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Microsoft Media

Microsoft Announces CableCARD Support 126

Thomas Hawk writes "Microsoft and CableLabs announced today that they have reached agreement that will allow digital cable ready CableCARD supported Media Center PCs to ship by the Holiday Season next year. Lack of premium HDTV cable or satellite support was frequently cited as one of the largest weaknesses of the Media Center platform. Central to this agreement is the DRM protection scheme developed by Microsoft to protect HDTV cable programming under the OpenCable process."
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Microsoft Announces CableCARD Support

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  • by Tezkah ( 771144 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:09PM (#14047689)
    Anyone else see the irony in the "OpenCable" process being used to DRM TV content?
  • Why wait A YEAR? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:10PM (#14047693) Homepage Journal
    I love my XPMCE network. I don't watch much TV, but I have nearly every movie ripped, 2 HD tuners and 2 SD tuners (had 4 as a test but it recorded too much).

    I'm getting HD cable right now. I use timmmoore's [avsforum.com] Firewire mod and its perfect. I don't believe the firewire input transfers any broadcast flag, which I fear CableCard will.

    This is the #1 requested MCE feature. MS came under a ton of angry rants because it was missing from RU2, yet it was the content provider's holdup.

    Me? I'll stick to RU1 and Firewire. No DRM, no broadcast flag and gorgeous HD from cable. You can wait until Xmas 2006 if you need official industry support.

    I'd love to see HD via an extender (other than the XBox360), or user-sorted Recorded TV.
    • Vista (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <wesley@felter.org> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:29PM (#14047859) Homepage
      CableCard requires strong DRM -- much stronger than is possible in XP. I suspect it will require the "Protected Environment" feature in Windows Vista.

      About the broadcast flag, it only applies to TV that is broadcast over the air, not cable. Cable has copy control information (CCI) embedded in it, and FireWire does obey CCI -- if the content is marked as "copy once" or "copy never" then the cable box will re-encrypt the data with DTCP before sending it over the FireWire port. Since computers do not support DTCP/FireWire (on purpose), premium cable content is generally not recordable by PCs. (However, in the short term many cable networks/boxes are "broken" and don't properly enforce this.)
      • Ahh good post.

        Now I understand why every channel has 5c=0 (copy freely) instead of 5c=1 (copy once).

        I've enough HD on my HDD to be happy when the two Bobs fix the problem.
      • CableCard requires strong DRM -- much stronger than is possible in XP.

        Is that to license or to operate? Seems to me that the cable card is mostly just hardware and someone else could write software that allowed it to work without restrictions. If it lets the video into the PC for viewing one should be able to record it whether there's any soft or broadcast flag or not.
    • I believe this [thegreenbutton.com] has more information about timmmoore's hack.
    • MythTV [mythtv.org] running on pcHDTV-3000 [pchdtv.com] and are a killer combination for viewing and recording HDTV on Linux. Even unencrypted QAM [linuxtv.org] is supported.

      The pcHDTV forum [pchdtv.com] is very informative if you want to set up your own PVR on Linux.
      • It seems pretty useless to me. I'm on Adelphia. All digital channels are encrypted and require a CableCard. I'm too far from a transmitter to receive over the air too. This immediately locks out my mythtv box from recording HD signals. Looks like MS and their proprietary support will allow them a monopoly on encrypted PVR.
  • something else to have to wait till it gets the DRM 'corrected' out, anyone know where to get the patched version, is it out yet? lol
  • Will I be able to get Pr0n?

    It's the question on everyone's mind!

