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Television Media

Losing Control of Your TV 633

sp00 writes "The MPAA is now trying to prevent high quality copies made from TV broadcasts. The latest anti-piracy move will prevent you from making high-quality copies of broadcast TV programs. And the new "broadcast flag" technology enables all manner of other restrictions. In the future, the Motion Picture Association of America will control your television set."
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Losing Control of Your TV

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  • Wait a second (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pingular ( 670773 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:22PM (#8467473)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the MPAA only control motion pictures? Legally, that is.
    • Re:Wait a second (Score:5, Insightful)

      by krog ( 25663 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:23PM (#8467502) Homepage
      Television is a Motion Picture.

      And legally, the MPAA doesn't control anything. They're a lobbying group. They control things illegally.
      • Re:Wait a second (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Skye16 ( 685048 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:24PM (#8467527)
        No, they control things legally. They do it immorally, however.
        • Re:Wait a second (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ratamacue ( 593855 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @09:26AM (#8474235)
          You can hardly blame a lobbying group for succeeding. They can lobby for anything they want, but government holds the key. The problem is not the act of lobbying per say -- the problem is that it actually works. The lobbying group may offer the bribe, but it only works if government accepts the bribe. Government is the root of the problem.

          Reduce the size of the pie, and the incentive to bribe government will disappear. Lobbying groups only attempt to bribe government because they know it works.

    • Re:Wait a second (Score:5, Interesting)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:25PM (#8467543)
      They are talking about controlling the "broadcast flag" on movies that are put out over the airwaves. Once the TV monopolies realize what this could mean to them (especially with DVD releases of shows) it will shift to them as well.
      • Re:Wait a second (Score:5, Interesting)

        by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:52PM (#8467963) Homepage Journal
        Once the TV monopolies realize what this could mean to them (especially with DVD releases of shows) it will shift to them as well.
        You know, from my point of view, that might not be a bad thing. I don't subscribe to cable/satellite, and generally just watch DVDs and videos. Right now, getting TV shows is awkward - some shows get on, usually many, many years after they've been shown, aimed at a rather small market of diehard fans who are willing to pay up to $40 for a "season" rather than everyday viewers; but the majority are usually not available in any way.

        If TV channels start seeing DVDs as a potential revenue source by default, this will increase the number of programs available on DVD, creating an opportunity for those of us who'd rather not spend $80-100 a month on dross to pick up the occasional boxed DVD set of something we actually want to watch instead. We're looking at cafeteria TV by the back door, essentially.

        And yeah, it sucks if you're paying the subscription and wondering what the hell you're getting for your money if all you can do is timeshift a few hours worth of TV, while suffering hundreds of ads. But there's a solution to that: If you're given a better choice, and to me ad-free programmes I want to see when I want to see them is a better choice, then grab it with both hands.

        Overuse of the broadcast flag may be the death knell for television channelling as we know it; TV could easily end up being as different and as of little importance in the future as radio is today in comparison to its position fifty years ago. This may be a good thing for everyone.

        • Re:Wait a second (Score:5, Interesting)

          by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:25PM (#8468527) Journal
          Well yea but, its more like $60 a season for most programs other then the cartoons. If I watch more then say four programs the savings over cable/sat are not that big only about 50% and I don't get any of the other benifets like access to news anytime I want and decent coverage of local stuff like city council meetings. Cable TV is one of the few things I pay for that I actually feel is worth the money I spend on it. I will grant you I might not be watching the same stuff the majority are.
          • Re:Wait a second (Score:4, Interesting)

            by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:37PM (#8468690) Homepage Journal
            Well yea but, its more like $60 a season for most programs other then the cartoons.
            I probably buy different stuff (or stuff that's too old.)

            In any case, that's the situation now. Right now, people who are expected to want to buy DVDs of TV shows are supposed to be die-hard fans, who'll pay through the nose. This is why the DVDs cost so much, why it takes so long for them to come out, and why choice is so limited - relatively little ends up on DVD at all.

            Change the situation a little so TV channels think they have little or no competition from the VCR/DVD-R, and that situation is likely to change.

            I don't get any of the other benifets like access to news anytime I want and decent coverage of local stuff like city council meetings.
            I didn't say TV would disappear, I merely said it will end up of the same importance and impact that radio has today (compared to fifty years ago, when radio was in the same position as TV is today, in terms of the impact it made on people's lives.)

            My belief is that, should the networks be overly enthusiastic about use of the broadcast flag, cable operators will increasingly have to sell other uses of their networks (Internet, telephony, etc) to make up the revenue as increasing numbers of people dump the television side of the system. This will ultimately reduce the price of the television service, and this will also reduce the expenditure on television itself. This may be made up for, by programme makers, by DVD sales. So television will gradually become a forum for "first viewings" of shows, together with news and weather, live sports coverage, etc, and most people will get the shows they want to watch via other means (PPV, DVD, etc.)

            Kind of like radio today. The only traditional radio station left in the US is NPR (ironically, as it post-dates the vast majority.) The rest provide basic news services and background noise (music, etc.)

            Old Radio was replaced by Television, an arguably more powerful medium. So can Television be replaced by something better.

            • Re:Wait a second (Score:5, Insightful)

              by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:03PM (#8470973) Journal
              My belief is that, should the networks be overly enthusiastic about use of the broadcast flag, cable operators will increasingly have to sell other uses of their networks (Internet, telephony, etc) to make up the revenue as increasing numbers of people dump the television side of the system.

