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Government Media Television Hardware Your Rights Online

FCC Allows Blocking of Set-Top Box Outputs 288

Posted by timothy
from the big-mama-deciding-which-kid-to-favor dept.
bth writes with this excerpt of an AP story as carried by Yahoo: "Federal regulators are endorsing Hollywood's efforts to let cable and satellite TV companies turn off output connections on the back of set-top boxes to prevent illegal copying of movies. ... In its decision Friday, the agency stressed that its waiver includes several important conditions, including limits on how long studios can use the blocking technology. The FCC said the technology cannot be used on a particular movie once it is out on DVD or Blu-ray, or after 90 days from the time it is first used on that movie, whichever comes first."
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FCC Allows Blocking of Set-Top Box Outputs

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  • PREDICTIONS ARE IN (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deathcow (455995) * on Friday May 07, 2010 @08:19PM (#32134398)

    1) pirates unaffected
    2) legit consumers annoyed and prevented from seeing their movie

  • Best DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Friday May 07, 2010 @08:19PM (#32134402)

    Federal regulators are endorsing Hollywood's efforts to let cable and satellite TV companies turn off output connections on the back of set-top boxes to prevent illegal copying of movies

    Good. Turning off ALL the outputs will certainly prevent those movies from being copied. I've always thought that such an approach will be the ultimately successful DRM the companies are looking for.

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529@@@yahoo...com> on Friday May 07, 2010 @08:33PM (#32134552)

    I mean not for nothing, but I don't think I've ever seen a movie being distributed on the internet that's been ripped from a cable box. There isn't even a Scene spec for it. By time movies hit Pay-Per-View, there's almost always a version of the film circulating the internet. Maybe somewhere, somehow, there's an exception, but the only piracy I could possibly see this deterring is Joe Sixpack using a set-top DVD recorder to lend to Frank Furter. Stopping piracy is one thing, but I'm wondering how much further this string of ridiculousness can go. Actually, that's probably a bad thing to wonder...

  • by Captain Spam (66120) on Friday May 07, 2010 @08:37PM (#32134602) Homepage

    The FCC said the technology cannot be used on a particular movie once it is out on DVD or Blu-Ray, or after 90 days from the time it is first used on that movie, whichever comes first.

    Wait, wait. What?

    So let me get this straight... once the movie is released on DVD or Blu-Ray, the technology is not allowed to be used on it? As in, this only (theoretically) affects... what, just the movies that hit PPV a week or so before they hit DVD/Blu-Ray? That's it?

    I mean, that's weak not just from a technological standpoint. That's weak the whole way around. Do people actually pirate movies off of PPV to any extent to make this even worthwhile? Do people actually USE PPV that much? I thought it was all DVD/Blu-Ray copies or leaked theatre reels or whatnot.

    Wow. That just seems... sad.

  • FCC, FDA, etc (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OrwellianLurker (1739950) on Friday May 07, 2010 @08:40PM (#32134638)
    The Federal government isn't on our side. Anyone with a clue has already realized this.
  • Re:Bad sign (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KahabutDieDrake (1515139) on Friday May 07, 2010 @08:56PM (#32134786)
    I'm not sure why you think the FCC is there to protect consumers. It's not. It exists to look out for business investments. The FCC in my lifetime has consistently sided with "big business" over private interests. This isn't exactly odd however. The FDA is similar in it's function, if not it's charter.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:07PM (#32134880)

    1) pirates unaffected

    Its better than that. Pirates should be celebrating.
    What this means is that the MAFIAA thinks they can do day & date releases on Pay-Per-View and in the theaters.

    However, there will always be at least a handful of people with the means to capture such PPV transmissions and distribute copies on the net. So it means no more need for crappy camcorders in the theaters and the consequent risk of the recently legislated crazy-ass sentences for getting caught doing so. Now, the pirates can comfortably record new theatrical releases in the safety of their own homes and their hundreds of millions of friends on the net can all download new theatrical releases in HD-quality long before the movies are released on bluray.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:10PM (#32134902)

    its not about COPYING from set top boxes; its about 'analog holes' and how big media hates it.

    I cancelled my direct-tv about a year ago. I had an hour long chat with the 'disconnection dept' or whatever they're called when they try to salvage a 'leaving' customer. (edit: its called 'retentions').

    they had the nerve to advise me to use an analog capture box since I told them the whole reason I was leaving was because I couldn't save the shows on MY disk. twice, before, I've had tivo's die and take their drives (encrypted) with them. never again. so I told them I wanted to go with mythtv and that their direct-tv box was very anti-myth (non-friendly).

    they even told me there was an hdmi 'sniffer' that I could buy at newegg (??) that would let me tap into their stream. I told them that, at best, it would be for non-encrypted signals over hdmi and almost all their hdmi is encrypted (not talking about qam; but the hdmi interconnect, here).

