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Macrovision Wants Old DRM to Work Forever 288

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the descrambling-some-eggs dept.
Grv writes "Macrovision's best-known form of copy protection inserts noise into analog video signals to make it difficult to get a good copy of the DVD or VHS recording. A company named Sima has products that eliminate this noise when digitizing such video, as any good digitizer would do. Macrovision argues that this is a violation of the DMCA, and a court sided with them in June. Now the injunction is being reviewed, and several organizations are siding with Sima and Fair Use, including the American Library Association, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Home Recording Rights Coalition, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. If it isn't overturned, this decision could make it illegal to develop products for making copies of commercial analog recordings." This story selected and edited by LinuxWorld editor for the day Saied Pinto.
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Macrovision Wants Old DRM to Work Forever

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  • Digital, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Dalex (996138) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:23PM (#15931120)
    If these are analog signals, does the DMCA apply here? Is cleaning noise out of a signal considered "hacking" now?
    • Re:Digital, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vancondo (986849) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:05PM (#15931351) Homepage
      Everything is hacking now.. It's much easier to make everything against the law than to fiddle with technicalities. Altering, modifying or improving old technology is a threat to the economy. You should be out buying new stuff not using or enjoying the stuff you've already bought. Anything else is communist intellectual elitism!
    • Re:Digital, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DittoBox (978894) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:07PM (#15931358) Homepage

      Yes. "Digital" and "Millennium" were just buzzwords at the time. Using the two together was simply a crafty ruse to make copyright law stricter in light of new digital technologies. They never use the word "digital" as in binary systems but instead the word "technology".

      This Macrovision noise crap is "technology" too, which means it's quite possibly protected. Or at least they say it is. That's the entire problem with the DMCA right there. It's too vague, which means this kind of the opportunistic crap will happen more and more as time goes on and innovation occurs. This is yet another example of how innovation dies at the hands of the DMCA. Again government has failed us in their understanding (or lack thereof) of technical concepts by creating legislation that is incredibly vague. I think they're smoking DOPA.

      Thanks for nothing Congress. Vaguely written, hastily thrown together, anti-everyone-but-the-guys-who-paid-you-off legislation is bad m'kay?

      • Re:Digital, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:38PM (#15931510)
        There was no failure to understand here. The bill wasn't hastily thrown together in ignorance. The industry lobbyists who wrote the law spent a lot of time working on the details, and knew exactly what they were doing. Congress failure was in not caring much beyond what the lobbyists could do for them, not in not understanding the subject matter. (I'm not saying they actually understood, just that for their understanding to have any relevance they'd have to first care about the substance.)
      • Re:Digital, eh? (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot&uberm00,net> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @10:45PM (#15932057) Homepage Journal
        Make no mistake, analog copyright protection systems are protected under the DMCA. The DMCA makes it illegal to create an anticircumvention device of any kind, with few exceptions (fairly well explained on Copyright.gov's DMCA overview, page 5 (Warning: PDF) [copyright.gov]), none of which apply to breaking older copyright protection methods. If you're going to enforce the DMCA anywhere, you must also enforce it here, and against every other technological copyright circumvention scheme ever conceived.

        Which, of course, is why the DMCA is so stupid, arbitrary, and completely one-sided.
      • Re:Digital, eh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by babbling (952366) on Friday August 18, 2006 @02:14AM (#15932665)
        How does the DMCA define "technology"?

        If the GPL could be considered "technology", then anything that prevents copying (DRM systems) could be classified as a "circumvention device".
    • by Alaren (682568) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:08PM (#15931367)

      Forget the DMCA, let's throw the content industry's arguments right back at them. What they're asking for is regulation--laws that change the market. They want it illegal to copy, illegal to break content protection systems, even illegal to remove or bypass things like region encoding. They want market regulations.

      Yet when we ask for regulations to protect end-users (see "Net Neutrality"), they can't cry "laissez faire" fast enough.

      Now, I have some pretty strong opinions about the way they do things--personally I'd like to see less region coding et cetera. However if that's how they choose to do business, they are free to do so. What they should not be permitted to do is use the legal system to lock out competitors who threaten their chosen business model. It's already illegal to infringe on copyright. We don't need redundant regulation, especially against consumers, and we do need to tell the content industry that they can't have it both ways. If they don't want to be regulated, they need to stop regulating everyone else.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jonny_eh (765306)
        I don't think the MPAA has weighed in on the net neutrality debate yet. I fail to see your point. You seem to have lumped all the companies that you don't like into one big pile.
        • by dangitman (862676) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:50PM (#15931587)
          I don't think the MPAA has weighed in on the net neutrality debate yet. I fail to see your point. You seem to have lumped all the companies that you don't like into one big pile.