              I don't buy it. Set the broadcast flag so I can't TiVo my shows anymore and I'm still not going to buy the DVD's, I'm less likely to because I won't "get into" the show in the first place. Major networks will have to rely on me remembering to be home and tuned to their channel when that show who's commercial or write up caught my eye two weeks ago; trust me, that aint going to happen. Instead, I'll go back to watching the discovery channels, FoodTV, Infomercials, oddball cartoons, etc., like I did in the days before Tivo. I'll bitch about their repetivness, though I imagine its a lot better now that there's 40 different Discovery channels. No, if anything this will increase teh need for cable, because I need more options when *I* watch TV, not during that 3 hour band that TV exec's consider "Prime Time". Fun stuff like Myth Buster's, or Iron Chef, or those insane knife auctioning guys (Havent watched them hawk their "collector's knife sets" since I got Tivo).

              Here's my idea. If the MPAA is concerned about piracy because of HDTV, don't show the damned movie on TV. If I want to watch a movie these days, I go to block buster, or I'll buy the DVD. Or I watch it on HBO. The damned pirates will just rent the DVD and rip it from there anyway, I doubt they are concerned about getting those last bits of resolution an specially preped HDTV movie copy (1024i vs 480i, I see no reason to convert a 24fps movie to 60fps video) before they compress it down to VCD quality anyway. So unless they movie studios are planning on abandoning the installed base of DVD owners the broadcast flag does them almost 0 good anyway. I imagine given a choice between paying for technology to cripple their TV viewing habits and not watching the content of overly paranoid movie studios, 80% of Americans would opt to pass on the extra content and watch my Big Fat Obnoxious Bride

              And here's the kicker. This technology has already been rolled out; check out the MiniDisc player. Now, check out its secret implications: Record your Wedding toast on you're digital MiniDisc recorder, and it will do you the favor of enabling the "do not copy" bit for you. After all, it can't tell that you own all the rights to your speech, so to be safe it assumes you don't (else you could make unlimited digital copies after having gone through just 1 D>A>D conversion, and that would be downright un-American.

        • Re:Wait a second (Score:5, Interesting)

          by El ( 94934 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:31PM (#8468601)
          Please, remember to share all those DVDs with your friends... in fact, why not form "buying clubs" where each member obtains a different set of DVDs, then every week they pass them on to another member? And while we're at it, lets do this with movies, CDs, and games too!
        • Re:Wait a second (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Scroatzilla ( 672804 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:35PM (#8468652) Homepage Journal
          Yes yes yes, thank GOD there is somebody else out there who feels this way. I'm going on probably 2 TV-free years (with an occassional peak at friends' houses of course, plus the SuperBowl). It's about $70USD/month for digital cable, and I think most morons are willing to pay because they are so happy they can fool with the cool onscreen TV Guide menu; they don't even realize that all that's out there is crap.

          Well, almost everything. When I hear about a good show, I watch it on DVD. Like the Sopranos. I can watch the whole season in a few nights. Netflix. $20/month. Only stuff I want. No commercials. There is zero reason to buy into TV anymore.
    • by jefdiesel ( 633290 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:26PM (#8467565)
      Dunno about your tv.. but mine has all kinds of cool moving pictures. They dance, and laugh, and shoot each other, and on Cop Rock, they even SING! []
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:22PM (#8467487)
    Does this include low-quality copies, like standard VHS recordings?
    • by SoupGuru ( 723634 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:24PM (#8467516)
      Low quality? You mean there's something better than VHS out there?
    • by pilgrim23 ( 716938 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:25PM (#8467552)
      Indeed. Seems to me that if this only applies to High Quality TV then, given the current status of the art, there is nothing to block. I stopped watching TV over a decade ago. Only High Quality on TV any more is the drug ads.
    • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:28PM (#8467602) Homepage
      Your VHS recorder (at least the current one, with marginal - if any - copy protection built into it) doesn't know that any of the these flags exist, so it presumably wouldn't honor them.
      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:41PM (#8467820) Homepage Journal
        On the other hand, the decoders will probably output a macrovision signal on their analog outputs when the broadcast flag is set...
      • From reading the articles on this. The protection is something that is handled through the TV tuner. So yes if you feed the signal to a VHS it will work, but if you try to record something from the higher quality outputs from a TV, such as S-Video, etc. Those outputs will be disabled when the Broadcast flag is set. So even you have a device that could record, they will not be able to get a signal to record from or get a lower quality signal than the port is capable of providing.
        • by nosilA ( 8112 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:23PM (#8468491)
          It only applies to digital outputs - S-Video and even Component Analog and RGB (VGA) are perfectly legit. Copies can be made digitally so long as they are made using approved technologies, to be determined by the FCC later this year.

