of hungry lions could not rouse them anymore, so the habit died out - as did many Romans.

    In medieval times, it was considered fun sport to gallop your horse on a collision course with a wooden pole in hand, hoping to unseat your opponent before he did this to you (sorry girls, this was a mens only sport). This was fun while it lasted, but eventually people longed for other pastimes. As is written down for all to read in books of history.

    Now fast-forward a couple of centuries, to.. say the 23d. In whatever is used to record knowledge by that time, will people 'read' about the funny habits of their 20th century ancestors, who gawked at electronic lightshows (kinda like the puppet-on-a-string theathers from the 17th century...)? It seemed to be fun while it lasted, but eventually the puppeteers became greedy, and the populace looked elsewhere for entertainment. They seem to have considered throwing the media-moguls before the lions as a fun alternative, but this plan was abandonded for lack of suitably starved lions. Besides, they were a protected species back then, and you could get arrested for mistreating one. So they eventually invented lochian ultra-cricket, and set out to find the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.
  • It's the same situation as illegally copying mp3s or downloading movies off of gnutella. It's illegal, and it's robbing the ones who created it by allowing you to sit around and watch it without even looking at their ads--their one source of lifeblood. How would you like it if your source of income was subverted based solely on the cry "Information wants to be free!!!"?

    It's time for this new piracy-happy mentality to die. Seriously.

    Too bad it won't. Look man, no matter how loudly the sanctimonious lawyers for the MPAA, et al., scream the genie is out of the bottle. Digital is here, and if it's digital, it can be copied easily. Copyright protections only deter, they don't stop. And in the era of the Internet, it only takes one person to break the copyprotection for the entire world to have access. This cannot be stopped.

    This is really starting to show striking similarities to the War on Drugs. Consider: The RIAA has for the most part neutered Napster. So what has happened? Aimster [], Gnutella, Freenet, and good-ol IRC have seen increased use. And guess what? Every day more and more people become more and more educated about the back alleys of the net, and they're able to find stuff more and more easily. This, too, will not stop.

    So here's the deal, man: Either a) we set our sites towards totalitarianism, or b) we rethink the way our current intellectual property system is set up. I think I prefer b).

    - Rev.
  • The thought of such a thing makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over, like under my arms. In fact it smells a lot like my armpits. That's odd. Wait a second; it's like my ass crack too! Warm and fuzzy with a unique smell. I'd better watch out cause didn't Time Warner patent that smell a while back? I guess circumventing the protection of the elastic band on my BVDs puts me in violation of the DMCA. It was pretty easy too. Just hook and pull. Oh wait, now I've told the method to the whole world. Now I'm really up shits creek without a double roll of Cottonelle and a Black Box catalog.


  • He was, however, trolling. The Supreme Court long ago recognized time-shifting as legal. (YHBT YHL HAND )

    On the other hand, if they want to prevent this legal activity by downgrading our technology, perhaps its time for voters to remind the tail who is the dog and take their bandwidth back.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • Orson Scott Card actually wrote a good short story about just that scenario.

    This man (named Hiram, I think) was living alone and had been psycologically evaluated by the goverment as a socially inactive type, so his television was kept on 24/7 to comply with some law designed to keep him mentally healhy. programming was also specified by the government (there was only one channel).

    I won't give away the end, but it's worth a good read. It's in his Maps in a Mirror collection.

  • If you want entertainment, then just read a book

    what if I want news

    Ever hear of newspapers? With most TV "news" organizations' left-wing slant, their "news" offering usually isn't worth the electrons used to transmit it.

    or education?

    Hit the books again, or the Internet.

    I'm not saying that TV is completely does an OK job of entertainment. I don't know if I would trust it with much more than that, though.

  • That might be a hard question... if technology like that had more than a very remote chance of existing. However, it doesn't. If it ever materializes, the laws can be changed. (hopefully in a more democratic way than they are now)

    That's only half the story though. The other half is that the big companies would like to get the market to accept their data format, and only their data format. Once they do that, they can not only have a gatekeeper that keeps pirate copies out. But then they can also keep independant works out of the hands of normal people, either through explicit policy, or through red tape.

  • Why not? Laws which govern contracts can be copyrighted, so it seems only natural that contracts could be copyrighted as well.
  • There's a flaw in your argument, unfortunately. The consumer electronics market out there is not even close to a free market. In a free market, quality and features will be as near as possible to what the customer wants in order to convince them to buy your product. But what if those features and qualities are harmful to another part of your business? Sony is a perfect example. Because they are a content producer as well as a consumer electronics manufacturer, they can leverage their position in both markets to force features into the products that users don't necissarily want. They're willing to take a hit in sales on their electronics side in order to protect their profits on the content side.
    There is also a pretty good chance that the vast majority of consumers will not know enough about the technologies in question to be able to understand their impact until after they purchase the product. By then, it's too late. In this first round of digital TV products, this will be particularly important because there AREN'T any products out there that would allow you to record a digital TV stream anyways. By the time that products like those come out, it might be too late, since most people would have purchased a TV that didn't allow them to use it.
  • has been revoked by the united corporations of America.

    No, it has been revoked by a government that has abandoned any pretense of respecting the Constitution and the rights of the people. The MPAA can spout lies about DeCSS all they want, but it takes government action to make it illegal.

  • >Why do I bring this up? Because for one, when you add it all up, we watch so little TV on a weekly recurring basis that we could easily learn to live without it

    That's what I thought about 1.5 years ago. ripped out the antenna. Havent regretted it since. More and more people stopped watching TV. I won't go so far as to tell people to stop watching TV, but if you're thinking about it.. just try it.

  • No.

    The problem is too many laws and government acting as proxy for the highest paying industry. The solution isn't more laws, but less.