          Have you completely ignored the astroturfing campaign, including TV ads, that attacked Net Neutrality in specious ways? Do you really believe the MPAA did not have anything to do with that?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Kadin2048 (468275)
            Have you completely ignored the astroturfing campaign, including TV ads, that attacked Net Neutrality in specious ways? Do you really believe the MPAA did not have anything to do with that?

            I think AT&T, Comcast, and the rest of the telcos are perfectly capable of hiring a PR firm and buying some TV time. Nothing about that implies the involvement of the MPAA.
        • Lumped? Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Alaren (682568) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:52PM (#15931605)

          I referred to the "content industry." Yeah, that's lumping. But I'm making a comment, not writing a meticulous dissertation.

          I mentioned Net Neutrality parenthetically and only as one example of how regulation is denounced by large companies and consortiums when it regulates them, but not when it regulates their customers. Net Neutrality is a quick and dirty example; the specifics of the Net Neutrality debate are not really germane to the topic at hand, merely illustrative of the principle.

          Or if that's too much thinking for you, you might also have interpreted my parenthetical inclusion of Network Neutrality as a way of reinforcing what appears to be a trend that transcends the boundaries of any one industry's behavior. The MPAA and the RIAA (again, for instance) are not (entirely) composed of the same people, but criticisms of one are often accurate of the other.

          The point which you fail to see is an 800-pound gorilla, and your inability to recognize it suggests willful misunderstanding. The point is that the U.S. government is increasingly concerned with regulating its constituency while relaxing regulation on corporations. The market is increasingly free for large corporations--which I'm willing to accept as a possibly good direction!--but decreasingly free for consumers and new business models. The imbalance is unacceptable if not outright dangerous.

          I try (often unsuccessfully) to keep my comments reasonably short--to make my point and trust the intelligence of the audience to bridge any gaps I might have left. I ask only for a charitable reading. But hopefully now you see my point, despite the parenthetical inclusion that seems to have completely derailed you.

      • I used this tactic (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Amazing Quantum Man (458715) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:15PM (#15931709) Homepage
        When Hollings (D-Disney) was proposing the SSSCA/CBDTPA, I wrote to Pres. Bush and asked him to work against it, and veto it. I spewed a lot of malarkey that I didn't believe, such as "Hollywood liberal elite", "Unnecessary regulation of business", etc...

        Putting someone's own prejudices to work for you is sometimes all that you can do.
      • by Pofy (471469) on Friday August 18, 2006 @05:43AM (#15933194)
        >They want it illegal to copy, illegal to break content protection systems, even
        >illegal to remove or bypass things like region encoding. They want market regulations.

        Yes, lets regulate the work market as well. That way, they can't use manufacturing plants in one "market" to supply another market. They can't press their CDs, say, in Asia and sell them in Europe or USA, that work is region marked to Asia. Want to set up a call centre in India? Sure, but those people's work are area marked for India only, can't circumvent that and have people phoning from USA get help. And so on. SHould work great. After all, why should THEY be able to trade, ship and use workforce freely in the world when normal people and their customers are not!
    • Re:Digital, eh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by farrellj (563) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:10PM (#15931692) Homepage Journal
      Well, if you have an ATI TV Wonder card, you can simply modify a value in the source code that will eliminate Macrovision "interference". I do this on my home system so that I can watch my DVDs and Video Tapes on my 17" monitor. I don't have a lot of room where I live, and I sold my TV a while ago. So I have a dual monitor setup, with one being used as my "TV".

      I don't see why modifying said value could be so hard for the other drivers...but it probably works on all BT8x8 based cards.

      ttyl
    • Re:Digital, eh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by twelveinchbrain (312326) on Friday August 18, 2006 @01:30AM (#15932570)
      If these are analog signals, does the DMCA apply here? Is cleaning noise out of a signal considered "hacking" now?

      Macrovision is trivially defeated with a simple, off-the-shelf, $10 video switch that you can buy at any big-box electronics store. Video switches do not have automatic gain control, because they are not "analog recording devices" under the DMCA. Lacking this feature means they are immune to Macrovision. The video output from the switch can then be routed to the recording device of your choice, with Macrovision stripped away.
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:24PM (#15931126) Homepage Journal

    "Wanna watch Erik The Viking?"

    "Can't. It would be a violation of the law."

    "What Law?"

