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Hardware Hacking Television The Courts Build

Three Arrested For Conspiring To Violate the DMCA 335

Posted by timothy
from the not-being-a-felon-isn't-always-hard dept.
jtcm writes "Three men have been charged with conspiring to violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act after federal investigators found that they allegedly offered a cracker more than $250,000 to assist with breaking Dish Network's satellite TV encryption scheme: '[Jung] Kwak had two co-conspirators secure the services of a cracker and allegedly reimbursed the unidentified person about $8,500 to buy a specialized and expensive microscope used for reverse engineering smart cards. He also allegedly offered the cracker more than $250,000 if he successfully secured a Nagra card's EPROM (eraseable programmable read-only memory), the guts of the chip that is needed to reverse-engineer Dish Network's encryption.' Kwak owns a company known as Viewtech, which imports and sells Viewsat satellite receiver boxes. Dish Network's latest encryption scheme, dubbed Nagra 3, has not yet been cracked by satellite TV pirates."
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Three Arrested For Conspiring To Violate the DMCA

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  • Wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:34PM (#28721361) Homepage Journal
    I'm not a lawyer, so this confuses me. This isn't a civil case? it's a criminal case?

    Why aren't downloaders put in jail then?
  • Alrighty then (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:34PM (#28721371)

    So am I supposed to be outraged just because the DMCA was involved?

  • by oahazmatt (868057) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:44PM (#28721507) Journal
    I had a friend who claimed that he had found a way to pirate DirecTV's service. He only stopped doing so when he realized there was still nothing worth watching. Eventually he opened his own business. He named the company after a component that was essential to the process. I remember when I helped out we'd get about one call a week from people trying to ask not in so-many words if we could help them with their "DirecTV stuff". (It was my first call on it that caused me to mention it to my friend, who then told me what the company name actually meant.)

    He pirated the service for about two years. Funny thing was, about a year after he stopped he got hit with a lawsuit. He transferred as much stuff as he could out of his own name and braced for the inevitable. He only got away because he had a friend who knew some influential people. Incidentally, my friend his now his friend's personal no-cost 24/7 concierge tech support.

    Anyway, he'd get these calls from people and he'd try to deny that he knew what to do. If someone pressed the issue (usually it was his friends or old co-workers telling others who could help) he tried to do the "scared straight" thing. Funny thing is, some of them would get mad at him for not helping. So many people are willing to throw away financial security just so they don't have to pay for the NFL Channel.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:47PM (#28721555)

    Although it was eliminated by dubious judicial means shortly after becoming law, the DMCA allows for reverse-engineering for the purposes of interoperability. The entire market for these devices is based on non-interoperability. Because if the CAM became truly portable and emulated fully in software, it's a tiny step to a digital video recorder that is completely under user control receiving HDTV. Which is actually the main selling point here. They took our VCRs away, and now we're attacking people who want to get them back the only way possible; At this point it doesn't matter whether his intent was to sell descrambler boxes or not, or anyone's, because that's the only way you're getting that functionality. An irony, really, that you could be paying the same fees as someone with an "approved" box, accessing the same content, and yet wind up in jail because your equipment wasn't up to the provider's specifications... Namely, that you wanted to "time shift" the content.

    Damn criminals, flaunting their freedoms in front of us... They get what they deserve, eh?

  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:51PM (#28721623) Homepage

    These days, the model is very much based on some really funky group keying and key revocation, which allows the sattelite provider to revoke individual keys because each receiver has a unique key rather than a group sharing a common key.

    Among other things, this makes piracy MUCH harder, because the sattelite providers can buy pirated receivers, take them to the lab, find out the key used, and revoke it, disabling that entire batch of pirated receivers without affecting normal customers.

  • by Gravedigger3 (888675) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:55PM (#28721699)

    When I was arrested as a juvenile and got charged with 2 moderately serious charges, I had 2 counts of conspiracy, which were also felonies, added for "thinking" about doing it before I actually did it.

    Apparently in our justice system unless you just spontaneously do a crime with no premeditation whatsoever you are gonna get slapped with a charge for thinking about it on top of the charge itself. To this day I don't understand it.

  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:56PM (#28721713) Homepage
    Where's the entrapment?
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:01PM (#28721819)

    You can still get "Tunerless" VCRs and DVD Burners. They take Component and Composite inputs and will record whatever they see onto DVD. But they really aren't able to control the box any.

    Component and composite outputs on the back of every descrambler out there will spit it out in standard definition. You can't record HD signals out of them -- many won't even downgrade the signal, it'll just be dead. Getting high definition on any of those requires an HDMI hookup, which is encrypted, and therefore "tunerless" VCRs and DVD burners can't be used. Even getting signals OTA (not scrambled) doesn't do you much good because the tuners are usually integrated into the television. I haven't tuners being sold separately with HD outputs that can be sent to any COTS recording equipment. This is intentional, purposeful, and frankly conspiratorial on the part of the manufacturers.

    Piracy is the only way the market for HD video recordings will survive.

  • by swb (14022) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:14PM (#28721977)

    I know they are generally poor countries and the military advantage of nukes must seem appealing, but they could create WAY, WAY more nuisance for Americans if they would devote those resources to basically Pirate Bay-ing everything copy protected. It'd be hilarious if within hours of a new you-can't-copy-it scheme came out if pirated versions were available along with free tools and FAQs for making your own copies or subversion devices.