          From FCC-03-273A1.pdf:

          (a) A Covered Demodulator Product shall not pass, or direct to be passed,
          Marked Content to any output except
          (1) to an analog output;
          (2) to an 8-VSB, 16-VSB, 64-QAM or 256-QAM modulated output, provided
          that the Broadcast Flag is retained in the both the EIT and PMT;
          (3) to a digital output protected by an Authorized Digital Output Protection
          Technology, in accordance with any applicable obligations established as a part of its
          approval pursuant to 73.9008;
          (4) where such Covered Demodulator Product outputs, or directs to be output,
          such content to another product and such Covered Demodulator Product exercises sole
          control (such as by using a cryptographic protocol), in compliance with the Demodulator
          Robustness Requirements, over the access to such content in usable form in such other
          (5) where such Covered Demodulator Product outputs, or directs to be output,
          such content for the purpose of making a recording of such content pursuant to paragraph
          (b)(2) of this section, where such content is protected by the corresponding recording
          method; or
          (6) where such Covered Demodulator Product is incorporated into a Computer
          Product and passes, or directs to be passed, such content to an unprotected output
          operating in a mode compatible with the Digital Visual Interface (DVI) Rev. 1.0
          Specification as an image having the visual equivalent of no more than 350,000 pixels
          per frame (e.g., an image with resolution of 720 x 480 pixels for a 4:3 (nonsquare pixel)
          aspect ratio), and 30 frames per second. Such an image may be attained by reducing
          resolution, such as by discarding, dithering or averaging pixels to obtain the specified
          value, and can be displayed using video processing techniques such as line doubling or
          sharpening to improve the perceived quality of the image.
          Federal Communications Commission FCC 03-273
          (b) A Covered Demodulator Product shall not record or cause the recording of
          Marked Content in digital form unless such recording is made using one of the following
          (1) a method that effectively and uniquely associates such recording with a single
          Covered Demodulator Product (using a cryptographic protocol or other effective means)
          so that such recording cannot be accessed in usable form by another product except
          where the content of such recording is passed to another product as permitted under this
          subpart or
          (2) an Authorized Recording Method in accordance with any applicable
          obligations established as a part of its approval pursuant to 73.9008 (provided that for
          recordings made on removable media, only Authorized Recording Methods expressly
          approved pursuant to 73.9008 for use in connection with removable media may be
          (c) Paragraph (b) of this section does not impose restrictions regarding the
          storage of Marked Content as a Transitory Image.
          (d) The requirements of this section shall become applicable on July 1, 2005.

    • The "broadcast flag" exists only in the digital domain. Since your standard VHS videotape is an analog medium, it's pointless for your VCR to have a digital input. Therefore, some device before your existing VCR is going to have to downconvert the signal to analog before outputting it.

      Now, let's talk about DVD-R players. They could record digital TV bit-for-bit to the disc, but when it decodes the bitstream it'll be required to honor the broadcast flag and not output to digital outputs while doing so.

  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:23PM (#8467492)
    The broadcast flag could be expanded into a whole family of little flaglets, and together giving the system a much more expressive repertoire. One flag might say, "you may not time-shift this program." Another flag might tell your TiVO "you may not fast-forward or skip this program's commercials." A very special flag might disable your TV's channel changer and "off" buttons. There might even be a Mission Impossible flag that makes your digital video recorder self-destruct in five seconds (or at least erase every movie owned by Universal Studios.) Who knows what Hollywood will dream up next!

    I realize this guy is sort of pushing the bullshit lines with controlling the OFF BUTTON and the MI sequence but I can actually see them banning you from timeshifting, etc. Look at some DVDs. You already can't skip some commercials on those. I can see it being that way on a rented movie but on one you purchased? That's bullshit.

    HDTV was mandated by the government at YOUR expense so that these people could control YOUR choices. Make sure you thank them.
    • by Zed2K ( 313037 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:28PM (#8467606)
      "Look at some DVDs. You already can't skip some commercials on those"

      Actually when the studios first started putting trailers and stuff before the movies on dvd's they fixed it so you couldn't get around them. Especially the warning pages. But every new dvd I've rented over the past few months has allowed me to hit chapter forward to skip past them. Even the FBI warnings. It shows up but chapter forward decreases the time you have to sit there watching. You still can't just hit menu sometimes to jump past the trailers but you can skip them. Obviously not ideal but better than it used to be.
      • by FrostedWheat ( 172733 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:59PM (#8468057)
        In the UK, all the latest DVDs from Fox have adverts at the start that you cannot skip. They go on for a while aswell.

        What's worse is that these are the retail disks, not rental. I've written a letter of complaint and won't be buying any Fox DVDs from now on.

        Same goes for Disney and there Ad-DVDs.
    • by rs25com ( 710712 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:33PM (#8467697)
      This is ALREADY happening, don't you see? If any of you have a DVD player, then you know what I am talking about.

      Pop in a DVD, press play, and you are FORCED to watch the Piracy Warning, and the Company Name banners. Some previews are even hard to get past. This takes up to a few minutes for some DVD's.

      You cannot fast forward.
      You cannot rewind.
      You cannot stop.

      This kind of technology being suggested just serves to stop people from having any control over their TV's. Pretty soon I can easily see TV's that will not allow you to change the channel during commercials, mute the volume during commercials, or turn off without watching the last few commercials. It's already gotten to the point where some channels have decided to pad a 2 hour show to 3 hours by adding an additional hour of commercials.

      And so far, no one is complaining. So sad.

      This will not stop piracy, in my opinion, it will only make it worse. The forbidden fruit, so to speak.

      When I buy DVD, it should begin playing the movie the instant I put it in the machine. I paid for it, it's mine. Commercials are fine on TV stations, because that is how they make their money, but not on my PAID FOR retail DVD.

      Hollywood, MPAA, and RIAA are all a bunch of greedy bastards, IMO! :)
      • by pegr ( 46683 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:39PM (#8467785) Homepage Journal
        Pop in a DVD, press play, and you are FORCED to watch the Piracy Warning, and the Company Name banners. Some previews are even hard to get past. This takes up to a few minutes for some DVD's.