    "The one that prevents us from taking the old video tape I bought of it, which I can no longer watch on newer video devices due to built in DRM and I am prevented from recording onto a computer and removing the old DRM and writing to digital storage which the new digital video devices read."

    "Man, obeying the law sucks!"

    "No, creating laws which paint people into a corner and then hand them the brush suck."

    Ultimately, the way DRM and DMCA is going, you will not have owned DVDs, CDs, LPs, 45s, etc. You will merely have rented them until the march of technology locks you out of enjoying the content any further.

    • by BalanceOfJudgement (962905) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:31PM (#15931178) Homepage
      Ultimately, the way DRM and DMCA is going, you will not have owned DVDs, CDs, LPs, 45s, etc. You will merely have rented them until the march of technology locks you out of enjoying the content any further.
      Telling my friends and family this have gotten me accused of everything from lying to fear mongering.

      They really sincerely believe that people won't stand for it and that the government will stop the content distributors from doing this.

      It's sad how much faith they have in people who are genuinely trying to screw them.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ackthpt (218170) *

        Telling my friends and family this have gotten me accused of everything from lying to fear mongering.

        Those old Beatles records you bought years ago, you can't just digitise them so you can listen to them on your iPod. Not with the RIAA's blessing anyway. And TFB if you have something on vinyl which never came out, or in the case of my ELO Out Of The Blue double-LP, was clipped when making the abbreviated CD version.

        stormtroopers are standing by

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kfg (145172) *
          And don't you dare photoshop the cover art to make it look like it looked before we photoshopped them. We're watching for that shit.

          KFG
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by feepness (543479)
        It's sad how much faith they have in people who are genuinely trying to screw them.

        Or perhaps encouraging how little they care about watching Buffy: Season Three in 2018.
    • by cpu_fusion (705735) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:25PM (#15931441)
      With all due respect to your well-thought-out-argument, if the DMCA prevents me from watching Erik the Viking in 2050, then it has finally done something good for once. ;)
    • "The one that prevents us from taking the old video tape I bought of it, which I can no longer watch on newer video devices due to built in DRM and I am prevented from recording onto a computer and removing the old DRM and writing to digital storage which the new digital video devices read."

      As much as I dislike the DMCA, as posted earlier, your story won't happen under the current DMCA as it exists now. Interoperability is one of the exceptions that the DMCA allows for in creating circumvention tools. Of

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by grolschie (610666)
      "Wanna watch Erik The Viking?"
      Sure, I love that movie! "Olaf Tryggvason used to throw up on every single voyage... the whole time... non-stop... puke... puke... puke..."
  • Not good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by andrewman327 (635952)
    this decision could make it illegal to develop products for making copies of commercial analog recordings.

    I thought that the DMCA did that already. These products are knowingly removing DRM from an original tape. Regardless of how you feel, the DMCA specifically outlaws this. According to TFA, the problem is that the means by which the program strips DRM is through converting it to digital and by outlawing the program the judge could outlaw AD conversions.

    • Re:Not good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:31PM (#15931176)
      Regardless of how you feel, the DMCA specifically outlaws this.

      "How we feel" is the central tenet of a democratic society. If a law is unjust, it is our duty to defy it.
      • Re:Not good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:37PM (#15931210) Homepage Journal
        "How we feel" is the central tenet of a democratic society. If a law is unjust, it is our duty to defy it.

        As long as you are willing to face the consequences of such actions, yes. Defy away; however, a more reasonable and responsible citizen might suggest that if a law is believed to be unjust, they have a duty to try and get it overturned through legal and ethical means first. If that doesn't work, then I think you have a tea party :)
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlberg's_stages_of_ moral_development [wikipedia.org]

          Disobeying laws is sometimes the most moral, reasonable, and responsible thing to do. Ask Gandhi.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Moofie (22272)
          "they have a duty to try and get it overturned through legal and ethical means first."

          How do you get a law overturned, without first breaking it and going to court? And what is unethical about breaking an unethical law?
          • by nmb3000 (741169)
            How do you get a law overturned, without first breaking it and going to court?

            Most likely by attempting to show that it violates some other law or previously established right. Economical methods such as boycotts are also available.

            And what is unethical about breaking an unethical law?

            I didn't suggest there was anything unethical about breaking the law, just that one stays within the accepted bounds of ethics while attempting to remove the offending law. Don't go around killing innocent people to make a poi
        • by ZorbaTHut (126196)
          Man, now there's an idea. Set up shop on a public corner and offer to rip people's DVDs for them and burn them unencrypted versions. Make them sign something verifying that their DVDs are legal. Bring a few hundred people along to help.