    I JUST KNEW that at some point, they'd turn on 'the switch' and even if I bought one of those hdmi sniffer boxes, I'd be out of luck. I told them that their whole model was not working for me and anyone else my age and younger. told them goodbye. they lost me for good.

    the analog hole is to stop myth-tv guys as much as the 'pirates'. I just want to time shift things, not keep them. but I can't even do THAT, now.

    cable and satallite tv are dead to me. I'm late 40's and even people 'my age' have had enough with this crap.

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:29PM (#32135046)

    My 6 year old DLP set is hardly old technology, yet it does not have HDMI inputs. It only has unencrypted DVI inputs and analog inputs.

    If all the unencrypted outputs are disabled, how do I connect my HDTV to the set top box?

    I refuse to throw away a $4000 television because big-content has a piracy problem. I have an antenna on my roof, and it does a damn good job of getting me 40 digital channels for free. Cable companies should be very careful where they tread. The internet and an antenna satisfy almost all of my TV needs.

    -ted

  • by suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:46PM (#32135176)

    (really, you could flatten this loop anywhere, but the only realistic place to break out of it is at step 4)

    The problem is that the only one of those things most execs give a flying damn about addressing is (1). If along with their new DRM they added amazing new capabilities--say creating a mobile device with apps and sleek form factor that plays your protected content anywhere, to address (2), or giving an online store to easily purchase content to fix (3)--then that wouldn't be half bad. Unless of course Apple does that, in which case fuck all.

    But seriously. I have an iTouch with some limited content on it, and will be upgrading to its bigger cousin when I have the money to spare. It does kind of bother me that I can't take my iTunes-bought video and put it on various devices--along with other objections--but the iPhone OS model, which is culminated in the iPad, is really an object lesson for people who think that suing is the only way to stop piracy.

    Yes, iPhones get hacked, and yes, they only operate with iTunes, and yes, apps and music are still stolen a lot in spite of their efforts. However, the biggest advantage they have over the *AAs is that they give you compelling reason to use their products. And hey guess what! The consumers love them for it.

    And no Apple bashing, please. This isn't comparing Apple to Linux, Microsoft, or Google. It's comparing them to RIAA/MPAA. I think we can all agree they're better than THEM.

  • by zymurgy_cat (627260) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:05PM (#32135330) Homepage
    I'm surprised the MPAA hasn't asked for the ability to disable your friends' cars so they can't drive over to watch the movie at your house. That way, they'd have to pay to watch it at their houses. Obviously, for those without cars, they'd need a waiver to cap their knees so they can't walk, bike, or rollerskate over to your house. A waiver to jam sticks in wheelchair spokes should also be granted.
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:06PM (#32135344) Homepage

    That's why the FCC made this decision the way it did. Actually, it seems like a really fair decision to me.

    They did not say Hollywood could cut the analog (or unencrypted digital) signal any time they wanted. DVDs will be the same, and your Comcrud DVR can't disable it's non-HDMI output when HBO plays Spiderman 2 or some other previously released movie.

    This is only for movies that aren't available otherwise in the home, and only for a limited time. As Ars Technica said, this was designed explicitly so that you don't lose functionality. If you can watch it today, you can watch it next month and next year.

    When Aladin 4: Jafar Gets a Haircut comes out next year, Hollywood can choose to put it on PPV in a way you won't be able to watch, but after 3 months (or when they release it on DVD/Blueray, whatever is first), they have to stop doing that, and allow you to watch it.

    It only effects new content. Compared to what Hollywood has been demanding, this is extremely fair and reasonable. It's unnecessary and anti-consumer, but it's not that bad. Just like I now have to wait an extra 30 days to get some stuff from Netflix, you'll have to wait a little longer for some content.

  • In related news... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tlambert (566799) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:08PM (#32135370)

    The FCC said the technology cannot be used on a particular movie once it is out on DVD or Blu-Ray, or after 90 days from the time it is first used on that movie, whichever comes first.

    In related news... the Copyright Act of 1790 granted copyright for a term of "fourteen years from the time of recording the title thereof", with a right of renewal for another fourteen years if the author survived to the end of the first term.

    I'm sure they won't enable the technology to do this, and then change the terms out from under us once the technological means are present.

    -- Terry

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:10PM (#32135384)

    Ok, I demand that you give me all of your money? Too unreasonable? Well let's compromise at only 10% of your net worth? Compared to what I'm demanding, it's extremely fair and reasonable.

  • by Peach Rings (1782482) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:23PM (#32135486) Homepage

    Why is it any more OK for Apple to lock down a handheld media device than it is for the MPAA to lock down your set-top-box?

  • by Illogical Spock (1058270) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:48PM (#32135694)

    You can't compare these things. [ ( Satan + Hitler + Cartman + Wicked Witch of the West ) ^ 10 year total execs bonuses ] are better than **AA . It's like comparing light years with yards.

    But, still, Apple is trying very hard, what makes them second place...