    Legalize Freedom!
  • For example, legalizing drugs would happen by repealing the laws banning drug use, not by adding new laws permitting use.
  • This gets at an interesting point that I think was glossed over when the Librarian of Congress came up with exceptions to the DMCA []. In deciding that the CSS content protection technology used on DVDs not be exempt from the law, the following argument was made: is clear that, at present, most works available in DVD format are also available in analog format (VHS tape) as well. ... When distributed in analog formats--formats in which distribution is likely to continue for the foreseeable future-- these works are not protected by any technological measures controlling access. ... Therefore, any harm caused by the existence of access control measures used in DVDs can be avoided by obtaining a copy of the work in analog format.

    They essentially said "don't worry about lack of fair use for DVDs, you can always rely on VHS." Imagine if the law had been passed 10 years earlier and CDs had similar content protection measures. The Librarian of Congress would be saying, "Don't worry, you still have LPs and cassettes."

    New LPs are extremely rare, and it looks like cassettes are going the same way. THIS IS THE FUTURE FOR VIDEO. I have no doubt that the studios will start phasing out VHS tapes in the near future. As they go so shall the VHS player.

    We already see differental treatment of DVDs and VHS. Let's say that you want to buy a copy of that hit movie Antitrust (starring Ryan Phillippe as a hacker -- realistic...). The DVD version [] can be yours for the low, low price of $19.99 at But wait, you want to be able to make fair use [] of the video, so you take heart in the fact that the VHS version is available as well. Boy are you in for a surprise []. The VHS version can be had for a mere $106.99 from our pals at

    Why do I feel like I've been mugged?

  • When will the manufacturers ever learn that putting strong copy protection in to consumer devices simply does not work. It does not work because the first people who will adopt a new technology are the technology-savvy users, users who do not want to be told by the big media companies how they are allowed to use their technology.


    Don't think for one second that DVD would have caught on the way it has if mod chips to defeat region coding were not so readily available.

    I think you'd be surprised at how few early adopters can actually circumvent DVD region coding.

    While it would be great if people would stand up against schemes that infringe against fair use, the fact is that the lure of better image quality, coupled with wacky outtakes, interviews with the director, movie trailers, and never-before-seen behind the scenes footage was strong enough to build a critical mass of DVD users -- most of whom CANNOT excercise their fair use rights on materials the OWN.

    By buying legislation like the DMCA, the MPAA and others have succeeded in overruling the Supreme Court's fair use decision.

  • You shouldn't have to use DeWHATEVER to excersize your fair use rights. First off, most people will be unaware or unable to use something like that. Second off, why should I be treated like a criminal for doing something perfectly legal?
  • Just wait till i code DeDTCP!

    (This is a joke, DTCP is the protection specification that they are 'going' to use. )

  • Don't think for one second that DVD would have caught on the way it has if mod chips to defeat region coding were not so readily available.

    DVDs caught on because the restrictions that are put on them are ones that most people will never notice. I can honestly say that I have never had any problems with either CSS encryption or region coding while attempting to watch a DVD movie that I have purchased. And why would I have had problems? I'm perfectly willing to accept the fact that to watch a new type of media I need to purchase a new player. I did that and hooked it up to my TV and stereo and it just works. It has never crossed my mind that it might be in any way convenient for me to purchase DVDs in another continent so I've never had a problem with the region coding. What it comes down to is that when used in the way that over 99% of all people will use a DVD movie (at least those who live in the US and speak only English) there is very little reason why you'd ever find a problem with either Region Coding or CSS and that is why people have adopted this technology. The limits on the technology just aren't in the realm that most people will ever notice.

    It's going to be a really different matter if people can't record the game that they have to miss or that episode of Friends or what ever. Most people are very used to being able to tape a TV show that they're going to miss and aren't going to be willing to give that up to get a better picture.


  • by dirk ( 87083 ) <> on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @05:21PM (#218076) Homepage
    I'm sure htis will be marked as a troll by some people, but where exactly does our right to "fair use" come from? I know all about time-shifting (and support it), but I have never seen anything that says they must make it so you are able to make a backup copy, only things that say they can't stop something from being produced because it can make a backup copy. I know it's a weird thing, but those really are 2 different things. It's like saying if I can, I have the right to make a copy, but they are not required to make sure I can make a copy.

    "Fair use" is very important, but I can completely understand where they would not have to take into account whether or not you are able to copy it. Imagine if sometime in the future there is a technology that is great, except it cannot be copied (not through encryption, but because of some flaw in the technology or whatever), what happens then? Do we throw out a good technology (that many people may want) because the companies can't ensure that people can copy it? Or do we let them use it, as the only thing "fair use" ensures is that they can't outlaw things that let you exercise you're "fair use" privilege? So, is the "right to fair use" actually ensured by some law or court ruling or something similar, or is it only that they can't stop things that would enable people to use their "fair use rights"?

  • 1. The purpose and character of use is clearly commercial, as it's an attempt to avoid spending money if your original copy is destroyed. "A penny saved is a penny earned," as Ben Franklin said.

    In this context, "commercial" means that you're providing a good or service to another party with the intent of being compensated. You're using the term incorrectly, as referring to any action having to do with money.

  • The whole piracy thing is a red herring. They want total control of the format so that "unlicenced" artists will find it impossible to distribute their works. If you're not in the little clique of the RIAA or the MPAA, you won't be able to distribute (or even make) something that competes with them. I think they have a word for that. Collusion, if I'm not mistaken. It's not illegal if you've bought enough congresspeople, though.
  • I don't think I've watched a TV show at the time it was broadcast in a year. Thanks to ReplayTV, I get to see what I want, when I want. (And the 30-second commercial skip is a godsend, too. Somebody really should explain to advertisers that the demographic who watches BBC America is not the demographic who buy cheesy Chia pets.)

    The benefit of digital TV is a sharper, clearer signal - but only, apparently, if I'm watching the original broadcast. No, thank you. I've been liberated from "Must See Monday" and "Trapped in Front of the Tube Tuesday." I'm not going back.

    Television is called a medium because anything well done is rare.