  • But.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by 787style ( 816008 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:11PM (#14047707)
    Of course, it's the CableCard 1.0 spec, not 2.0 it will support. No PPV, or VOD, but it's a good step.
    • Does CableCard 2 hardware actually exist? Last month when I did some searching all I could find was a single pre-announced IC from some semi fab.
  • Can I... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maynard ( 3337 ) <j.maynard.gelinasNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:11PM (#14047711) Journal
    record the HD content to a PVR and stream it to a disc for archival and later viewing? 'Cause if not, then I'll stick with my Motorola 6412 PVR and JVC DVHS deck. Which, BTW, works perfectly well today and has the benefit of being pretty cheap too. --M
    • I do it now from MCE to DVD. I believe RU2 does it automatically, I use Nero as I prefer RU1.
      • Re:Can I... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maynard ( 3337 )
        Is all of your cable content coming across unencrypted? When I tried to connect my mac to a motorola 6412 I was only able to record material broadcast OTA. Cable programming like TNTHD, INHD, and the premium channels were all encrypted. The DVHS deck can handle encrypted content - which is why I use it. Reencoding the Mpeg2 stream to WM9 on a PC and then dumping to DVD would be a better solution... you're doing that right now? --M
        • I've recorded HDNet (premium cable/sat HD channel) on a Mac from my Moto 6200 (basically the 6412 sans DVR & 2nd tuner). Also, it's my understanding that local HD channels carried over cable are supposed to be unencrypted per a FCC ruling.
          • Yeah. I got the locals over cable unencrypted, but everything else (including the HD basic stuff like INHD and TNTHD) was all encrypted and set to copy once. The JVC DVHS deck is the only solution I've found to archiving High Definition content.
    • Check out the Scientific Atlanta (PDF) MCP 100 [sciatl.com]. Cable Box + DVD Burner + DVR. Record to disk and burn to dvd from disk or live stream. Should hit market sometime next year. Played around with em at CES. Pretty nice actually.
  • Must mean "Closed."

    Typical American newspeak for the New Century. Rubbish. I'm building MediaPortal or MythTV, thanks.
  • by javaski ( 931629 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:12PM (#14047726)
    At the speed that DRM's are worked around, this is just going to make recording your favorite HDTV shows that much easier. Although, it would be nice to be able to watch high quality cable on my computer. This is just bringing the computer and television closer and closer.
  • Cable cards already exist now. You can walk down to your local cable provider and pick one up. So whats the difference between sliding a cable card into a tv and sliding a cable card into a pci tv tuner with an empty cable card slot? What is the delay in making this happen sooner?
  • by Retired Replicant ( 668463 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:18PM (#14047763)
    I am so sick of all this DRM crap. It just makes things a pain in the butt for average customers who aren't trying to pirate anything. If the DRM makes the product a pain in the ass to use, I won't buy it.
    • Unfortunatly, they get away with this because it isnt a pain in the arse for average customers. Most users are happy if it works, and it *does*. They can download music via itunes, play it and run off cds so are happy. They can (in a years time) use these MCE cable cards and aslong as it does record the shows as promised they will be happy, and they wont ever notice its wrapped in DRM. I mean, the most they will probably want is to watch it on other tvs (which ms will no doubt cater for with some extenders)
    • In the words of someone (I can't exactly name who it is) very wise, DRM "only blocks stupid pirates and legitimate users."
    • If the DRM makes the product a pain in the ass to use, I won't buy it.

      There is no "if", DRM means less choice, less functionality, less value. Every copy prevention technology restricts fair use. DRM means that the technology isn't ours it is theirs, so that the technology is only worth as much as the existing content.

      Computers and the Internet have meant that for the first time in many years many more individuals can have a parity with big institutions in our ability to create and distribute ideas and ex
  • by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:18PM (#14047767) Homepage Journal
    I've been dying for DirecTV to make a PCI card that just plugs into the PC and pipes the video onto the PCI bus. (Or better yet PCIe) I don't seen why DRM should be handled by the OS if the PCI card still needs to use a smart card like the DirecTV boxes. Why wouldn't the cable folks use the same approach? They'd have their control of the content via an addressable smart card. And all they'd have to do is have the unlocked content stream from the card into the system. At that point the OS is just a "dumb" path for the signal to be displayed via a media player. Quite simple really. And then they don't need to trust MS to be their DRM provider...
  • Why not just plug a firewire cable from your cable box to your PC? No Microsoft DRM to contend with. No need to turn your nice flexible DVR into a restricted cable-box. No need to pay for more junk.

