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FCC to Rule on Request to Limit Recording From TV 271

q2k and many others sent it in, and the original Inter@ctive Week story has been republished all over the place. The deal is that the MPAA and other copyrithg holders want copy protection built into VCRs and other recording devices that will keep users from recordings some shows broadcast in digital format over cable. On the other side, the Home Recording Rights Coalition, made up of consumer electronics manufacturers, wants people to be able to tape shows for later viewing (or whatever). The FCC is accepting comments on this matter through Sept. 7, and may issue a ruling as early as Sept. 14.
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FCC to Rule on Request to Limit Recording From TV

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  • HDTV is not the same thing as DTV. HDTV is the new specification(s) for things such as picture resolution, scan lines, etc. DTV is just a new way of sending any TV signal (either Standard Definition or High Definition) over the airwaves. DTV is what the FCC has mandated must be in place over the airwaves by 2006, which means that people will still be able to watch stuff on their old television sets, but they will no longer be able to receive a signal over the airwaves without a digital receiver/converter box.

    So really, there are four possible combinations (excluding cable, satelite, etc): HDTV over analog airwaves, HDTV over digital airwaves, SDTV over analog airwaves, or SDTV over digital airwaves. The only thing that, according to FCC mandates, must be in place by 2006 is that last one; Standard Definition TV over digital airwaves.
  • I've been wondering about that lately.

    Either they're up for being nailed like MS is in the process thereof...

    ...or, they're open for a big, nasty RICO suit.

    They're certainly guilty of both.

    I'm thinking it may be because nobody's been complaining until recently (when the DOJ and States started taking RIAA and it's member orgs for price fixing on CDs...).

    I think we need to start complaining loudly.
  • Don't laugh too quickly. All they have to do is talk with the computer industry people who pushed through the DMCA and gave themselves the ability to set contract terms that forbid things like 'bad reviews'. :)

    Why _shouldn't_ buying a ticket be a contract? Surely there's something that can be done to lay out a movie-viewer's contract, perhaps in fine print near the ticket booth. Buying the ticket means accepting the contract. It's not even 'virtual', but real money and a real ticket!

    Then the contract merely has to punish transfer of the movie's intellectual property with death, or imprisonment :)

  • "Time shifting is fine" can mean many things. In particular, if copy protection measures are implemented, it can be tightly controlled. Sorry, you can only time-shift one movie at a time. Sorry, you can't edit out or skip the commercials. Sorry, you can't take it with you into your car.

    As for archival storage, CD-R is probably the most archival storage available to consumers right now. Magnetic media are less reliable.

  • I don't remember when this was exactly, but Chrissy Hines of the pretenders had some comments about other "artists" who didn't like people recording songs off the radio. Its simple greed, nothing more. Lee
  • I am not trollish.
  • I haven't had cable in years, and it's just fine with me. When I want to watch a movie, I rent it, and usually watch it with friends.
  • It is issues like this which drive home the fact that people need to vote.

    Use it or lose it. Either exercise your power to shape and define our government, or slowly lose it to corporate greed and unethical politicians.

    The choice is yours.
  • It was made into existence by way of an Ammendment (that was subsequently repealed by another one...)

    Income tax, is also Constitutional- but not in the form we know of it today.

    There's so many things that just aren't Constitutional- it's a shame that people don't have the right things in their heads in that regard.
  • Right... that's why there wasn't an impeachment trial right?
  • In a related development, the MPAA filed suit against God seeking a ban on memory, arguing that consumers that remembered movies were depriving large corporations of profits. "Say a viewer sees a movie and doesn't like it. Under current rules, they can remember not to watch that movie ever again. That's unfair, and we're going to seek chemical solutions to prevent such behavior", a MPAA representative whined. God could not be reached for comment.
  • Digital Home video equipment has this already; many of the new DV camcorders/recorders don't have Digital IN, and this is because of the MPAA and RIAA lobbying actions.

    I can't begin to tell you how difficult this makes my life as an artist. I have to bounce things through my computer (an additional digital copy, so who cares) just to make backups of my work.

    Either that, or I shell out thousands for a 'professional deck' that lacks these protections.

    It always seems to me that these protections are designed to limit copying and the quality of a small artist's work. When a small artist cannot have access to 'major label recording studios' and 'professional major label audio quality', people turn away from their work.