  • As long as there is a demand there will be a supply, but that supply may be made illegal. Alcohol was still availiable during the Prohibition, after all. My worries are that it will be made illegal to record data, not impossible. We already know that the industry can make it illegal, now it's just a matter of when.
  • The more we use that argument the more we tell them that it's ok for them to take away our rights, because, hey, we have more. It's not ok to just sit back while huge companies roll over us. I don't know what to do about it myself, other then not buying to stuff, but I don't think that will really affect anything, there are enough stupid people in the world who WILL buy it.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\= \=\=\
  • So a broadcaster could bump you on to their pay-per-view channel and then charge you for accessing it? That sounds truly evil.


  • And interestingly enough, from what I see here copies for backup purposes are expressly not protected. Consider:

    1. The purpose and character of use is clearly commercial, as it's an attempt to avoid spending money if your original copy is destroyed. "A penny saved is a penny earned," as Ben Franklin said.

    2. The nature of the copyrighted work in question is not often a scholarly work, but a commercial entertainment product. So the importance to society at large of being able to make a backup is not all that great. After all, the media companies have spammed the market with the stuff, so it's not like it's not readily available.

    3. The amount of the work copied in proportion to the whole is 100%. My reading of this indicates to me that the smaller the portion of the work that is copied, the more protection the copying recieves.

    4. The affect of the use on the market is that you don't make an additional purchase, so using the industry's logic, they "lost" money because you made the backup. See point 1.

    By looking at these criteria on a point-by point basis, it seems clear to me that making a backup copy is not protected by this description of fair use. Furthermore, I could make the same argument for just about every other "fair use" that we're losing due to these "copy protection" schemes.

    At this point, I don't think anything other than a complete overhaul and rewrite of the copyright laws is going to improve the situation. For one thing, the things that we here on Slashdot consider to be "fair use" have to be enumerated in the law in order to be valid. By a strict reading of the law, it would seem that a lot of things we take to be fundamental rights due to the properties of information are not in the least bit supported under law. And in truth, if you don't want the cops breaking down your door, the law is all that matters.


  • Recording copyrighted material is FAIR USE, not illegal. Mass recording of copyrighted material is illigal.
  • I am the only one enjoying PBS? Damn, I feel weird!
  • My grandfather, my father and now me all paid for the BBC. We paid for the programs to be made and the infastructure to be constructed.

    It is a service paid for collectively by television owners on a non-profit basis. We pay for the programs to be made and transmitted to our houses for our use. My licence covers equipment capable of recieving transmitted signals not televisions. This covers time-shifting and program recording for whatever use.

    Now the big players want to violate my investment.

    Well fuck them.

    People make programs.
    People make music.
    There will always be entertainment available in your local area whatever they do.

    The ONLY countermeasure we can take is to not buy their shit.

    Break the encryption and distribute the tools necessary for watching it just for good measure.

    Without our previous consumption these people would be nothing. Ok I like the stuff they've made, thanks and all that but when they take the piss you either fight them or opt out.

  • This is an attempt to take away legal usage rights established in the Betamax decision and in the Audio Home Recording Act. For this to happen on an industry-wide basis is a conspiracy in restraint of trade as defined in antitrust law. Only because the Bush administration is expected to be very anti-consumer does this have a chance of getting anywhere.

    Some highly visible antitrust lawyer needs to get up and say this to the press.

  • I believe that it's been determined that TV transmissions aren't of sufficient strength to reach other star systems at detectable levels. I seem to recall reading an article in some science mag (ooh, great reference, NSA!) that said that we'd have to use many times our entire planet's energy output to send a listenable radio signal to a semi-distant system (ie. not Alpha Centauri). And that's a directed beam, not just "leakage". Don't stock up on canned food yet, the aliens probably won't be coming to shut down MTV any time soon.
  • by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. ( 142215 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @07:23PM (#218128) Homepage
    According to Judge Kaplan, "fair use" does NOT allow you to even tell people where to get a technology that enables you to make a fair use of a work if that technology circumvents any copy/access control measure. Fair use is only allowed if the copyright owner gives you unencrypted access to the content. Legal precendent as of now is that fair use ONLY exists where the copyright owner PERMITS it to. Yes, this goes against what fair use is supposed to be about, it is supposed to allow actions that the copyright owner can NOT prohibit. But with the DMCA, UCITA and shrink wrap licenses, the law says the providers has INFINITE rights, and you, the "consumer" has NONE except those the producer lets you TEMPORARILY exercise, for as long as HE/SHE wants you to.

    Ask a lawyer for real legal advice.
  • I think as long as there is demand for recording devices there will be a supply. There is no ways they can stop people recording stuff, if you can decrypt it to watch it you can decrypt it to record it.

    I'm not so sure. This is really the work of MPAA and cable companies, CES fought it quite some time IIRC. But as far as 'if they can decrypt it...etc', maybe not. Where the MPAA and cable group wants to do is encryption TO THE MONITOR as well, not just to the set top box. Hence, tossing in a vcr, etc, won't work once the analog set and those connections are gone. They're thinking long term this time...they want to get TOTAL control. They're smart enough to know it'll take time before all analog tv's/vcr's are gone, but then they'll have what they originally wanted from the betamax case that the supreme court wouldn't give them. It's basically a slap in the face of the 9 supremes as much as anything else. I certainly hope this type of thing is included when dcma cases gets to the supreme court, where they undoubtedly will. (add it to the foot-in-mouth thing the sdmi group did threatening to sue academic papers)

  • Enough of this DMCA/Digital Transmission Content Protection/SDMI/etc crap. We need specs, regulations, and laws that protect the consumer, and we need them NOW.

    Check in...(OK!) Check out...(OK!)
  • The duplications and 'time-shifts' (read: piracy) are simply copying without the authorization

    Then why the hell did the Supreme Court rule that time shifting is a perfectly legal example of fair use?

    Check in...(OK!) Check out...(OK!)
  • Not when it's a TV program that gets broadcast that you tape for later. That falls under the 'time sharing' provision of fair use. The Supreme Court has ruled it's legal to time shift. End of story.

    The problem is this: time shifting is legal, but preventing time shifting may not be illegal. And if that's how it plays out, we're screwed; the media/gadget companies will remove our ability to take advantage of 'fair use' in any way they can. They'll probably get away with it, too.