          You'd want to publicize it, of course.
        • I definitely agree. As egregious as putting up with "annoying" infringements of rights like airports delays/rfid passwords/ -- becuase it boils down to people imposing their will on others simply "because they can" -- the following step to civil war must be taken only under dire circumstances.

          But don't take it from me. Take it from the wise folks who started this country:

          and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right thems
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tyger (126248)
      Yes, the DMCA makes it illegal to break DRM. However, the analog MacroVision copy protection is not strictly "Digital Rights Management" so it seems a bit of a stretch that it is covered under the "Digital Millenium Copyright Act".
    • Where do you draw the line between plain noise (stray magnetic fields, wrinkled tape, koolaid all over barney) and DRM noise?
  • shocked (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:30PM (#15931167) Journal
    I am shocked that people still care about "rights" (sic) abuses on analogue material, the only reason you would be doing this is because you had bought a copy a long while ago and now want to be able to enjoy that copy on a system you have. Do they even make VHS? new piracy would be stupid from this angle. Besides cracking it in digital format is far easier...

    They are just trying to screw you over again and again and again. Fortunately I don't live in a country with the DMCA or equivalent, but I sympathise, I hate getting screwed over by companies and the government when their working against the people.
    • Re:shocked (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cyberworm (710231) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [mrowrebyc]> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:53PM (#15931292) Homepage
      I agree with the spirit of your post, but the one thing that people overlook in their "government+companies vs. the people" argument, is that companies are made up of people. I think the spirit of what companies do to protect their investments, is to help protect their money. Money which they use to pay their employees, who in turn, contribute to society.

      I do, however, agree that these kinds of things suck, and feel that if I own a VHS tape or LP, I should be able to transfer them to whatever media I choose.... But by admitting that I have the ability to do so, also is an admission that I have the ability to still play the original media and am not locked out of it. Granted, I own an mp3 player, and think it would be cool to listen to those old unpublished B sides I have stored away on vinyl when I take the dog for a walk, or any media I own, that for whatever reason isn't considered profitable to some guy sitting in a tower. Artistry in any form needs to be preserved, regardless of popularity or profit. Admirers of "unprofitable" or "unpopular" art, in my opinion have a duty and right to preserve and protect art for future generations, when others won't do it.
      To me, copy restrictions amount to nothing more than the censorship of art, and a slippery slope of allowing only a select few to choose what parts of our past carry on into the present. Remember this one thing: "History is written by the winners."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SmokedS (973779)
        Yes corporations are manned by people, but there's a separation within the company analogous to the "government+companies vs. the people" separation. Namely: workers vs. owners.

        Is it the "owners" or the "workers" part of the corporation that get the benefits?
        Is it the "owners" or the "workers" part of the population that pay the price?

        Take a look at wealth distribution and you get the answer: http://www.faireconomy.org/research/wealth_charts. html [faireconomy.org]
        Bottom 50% ownling less that 3% of the wealth.
        Top 1% owning m
    • by leehwtsohg (618675) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:11PM (#15931378)
      No one here cares about rights. This is simply macrovision trying to survive. If:
      1. Anyone can overcome macrovision protection,
      2. It will be useless to even build it in anywhere.
      4. No company will by the protection from macrovision.
      5. Loss
  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:35PM (#15931198)

    I don't know how good it is at color corrections but it did a fine job of removing macrovision before my new DVD player came into the picture.

    I for one endorse this product if you have the need.

  • by gillbates (106458) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:47PM (#15931260) Homepage Journal

    I have nothing against the content producers making financial gain from their efforts. In fact, I work for a company that makes a considerable amount of money licensing code to third parties. I'm well aware of the situation that copyright creates, and I'm all for ownership of intellectual property.

    That said, ownership is a two way street. I exchange my ownership of the code I produce for the salary my company pays me. I consider it a fair deal - I work a given number of hours in exchange for a one time payment. Once I've cashed the check (before, actually), I no longer own the code that I write. I have no problem with this arrangement. Whether my company sells one copy or a million makes no difference to me, because I've already been paid for the work I did. If the company can't sell my code, well, that's their loss, not mine. Or, if they are obscenely profitable, that's their gain. After all, they bought my code, and they own it. For them to make obscene profits does not impose any additional work burden on me.

    However, the movie industry is actively opposed to intellectual property. When you buy a movie from them, they take your money, yet behave as if both the money and the movie are still theirs. You see, they don't believe in property. When you sell a piece of property, you give up any and all claim to the property. The movie industry's idea of a sale is more like an indefinite lease - you get to have a copy of the content for as long as it suits the studio. They feel that if they are not making enough money, they have the right to charge you time and again for the same material. (i.e. new movie on DVD instead of VHS, the "director's cut" version, etc...)