  • by jmv ( 93421 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:26PM (#803420) Homepage
    In a move to rightly protect their copyrighted content, the MPAA asked the FCC to rule on what the viewers have the right to remember from a show. An MPAA representative have told us: "We are aware of viewers remembering great parts of a show and then telling the punch to other people. This is clearly an infringement on our copyrights. We want to have all TV's equipped with MIB flashing devices automatically activated at the end of each show."
  • Tomorrow...the RIAA sues people taping songs from the radio.

    If they could, they would. Remember, this is the same organization that requires retail stores to pay royalties for playing the radio over the in-store PA system. Yes, that would be the same radio signal that originated at a station that already paid royalties to broadcast songs to anyone with a receiver. Their audacity is only amazing to us because we could never get away with the ludicrous feats of artist-shafting and double-dipping that they can. It no doubt seems perfectly reasonable to them, because every time they stroke the belly of that giant Buddha that is the United States Congress, money shoots out of its ass. Wait -- that's our ass.

    If you want to screw the MPAA and the RIAA, broaden your interests. Spend less time buying their fifth-rate, predigested pap and go see some live bands and theatrical performances. Visit the nearest bookstore (new and used). Or hell, go to the library, where what remains of your tax dollars after the Reagan administration got done with them are going to provide copyrighted material to all comers for free! Hang out somewhere and meet people. (People are so cool -- you can talk to them, play games with them, and sometimes even have sex with them. Can the MPAA deliver that?) Maybe learn to play your own goddamn guitar -- if Lars can do it, how hard can it be?

    Hell, maybe my life would strike some people as boring, but it's been keeping me entertained for years, and neither the MPAA nor the RIAA make much money off me.


  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:27PM (#803425) Homepage Journal
    You missed a couple:

    - Do you know how much of a pain in the ass it is to program these protections in? It's gonna cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars to invent some protections and some smartass kid in Sweden will break it in a week (Go smartass kids!)

    - Oh, we'll see you a DVD player too, but some smartass kid already broke that (Yay smartass kids!) Rather than figure out what to do about that, they decided to start suing everyone. We've got no direction here, and it's fucking up our logistics! God that pisses us off (It's not the smartass kid's fault though.)

  • Petition?! Bah! Bullets are cheaper and far more effective.

    [Disclaimer: I am not insighting a riot.]
  • by Neuracnu Coyote ( 11764 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:28PM (#803428) Homepage Journal
    Even if the feeds are coming in through digital means, VHS tapes are a horrible representation of the original.

    You assume that the MPAA is solely planning on preventing the ability to make analog copies of digital broadcasts. I think that their goals are more focused on the future when we can make digital copies of digital television broadcasts.

    Just like you rip MP3s from an Audio CD, the MPAA forsees individuals sitting with their TV encoders tuned and ready for the 5th season of Survivor. They'll edit out the commercials, post episodes to alt.binaries.movies.survivor5.mongolian-desert, then compile all the episodes and give them away on one big fat DVD. Many many dollars are to be lost.

    Hey Jack, maybe it's just me, but if you want to control your content so much, don't broadcast it and certianly don't broadcast it for free.
  • Not to nit-pick, but Lars plays the drums.

    Oh hell, if Lars will take the time to learn what fair use is, I'll try to remember what he plays.


  • The MPAA said it doesn't want to destroy the ability of consumers to "time-shift," or record a program for later viewing.

    Think about how the net is getting more common and easier and faster to use. Everything (including broadcasts) is getting more and more native to it every day.

    They're probably most worried about the possibility that someone could purchase a device that would allow them to plug their cable box into the net (directly or indirectly), and broadcast the digital signals around for free.

    Personally I think a better way around this would be to encrypt digital signatures into the broadcasts from their end that are unique to each viewer. That way whenever an unauthorised broadcast gets out onto the net, they can trace it back to who it came from.

  • What difference does it make if the recording is analog or digital?

    Really now. If I watch a vcd that was recorded from a VHS +vidcap, is it any different than if I watched the same movie that was ripped from a DVD? The MPAA is still losing the same thing (err, what was that, again?). I'm still watching something I didn't pay for.

    The MPAA and RIAA are just using digital as an excuse to make everything illegal. It disgusts me that I have to pay extra for audio media because someone else might (might!) use the media to copy protected works. I sure as hell don't think it's fair to charge me more for hardware copy protection just because someone else might do something wrong. This is anti-American. Both of these organizations describe themselves as American, but they're really just greedy bastards. They're already rich. People are going to buy to their stuff anyways (some, nay, most people actually prefer that formulated junk). It's been pointed out before, but the easy distribution of high quality material often increases sales, not decreases.