  • will at least help with the popups. filters out ads too. very cool, unobtrusive free Win software.

    mac version works well too.

  • You said it. I'll stick with my analog ReplayTV unless digital timeshifting works just as well. Which of course it won't... Ack.
  • Homer also said, "TV: friend, teacher... secret lover..."
  • Well, yes, you could take the digital signal, put it in your TV, and take the analog out from the TV and plug it into a VCR (or TiVo, if you're so inclined), but that's not the point. If you payed all that money for digital television, then you would want to record that great digital signal and not an analog conversion of it. Going through a D/A conversion introduces undesirable loss, and therefore would undermine the purpose of getting the digital equipment/service in the first place.
  • by EvlPenguin ( 168738 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @05:32PM (#218147) Homepage
    The next advancement in this trend will be TVs that you can't turn off. And then TVs that pick up signals from your end.

    Sounds double-plus good.
  • Personally I could give a shit if someone wants to make a set of single purpose devices to exchange encrypted content.

    What's much more bothersome is the idea that key hardware and software components in a personal computer need to be blackboxed from the user. It goes against every fundemental idea of personal computing by removing the user's control over their own data.

    Things like DeCSS and software DVD players were just the first stupid battle. Content protection mechnisms are already built into the Windows kernel. Every single I/O component is being readied for content protection. And, unlike most of you, I feel it's foolhardy to pretend that all of this will be cracked.

    The long term trend is to turn your PC into a closed mediabox terminal, like so many failed 'settop' experiements back in the 1980s. Buyer beware, but there's not much you can do to stop it, except by not purchasing the product. And as DVD has shown, even the opposition is a wonderful customer.
  • My understanding is that the converters that are planned for existing "HDTV-Ready" sets are not planned to run at full HD resolution. Maybe 720p at the best, maybe worse.

    But still, these converters might the the only chance for a consumer to get unencrpypted access to the HD picture. Best pick one up before they disappear from the market (which they will - there aren't that many HDTV-Ready sets in the US).
  • But is it good for the U.S. economy to transfer so many rights to these IP monopolists, in an effort to reward them for "creating" new expressive works? What are the economic facts?

    A new book, "The Cheating of America," (ISBN 0-380-97682-X, get it from your public library while you still have one) from the Center for Public Integrity gives some anecdotal evidence that such a massive transfer is not good for the American economy.

    Tax avoidance and evasion has always been commonplace in Hollywood, for example. Tax shelters and offshore corporations and "service company partnerships" mean that these stars of the economy end up paying NOTHING in U.S. taxes every year, even when they state billions in profits.

    Clever accounting (much more creative than the actual movies themselves) meant, for example, that Batman grossed some $253 million in the first year, but, according to Warner Bros., ended up losing $36 million and so did not have to pay any taxes!

    The result is that you and I, taxpayers who pay the studios for the privilege of consuming their trash, pay once again to support the government that has been purchased by these movie moguls.

    The argument that U.S. consumers will support these outrageous tricks in order to enjoy a booming economy is simply uninformed. Instead, we need to pay more for IRS auditors and congressional investigations and put some of these crooks in jail.

  • The VHF and UHF frequencies do not belong to the broadcasters; they belong to the public. The FCC is the federal body which allows exclusive use of these frequencies, for free, to TV broadcast stations in exchange for serving the public interest.

    So far, that has meant broadcasting news & weather reports, playing PSA's, etc.

    What we need to do is call our Congressmen (In my case, a Republican House Representative and two Democrat Senators), and tell them that we believe that these kind of heavy handed tactics do not serve the public interest.

    Then Congress can give the broadcasters a choice: continue to serve the public by broadcasting an encryption-free stream, or all free use of the airwaves will be revokes and you will be forced to pay for the privilege of exclusive use of the bandwidth.

    Who's with me? Can I get a witness?

  • The VHF and UHF frequencies do not belong to the broadcasters; they belong to the public. The FCC is the federal body which allows exclusive use of these frequencies, for free, to TV broadcast stations in exchange for serving the public interest.

    So far, that has meant broadcasting news & weather reports, playing PSA's, etc.

    What we need to do is call our Congressmen (In my case, a Republican House Representative and two Democrat Senators), and tell them that we believe that these kind of heavy handed tactics do not serve the public interest.

    Then Congress can give the broadcasters a choice: continue to serve the public by broadcasting an encryption-free stream, or all free use of the airwaves will be revokes and you will be forced to pay for the privilege of exclusive use of the bandwidth.

    Who's with me? Can I get a witness?

  • this copyright protection is just plain dumb, b. The fact remains that if you can see it or if you can hear it, it can be duplicated.

    But who wants to spend their life hiding like a criminal simply because some Transnational feels it should buy laws, that are against nature and reality*, just to stuff their wallets?

    I dont want to be a criminal of a corporate state...

    ...Freedom is just another word until theirs nothing left to loose...

    * intellectual property is a concept - not a concrete thing.. it is an agreement we make as free citizens with people who want to produce and sell in the market. thoughts and ideas are NOT chattle. "Intellectual Property" does not exist. The Capitalists have forgot this...

  • the FCC has lost it's collective mind

    You want to see crazy? You wait until they start SELLING [] the airwaves instead of licensing them.

  • i agree - but in this arms race of hacker vs. transnational - the transnatinals are buying laws to make us all criminals... sooner or later we are going to have to deal with the REAL problem here. Im tired of having to fight some money-grubbing prick because he believes his right to make money is more important the the rights of all of the rest of the citizens around him... this shits gotta stop.

  • On a related subject, Prof. Felten is speaking at Stanford today (Thurs May 17). I'll be there. Details follow:

    Reading Between the Lines: Lessons from the SDMI Challenge and its
    Aftermath - Prof. Edward Felten, Dept of Computer Science Princeton University

    Date: Thursday, May 17; Time: 2:15 - 4:00; Location: Math (Building 380) Room 380 Stanford University

    The music industry has proposed a range of "security technologies" designed to prevent the unauthorized copying of recorded music. Recently a group of researchers, including the speaker Prof. Edward Felten, was forced to withdraw from publication a paper analyzing several of these technologies, due to threats of litigation by the music industry.