    And you are supposed to like it. You pay for the DVD, but you don't own it:

    • You can't make a backup copy and aren't supposed to try.
    • You aren't allowed to post clips from the movie for critical review.
    • You can't make backgrounds from screenshots of good scenes.
    • You have to buy the soundtrack separately rather than recording it from the DVD.

    Granted, I know there are ways around all of these, but they are not easy to come by, and require a technical aptitude beyond what the average user will possess. In effect, the studios are "Indian givers" - they aren't satisfied with either your money or the movie - they want them both.

    Which, I think is one of the key reasons why I seldom buy movies anymore. It just doesn't seem right to give money to someone whose stated purpose is to explicitly rip off their customers, and goes to great length to defend the practice .

    • Flawed analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by OhBoy! (842699) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:22PM (#15931426)
      Your company isn't paying you for just a single copy of your code - they are paying you to assign them the copyright, so they can make as many copies as they like.
      It would certainly be possible for you to pay to media companies to assign the copyright to you, but it would cost a lot more then $15.
      The fact that you got modded +5 insightful only illustrates how difficult it is to sort out intelectual property owernship issues. Almost all analogies made with cars or computers or whatever people tend to come up with don't work - this is a different beast and as a society we haven't figured out yet how to deal with the problem of something as essential as culture being a commercial product at the same time. Perhaps our culture isn't all it is drummed up to be?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gillbates (106458)

        First of all, ownership and intellectual property are the terms used by the MPAA and RIAA. They want it characterized as ownership when it comes to their rights, but not when it comes to the rights of the consumer. Their advertising is deliberately deceptive, "Own it on DVD today". So, they do want you to think of it as ownership - except when it comes to exercising your rights. Then, they say that different rules apply.

        It's not my analogy - it is the MPAA's, and it is not just flawed, but deliberate

        • Re:Flawed analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Dhalka226 (559740) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:14PM (#15932155)
          I bought a copy of the movie

          (I don't know why it's ignoring my italics here--you italicized "bought," just for reference.)

          Your statement is correct, but it seems to me that your italics stopped a bit too soon. It should be: "[You] bought a copy of the movie."

          You bought the copy, not the movie. If you want to spread peanut butter all over it and eat it for lunch, that's your business. If you want to snap it over your knee, also your business. Plus of course all the more practical uses. You can also sell your copy, or borrow it to a friend.

          You can argue about whether or not this is fair, but that is the current reality. You DO really own what you buy, you just think you have bought more than you have.

          It ends when Hollywood says it does

          No, it ends when the market says it does. If DVDs become obsolete and players hard to find, it isn't because Hollywood walked into every electronics store in the world and threw their merchandise on the ground. It's because a new format has become more popular and stores aren't interested in stocking something that hardly anybody buys. They shouldn't be. (Though that said, I also find it hard to believe that you would not be able to find a DVD player anywhere, but we'll ignore this for now.)

          With that said, Hollywood has absolutely no say on how long I can legally use my purchased DVD. The fact that (in your example) all of my players broke or were thrown away as obsolete or what have you, and I can no longer play that DVD, is likewise not their fault.

          Again, argue as much as you want over whether or not this is how it should be, but at least for now it's how it is. Understanding what it is you bought is critical to any understanding of the issues involved.

    • I'm not disagreeing with you, but it's not really that different from a book, the one exception being fair use of excerpts.

      You pay for the book, but you don't own it:

      • You can't make a backup copy, and you are supposed to try (as the signs at Kinko's have often reminded me).
      • You can, due to fair use, post excerpts for critical review.
      • I don't believe it's legal in the US to make backgrounds of images in books.
      • No soundtrack except what's in your head.

      When a new version comes out (like the English versi

      • The biggest difference is a book never becomes unusable due to technological obsolescence.

        That difference flat-out overshadows the similarities you point out. Technological obsolesence is, with a bit of work, simple to overcome. But these days, it's also illegal.

        Furthermore, parent post suggests several ways in which you don't "really" own the movie, but while these are all worth discussing, the most important one regards backups. You actually can make a backup of your books. There is absolutely not

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pofy (471469)
        >You pay for the book, but you don't own it:

        Yes, you own the copy of the book.

