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Thread: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

  1. #1
    dBpoweramp Guru xoas's Avatar
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    Some New DRM Issues on the Horizon?

    It looks as though some DRM-based programs are starting to run into problems with upgrades of DRM measures which can affect their ability to work with devices that are supposedly compatible. See:
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=2083&tag=nl.e589

    Best wishes,
    Bill
    Last edited by xoas; 10-31-2005 at 04:08 PM.

  2. #2
    dBpoweramp Guru LtData's Avatar
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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    Further proof as to why I avoid DRM at every possible turn.

    But I love how they're like "We haven't figured out how to let you back up your licenses if the maker doesn't allow it, but we'll figure it out." So basically, I cannot make a backup of my licenses for content I purchased to prevent loss of that content if my HDD crashes or if I have to reinstall Windows? Booo.

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    dBpoweramp Guru ChristinaS's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizon?

    Egad, this is like when cable companies started encrypting the signal before sending it up to the satellite to redistribute down to earth.

    Some 15 years ago when the first satellite dishes came out that consumers could buy for themselves, expensive monsters that they were, all you needed was to buy that dish and some tuner to go with it and you were set to be able to watch everything from that satellite. Then they changed it all to encrypt the programs before firing them up to the satellite for rebroadcast, so then you needed decoders to be used for each network's programming package. Not satisfied with this, different satellite dishes were invented for different distributors. None of them are compatible with any of the others, so you're stuck with one provider unless you want to buy a whole new setup from another one. Of course they have come down a lot in price. That old huge 15-ft dish from 15 years ago was $5000 or more back then. Now a couple of hundred gets you a pizza-sized dish and decoder for one TV - then you pay the monthly programming charges. Freedom from cable this ain't. If I want to equip my house with whatever satellite dish equipment is needed to get rid of cable tv (which is squirrel-eaten and lousy here anyway), I'll need to spend about $500 to handle our 3 tv's. If I add another tv I have to spend more again. Then I'll still be paying about the same per month to get my programming. And if after 2-3 years I want to move to another satellite tv provider, start all over again, as I cannot reuse my dish and decoders. Bah, too much bother! pretty soon they'll be selling tv's specially built to only work with one source. Hey, they did that for portable music devices, didn't they?

  4. #4

    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    Actually its your own fault.
    If you refuse to buy then the satelite operators would have to agree on a standard.

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    Exclamation Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizon?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChristinaS
    Egad, this is like when cable companies started encrypting the signal before sending it up to the satellite to redistribute down to earth.

    {remainder of post truncated}
    I have to correct some technical issues here. I have two BUDS with analog and digital sat receivers.

    First off, cable companies do NOT send the feeds to the birds. They only receive the signals. It is true that they were the reason that the suppliers of the the programming were "forced" to scramble. The first method of scrambling was the VideoCipherII. Technically, it digitally encrypts the audio and just inverts the video, after removing the NTSC sync signals, replacing them with the digital audio. I remember watching the congressional hearings with HBO, etc., regarding how secure VCII was. Turns out it wasn't. There was a major design flaw. The flaw was that the firmware program was placed into a separate chip from the processor (chips existed whereby the program is stored into the processor and a link blown that would keep the program from being read). While the digital audio encryption wasn't broken, the program was reverse engineered, which led to the board being "chipped." Hackers released new firmware chips that turned on all the features of the receiver. As I understand it, something like 900,000 VCII boards were sold, but only about 300,000 were ever officially authorized.

    The VCII+ board was released for a couple of reasons, one to combat the piracy and two they ran out of bits that was used for the programmers. Too many suppliers used the system. As far as I know, the VCII+ board was never compromised, since they learned their lesson. The original VCII "chipped" boards can still be used to view VCII+ programming, but you cannot hear the audio.

    Lastly newer dishes were never invented. The C and Ku band dish technology has not changed. What has changed is the distribution technology. After MPEG-2 became a video compression standard, DVB (Digital Video Broadcast) standards were developed for satellite transmission. First to come along was 4:2:0 encoding. It allowed for more than one video/audio stream per C/Ku satellite channel, saving lots of money. Unfortunately, encryption is used for many of those channels. But, if the feed is FTA (Free-To-Air), any DVB sat receiver can view the signal. For quality reasons, 4:2:2 DVB was later developed. U.S. network broadcasters needed higher quality video for its affiliates, as 4:2:0 really has inferior video. In any event, those DVB receivers are a lot more expensive, but there are now 4:2:2 DVB cards available for PeeCees. Also developed was DCII. The 4:2:0 version is used to distribute a lot of programming to cable head ends and C-band consumers. CBS uses DCII+, the 4:2:2 version that requires an extremely expensive receiver. In order to have higher quality and more channels per sat transponder, the modulation scheme being used at first (QPSK) is changing to 8PSK. Yep, those receivers are tons more expensive and requires bigger dishes and precise alignment (CTV, CBC, ABC and Fox use 8PSK).