    This talk will discuss what happened:
    - the status of anti-copying technology,
    - how the music industry is trying to prevent copying
    - an overview of the technical analysis
    - how and why the authors were threatened,
    - and the effect of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on computer security researchers.

    DIRECTIONS: You can locate the building by going to and clicking on Bldg. 380 Mathematics in the list of Academic and Administrative Buildings. Parking info can be found at Please allow extra time for parking.

    Questions? Please respond to Barbara Simons at:

  • Maybe they think they're doing Industry a favor, but by excluding the public from this decision, they're destroying the very market they wish to exploit. They won't sell any of them to me, that's for sure.
    There are very few programs I watch at broadcast time. Without full quality digital timeshifting digital broadcasting is worthless to me and I wont buy it.
  • by ckedge ( 192996 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @06:19PM (#218173) Journal

    I enjoyed Napster hugely, and it's loss (and the loss of services like them) is a massive step backwards in time (as the RIAA would like I'm sure).

    So I should be concerned, but I'm not. Why? Well, I've found myself exclusively using for my music needs. Tons and tons of free music. I have not had any trouble finding good stuff (except when I purposely delve into the bottoms of the categories to do my part in 'discovering' new talent).

    It makes sense. If information should be free, it will be free. Not because we force *all* information to be free, but because if information isn't free, there is always other information that delivers the same value that *is* free. Capiche?

    Let me restate that: I don't have to buy Jennifer Lopez music at $20 a pop, or MS Office at $300 a pop, or MS Win2K at $400 a pop (CDN $), because I can easily find 10 artists who sound like and are as good as Jennifer Lopez who give their 'information' away free, and because I can always use GPL office software (and use open standard documents like HTML), or use GPL/free operating systems.

    In a world with a billion digital citizens, all it takes is one person to make an entire class of information free, by creating something and giving it away for free! And we can all help out!

    Everyone here realizes that giving money directly to the artists would be most efficient, what with the distribution of information costing nearly nothing. "Cut out the greedy fat cat middlemen!!" is the cry. Now with's "BackTheBand", I can put my money directly where my mouth is!

    In not too long a time all other media will follow in the same path. First came free software, then free textual entertainment, then free music, eventually free video must follow. (You've heard about the project to make a free fully rendered movie using POVRay, right?)

    It's pretty hard to compete with free. If these bastards want to commit financial suicide, what the hell do I care!

  • Those nasty content owners want to have it all. This new Firewire technology, and it's ability to to link up to 64 devices at 400 mbps just makes my blood boil. How it is being used for encryption doesn't seem to be in the article, though. What the Times isn't reporting is the Cathode Ray Tube conspiracy. Using Cathode Ray Tube technology television producers can control EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO SEE! While the details are a mysterious secret, only those segments of their digital or analog content that THEY CHOOSE for you to see are visible on the Cathode Ray Tube! We need to put a stop to this before the nefarious Flat Screen Technology is used to lock down analog and digital content! On a less silly note, choosing not to watch is an option that hits them in the checkbook. Ensuring that digital distribution remains available for non-copyrighted material is still a laudable goal.
  • Now lets be real here... the broadcast media companies are less interested in making sure you watch Friends at 8:00pm on Thursday than they are making sure you watch the commercials.

    Digital recording and time-shifting (TiVo, UltimateTV, ReplayTV, and the like) break their business model. I'll be honest here... I watch almost NOTHING live anymore. If there's a sporting event I want to watch, I fire up TiVo and do something else constructive for an hour and then start watching it. That allows me to fast forward through all commercials, and pretty much anything else that's boring. And yea, I can see why broadcasters are pissed about my ability to do that. Yea, you could time-shift with a VCR, but not with the simplicity of something like TiVo.

    The bottom line is that it's their business model that needs fixing, not our recording habits. Given the popularity of crappy sounding mp3 recordings, does the broadcast industry really think that the public will give up the ability to record just because they can't recording the original HDTV signal? Digital TV receivers will have analog outputs for a VERY long time, and as long as that analog signal exists, there will be someone with a product like TiVo to take advantage of it. And by the time that the analog signal goes away, products like TiVo will be so commonplace that there will be a HUGE public outcry if they suddently can't use them. Fair use and time-shifing is something the public EXPECTS to be able to do, more so now than ever, and that expectation will continue to grow in coming years.

  • Don't buy it! They assume people will buy the protected content just like they bought DVD's. I'd like to see the thing die on the vine. Stick with VHS and free tv. The content providers will soon find out what does and does not sell. Treat it just like the old floppy copy protected games and programs. I view subscription software as broken out of the box. Not all my machines are online. I do most of my critical stuff on unconnected machines. It's the best security I have for finance and personal data. Take anything back when it doesn't do what it is supposed to on your equipment. I took back a Microsoft Optical mouse because the mouse driver could not find my modem. That machine didn't have one. I bought a Dexxa optical mouse instead. I take videos back that have distorted pictures on my TV. I take CD's back that won't DL to my RIO. I don't use Liquid Audio audio format because it is incompatible with my hardware. Make copy protection expensive for the providers. It is true there is a bunch of content I don't get to see, but that is up the the content provider to exclude me. If the content is provided on a format I can use, then I may become a consumer by choice. Notice how lots of stuff is released in both VHS and DVD? The biggest thing now killing the digital TV standard is loss of free quality content. People won't upgrade for over the air because there is no reason to spend the money. Broadcasters won't want to put in the studio equpment because there isn't any receivers in the local market. I think the digital TV will not make it On the Air. I think it will be limited to subscription viewers who pay for premium content.
  • Fourth, the digital nature of things has not changed the laws. The laws about copyright are stronger now than they ever have been, and somehow that's not enough. I beleive that the ultimate goal is pay-per-view, with the retention of ownership and all rights in perpetuity, which may go against the U.S. Constitution, but certainly seeks to reverse a few Supreme Court rulings.