    IIRC, this idea was also (better?) expressed in some science fiction novel I can't remember -- although it was China that basically ruined IP protections.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:40PM (#28722421)

    and how do you KNOW this ? telepathy ? did the guy STATE HIS REASONS ??
    or are you just pulling "facts" out of your ass ?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:46PM (#28722495)

    No, stop abusing broadcast for what they don't mean to broadcast, and free the bandwidth for actual broadcasts.

  • by blhack (921171) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:47PM (#28722511)

    Uhhmm...Your analogy isn't really "analogous" to the situation.

    If you came and parked your car in my front yard, am I at fault if I figure out how to drive it, and do so? Dish network is pumping signal into everybody's house, it isn't as if these people are breaking into their building or something.

    I agree that they should be punished, what they were attempting to do was wrong, I just don't think that your analogy holds together.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:55PM (#28722613)
    And if I shot at you and missed your face by a couple inches, could I claim I was aiming at a bird behind you and get away with it?
  • by jamstar7 (694492) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:57PM (#28722631)

    Among other things, this makes piracy MUCH harder, because the sattelite providers can buy pirated receivers, take them to the lab, find out the key used, and revoke it, disabling that entire batch of pirated receivers without affecting normal customers.

    Ah, but isn't said reverse engineering a violation of the DMCA itself? The pirate recievers are electronic gadgets, built by proprietary companies. If the law doesn't cut both ways, it's a bad law and needs to go.

  • FTA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ponga (934481) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:00PM (#28722679)
    There are rumors out there that Nagra3 has already been hacked, though not confirmed to my knowledge. Back in the Nagra2 days, N2 had been hacked for years and it was a boon for pirates. Dish recently switched all it's channels to Nagra3 and pretty much overnight, all the pirates TV's went blank. Currently, the only 'solution' that exists for the pirates is via card sharing schemes where an actual subscriber(s) shares their card keys via an Internet Key Sharing (IKS) service. Though not technically a hack, IKS allows for the same capability. And so the cat and mouse continues.... Don't ask me how I know all this.
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:20PM (#28722905)

    I do not know where you got that first part at all. No, he did not run a business based on stealing a service. He only named the service after one of the components because he liked the name. It was not implied at all that he assisted others. In fact, my story specifically states the opposite.

    I was too careless in my skimming of the post. My apologies.

    As for your second point, if you were in his position, I highly doubt you would be so willing to stick to the ethical high ground and lose everything you have in exchange for a greater sense of self worth.

    You seem to have a lot to learn about exercising character, and about civic virtue. Come back when you've grown up a little; and I don't just mean when you're older.

  • by I'm not really here (1304615) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:18PM (#28723697)
    Bad analogy.

    Here's a better one:
    If you own a drive in theater, and I live nearby with a direct line of site of the theater, and someone sells me a radio that I use to receive the audio from the movie, and I sit on my porch every night and enjoy a different movie, all for free.... Is this a crime?

    Effectively, they are blanketing the country with their signal, and someone else is providing me a tool that allows me to watch and hear this signal. It's not my fault that the drive-in, in this example, doesn't shield their picture or opt to hard wire their speakers so that I cannot watch the movie, and even if they did do these measures, it would not be illegal for me to strategically place mirrors in my yard and use a directional mic to pick up sound from someone's car in order to continue to watch the movie.

    So, really, the only issue at stake is the DMCA itself (the breaking of the encryption), and I, for one, do not agree with the premise behind this law.

    If you want your content to be unwatchable by others, secure it properly. If others figure out a way to watch it anyways, that's your problem, not the laws (or at least I wish it were this way!).
  • by Hatta (162192) * on Thursday July 16, 2009 @06:42PM (#28724577) Journal

    Must suck for people who streets don't have cable or who aren't close enough to over-the-air broadcast

    That's unfortunate, but living in remote areas is a choice that comes with a lot of benefits of its own. If they really need TV, they can move somewhere where they can get OTA broadcasts. I am not willing to give up my right to do math to enable their lifestyle choice.

    things they want to pay for just so you can precede their right to buy a service

    Buying a service is hardly a right. Companies go in and out of business all the time, services are offered and dropped all the time. The privilege of buying a service depends on a sustainable business model, and it's important that that business model not infringe on anyone's rights. Math on the other hand is fundamental and universal. It's the most important tool we have for understanding the universe. I don't see how you can't consider this a right.

    I should point out that no one is suggesting any sort of force or coercion stopping people from paying for any service they want. All I ask is that I be left alone if I should wish to receive EM radiation passing through my house and process it. These companies however are quite aggressively using force against others. If you care about freedom, it seems obvious that you should choose the path of least coercion.

    You call that a privilege, fine, but it's just as much a privilege as paying for delivery of boxes of goods instead of driving to the manufacture to get them into my house.

    Yes, I agree. If UPS couldn't make a profit without infringing on people's rights we wouldn't have that luxury. Fortunately, that's not the case.

    You're saying DishTV doesn't have the right to deliver content because you have the right to monkey with their equipment?!?!?

    Oh, not at all. DishTV of course has a right to deliver content. And I have no right to monkey with their equipment. I do however have a right to monkey with my own equipment, and perform math on any signals I receive.

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