        The only restrictions on it is is use in various forms involving making it available for the public. Of course, you can't make NEW copies in several cases either. Ownership has nothing to do with copyright though. It applies equally regardless of if you would own the book or not. That is irellevant.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ferretski (160396)
      Your analogy is fundamentally flawed. If you make software, and you haven't yet sold it, it has a certain value to you (how much it cost to develop) and it has a certain value to say, the business that wants to buy this code (how much return on investment they can get).

      However, the value to the buyer is MUCH MUCH less than the value to the producer: it's certainly not worth the $2mill development cost to the buyer. So you charge what the buyer is prepared to pay, say, $5K.

      But with no concept of licensin
    • by roman_mir (125474)
      You give up your copyright to your employer, the movie/music industry does not give up the copyrights to you when you buy a copy of their product. What you end up owning is a specific copy of some material and the copyright still applies, which means you cannot duplicate that material for redistribution, since you do not have such license rights.

      Study the US Fair Use [wikipedia.org] laws for what you can do with your copy of the copyrighted material you bought.
    • Unfortunately, that model would put any creator of content out of business almost instantaneously. If, for the price of a DVD, you could then become a distributor of that movie, you could essentially pick your price - you only need to recoup $20 or so. You could sell copies for $0.50 and still turn a profit.

      However, the studio that filmed that movie incurred huge costs - just look at the budgets of todays movies. Granted, some of those are over-inflated due to stupidly-large salaries paid to higher execs
  • DMCA... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by demon_2k (586844)
    As far as I am aware, DMCA covers only digital media and encryption.
    Wo what the hell has that got to do with VHS.
    It's not digital, nor it contains encryption.
  • by Simonetta (207550) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:08PM (#15931365)
    Basically this was sold as a way to prevent anyone from using two VCRs to copy a rented videotape. It (Macrovision) was placed on most commercial videos of Hollywood product from the mid-1980s to the present. Since the 'owner' of the video content had to pay a stiff license fee to Macrovision company, almost no porn tapes from that era had this nonsense added.

        Macrovision is a burst of noise added to the vertical sync in the brief period after the current frame has ended and the next frame (a single 'photograph' or still image on the television set) begins. This burst of noise happened about once every ten to fifteen seconds. It caused the picture image to lose sync and 'roll' and/or 'tear up' for a short period of time until the vertical sync stabilization circuitry in the recording process
    kicked in and made the picture stable.

        This is how Macrovision was able to mess up the video copy without destroying the video integrity when watching the original commercial video tape. The sync stablizer circuitry only was active during the recording period, not during playback. But the video copy was polluted by tearing and rolling every ten seconds or so.

        The way to defeat this pollution was/is to use an 1881 sync seperator IC, a track-and-hold circuit, a 4053-type analog 1-of-2 switch IC, and a timer on a microcontroller (or a 555 one-shot timer IC). Use the sync seperator to detect the beginning of the vertical sync pulse. At this time, sample the black video level using the track-and-hold. After sampling, switch the video signal to the recorder (for the content being copied) to the sampled black level for the period before the actual video image analog signal begins. Then switch the recording back to the analog video signal of the original. Your copy will be solid and without tearing and rolling.

        Oh my goodness!?! Did I just break your fucking law by explaining this? Oh my, I am sooooooo sorry! Oh well, to quote Emil Faber, "Knowledge Is Good". That's from the first video that I thought was worth copying.
    • Mostly correct (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What Macrovision does is to mess up the automatic gain control (AGC) on the vcr. A tv also has an AGC but it reacts fast enough that the visible picture isn't affected. Old VCRs are either not affected or can easily be adjusted so they aren't. Any VCR made in the last fifteen years is pretty much tamper proof with regard to the AGC. Macrovision tricks the AGC by deliberately messing up the "black level" during the vertical sync period. It's not noise per se. As the parent points out it is easy to defe
      • Re:Mostly correct (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ars_inveniendi (750140) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @10:30PM (#15932000)
        Wow, I can't believe it took this long for someone who actually knows what they're talking about to post! You're right, Macrovision messes with the AGC--you can see the "pulses" outside the legal range on a waveform monitor.

        Now, the really troubling point in all this to me is that a time base corrector, without which you can't edit analog tapes, removes macrovision as a matter of course. How are the courts going to "protect" macrovision without making time-base correctors illegal? And if time-base correctors are legal, then all Sima needs to do is start marketing time-base correctors.
    • by smclean (521851)
      I had (crap, I still *have*) an old two-head VCR for years that was seemingly immune to VHS copy protection. I often wondered if the fact that the two VCRs I was using to dub were a mix of two and four head units had any effect on it. No tape it recorded ever had copy protection problems, and it recorded a lot of tapes.