    I think you hit it on the nose with that one. In fact, I don't think large-scale piracy is the issue here at all. The MPAA admitted when CSS was first announced that they weren't trying to thwart the major pirates but rather, to keep Joe Sixpack honest. But I think they are cutting off their nose despite there face. The recording and movie industries lose hundreds of millions to professional pirates while possibly only millions to Joe Sixpack sharing with his brother-in-law.

    Honestly, Hollywood is its own worst enemy. I download DivX;-) Seinfeld episodes from the internet - is it b/c I'm a cheap-ass pirate? No, it's b/c I've never been given the option to purchase them legally. I think the television industy would do well to take a lesson learned hard by the recording industry. If they won't make it available, someone else will! They are squabling over how to protect the $10 in the tip jar while the pirates are running away with the cash register.

    There is a market for season box sets for most shows. And if not, then make them available for download on the web. They won't lose any money in syndication revenues and they'll gain the $$$ of those fanatic completionists like me.

    There will never be 100% protection for IP. The best they can hope for is vigilant prosecution of those costing them the most money, while offering their products in such a way as to eliminate the market for pirated products. The fact that all three industries (music, movie, TV) have done the former and not the latter will be their downfall.


  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @09:10PM (#218183)
    I moved out to the US in December from England. Before I moved I made my US wife promise that I could have 'five hundred channels' - it seemed to be the American dream and if I was moving 7,000 miles for her, I was going to have it.

    I watched a couple of hours worth at her parents and completely gave up on the idea as it's so commercial ridden as to be unwatchable [from the point of view of an English person who's used to three three-minute commercial breaks an hour]. All of a sudden it seemed less appealing.

    So, we ended up without cable. Our TV's hooked up to the VCR, though not to the aerial or any other signal. I spend about the cost of cable access on video and DVD rentals which means I get a couple of movies of my choice, with no commercials, pretty much every day (with BB's reward card, I'm unlucky if I pay for half of what I rent). All in all it seems like a pretty good deal cost/content wise.

    The real rewards have been the unexpected ones. And no I'm not going to do the usual quality time I now get to spend with my favourite rubber ducky taking long baths. I'm pretty much stress free. The reality is that most highschool students aren't shooting each other, most mexicans aren't going to rob me the moment they see me, no one's been murdered, no one's been raped, the world's actually a pretty nice place. News shows need to sensationalise what's happening to keep people interested. Once you get away from the over excited reporting you realise that they present a totally skewed and totally depressing view of the world. I now read slashdot for geek news, the bbc news site for news from back home and generally get told by friends if there's anything I really should know about. As a result I get to hear about what I'm interested in without having a load of sensational crimes distorted to the point where the world seems too evil to live in (except for the MPAA *grin* slashdot sees to that).

    As for music, I'm now buying way more than ever before because I'm listening to the radio instead and hearing way more that I ever heard on MTV.

    So, for me, the quality of life improvement isn't the extra time, it's that I get a way less depressing view of the world and can actually target what I want, not what some executive at Fox decides I want.

    As has been said before, the viewer enters in to a trade with the TV company. Every time they up the number of commercials, they make it harder to copy content, they up the costs, degrade the service, they push the customer one step closer to considering the options and, more and more, once people have considered the options they're saying "Thanks but no thanks."

    If TV companies want to continue, they need to realise they need to make the customer feel they're getting what they want. Traditionally that's been with more captivating shows (Weakest Link may be drivel but it's addictive drivel) but they seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel on that at the moment. Soon, if they wish to survive, they'll have to address other means and that may actually be to backtrack and offer better terms.

  • by Gaijinator ( 218180 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:31PM (#218184)
    The next advancement in this trend will be TVs that you can't turn off. And then TVs that pick up signals from your end. And after that (which I predict will occur in 2009), we'll go back 25 years to 1984.
    "Remember, your friends will stab you in the back for the price of an Extra Value Meal."
  • So, under the DMCA we can not reverse engineer even the most basic encryption, so, as pirate cable decryption boxes became populat in the 1980s, hardware to decrypt and store digital TV signals will begin to pop up over the next decade. The question is, will it be cost effective to pursue those who make use of such technology?

    You will notice that I am certain that these sorts of decryption devices will become available in short order. There was one interesting question posed in an earlier comment. "Does this sort of encryption infringe on fair use?", Well, As far as I can tell, fair use does not relate at all to the ability to make use of the copyrited material. It is available in it's encrypted form, so fair use would dictate that it should not be an infringement of copyright to make use of the data in it's encrypted form. I'm not sure what someone might do under fair use with this data, perhaps create an artistic expression made up of the digital wave forms or something... Perhaps convert the data into an MP3? (that was a joke - think conversion of DeCSS source code into a musical composition). The next logicl question though is, Does fair use include decrypting the data for personal archival use such as is allowed for audio recordings? I don't have the andwers, just questions...


  • by sonofepson ( 239138 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:51PM (#218191)
    OK, fair is fair. I'm going to start encrypting the checks I use to pay my cable bill using the public key from a small bank in Alaska. If the cable company wants to cash it they can use the bank I choose.

    After all I wrote the check so I retain the copyright to it, and that is how I wish that work particular work to be used.

    If they cut off my cable I will declare that the lack of service is an attempt to circumvent my copyright protection and sue.

    So There.

  • DeTES (television encryption system) hacks for all those TV capture cards and such.
  • I do go outside, but not everyone sees the light...

    The Lottery:
  • I see a lot of posts on here shouting "this is useless against piracy! You can't stop the copying of digital information! Pirates will find a way!"

    People - please! This has nothing to do with piracy. It never has had anything to do with piracy. This is about control of the average viewer.

    We (those of us who copy information without authorization of the copyright holder) are insignificant when compared with the bulk of average consumers. We could copy TV signals, DVDs, and MP3s until we turned collectively blue in the face, and it wouldn't even register on the revenue statement (neither figuratively or literally :).