    So, the dishes haven't changed, but the transmission modulation and data stream methods have.

  6. #6
    dBpoweramp Guru ChristinaS's Avatar
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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    Sorry, you lost me out there int eh tech speak :D
    My mistake in suggesting the cabel companies send the feeds up there. The whachamaycallem who make the programming do that. We kind of tend to call them al cable companies, as tehy are providers of tv signals one way or another. Nevetr mind regulat antenna, that's pretty useless where I live, even if I wanted to just see 2 channels. I'd need a rooftop antenna as the tvs no longer come with any at all and rabbit ears are too weak.

    I was talking about today's dishes which are small, 12 inches or so, compared with the dishes that were available 20 years ago which were like 10-15 feet in diameter. The signal was not encrypted back then. You just needed to spend several thousand dollars to buy the dish and hundreds more for each receiver. There was no monthly subscription to pay to any networks, cable or whatever provider of television programming. Just point the dish at any satellite you wanted that teh dsih could see in the sky, and get all that it broadcast.

    I of course have no notion of the technology behind it, just what was visible and feasible from the user's end.

    Now one of those original dishes cannot receive anything any more- or maybe I should say understand the reception - as everyhting is now encrypted, incompatible and whatnot. It's a very large lawn ornament. My brother in law has one of those. He thought he was thinking long-term when he bought it - so he'd never again pay for a cable subscription :smile2:

    Any satellite television I want to see today I'm stuck with one of several providers, who'll sell me a small dish, receivers, decoders and assorted wires and a monthly programming plan for which I have to pay about as much as to cable. At first there were hacked decoders out there, to be sure, but they keep changing things so that's fallen by the wayside. In any case, like with cell phones, one cannot buy the equipment alone, one has to also buy a monthly plan. At least in Canada.

    You cannot chose different satelites with these small dishes and their receivers and decoders. They are either incompatible with the signals or have been rigged by the satellite service provider to only work with one satellite, and one combo of network channels.

    I appreciate that a highly skilled techincal persons may be able to build or rig satellite dishes that can capture more than the standard ones. But that's not for the average person.
    Last edited by ChristinaS; 11-25-2005 at 02:01 AM.

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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChristinaS
    Sorry, you lost me out there int eh tech speak :D
    My mistake in suggesting the cabel companies send the feeds up there. The whachamaycallem who make the programming do that. We kind of tend to call them al cable companies, as tehy are providers of tv signals one way or another. Nevetr mind regulat antenna, that's pretty useless where I live, even if I wanted to just see 2 channels. I'd need a rooftop antenna as the tvs no longer come with any at all and rabbit ears are too weak.
    Because of what I deal with and who I deal with, it does make a difference, hence my reason for pointing that out.

    I was talking about today's dishes which are small, 12 inches or so, compared with the dishes that were available 20 years ago which were like 10-15 feet in diameter. The signal was not encrypted back then. You just needed to spend several thousand dollars to buy the dish and hundreds more for each receiver. There was no monthly subscription to pay to any networks, cable or whatever provider of television programming. Just point the dish at any satellite you wanted that teh dsih could see in the sky, and get all that it broadcast.
    There are two reason why the pizza-pan dishes are smaller than the C-band dishes. The physics behind the dishes is still the same today as it was when communication satellites were placed into orbit. C-band requires a larger dish based upon frequency and amount of signal being received. The Ku-band dishes can be smaller due to the higher frequency. A 1 meter dish works for Ku-band. The pizza-pan dishes are in the Ka-band, which is a band just above Ku. The reason the dishes can be that small is because the output power of the satellite is 10x higher, in some cases. A 1 meter dish can be used for DirecTV, Dish and other like suppliers and it would actually be better in some situations.

    I of course have no notion of the technology behind it, just what was visible and feasible from the user's end.
    I do deal with the technology behind it and there are those whom I deal with that know much more about it than I do.

    Now one of those original dishes cannot receive anything any more- or maybe I should say understand the reception - as everyhting is now encrypted, incompatible and whatnot. It's a very large lawn ornament. My brother in law has one of those. He thought he was thinking long-term when he bought it - so he'd never again pay for a cable subscription :smile2:
    Sorry, but what you say it totally incorrect. I have two BUDs in my back yard, a 10' and a 12'. The 10' is C-band only and the 12' is C and Ku-band. Everything is not encrypted. I get to watch a lot of stuff for free. Most of what I watch are not "cable" channels. But, I do pay for and watch Sci-Fi. I pay for some others that I seldom watch. During the hurricanes, I had CNN on constantly.