        ...until I found a hacked firmware for my DVD player that makes it multiregion, disables macrovision, and allows my to skip past FBI warnings and the like... (also known as using MY DVD player with MY DVDs in any way I want...) Is it a DMCA violation? Probably... But the more people do this, the more obvious it is that this type of encumberment is NOT what the market wants.
        • I think the DVD industry realizes that too many obstacles between the viewer and the movie will cause widescale hacking of the firmware. As mentioned in another thread, altough DVD companies have the ability to force people to watch a commercial at the beginning of each movie, many are opting out of this temptation. The last DVDs I've watched did not have forced previews or other commercials. My bet isn't on the movie industry playing fair with the public, but miracles happen. My guess is that the advertise
      • by Christianfreak ( 100697 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:04PM (#8468129) Homepage Journal
        [tin foil hat]

        Yeah and next they're going to put in a battery backup so that even when you unplug it just keeps playing forever.

        And then they'll make them so that it contains nano-bots that repair everything if you try to physically break the hardware.
        [/tin foil hat]
      • Are you sure? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:12PM (#8468308) Journal
        And so far, no one is complaining. So sad.

        Are you sure nobody is complaining? Sometimes, people don't "complain", they just silently change their purchasing/consuming habits. Haven't you seen the stories on Slashdot where people are spending time on the web or with video games, taking the time out of their television viewing?

        That is even better than complaining.

        DiVX, the Circuit City self-destructing DVD technology, in the end wasn't killed by geek complaints. It was killed by people who didn't buy it. (Sometimes, the "sheeple" aren't. "Sheeple" is mostly a term for feeling yourself superior anyhow, but I digress....) DVDs, IMHO, have already crossed the line of what people will tolerate, as evidenced by being forced to back down from forced previews to allowing people to skip them. Don't expect them to get any worse, or if they do, expect rapid punishment exacted on the offending studio by the market.

        I'd not bet on it yet but it is a perfectly plausible outcome that by 2006 or 2007, no broadcaster will use the flag, because they can't afford the viewership loss! PVRs aren't going away over the next year. The Internet isn't going away. Video games certainly aren't going away. The optimal time for TV to pull this shit was about four years ago; now too many people have tasted the "forbidden fruit" of interactive media, especially PVRs, and many of them are already choosing to decrease their TV usage, before the TV industry implements the squeezing! (If you've got the disposable funds, buy your representatives a TiVo; that donation will probably have a greater effect then anything else you could do with the money.)

        Oh, there's valid reason for concern and I still would like to see a lawsuit that labels this as unconstutitional restriction on our speech, and personally I find attempts to control viewers who aren't sharing effectively unethical []. The fight should be fought... but I'm pretty sure that in this arena, we've already won. The TV industry would like to think otherwise, but they are, in the end, dispensible now. Viable alternatives exist and most of them are one-way transitions for the people who try them; the television's only choice now is between declining slowly and maintaining a real but smaller existance, or throwing a hissy fit until we starve them as a society. (No laws necessary; we can't be forced to watch TV barring a sudden UK-like tax law.)
  • by gillrock ( 517577 ) <> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:23PM (#8467493)
    Then I want control over the price....

    If I don't own the TV set outright, I shouldn't have to pay $3000 for a plasma TV. I think I should only have to pay $3.

    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:30PM (#8467627)
      Then I want control over the price....

      If I don't own the TV set outright, I shouldn't have to pay $3000 for a plasma TV. I think I should only have to pay $3.

      We (collectively) have complete control over the price. Do not buy an HDTV with these sorts of crippling features. I own an HDTV, which I use as a 61" computer monitor and DVD playback device. I own an HDTV (Linux PCI card) tuner which does allow digital recording. I will not purchase a device with these flags enabled.

      If enough other videophiles are informed enough and smart enough to do likewise, the product will go the way of the original DIVX self-destructive DVDs ... i.e. they (and HDTV) will be a complete flop, and television will be replaced by the Internet completely, once and for all.

      (There is a lot to be done on the content side to offer entertainment alternatives to the Corporate State's Bread and Circuses program, but Red v. Blue and other content online is already showing the way, and Blender et. al. put the tools in our hands to make our own high quality content. The rest is up to us).
      • Only one problem is that hdtv is government mandated.
        • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:43PM (#8467845)
          Only one problem is that hdtv is government mandated.

          Paying money for an HDTV isn't. The government can mandate that HDTV is offered, they can't mandate that we buy it.

          Buy a computer monitor instead, and download your free, legal content online. Machinima, Blenderwars, assorted Povray sites, etc. are a good starting point.

          Bored? Make your own TV show and disseminate it online. If you're good, maybe you'll be able to sell ad placements (Coke signs in the background a la Blade Runner, etc.) and make a living at it. If not, you have a cool hobby and are helping yourself and others choose a path different than that the thugs with the flack jackets and jack boots are ushering us toward.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:37PM (#8467754)
      Not that I favor the broadcast flag, but it is not a new phenomenon for equipment that you own to be highly regulated and for its capabilities to be micromanaged by government. There are restrictions on the emissions controls of a car, the radio frequency and power that a cordless phone may use, etc.

      Perhaps you should only have to pay $3 for a car, since you don't own it outright (you're restricted from changing it in certain ways).

      What's different here, is who is restricting. With a car's emissions equipment, the restriction is placed upon you by everyone; we all (theoretically ;-) agree that it is in all our interests to limit pollution. So your neighbor isn't getting any more out of supressing your rights, than you are, also.

      With the broadcast flag, it appears that the only party benefitted by the supression, is the MPAA. Thus, it's a blatantly corrupt law.