    Someone want to tell me why anyone should be interested in this?
    • Cause what you suggested is the equivelent of plugging the cable box into a vcr. Change the channel on the cable box while its recording and you change what you are recording. One cable out of the wall into one input on a device is the better solution. But not if a user has to jump through hoops over what they can and cannot watch/record.
      • Cause what you suggested is the equivelent of plugging the cable box into a vcr.

        Not even close. VCRs have no smarts at all. Computers can be hooked-up to IR transmitters and the like to control everything themselves.

        Change the channel on the cable box while its recording and you change what you are recording.

        Get an extra cable box, dedicate it to your PVR. You're going to be paying just as much (more) of an extra fee to get a smart card for this Microsoft box, as you would for an extra digital cable box

        • "Get an extra cable box, dedicate it to your PVR. You're going to be paying just as much (more) of an extra fee to get a smart card for this Microsoft box, as you would for an extra digital cable box from your provider."

          Why when the cable boxes that come from the cable company have 2 tuners built in. Also a cable card costs half as much as a cable box rental does. I'm not saying MS's solution is better just that the pc solution isn't up to par yet.
          • Why when the cable boxes that come from the cable company have 2 tuners built in.

            It's called CONTEXT...

            Your question (to which I was replying), was clearly about a box with a SINGLE TUNER. Obviously, if that's not the case, then that advice doesn't apply.

    • Why not just plug a firewire cable from your cable box to your PC?

      http://www.dtcp.com/ [dtcp.com]

      Note the announcement: "DTCP grants provisional approval to Windows Media DRM"

      5C DTCP is a DRM scheme that can be used over Firewire to require that only compliant devices will receive "protected" data over the Firewire connection. Most cable boxes already have 5C support, even if they don't have it enabled yet.

  • by My_guzzi ( 306998 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:23PM (#14047812)
    From TFA
    "The specified OpenCable architecture allows for multiple DRM systems to be used in the device and ensures content providers of protected delivery of content to the PC. Microsoft(R) Windows Media Digital Rights Management is the first major DRM system to complete the due diligence necessary for approval by CableLabs."

    We are just getting over the SONY fiasco, bringing on the call of the "SONY boycott." Micro$oft now tries to get in bed to implement some more DRM crap ( not like this is any kind of surprise). I wonder how many PS2P and XBOX 360's will be under the Xmas tree this year. My guess is way to fucking many.

    DRM (just recently referred to as "Digital Restriction Management") is a continuing issue, it is reported a lot and harped on quite often, recently there was an article that I wish I could find where some honcho of the music media was referring to consumers need to get use to "renting" content and not purchasing it..

    BTW I still play vinyl at home.
    • I got a few other names for DRM: "Defective Retarded Malware", "Disingenuous Rights Massacre", "Dinosaur Rescussitation Maneuver", "Desperate Royalty Milking",...
      • Or "Doesn't Require Me". I opted out of buying CDs twenty years ago before they even came up with DRM (I just considered them a bad deal more than anything else ... I buy used ones though), and won't buy anything I can't duplicate with ease. I am accustomed to the legal exercise of that power and see absolutely no reason to relinquish it: certainly not because of someone else's feeling of entitlement. Nothing to do with "piracy" or mass copyright infringement ... I just won't support a bunch of assholes and
      • "Digital Rectal Mangling", just about sez it all
  • Instead of putting in more channels, can they not put in some basic functionality? hardware and software wise they are way behind. Extenders are only avaible for ntsc so far which doesn't help you much in Europe. I invested in a MCE system, now browsing the net every day for alternative solutions. Afcourse M$ has more interest in making deals with networks then in keeping their users satisfied. Hope MCE can be deinstalled faster then it got installed.
  • Er... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suitepotato ( 863945 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:36PM (#14047910)
    DRM protections are ALREADY on DBS and cable and have been for a long while. This new step was needed or else the content providers vowed they'd stonewall digital cable content delivery to PCs for eternity.