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte@gmail. c o m> on Friday May 07, 2010 @11:28PM (#32135946)

    I know this has been pointed out before, and I am myself tired of repeating this, but it's necessary:

    1) It doesn't matter what encryption they use, the decryption key is on the device, so we'll get it eventally
    2) The signal travels a long way. They can encrypt as many miles as they want, and they can encrypt the last mile, but the last 3 meters (the 3 meters from your TV to your eyes) can't be encrypted. So, eventually, the signal will need to be decrypted and there, it is vulnerable.
    3) If they resort to putting mandatory DRM on your brain, and send the signal encrypted till it reaches your eyes, refer to 1) (the decryption key will be on your brain and we can get it).

    What baffles me is why we are still trying to find technical workarounds to a commercial issue. People want to produce content. People want to watch content. Companies want to make money by being the middle man. This middle man has done nothing but move group 1 further and further apart from group 2. But regardless of how much they try, they won't prevent people from producing content, and won't prevent people from wanting to watch that content. We will eventually realize the artificial limitation here, remove the middle man, and find a way to pay the producers and get our content without *AAs.

    To quote Megadeth: If there's a new way, I'll be the first in line, But it better work this time.

    So, while all of you keep fighting each other over this moot point, I will go over to megavideo to watch Flash Forward S01E19.

  • Re:FCC, FDA, etc (Score:2, Insightful)

    by quickgold192 (1014925) on Friday May 07, 2010 @11:53PM (#32136118)

    The Federal government isn't on our side. Anyone with a clue has already realized this.

    Funny. Isn't that like some kind of cue for a people to "alter or abolish it?"

  • by Phoobarnvaz (1030274) on Friday May 07, 2010 @11:54PM (#32136120)
    What people are forgetting about this is...we're in the middle of the deepest recession/depression in 70 years. My roommate has all ready dropped the cable...since all the bill seems to keep doing is heading up every time a cable/satellite exec farts or needs a new boy/girlfriend. As soon as my DTV contract is up at the end of the year...that's bye-bye as well. With more & more people doing the same thing...where are all these customers going to come from for the cable companies/MPAA to keep screwing over?

    If I find I'm still having trouble paying the rent this summer from not being able to find even a part-time job...will just break the contract. With rates increasing ever upward...don't need to worry about paying their salaries or my rent. Hulu...over-the-air TV & the network websites are just as good to get whatever TV fix I'm looking for.
  • Paradigm Shift (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mike610544 (578872) on Saturday May 08, 2010 @12:21AM (#32136256)
    I think we're going to have to go back to the patronage model.
    I would donate $10,000 for a new season of Firefly.
  • by ktappe (747125) on Saturday May 08, 2010 @12:24AM (#32136274)

    Why is it any more OK for Apple to lock down a handheld media device than it is for the MPAA to lock down your set-top-box?

    1) You do not have to buy an Apple; you can get other smartphones. But much of America has no choice but to get TV from their cable company. I cannot get FiOS where I live (been on waiting list for 4 years) and trees prevent me from having satellite. So I'm stuck with that set top box. You know, the box I shouldn't even have to have if Comcast were to use a STANDARD to encode their digital so that my Media Center could work without an IR blaster? That box right there.

    2) Apple is a vendor. Comcast is a vendor. The MPAA is not a vendor. You cannot choose to or not to purchase from them. They insidiously work behind the scenes on crap like this, whereas you know up front when buying an Apple that it's locked down. It's a minor but notable distinction from the point above.

  • Re:FCC, FDA, etc (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OrwellianLurker (1739950) on Saturday May 08, 2010 @01:06AM (#32136470)

    The Federal government isn't on our side. Anyone with a clue has already realized this.

    Funny. Isn't that like some kind of cue for a people to "alter or abolish it?"

    And promptly be labeled as terrorists and hated by all other Americans. And soon enough, get your citizenship stripped.

  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Saturday May 08, 2010 @04:05AM (#32137092) Homepage

    Why do people continue to insist that 'nothing' is a viable choice in the *marketplace*?

    My way or the highway does not constitute a market choice.

  • by symbolic (11752) on Saturday May 08, 2010 @05:02AM (#32137220)

    Maybe because 'nothing' can be a highly motivating factor for those that want 'something' (typically your money).

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday May 08, 2010 @06:48AM (#32137496) Journal

    Slashdot commenters hold monopolists to a higher standard

    Nope, the law holds companies that are in a position to abuse their market share to a higher standard. Slashdot readers, by and large, don't accept 'but we don't have a monopoly' as an excuse for being an asshat. Just because something is legal, doesn't mean it's admirable.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday May 08, 2010 @07:00AM (#32137538) Journal
    No one. Then these companies can go out of business and ones that think selling a product that people want to buy in a format that they're willing to pay for is a good idea. Or maybe the shareholders will vote the current board out and replace them with a more competent one that has the same idea.

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