      But they will then argue that it isn't true, because copyright law benefits us all, since it encourages the creation of works that we all enjoy.

    • by Omega ( 1602 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:40PM (#8467803) Homepage
      The revolution will be televised...

      Please check with the MPAA to acquire a license to view the revolution.
    • They can have all the control over the content and all the control over price long as they don't have the control , to force me to watch TV.

      I think this is a blessing in disguise, as it is I hardly watch any TV. Reality TV having hardly any reality. Melodramatic sitcoms ,too predictable and not remotely funny. MTV, please don't even get me started. Sportstars are more and more appearing in Legal courts than stadiums.

      Heck even the national geographic and discovery channel programs seem over drama

  • Hard to do (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Annirak ( 181684 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:23PM (#8467504)
    Like streaming audio, there is always a way around that. In the age of digital cable, and MPAA controlled TVs, the frame grabber reigns supreme.
  • But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by insmod_ex ( 724714 ) <`mallratssuck' `at' `'> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:24PM (#8467508) Homepage
    There's always going to be a way to get around it though. Look at XP's Activation, that was cracked. Even the activation in Longhorn has been cracked. No matter how strong of a wall you put up, all it takes is a big wrecking ball to bring it down.
    • Longhorn has been released? What, did I miss the years 2004 and 2005? I thought Longhorn was slated for 2006 release? Or are you talking about some beta or developers version?
      • Re:But... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by leifm ( 641850 )
        That'd be a reference to the alpha builds. The alpha builds of Lornhorn all have activation as well. Why they think anyone would actually run those beyond a few minutes as a novelty I don't know, but they require activation, and are time bombed beyond that I think.
  • All they are doing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smartin ( 942 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:24PM (#8467522)
    Creating a market for tv's imported from countries that don't have the restrictions and a black market for chipping sets.
    • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:34PM (#8467710)
      and do you think that 99% of the people out there care that they are doing this? NO THEY DON'T. People seem to feel that TV is a necessity in their lives!

      My gf is actually pretty pissed off that I don't have cable. This interrupts her Reality TV bullshit with fuzz and intermittent loud buzzing. She can't understand why I am not ready to fork out $55/mo to watch what they feed us.

      Ok, so back to the topic... People out there don't care about a broadcast flag. It's not going to affect them. It's just something else that they will hear about, shrug their shoulders, and say, "so?" Remember... We live in a time where people will vote for American Idol contestants (25+ million a week watch that shit) but we can't get anyone to vote for who runs our country. We also live in a time where people look at you crazy when you tell them that their freedoms are being infringed on.
      • Voting... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by GAVollink ( 720403 ) <> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:42PM (#8467825) Homepage Journal
        Actually, the tide is turning. Remember the Super Tuesday primaries actually had record turnouts.

        I'm a proud voter, and I'm happy to see that more people are taking the 5 minutes required to do the same.

        And as another post-er already pointed out, the failure of DivX based DVD players was a consumer shug-the-shoulders, "I wonder who would buy that," response. But those consumers did not buy that.

    • Creating a market for tv's imported from countries that don't have the restrictions and a black market for chipping sets.

      Right. Next step: region-encoded AV input-output standards compliance for TVs and displays.
    • You'll be able to buy a simple device whose sole purpose is to NULL that flag in the input stream.
      It'll probably retail for $9.99 on the web.

      That's until a college student figures out that all it takes to disable the DRM feature is holding the SHIFT key on your remote.

      I can't wait for 'the flag'...

  • by g0qi ( 577105 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:24PM (#8467525) Homepage
    The vast majority of these restrictions are only going to keep away casual joe from recording American Idol (which he probably won't every see again anyway). I'm sure there's always a way around any protection mechanism, like an exception to every rule.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:24PM (#8467532)
    High quality? TV broadcasts? This does not compute.
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:24PM (#8467533)
    Come to think of it, it is impossible to make a "high quality" anything if the TV show concerned is "Dharma and Greg". I think the entire UPN network will be exempt from these restrictions too. (I'd mention the ABC network, but I didn't think it was around anymore)
  • "In the future... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigChigger ( 551094 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:25PM (#8467534)
    the Motion Picture Association of America will control your television set."

    At which point I won't have one.

    There is something to be said for getting older and not giving a *&@# about keeping current as-far-as TV shows are concerned. I could'nt even tell you who is sleeping with who on Friends ;-) You know what? I don't miss it either.

  • Give it time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:25PM (#8467535) Homepage Journal
    There will be a modification of some sort, whether a chip of some sort, or a simple pencil mark, to disable this. And again we will all point and augh at the time and money spent on something so worthless.
  • Not quite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rick the Red ( 307103 ) <Rick DOT The DOT Red AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:25PM (#8467536) Journal
    In the future, the Motion Picture Association of America will control your television set.
    They won't control my TV set. I intend to vote with my wallet. Of course, I may not be able to watch broadcast TV after 2006 unless I buy an MPAA-owned digital TV, but I don't consider that a great loss.
    • Re:Not quite (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Creedo ( 548980 )
      Finally, a voice of reason. People tend to act like TV is a must have. It's the same as the whole mess with people suing fast food joints. If fast food makes you fat, don't eat a whopper. If (insert media group here) is taking away your rights, don't buy from them.
  • by zapp ( 201236 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:25PM (#8467537)
    There are many many good reasons to stop watching TV, so many that I can't really list them all. But I know that I am finding I have less and less inclination to watch TV. All the new shows that come out are crap, and as all my old favorites end their life time, I find I watch less television.