    Sadly, the same content providers who didn't care if you watched a VHS tape of the nightly news at one point now see the future of DRM as being pay per view everything. A time when they can arbitrarily at any time revoke your ability to watch anything. The cable companies are NOT happy about being in the middle and THEY have been the ones stonewalling the advance of DRM on your television more than anything else.

    Marriage born in Hell, but aren't they all?
    • Sadly, the same content providers who didn't care if you watched a VHS tape of the nightly news at one point now see the future of DRM as being pay per view everything.

      That might be OK, it depends on the show cost. If shows are 25cents my satellite bill would be cut in half. If they're a dollar it'd double.

      But seeing as Charlie Rose charges $6 per show on Audible I'm not paying him $96 a month to support my habit.
  • by certel ( 849946 )
    There will be issues, as you can imagine!
  • Reminds me of a song:

    ...Your heart's an empty hole.
    Your brain is full of spiders,
    You've got garlic in your soul.
    Mr. Gates^H^H^H^HGrinch.

    Just in time for Chistmas!

  • Most "nerds" seem to be overwhelmingly against technologies to prevent consumers from using legitimately obtained digital content. As such it might be appropriate if Slashdot ("News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.") reflected this by not falling into the trap of defending them as being "to protect HDTV cable programming". But what do I know.
    • Or to put it another way, most "nerds" are overwhelmingly against technologies that restrict our fair use rights.
    • DRM is like border patrol or a lock on a box - effective, but ultimately circumventable.

      The big companies are spending more and more time trying to figure out how to build a higher fence around their border and build stronger locks.

      Aside from the issue that all DRM is ultimately circumventable, I believe most nerds are upset by content companies forcing software non-diversity and screwing up advancement of opensource software.

      Example: there is still no legal solution for playing DVDs on Linux.

      REPEAT: There
  • I hope tivo get's their act together and get's their cablecard HD box out of vaporware soon and beats M$ to the punch.

    It'll be interesting to see if 3rd party software applications will be able to interface with the cablecard so taht you won't be stuck with using MCE 200x as your PVR/HTPC.

    e.
  • "Central to this agreement is the DRM protection scheme developed by Microsoft to protect HDTV cable programming under the OpenCable process."

    And.... go.

  • CableCard compatability will make Media Center more viable. I tried hooking a media center up to a box...and I could not find a code, so it never got hooked up. CableCard will mean no cable box, no wiring, etc.-and expensive media centers will have-and
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @07:21PM (#14048227)
    This is DRM that's been in your cable box for a long time now. It's called "5C" or "DTCP". It essentially prevents a cable box (or any other DTCP-compliant device) from transmitting "protected" data to noncompliant devices.

    The problem here is that the CableCard licensing group (driven by the cable/satellite companies) got in bed with the content companies (RIAA/MPAA/etc., driving the DTLA [dtcp.com], who manages DTCP licensing) and locked things up under patent protection so that you can't create a CableCard device that outputs a digital signal unless it also complies with DTCP. This doesn't really affect the cable companies at all. CableCard is already secure for managing the ability of a device to receive subscribed channels over cable. But it's a gold mine for the content companies, who now have complete control over your ability to record/rewatch/rewind/fast-forward content received over cable TV.

    In other words, it's exactly like the broadcast flag, but for cable. No legislation required.

    The reason that Microsoft is able to get a license for Vista to support CableCard+DTCP compliant hardware for the PC is because they are willing to put in the DRM required by the DTLA, a la "Trusted" Computing. No open-source solution will ever be able to get this license, because the content companies decree it to be so - after all, an enterprising young hacker could alter said open-source solution and then be able to skip those oh-so-precious commercials that we don't want to watch.