      Also, wasn't it possible to just run the signal through an RF amplifier to sufficiently remove the effects of copy protection? Perhaps it normalized or 'smoothed out' the vertical sync noi
      • Your old VCR probably had manual gain controls (a.k.a. "record level") or fixed gain. Also, any old sample-and-hold circuit will easily defeat Macrovision.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by radarsat1 (786772)
      I see.. is _THIS_ what stops me from running my DVD player through the Line-In on my VCR so I can watch it on my TV?
      I often play CDs on my DVD player, so most of the time I leave it plugged in through my VCR to my living room sound system. But every fucking time I try to watch a rented DVD the screen starts flashing to that blue "no signal" screen, and I have to reach back and swear to myself as I pull the plug out of the VCR, unplug the VCR from the TV, and plug the DVD player into the TV. Since there is
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by bguzz (728614) *
        is _THIS_ what stops me from running my DVD player through the Line-In on my VCR so I can watch it on my TV?

        Yes.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@nOSpam.tpno-co.org> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:18PM (#15931407) Homepage
    Macrovision's best-known form of copy protection inserts noise into analog video signals to make it difficult to get a good copy of the DVD or VHS recording

    Is that what they are trying to do. I never can tell, the window that pops up to tell me what DRM scheme is being bypassed flashes by WAY too quickly for me to catch it.
  • Go America go go go (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ngdbsdmn (658135)

    This is just a drop in the bucket. I'm curios to see if I'll live to see it publicly recognized, that having a law, writing that ownership on an idea exists, is fundamentally wrong. The problem is so elemental that many people will have to die before this thruth comes forcefully to light, just like it was with communism.

    With so much outsourcing for the actual work, with services so expensive, America more than anyone is dependent on the cash flow from copyright. To make matters worse, the society is bas

  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:20PM (#15931421)
    if the mysterious "HQ" technology that suddenly started appearing on all the VCRs had anything to do with Macrovision or copy protection? I have always suspected this, as, by my recollection, HQ appeared around the time this copy protection arrived. All that whining about putting a special "tax" on blank tapes went away around the same time as well. It all makes me wonder if the "HQ" (that allegedly gave you a "20% better picture") wasn't actually the enabler for copy protection. This could help explain why TVs didn't have a problem with copy protected content, but VCRs did. I thought maybe someone in /. land might have some first hand knowledge about HQ and could shed some light on this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LaughingCoder (914424)
      In my web-search to better understand what the heck HQ is, if it isn't some sort of stealthy copy protection scheme, I came across an interesting site (US dept of Labor: http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpivcrp.htm [bls.gov]). The following tidbit was embedded within their report:

      "There seems to be no discernible difference between VHS and VHS-HQ. Manufacturer reporting of this information was inconsistent, and it became clear that consumers would have difficulty in discerning if the units they were purchasing were equipped
  • I have a Humax Tivo with the DVD burner and front inputs for recording camcorders etc. I recently recorded an old VHS (via the front inputs) to transfer to DVD. The Humax lets me record to Tivo (on HDD) but it blocks me from burning it to dvd or transfering it to my computer via media option. Tivo lets me bend a little but not break Macrovision. It's the first time I have seen the "Copy Protected" symbol on my Tivo.
  • How else did you expect them to run a perpetual ownership system without perpetual copy protection? </sarcasm>

    Sarcasm aside, the thought still stands: of course they don't want old copy protection to stop working. To them that would be a gigantic flashing neon sign saying "FREE MOVIES HERE!" (Never mind that copyright law is the protection they need/want/have, not Digital Rights Manglement.)
  • Macrovision (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LindseyJ (983603)
    They have a pretty ironic name for being so short-sighted.
  • by karl.auerbach (157250) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:23PM (#15931754) Homepage
    The copyright clause in the Constitution allows Congress to enact laws to protect the work of authors only for limited periods of time.

    Now, in the Mickey Mouse case, the court said that protection periods on the order of 100 years are OK, but the Court kinda hinted that it might not go along with this much further.

    Anyway, the technique of leveraging DRM protections in via a copyright and then having them live forever is rather a slap in the face of the Constitutional limitation on the duration of copyrights.

    Of course, Congress does have a weasel-way out: they might say, "oh, we allow DRM to exist forever as part of our powers over commerce among the states."

    But in practical terms, DRM forever transforms what is supposed to be a copyright of limited duration into a copyright that lasts for all eternity. And that, is contrary to the purpose, a purpose actually stated in the US Constitution, to promote the arts and sciences, for copyright and patents.