    Even the big boys out in Hong Kong represent little more than a nuisance to the content industry. There are millions - perhaps billions of consumers who "legitimately" buy content. And they are the ones that the content industry are hoping to affect.

    By training the public that everything is licensed, that copyright is absolute, that encryption is necessary, they are setting the stage for increased profit. They need to subvert control over every aspect of use, not duplication, to further increase profit margins.

    Think pay-per-view. Think subscription. Think replacement media. Think time/use limited content. These are cash cows - and the more the public gets wracked with "content protection is OUR RIGHT," the more they will believe it.

    The good news - this doesn't affect us in the slightest. We're smart. We can override the use controls. We can hide.

    The bad news - the rest of the world can't. The arts will suffer. Content will homogenize. Billionaires will become trillionaires.

    I guess it's not all that bad. :) I mean - this is the way it has to be. Just ask the record industry.


    All men are great
    before declaring war

  • by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @05:28PM (#218196)
    The duplications and 'time-shifts' (read: piracy) are simply copying without the authorization.

    While this is a true statement, it is not relevant. The supreme court of the United States has determined that authorization of the copyright holder is not required to legally timeshift material.

    It's the same situation as illegally copying mp3s or downloading movies off of gnutella.

    No, it isn't. It's different because it is not illegal (see above).

    It's illegal, and it's robbing the ones who created it by allowing you to sit around and watch it without even looking at their ads--their one source of lifeblood. How would you like it if your source of income was subverted based solely on the cry "Information wants to be free!!!"?

    Again - it is the supreme court which ultimately determines the legality of doing things, not you. While it may be "robbing the ones who created it" in your view, that view is not similarly held by the court.

    On a more personal note, I would not appreciate it if my income was subverted based solely on the cry "information wants to be free," but rather than fighting a losing battle agains the supreme court, I would modify my business plan to avoid this "subversion of income."

    Hope this helps to clear things up.

    All men are great
    before declaring war

  • ...and that is to immediately and globally engage in mass copying, uploading, downloading and distributing of all copyrighted and patented materials. This is the only way we are going to prevent the powers that be from enacting increasingly Big Brother-type measures to ensure that their so-called intellectual property is not stolen. We must not allow this to happen. Otherwise our freedom is history. The powers that be got their power and wealth from our money and our work. We allowed them to be what they are. Resist all Orwellian systems that take away your liberty a little bit at a time, one little law at a time. We can take it back. The internet is our weapon. Refuse to pay for any copyrighted music, software, patents, ideas, etc...

    Copy it all and distribute it all! Reclaim your liberty!
  • I have a feeling that digital TVs are still going to have analog interfaces for quite a while, so you can still get in that way. Besides, I'm not talking about streaming HDTV content--there isn't enough available bandwidth to do that into the home yet. Good old NTSC will be fine for now. And even if you choose to use the digital interface, I would imagine that if the set manufacturers built the interface so that only approved content could get through (as opposed to encrypted/watermarked content that you weren't authorized to watch), they'd have the mother of all antitrust suits on their hands. Besides, it wouldn't make sense to do that from a technical standpoint because people are going to have things like camcorders that they'll want to hook up to watch their videos, and these are already using digital interfaces in some cases. Not to mention all the locally-produced TV programming, such as local newscasts and public-access channels on cable systems. I really don't think the idea will be to exclude non-encrypted/watermarked signals. There would be too many technical and legal pitfalls to doing that.

    But back to the media box I'm talking about. All it would have to be is a computer with NTSC output capability and a remote, but with no monitor, keyboard, or mouse, at least not in the standard package. Build it with off-the-shelf components and load it up with open-source software and audio/video codecs, then publish the specs for it online so anyone could build it. That way, anyone from Dell to your local computer store to an end user could put these things together. The main challenges would be to make it as cheap as possible and very easy to use, so all the owner would have to do is turn it on and choose what channel he wanted to watch (or hear, in the case of radio) from an on-screen menu. There'd have to be some way to automatically update the channel list as new ones came on, as well as updating software as needed, but this ought to be possible.

  • I'm not saying that the average person out there would produce his own stuff (although he could if he wanted to). I'm talking about things like independent films (Star Wars parodies, short films such as those on iFilm, etc.), streaming audio (KPIG, Radio Paradise, SkyFM), and possibly issue-oriented programs (could you imagine Slashdot TV?).

    Here's my basic argument. Right now, we have three primary modes of live video delivery systems: broadcast, cable, and DBS. There are others, but these account for most all of the ways we get TV, and they're almost completely controlled by the large media companies. Couple that with the fact that there's effectively no way for anyone not in the "club" to gain entry. You can't get into anything that resembles a major broadcast market because all the frequencies are already taken, you can't get on most cable systems because the cable companies prefer to carry channels either partly or totally owned by their parent companies, and you can't get on DBS because these services want major programmers, and their signals are overcompressed as it is because they're already carrying more channels than they ought to. Many people here and elsewhere are bemoaning the monopoly held by the big media companies, but you're never, and I repeat never, going to break that monopoly until you find an alternate distribution method. The Internet is the best choice we have right now, and in fact, it works fairly well, especially for radio. In fact, as I write this, I'm listening to a high-quality feed of KPIG. Problem is, most people, including myself, don't want to sit in front of a computer in order to enjoy this content. I'd rather be able to go out into my living room and sit on my couch to watch and listen. I have a neat little gadget from X10 that will let me transmit the content out there, and it works pretty well. However, this is a bit of a kludge. What would be ideal is a box that I could hook up to my entertainment system to do all this, and that's what I'm talking about. Look, the big media companies are in a pretty good position right now. They're going to squeeze consumers as hard as they can because they can. Right now, the listener or viewer has no real alternative, at least not unless he's willing to sit in front of a computer. If you can get that content out into the living room, where most folks are used to getting it, you'll open up a new world of possibilities. And I'll say one more thing about programming. There are scores of cable and satellite channels that have failed over the years because they couldn't get carriage on satellite and cable systems. If you devise an alternative distribution method, programmers will use it. Yes, you'll get crap, but you'll also get good stuff. And you'll finally give people options and give the media companies much-needed competition.
  • I agree with you about the problems of lots of users trying to grab streams at the same time, but I don't think adoption would be that quick, so hopefully by the time you got 10% adoption, we'll have more bandwidth available. Two years ago, almost no one had DSL or cable, and look how far they've come in that time. I'm not absolutely sure that bandwidth will keep pace, but I'd be willing to bet that we'd see improvements.