    With all the crap on TV these days, and things like this coming into play, I can only hope people will at least reduce the amount of tv they watch.
  • TIvO? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Deflagro ( 187160 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:25PM (#8467542)
    What will happen to good ol Tivo if this happens? I'm thinking it doesn't get any higher quality than a digital copy.
    Guess we'll have to pay extra "taxes" or "licensing fees" or rent our TVs from now on since apparently you can't do anything with things you buy now.

    When will this stop!
  • Easy solution... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ktulu1115 ( 567549 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:25PM (#8467546)
    Someone will create a new "blackbox" not to dissimilar from a cable-descrambler nowadays to change the bit. Bingo, flag off, problem solved. :)
    • Re:Easy solution... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by .@. ( 21735 )
      Not easily.

      The connection between $DEVICE and $DISPLAY will be an encrypted HDCP/HDMA connection. You cannot connect your black box in the middle of that chain, without the HDCP/HDMA devices throwing a hissy fit and refusing to send their signal.

      Of course, when I said this was coming last year, and two years ago, people said I was nuts.

      Well, here it is, folks. Enjoy.
  • TV's future? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FattMattP ( 86246 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:25PM (#8467557) Homepage
    In the future, the Motion Picture Association of America will control your television set.
    In the future, I don't think the TV set is going to be that important. It's extremely easy to make your own videos. As time goes on people will start making their own high quality content. Those people will find other delivery mechanisms such as the net to get their work out and possible sold.
    • Re:TV's future? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jhoger ( 519683 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:38PM (#8467778) Homepage
      Well it would be nice if the masses really did start to create high quality art instead of just being passive consumers of "content". Released under a Creative Commons license... but movie production ain't all that cheap and I don't see it getting there anytime soon.

      Yeah one can make decent home movies and wedding videos... maybe even videos of some live performances and sporting events (well, some sporting events...). But do you really think those will have a wide audience as to compete with commercially produced content?
      • Re:TV's future? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FattMattP ( 86246 )
        I think the proliferation of "reality tv" and things like funniest home videos answers those questions. Those don't take a lot of money to make. Plus, just like there are people who create high quality music on their own, people can create high quality videos on their own. Sure it might not be a hollywood blockbuster but it can still be entertaining. Big budget doesn't guarantee quality.
  • Hardly surprising. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Denyer ( 717613 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:26PM (#8467568)
    It isn't as if there are really many more quality advantages to be squeezed out of the technology, not for the average home user. DVD and CD are fine for most people... SACD and other formats are just repackaged material with more DRM.

    With TV, the only way to force people to accept unreasonable controls is to legislate... but fucking with something that virtually everyone does on a daily basis (rather than MP3s, still something the voting middle-aged and elderly populations aren't entirely au fait with) is going to score them some serious heat and scrutiny.

    We can but hope, anyway...

  • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:27PM (#8467588) Homepage
    I will keep my old stuff for as long as it works. When I am confronted with HDTV crippleware, it's time to get rid of TV altogether. There isn't any problem MPAA can create that I can't solve with the power switch.

    These MPAA people are determined to follow in the footsteps of RIAA. Crappy content, obnoxious protection, struggling for more and more control over media that has less and less content. Pretty soon they will control 100% of nothing.
  • by c_oflynn ( 649487 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:29PM (#8467620)
    For quite a long time there WILL always be analog video out, at least in the form of component video for high-quality.

    So long as you have that, you can make a recording.

    Yes they can try to put restrictions on it (like Macrovision does) but like Macrovision it will be fairly easy to circumvent. So don't go crazy yet... unless you live in the USA that is, where the DMCA would make it illegal ;-)
  • by elrick_the_brave ( 160509 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:30PM (#8467629)
    Just stop watching TV... speak with your wallet and stop watching TV. Notify your provider in writing that you object to this limitation of the service you enjoy. Write your MP or Senator and state that you do not enjoy the fact that someone is limiting your freedom to enjoy a product which you pay for.

    My point being is that the TV/MPAA industry is bound and determined to make money whatever way they can in order to both profit and to 'subsidize' 'providing' broadcast television. This typically means advertising. It is up to you to determine whether you will put up with restrictions or not. The problem is that all of us viewers allow these corporations to do what they want because its not worth 'your time'. That's your choice.. your time. These days I am chosing to not use TV anymore. I live with the lack of entertainment.. but I am finding my way with.. gasp.. reading... exercise... developing social networks for work, friends, and family.

    Its amazing what you can do when you plug those 4 to 8 hours a day into something other than watching television.

    Admittedly there are a lot of folks quite happy to do so... hoorah for them. They've made their choice whether they actively did so or not.

  • Get rid of it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrs clear plastic ( 229108 ) <> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:30PM (#8467638) Homepage
    I have not had a TV since May, 1978.

    I have not missed a darn thing.

    There is too much in life to enjoy without
    having a TV.

    How can the MPAA control the empty space where
    your TV is not?
  • by addie ( 470476 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:30PM (#8467644)
    A few years ago, this kind of action would look ridiculous. Why stop someone from copying a show when it won't rerun again for another year (or more)? But now that entire seasons worth of series (like Buffy, 24, Simpsons, the list never ends) are available, they can continue to make profits long after a show is cancelled.
  • by morningdave ( 259151 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:32PM (#8467669)
    Your friendly neighborhood public library still doesn't treat you like a criminal. Amazing as it sounds, you can walk in and ask for a book, and they'll lend it to you. All they ask is that you return it when they ask you to. That's right, they'll actually take you at your word. No deposits, DRM, FBI warnings or EULAs involved. Why not go today, and remind yourself how it feels to be treated with a little respect?
  • What television? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by solios ( 53048 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:32PM (#8467677) Homepage
    The closest thing I have to a TV is an NTSC monitor at work, for video capture and output monitoring. I watch the DVDs I borrow from my coworker on my computer- a 20" screen is just fine, thank you.