    It is true that more and more "cable" channels are leaving C-band analog. Notice I said analog. Many are going digital (inferior overcompressed 4:2:0 MPEG-2), and many of those are using DCII 4DTV so that C-band consumers can still get them. But, the number of C-band subscribers has fallen to below what is considered viable. Too many have been hood-winked into converting to the expensive pizza-pan solution, which is overcompressed.

    It is only incompatible if you do not have the right receiver. It is an expensive hobby. A hobby I have not given up on.

    Any satellite television I want to see today I'm stuck with one of several providers, who'll sell me a small dish, receivers, decoders and assorted wires and a monthly programming plan for which I have to pay about as much as to cable. At first there were hacked decoders out there, to be sure, but they keep changing things so that's fallen by the wayside. In any case, like with cell phones, one cannot buy the equipment alone, one has to also buy a monthly plan. At least in Canada.
    No different here. They basically give away the pizza-pan dish and receivers, only to soak you with the programming fees. You end up paying for stuff you don't want and the suppliers, DirecTV and Dish, refuse to do alacart.

    You cannot chose different satelites with these small dishes and their receivers and decoders. They are either incompatible with the signals or have been rigged by the satellite service provider to only work with one satellite, and one combo of network channels.
    No rigging involved. The DBS supplies, DirecTV, Dish, etc., all pretty much use MPEG-2 for the digital video (going to MPEG-4 for the HD video), but all have proprietory data streams. That means each other's receiver cannot "see" the datastream of any of the others. But, becasue alacart programming choices are not available, being able to receive more than one DBS supplier would be cost prohibitive.

    I appreciate that a highly skilled techincal persons may be able to build or rig satellite dishes that can capture more than the standard ones. But that's not for the average person.
    Keep in mind that the dish is only a small part of what goes on. All it does is reflect all radio signals in a narrow beam from space to the LNB (Low Noise Blockconverter), which converts the specific range of frequencies (C, Ku or Ka), to a lower range of frequencies. It is the various receivers that do all of the work. I have four receivers, two are analog (one for each dish) and two commercial digital receivers that receive two types of data streams (QPSK DVB and DCII) and two types of digital video (4:2:0 and 4:2:2 MPEG-2).

    Like I said, it is an exciting hobby that is expensive and constantly changing (not always for the better for hobbyists like me).

  8. #8
    dBpoweramp Guru ChristinaS's Avatar
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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    LOL!

    Thanks for the lesson. My uncle is an avid ham radio amateur and he's spent his life perfecting his hobby. No normal radio in their home, everything is rigged to be something else. Luckily for my aunt he knows nothing nor cares about television, so they at least have one tv that works as per specs :D

    As for myself, the little tv I watch doesn't warrant either effort or money. I only inquired about dishes because I got fed up with my cable company who sent 2 technicians under false pretenses (claiming they detected signal leakage from around my house, indicating a faulty installation), only to see how many tvs I have in my house. I kicked them out on their butts faster than you can say boo as soon as I figured out what they were after. This cable company bought over the one we had been with since times immemorial, who never charged by the number of cable outlets, just a flat monthly fee. The new company after having bought out the only competition, wanting to make even more money, started these kinds of sneaky practices. Everybody has more than 1 tv in a residential area where families live, obviously. These houses are built with cable wiring inside the walls and outlets in all the rooms. A lot of bucks for them to make. So it was that I decided to call the dish providers to check out the alternatives. In the end I gave up. Nobody will give straight answer about "how much it costs to have at least what I have now - and installed and ready to use". 4 tvs, 3 vcrs, all connected now to cable. Well, if you want to buy one of this and one of that... No! How much the whole darn thing? LOL! Like pulling teeth! never really found out, so I gave up. If that cable company decides to give me grief (they threatened to cut off my signal), I'll start the process of shopping around again. :D

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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChristinaS
    If that cable company decides to give me grief (they threatened to cut off my signal), I'll start the process of shopping around again. :D
    I do not know the laws in Canada regarding cable systems in cities. The city should be regulating what the cable company is doing with regards to charges. Because you were bought out, what you have should be grandfathered. The operative keyword is should.

    Check with the city to find out of they can start charging for extra outlets without written notice.

    If the cable company threatens again, just threaten lawsuit about their fee structure, i.e., no official written notice.

    My guess is that they can't come into your house without police escort and without the police having a search warrant. So threatening to turn off service for a guess about what is going on in your house is just asking for a lawsuit.

    The problem with multiple sets in the states has pretty much gone away, since most cable systems now require a box per TV in order to get anything useful, since the TV can only tune channels 2-13 (local channels and some other drudge). I think our local system is going 100% digital, if not already. I don't have cable.