    You're right about using off-the-shelf boxes, but you're also right about the proprietary software, and that's the problem. For this to work, we need something as open as possible so that programmers couldn't be excluded because they're using the wrong kind of stream. For this reason, Realvideo, Windows Media, and Quicktime are out, but I wouldn't see a problem allowing them to have access to the box if the software vendors that owned them wanted to create plugins.

    And about the digital interface to the TV, I certainly hope you're wrong, but I'll admit that anything's possible these days. I still believe that you have a huge lawsuit if the electronics makers and media companies got together and developed a closed standard. It'd be similar to a scenario in which Microsoft would get together with PC manufacturers and devise a way to allow only Windows and Microsoft or Microsoft-approved software to be installed on computers.

  • Over-the-air streams can be unencrypted or unencrypted, but if they're encrypted, the broadcasters have to pay fees for the spectrum, at least that's the way I understand it. The article mentioned the unencrypted nature of broadcast streams as an impediment to the copy-protection system. It pointed out that cable would be easier, since those streams can be encrypted without penalty.

    So, even if some broadcasters encrypted, the monitor would have to accept unencrypted data, or you wouldn't be able to watch anything that wasn't encrypted.

  • Sorry to follow up on myself. I meant to day "encrypted or unencrypted."

    Sometimes, even previewing isn't perfect. :)

  • Well, they aren't shipping with receivers now, so either they aren't required to, or that decision hasn't been made yet. However, HDTV receivers are already out there (the DISH Network 6000 comes to mind, plus broadcast tuners and possibly also one or more DirecTV boxes), so if the standard was changed to allow only encryption-enabled tuners to connect, then that'll break every unit already shipped. Granted, it's still early in the game, but I have a feeling that any company that's already selling tuners is going to be pretty pissed about their units suddenly becoming obsolete. They could redesign them, but that would mean they'd have to stop production for several months at least. If this came to pass, I could easily see Charlie Ergen (DISH's CEO) filing a lawsuit. Anyone who's kept up with DISH knows that they don't take kindly to anything they see as collusion or restraint of trade. Since they design and manufacture their own equipment, they'd be in a world of hurt if something like this happened, so they'd most likely fight it rather than stopping production and redesigning their boxes.

  • by SomeoneYouDontKnow ( 267893 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @06:25PM (#218215)

    But, as I've said several times before, this has nothing to do with piracy. It doesn't even have anything to do with stopping the technically-inclined from finding a way around it. What is is intended to do is stop the average consumer from exercising their fair use rights so the media companies can sell those rights back. You want that program you just saw? It'll cost you. It's all about maximizing profits. The broadcasters tried to stop time-shifting when VCRs first appeared. Now they're going to try again, and the DMCA makes it illegal even to try to reassert your fair use rights. Beautiful, ain't it? I don't think I could have thought of a better way to screw consumers.

    I will point out, however, that no one is forcing us to consume this mass-produced junk. People can turn it off and go outside to play ball, or at the very least, we can come up with alternative programming. I'm still convinced that an open-source (so anyone can build it), easy to use (and I can't stress that enough) set-top box with an Ethernet jack plugged into a broadband Net connection could allow Internet TV channels to be streamed onto a standard television. Can you imagine the possibilities? Anyone with a fat enough pipe could launch their own channel, and if you can build a box to let the average Joe watch it on his TV, you'll have the chance to break the video stranglehold of the media companies. You wouldn't even need slick programming. Many people would try it just for the novelty.

  • Between letting the broadcasters use digital TV to not deliver HDTV and letting the cable companies not carry the analog signal once a station broadcasts in digital, coupled with the requirement that all analog broadcasts cease in 2006, the FCC has lost it's collective mind.

    Maybe they think they're doing Industry a favor, but by excluding the public from this decision, they're destroying the very market they wish to exploit. They won't sell any of them to me, that's for sure. I'll miss television, but with my growing DVD collection and more content available over the internet, I doubt if I'll miss it much. Hell, between the PS2, GameCube, and X-Box I won't have time for television!

    Won't AT&T Broadband be suprised when I tell them "Thanks for bringing me @Home, now you can cancel my cable TV subscription."

  • by janpod66 ( 323734 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @06:25PM (#218246)
    Don't bet on it. The intent behind these watermarking systems is that they survive digital-to-analog conversions and can be detected by any recording device, analog or digital. Besides, who says that ten years from now, you'll still be able to get digitizers or televisions with analog inputs? If all broadcasts and recordings go digital, why would anybody still offer analog devices for sale at a reasonable price?

    In a worst-case scenario, any player or recording device, analog or digital, will refuse to play or record something unless it is explicitly marked, by a watermark, as "free to play" or "free to record". Furthermore, those cryptographic tokens would be handed out by a central authority, for a steep fee if you aren't Disney or AOLTW. For viewing, you would have to get decryption tokens via the telephone or Internet in order to be able to actually watch the content, giving the media companies a complete record of your viewing habits.

    The end result would be that you would lose all rights to home recording or time shifting. Furthermore, any independent producer of content would have to pay for the privilege of distributing their content in a form that is viewable by the installed base of televisions and audio devices.

    The political arguments are also foreseeable. Media companies will likely argue that they are entitled to controlling what you are viewing because they somehow "supported" or "subsidized" the creation of those digital television. They will say that they aren't really bound by any privacy laws, and that, in any case, obtaining records of the complete viewing habits of every television viewer will just be used to give viewers more of what they want. And 20-30 years from now, people who grew up in that kind of environment will wonder what all the fuzz was about.

    Let's hope it won't go that far. We already have a glimpse of the kind of content and public life that would occur in such a world, and it doesn't look good.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!