    News flash: YOU DON'T NEED THE TV. There's plenty of OTHER things you could be doing- personally, I hate the thing and see it as an incredible waste of extremely valuable time. Gathering 'round with friends for a John Carpenter marathon is nice social thing, but watching TV alone is like going to the movies or a restaurant alone- an asocial act of mental masturbation.

    I stopped watching TV for several reasons- most of it was shit, I didn't want to pay out the ass for 50 channels I don't want to get the three I do, and I REALLY HATE the advertising- specifically the difference in audio levels and overall brightness.

    I don't miss TV at all. With technology like this being pushed, I miss it even less. I'll stick with software DVD playback once or twice a month, so I can watch movies and comment about how {good|bad} they are on IRC at the same time. Good use of existing hardware, excellent monetary savings (one of my machines has RCA/S inputs, so it's not like I need a TV for my old Nintendo, either...)
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:32PM (#8467685) Journal
    The industry's great fear is that high-quality digital broadcasts would be scooped up by techno-geeks with digital television cards wedged in to the back of their PCs.

    And it will be. You don't think "techno-geeks" will be able to tweak the firmware on the capture cards to ignore the flag?

    The only thing this does is take away consumers rights to timeshift this digital content. I should be able to capture the 6'Oclock movie and watch it at midnight - not in some lossy second rate format, but exactly how it originally aired. Did the courts not already decide this?

    If they dont want me watching this material, why the fuck are they broadcasting it? The push medium, the your-life-revolves-around-our-schedule school of thought within the cult of TV is ending. With all the PVRs out there, on demand programming from the cable company, etc, people are watching what they want and when they want.

    The silver lining? This will probably bite them in the ass. Less people will see flagged movies/shows, which means less ratings, which means less advertising dollars, which makes the movies/shows worth less.

    I bet you'll see the flag off by default almost all the time. Except guaranteed captive audiences, like live sports events.
  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:34PM (#8467706) Homepage Journal
    I don't own one :-)
  • by Doug Dante ( 22218 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:35PM (#8467728)
    The broadcast flag is old news. The FCC can control hardware, but not software.

    Thus the GNU project brings us an open source software tuner, which is not subject to regulation, and can tune/record HDTV.

    Check out these HDTV screen shots: s. html

    Sadly, the software controlled tuner cards, powerful processor, DRAM, wide screen monitor, good computer stereo, etc put this toy out of the reach of most geeks - for now.

  • by Java Pimp ( 98454 ) <> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:36PM (#8467739) Homepage
    Who is actually recording television anymore? With what [] they [] consider [] quality [] television [], I'm surprized more people aren't doing more interesting things like taking a Craftsman cordless drill to the soles of their feet or jamming needles in their armpits.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:38PM (#8467760) Homepage
    We already have unskippable DVD ads. Commercial skipping has been removed from PVRs. The logical step is unskippable commercials for broadcast TV. Here's how it will work.

    If you've watched at least three minutes of a program, you will be prohibited from changing the channel during the next commercial. Mute, power off, and volume reduction will also be disabled. User control returns after three minutes of commercials or when released by the broadcaster.

    This prevents people from stealing program content by not watching the commercials.

  • by pidhead ( 154105 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:38PM (#8467776)
    As I understand it, this is just one more flag in the ATSC (MPEG) stream, since we're mostly talking about Off Air DTV right? Unless the stream is encrypted, unlikely for off-air, you just need hardware that ignores the extra bit.

    If it ever gets to the truely annoying point where you can't do anything but sit in front of the TV and watch it real time, there will be a whole slew of hacks to dissable this on your various hardware pieces.

    This strikes me as something like the region code for DVDs. Annoying, but if you really care, you can get around it.

    Yes, it would be nice to deal with this from the top by eliminating stupidity from policy making, but certainly not the end of the world if it happens.

    My 2 cents.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:39PM (#8467791)
    When ReplayTV's show-sharing accross the Internet came out, it took about a day to move a 30-minute show over a consumer grade Internet connection, even though it just had standard resolution and no more than two channels of audio, and had already gone through the Replay unit's MPEG compression. We're talking about a gigabyte an per hour of content, and that's a lot of data to move. Besides being killed by the courts, the feature just wasn't that useful because it took just so long.

    A digital TV station has an effective throughput of about 6 mbps, which is faster than the typical consumer download connection, and much faster than the typical consumer upload speed. The advantage is that the 6 mbps can be fully compressed before they send it out, so the uncompressed version is something like 18 to 24 mbps of data depending on the exact standard being used.

    What the so called "Broadcast Flag" (a term I don't like either, it's really an Anti-digital-copy Flag) does is it orders the decyrpting device to shutdown its digital outputs, but it's still allowed to use analog outs to its heart's content...

    Now, here's the catch, MPEG is designed to be a process that's easy on the decode side, and puts as much of the processor load as possible on the encoding side. So, your MPEG will never be as good as one the studios can afford to make, which means your 6 mbps file is going to look worse than the one on TV... and you might even end up with a bigger file with less quality than the one that was broadcast.