    See my note "The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities" [cavebear.com]. It's short, so I'll just copy it here:

    The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities

    It seems to me that in the fight over copyright and digital rights management few have considered what happens in the distant future when the material being protected is no longer covered by copyright. That thought led me to propose the following rule and accompanying pledge.

    The Rule Against Digital Perpuities:

            No Digital Rights Management (DRM) limitation or anti-copying mechanism may endure longer than the original copyright in the protected work.

    The Pledge:

            I pledge to neither specify nor standardize nor implement any system that does not conform to the Rule Against Digital Perpetuities.
  • by Digital Pizza (855175) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:25PM (#15931761)
    I don't know which device made by Sima they're complaining about, but last time I checked (can't open their webpage now) they make equipment for legitimate video work and that's their target market. I have a Sima Color Corrector Pro which can remove Macrovision protection from video signal, but it's a video production device that's made for and targeted to legitimate video production work.

    You can kill someone with a hammer; are they gonna make those illegal too now?

  • by nightsweat (604367) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:25PM (#15931763)
    Use less media. See fewer movies and NONE at the theater. Buy no new music, just buy used CD's.

    Golly, you might not be cool, but you won't be a sucker, either. Fuck the media companies that want to ruin our intellectual property system.
    • by stubear (130454)
      "Fuck the media companies that want to ruin our intellectual property system"

      What about the cheap fucking bastards who want to illegally distribute anything they want? Do you honeestly think they are blameless in this? You have two extremes fighting each other and both are saying fuck the guys in the middle.
    • by PCM2 (4486)
      Use less media. See fewer movies and NONE at the theater.


      But I like seeing movies in the theater. If they came up with a copy protection scheme that kept me from being able to see movies in the theater, I'd be bummed. Seems unlikely, though.

  • DX-11 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by certsoft (442059) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:28PM (#15931777) Homepage
    I bought one of (WARNING-POPUP) these http://members.fortunecity.com/videotransfer/# [fortunecity.com] a number of years back for about $30. There are schematics available on the internet for equivalent devices built with half a dozen cheap IC's.
  • Nice... (Score:5, Informative)

    by (H)elix1 (231155) <slashdot.helix@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:47PM (#15931856) Homepage Journal
    As classic video (magnetic) tape only lasts 10-20 years, you cannot expect anything on tape to still be around in 100 years. Without killing the macrovision, there will be no archives other than what might be on (real/reel) film.... Not that I expect congress to leave the dates alone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by KillerBob (217953)
      Actually... magnetic tape lasts a *lot* longer, if it's stored right. Or if it was the first generation before the manufacturers clued in that they can make the tape out of cheaper polymers. But I have a friend who works in restoration at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and there's tapes in their archive that still play perfectly well after more than 50 years. It wasn't actually until the late 1960's/early 1970's that they started using the cheaper polymers, and the tape started sticking to itself if i
  • Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GXFragger (758649) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:52PM (#15931881)
    This is another reason why I joined the US Pirate Party [pirate-party.us]. The laws need to be reformed and the DMCA needs to be replaced with a more sensible, consumer friendly version. I'm simply sick of being told what I can and what I can't do with my legally purchased media, as long and I don't like that trying to make it into a rent style system.

    We need to form together to help change these laws. I believe joining the Pirate Party may be a start to this. Boycotting also works effectively, but only if enough people do it. Raising awareness of these issues is also a very good thing to do as many people simply aren't aware that it happening until it is too late. Even just trying to talk to your representatives may help things as most of th time they aren't even aware of these types of issues or if they don't listen, then vote for someone else next time. If we can get enough people to realize what is really occuring, then change can happen.
  • by grolschie (610666) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:04PM (#15932120)
    My Phillips Matchline VCR from factory removes macrovision from my DVD player. The same DVD player into another VCR generates distorted macrovision colors etc. I wonder if the Phillips DVD Recorders also strip macrovision?
  • If overturned though (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phoebe (196531) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:09PM (#15932138)
    If overturned though it will be interesting. Does it not set a precedence that it could be illegal to create DRM that cannot be bypassed when the copyright has expired?
  • Open letter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Legion303 (97901) on Friday August 18, 2006 @02:56AM (#15932771) Homepage
    Dear Macrovision:

    While you were busy making life hard for legitimate customers, I downloaded four movies that had been Macrovision-scrubbed for my convenience.

    Sincerely,

    Ha Ha Ha!

    PS: Eat a dick.
  • Illegal? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jesterpilot (906386) on Friday August 18, 2006 @06:27AM (#15933303) Homepage
    Illegal in the US, that is.

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