    So don't blame Microsoft for doing what's required. Blame the content companies, and blame the cable companies for caving in. This has been locked up tight for years now, and barring public revolt or legislative prohibition, moving down this road was inevitable.
    • But it's a gold mine for the content companies, who now have complete control over your ability to record/rewatch/rewind/fast-forward content received over cable TV.

      Sucks for them. Local control (TOTAL control) is certainly one of the features I'd look for in a service like that. No control, no service. And on top of that, I'll even survive.
    • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @08:53PM (#14048728)
      The reason that Microsoft is able to get a license for Vista to support CableCard+DTCP compliant hardware for the PC is because they are willing to put in the DRM required by the DTLA, a la "Trusted" Computing. No open-source solution will ever be able to get this license, because the content companies decree it to be so - after all, an enterprising young hacker could alter said open-source solution and then be able to skip those oh-so-precious commercials that we don't want to watch.
      Yeah, and the net result of that is that Microsoft kills Linux in the HTPC market. Do you really think Microsoft failed to take that into account when they decided to support DRM?

      No, Microsoft has enough power that they could stop this DRM trainwreck from happening, if they wanted to. The fact that they don't just means that they're just as fucking much to blame as the cable and content companies!!
  • I think we should take up a collection and buy one of these for DVDJon [nanocrew.net]!
  • Because of all the "copy-protection" schemes, DMCA, DRM and the outrageous fees I decided a while ago to ditch COX [badbusinessbureau.com] cable and not to sign up for an other similar service anymore. Instead I am reading books in the evening. It really makes a difference. Most of the books I get from half.com [half.com] for a few bucks. Now I safe a lot of money, I am no longer annoyed about paying for religious propaganda shows, I care no longer about bogus "news", I can sleep much earlier because I am no longer exposed to the soundscape
  • Circumventing DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by no_such_user ( 196771 ) <jd-slashdot-20071008&dreamallday,com> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @09:23PM (#14048914)
    The only way we will ever be able to stop DRM is to create our own, free content. Via the same (r)evolutionary technology which threatens to kill our ability to share copy-protected media, the potential to create a world-class television production or film is no longer soley in the hands of corporate entities.

    The media industry, from top to bottom, is about money. How can we create a production which can compete with the "big leagues" without being sucked into the same greed-pit that already exists? If content was distributed freely, could a small production company, with actors, producers, technicians, etc. survive on a tip system alone?

    I'm guilty. I currently work for a massive player in the media industry, and I don't necessarily see a way out. Breaking something like CableCard would be huge problem to my company. Yet I'd still love to see it happen.

    BTW, don't bother trying to hack CableCard. Just figure out a way to crack DigicipherII -- that's where the goods are.
    • I feel your pain. I too am in a similar situation.

      The company that I work for, although we're not a massive player in the media industry, we're trying to break into it and do some revolutionary things. (I cannot comment on these naturally.)

      That said, I know that management must feel a bit uneasy with me. They hired me because they know me from my work at another company. They feel that I do a very good job, and that the software that I write is of high quality. However, they also know how I feel about
  • So, how long before we can start copying HD content?
  • It might suck, but think of this: Uber-root! You can be sysadmin, but there is still a higher power than that! Isn't that awesome?
  • Thank you, Microsoft, for doing your part helping to defeat DRM controls on HDTV content. I mean, what could be a better contribution to that goal than to make that content available under Windows?
  • So I work with an MSO and handle as one of my duties most of the engineering side of cable card deployment. And I've got to say, there was never a more broken bastard of a technology released upon the consumer. While I fully support the concept of a PCMCIA like card to handle authorization for copy protected items, it brings a whole crush of issues along with it in its current form. Here are a few of my favorites.

    First, its unidirectional. The biggest thing the cable industry has done in the last 5 year

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