    When it comes down to it, TiVo has always honored that rule as best they could, trying to make digital extraction out of its machines as hard as they could. That was always the "forbidden hack" on the TiVo-sponsored forums. Now, that hack's going to become illegal.

    So really, they're doing nothing to close the analog hole, except for the fact that they realize that passing through the analog hole will always result in either quality loss or bandwidth bloat or both.
  • TV Logos (Score:3, Informative)

    by Samus ( 1382 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:42PM (#8467836) Journal
    How can they call it high quality when all of those damn logos are plastered all over the bottom of the screen. I don't see how it benefits me as a viewer or them as a broadcaster. The only thing it does is annoy me. It gets especially bad when you have the network logo on one side and the local channel on the other side of the screen. I was watching that awful Steven King series last night and every so often during the show my local broadcaster would put up a brightly colored not even translucent logo in the bottom part of the screen that was probably a third of the width of the screen. To me that is not high quality. Calling it quality is probably a stretch too.
  • Slippery Slope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aelfric35 ( 711236 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:47PM (#8467903)
    Slippery slope arguments always make me suspicious. Garfinkel assumes that the use of flags to prevent high-quality recording of digital broadcasts will inevitably lead to a "in Soviet Russia, your TV watches you" scenario. Of course, if the RIAA provides an analagous case, Garfinkel may be right, and we'll have yet another battle fought between Orwellian copy protection schemes and geeks wielding magic markers. Come July 4, 2005, we'll read on Slashdot about how to build your own black box to get around the flags. The "Soviet Russia" scenario assumes we'll take this lying down, like the puppets of corporate America we are. Again, if the RIAA's efforts are any indication, I don't think that's a valid assumption.
  • by vijayiyer ( 728590 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @04:54PM (#8468003)
    Pretty soon the HDTV experience will be as displeasurable as the DVD experience - my power button will be disabled during the intro, we'll have "FBI" warnings that cannot be bypassed in any manner, the TV will change channels when I turn it on, and I'll have hypertension. And I will give up on TV entirely. Oh, wait, I already have. Thanks you MPAA - it will help people see the world outside of the bland "art" produced nowadays in Hollywood.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:45PM (#8468799) Homepage Journal
    Can you think of a single FCC action under its Chairman, Michael Powell (nepotistic Colin Powell's son), that has benefitted consumers? Why do we let this clown keep his job?
  • Baaaaaa, Baaaaaa! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug&geekazon,com> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:46PM (#8468821) Homepage
    The fate of all this DRM really lies in the hands of innovators outside the US, because the American public isn't going to bat an eyelash about this. Fifty years ago anybody who even suggested a universal plan to so equip all televisions or radios would have faced angry public protests, boycotts, and probably accusations of being communist. Nowadays such announcements are greeted with [yawn] consumption-as-usual, by people who are mere consumers rather than citizens.

    The American public today is an amorphous mass of market share, whose job is to respond to advertising and other stimuli, not to complain or initiate any meaningful action. So don't expect the masses to jump up and say, "NO, I don't want a crippled television!" Expect them to say, "Does it have SurroundSound?" and, "How much is the Big one?"

    Baaaaaa, baaaaaaa... Moooooo....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:57PM (#8469018)

    Look for the MPAA to use the DMCA to sue anyone who disables the "anti-copy" circuit.

    Or even worse than that, look for them to illegally sue anyone who purchases anything, like a soldering iron, that could be used to disable it.

    Don't believe me? Look at how (1) [] (2) [] DirecTV [] is warping the DMCA in its own image. Sueing people for merely purchasing [] a smartcard reader!

    Only 22,000+ people [] sued so far!

    Watch for the MPAA to start this next, just like the RIAA [] and DirecTV [] have.
  • It's even worse... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @05:58PM (#8469034) Homepage
    First, the article implies that we will be able to make analog copies, but that isn't true, after 2005 it will be illegal for any television equipment to have analog outputs. ne er/f-MO-Earth_to_congress.shtml

    Second, the article implies that broadcast flags will only protect high definition programming. That is not true. Broadcasters will even be able to place flags on public domain programming. ne er/f_mo_the_masked_engineer-01.21.04.shtml

    It's a simple fact that in a few years, we will be unable to copy a TV show without breaking the law.

  • by nappingcracker ( 700750 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @06:33PM (#8469478)
    There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling the transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image; make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner party to the Target Market.

    all your base are belong to us.
  • by Cramer ( 69040 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @07:03PM (#8469825) Homepage
    I can tell the future... the broadcast flag will be (mis)used in exactly the same manner as the "fcc" bit in DVDs. The bit that disables the remote while the FCC warning is on screen is already improperly applied to what seems like hours of f***ing previews and other worthless crap on more than just Disney DVDs.

    (Incidentally, the previews are a complete waste of space and time as they hold very little meaning years after those movies have been released. How many times do people need to be forced to watch previews for Planet of the Apes?)
  • by juebay ( 736455 ) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:42PM (#8471274)
    People in Japan are really taken advantage of. If they want to buy episodes, they are forced to buy 1 or 2 episode DVDs. But since digital recording is prevelant, most wait for people who supply raw rips of the shows (anime in this case), download them, and since they speak the language, can store a very clean episode on their PC. This April, the changes mentioned in the article will be taking effect so it will be impossible to download recorded shows since they will be in encrypted format. What some fansub groups are doing now are putting together all their unused cycles to try to figure out if the encryption can be broken through distributed processing. More information can be garnered here [] and here [].

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?