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    dBpoweramp Guru ChristinaS's Avatar
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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    Well, we are not as litigious in Canada as you guys are in the US. However we do have some pretty good consumer protection laws and all it takes is for the individual to point them out to the bullies. And not take the threats sitting down. I called that company and threatened in turn to charge them with home intrusion since those technicians came in under false pretenses. So at present we are at a standoff: they didn't cut my service and I didn't call the cops on them :D

    Of course we have more than our share of grandfather clauses that apply to just about everything. Also we have laws that protect against a variety of unethical business practices. But of course the consumer cannot just be gullible and accept all the garbage they want to throw at us. None of these are at the city level, they are provincial or even federal laws. Municipal laws don't deal with this stuff anyway, they deal with parking, lawn watering, trash disposal and noise levels in a neighbourhood :D

    Our cable service doesn't rely on any special box, unless it's specialty cable like Pay Per View or some digital services. You plug the cable into the tv's own cable input converter and you're good to go. The bundle you get is predetermined before it gets into the home.

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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChristinaS
    Our cable service doesn't rely on any special box, unless it's specialty cable like Pay Per View or some digital services. You plug the cable into the tv's own cable input converter and you're good to go. The bundle you get is predetermined before it gets into the home.
    Ah, an older system. One of these days they'll update to an all digital system and you'll end up paying for every television you want to watch on. They'll need to do that in order to start delivering HD programming.
    Last edited by MrVideo; 11-25-2005 at 05:30 PM.

  12. #12
    dBpoweramp Guru ChristinaS's Avatar
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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    I'd need to get an HD ready tv too if they do that, which I'm not in any rush to do yet.

    I hate those gizmos you have to add to your tv's. You have this fancy remote that works with your own tv's functions and you cannot use it, as you have to use the silly one that comes with the "box". All tv adjustments you have to still do that way, but channel surfing has to go through theri remote. My parents have one of those because dad absolutely MUST watch European soccer LIVE and he can only get it from that service. LOL! Then he complains about not having all the same buttons on the remote as what his tv remote has (which was working with regular cable service) and having to set yet another clock ... :D

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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChristinaS
    I'd need to get an HD ready tv too if they do that, which I'm not in any rush to do yet.
    Because HD sets are still too expensive, my HD viewing is via a 17" LCD monitor that is a computer monitor and HD monitor. It has multi video inputs. Since I do all of my stuff in my computer/video room in the basement, it works out great.

    One of the things that has been mandated in the states are cable compatible TVs. By this I mean that have the digital tuner required to receive digital cable. They also have a cable card slot in which a card is inserted that is supplied by the cable company. The TV now works just like it had an outside connected cable converter box. Instead that the TV can now again do all of the channel surfing, receiving only what is paid for. Not that I care, since I'll never get cable again.

  14. #14
    dBpoweramp Guru ChristinaS's Avatar
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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    Well, we're working our way through a large Sony Trinitron that still has a lot of life in it, but which would break our backs totally to try to move, it's huge, bulky and heavy. Also an assortment of smaller, more portable though not any great quality tvs in other rooms (e.g. kids).

    I have sworn I'll never buy another tv like those. The next one will be LCD or maybe plasma. Bu they are still too expensive, and the ones we have are still in good working order, so no need to run out and spend thousands yet.

    My computer's not rigged up to have any sort of video input except through firewire from my camcorder or dvd's from the dvd drive. Also my office is the one room without a cable hookup - and that's ok, as I personally hardly ever watch tv anyway.

    The dust hasn't settle on the HDTV issue. Cable companies cannot impose exclusively a HDTV signal to everybody who's not prepared to buy a HDTV set any time soon, so they have to carry both somehow for the conceivable future. of course, since tvs seem to be much less robust than they used to be, for all their new fancy features, the moment when nobody will have an old clunker around and only HDTV sets can be bought is probably not too far off. But right now a regular tv is still just about $150 whereas the same size in LCD & HDTV is at least $1000. So no more having a small cheap tv & vcr combo for a kid under the Christmas tree.

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    Re: Some New DRM Issues on the Horizen?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChristinaS
    My computer's not rigged up to have any sort of video input except through firewire from my camcorder or dvd's from the dvd drive. Also my office is the one room without a cable hookup - and that's ok, as I personally hardly ever watch tv anyway.
    Same here. Firewire and DVD only. I can also burn DVDs, even from a professional DVD authoring package. The monitor that I am using is multiple input; computer, composite video, S-video, RGB video and component (YPbPr) video, fully HDTV standard compatible. It is 1280x1024, so 720p is displayed naturally and 1920x1080i is downrezzed to 1280x720.

    But right now a regular tv is still just about $150 whereas the same size in LCD & HDTV is at least $1000. So no more having a small cheap tv & vcr combo for a kid under the Christmas tree.
    Yep, too expensive for my blood at the moment as well.

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