    It's stupid. Hopefully the FCC won't screw this up.

  • I believe that what the MPAA is worried about here is digital cable.

    They want to make sure that people with digital cable cannot record movies digitally, remove the ads, and start swapping them over the internet.

    There would be no loss of quality due to analog - the quality of the MPEG 2 compression of digital cable would be preserved. These files are not impossibly big either - typically, digital cable is not quite as high quality as DVD - a 2 GB file can hold an entire movie at quality considerably higher than VHS.

    There is no need for further lossy compression - MPEG 2 is already lossy compression. TiVo is different - they take analog inputs, digitize them, and compress them to the hard drive in a proprietary format.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • Right on! Let's take this philosophy a few steps further!

    My suggestions for the RIAA / MPAA / DMCA / and the like...

    1) My they should put 30% royalties on all of the paper, notebooks, printed and printable materials out there JUST IN CASE someone decides to copy a book or magazine word-for-word.

    2) Have the copy / cut / paste buttons in your favourite OSs directly linked to an internet database holding all content that is not allowable to be copied and pasted. Therefore, when some pirate decides to copy and paste a quote from a website for his school report, they can catch him in the act! As well as a DB connected to internet ready TVs so that they can control how you watch it (and know what and when you are recording).

    3) New paper for books that when exposed to light for more than 15 minutes the ink disappears. Therefore, you have 15 minutes to read the page, or else you lost your PRIVILEGE.

    4) Now more VCRs / Blanks Tapes / CDRs period. They cost the RIAA / MPAA way too much already. Hell, why stop at that. No more flash memory / hard drives / stones to write on to make Hieroglyphs.

    5) Reward all children by giving them higher marks in school and scholarships for ratting out their parents and friends who are committing or planning on committing these heinous crimes to corporations. 1-888-RIAA-RAT

    Down with piracy!, Down with Freedom!, Down with Fair Use!

    One world, one internet, one media company!



  • It would definitely be considered a derivative work, and therefore the property of the copyright owner.

  • That's quite the coincidence... I'm working on a method to install a copy protection device up the MPAA's ass.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:35PM (#803468) Homepage Journal
    All the legal precedent ever does not exist inside the constitution though. Congress could come out tomorrow and pass a law that says reverse engineering and fair use as we understand it is illegal. Unless there are explicit bits about copyright in the constitution itself, that would overturn all case precedent to date on that topic. Of course, a court could come out and rule that code is speech and that such a law would violate the first ammendment, which would establish new precedent.

    Kinda neat how it all works, really...

  • by jmv ( 93421 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:37PM (#803470) Homepage
    He addeed: "Furthermore, our internal studies have clearly shown that people remembering they have seen a show are much less likely to watch it again then those who haven't seen it. The result is a big loss of revenue for the MPAA members. This new habit of remembering shows to stop watching it again must not be tolerated."
  • What a relief. A valuable service to the public has been threatened too long. This new enhancement will protect it.

    The service? Why, free broadcast programming. Commercials subsidize the cost of quality television programming. But this valuable service is threatened by "time shifting" devices such as VCRs.

    Time slots are an imperitive part of the commercial television method. Prime time advertisement rates are based on the limited time periods when a majority of viewers will be available to view and advertisement. Its the rates that these prime time slots attract from advertisers that help fund the better quality shows. Remove these prime time slots and you damage the funding model.

    But that's only the beginning. New electronic VCR devices such Tivo take this threat one level further. These devices not only threaten to shift prime time slots, but it also allows complete removal of commercials. Complete destruction of the revenue model that supports your favorite programs.

    We know you'd hate to loose your favorite shows. We would hate to be forced to stop showing them. That is why we are taking steps to enable viewing enhancements that prevent unauthorized copying of our Intelectual Property and destruction of our revenue.

    At least, this will be their explanation when your new VCR is unable to record anything that's not on PBS.

  • The FCC's justification for existing does not intersect this issue at all. Perhaps they have the right to dictate how stuff is broadcasted, but they shouldn't have any say at all as to what goes into television sets, except in regard to stuff like RF leaks.

    The FCC has been regulating the design of television sets for a long, long time.

    • UHF tuner
    • detent UHF tuner
    • tuner noise figure and selectivity standards
    • closed captioning decoder
    • V-chip
  • I really do with we had an "E" selection on ballots. "E" for none of the above. The power to vote for none of the candidates would be a powerful medium for political protest. I suspect that if there were an "E" selection, "E" would win the upcoming presidential race by a landslide.

    I personally hope that Al Gore wins. Not because I'm a democrat and not because I'm anti-republican. I hope he wins for the simple reason that the republicans control congress. Having a democrat in the white house maintains the balance of power which the ignorant call "gridlock." This balance is what keeps the extremists and special intrest groups from eating the rest of us alive. This nation would teeter and fall should either party gain a clear majority. Maybe we need a few libertarians or Green party candidates in the mix to really stir things up and keep the jackals fighting amongst themselves.

  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:44PM (#803483)
    send letters to the FCC along the lines of:

    But it's not fair. Those meanies are trying to take my VCR away. I deserve my VCR. Waah!!

    Those letters will do nothing but irritate the powers that be. Use strong reasoning that quotes laws (section and paragraph), and case law. This is what the commissioners understand. They assume that the majority of the populace are a bunch of crybabies who'll accept anything as long as they get their bread and circuses. They actually get scared when the find that they are coming up against a large group of people who actually know stuff.

    Go forth. Scour the internet for information where Congress/courst/State legislatures have deemed that people actually have rights to information that is broadcast over public airwaves and facilities (the controlled monopoly nature of most cable systems make them a public facility in my view). Let the FCC know that they can't pull a fast one here without someone taking it to court.

    Also, remember, your Congresspeople have more pull than you. Be nice to them. Some of them seem to be on our side, despite their initial support for DMCA. Some of them might actually be looking for retribution over how that one went.

  • The advertizers are already getting sneakier about putting the ads in. For one thing, a lot of children's TV is nothing more than protracted ads for products *cough*Pokemon*cough*.

    So in the future they'll leave that cola can blank on Friends and digially label it later once they get a contract from Coke or Pepsi. During the basketball game, you might be able to click in an icon to get more info about Michael Jordan's shoes. The shows and the commercials will merge and the world will happily induldge in its orgy of consumerism. Ahem. Sorry, got a little carried away there.

    This post brought to you by FLERN. Making fine products since 1855.

  • That's exactly one of the issues I raised when I sent a letter to the FCC - it gives broadcasters control over historical record of what was actually broadcast! Without proof something was ever broadcast, how could you complain to the FCC or sue for slander?

    Another issue I raised was that it works against the disabled, in that they cannot later review portions of the broadcast to gain a better understanding of the content.
  • Not existing models, but new models would have to contain the circuit to detect the signal and refuse to record certain programs for you. In other words, Yes.

    This of course is a Bad Thing (tm). On the plus side, I'm sure it will be easy to mod your devices to not care about the signal. If people design the devices properly, then it should be as simple as cutting one trace or pin. To wit: If the signal is detected, a line can be brought active. If it is not, the line remains inactive. If you cut the line, it is always inactive.

    Manufacturers: I urge you; If you are forced by the Bad Guys(tm) to put this circuit into your devices, make it easily defeatable. Those of us with technical skill WILL help our non-technical friends (yes, we do have friends) defeat the method provided you make it easy for us! Your devices need not remain crippled if you are forced to cripple them at the factory!

  • >We want to have all TV's equipped with MIB flashing devices automatically activated at the end of each show

    which also allows endless reruns, series consisting of exactly one (1) episode, and the 24 hour Friends channel. They won't do it though.. interferes too much with advertising..

  • Didn't George Orwell write a bit on that topic in 1984?

    It's a good read, for those of you who haven't had a chance to check it out yet.

  • There needs to be a petition started for this kind of thing.

    What kinds of petition campaigns have been successful online? Usually, those involving ensuring the rights of those who sign it.

    The question the answer to which I would like is: Is there a petition for this sort of thing?

    The following link is a direct message to the FCC. Speak. Make your voice known. Let US lawmakers know what they would do if they further hampered the rights of consumers.

    http://congress.nw.dc.us/cgi-bin/oo_compose.pl?d ir=hrrc&comptype=agency&agency=112&message =101

    This is amongst the utmost importance of anyone remotely interested in freedom. Free software users, especially, should be aware of this!


    -- This message posted by Konqueror.
  • What's almost as ridiculous than the MPAA requesting this, is who they are requesting it from. The FCC's justification for existing does not intersect this issue at all. Perhaps they have the right to dictate how stuff is broadcasted, but they shouldn't have any say at all as to what goes into television sets, except in regard to stuff like RF leaks.

    Whoever at FCC is working on this, should probably be fired for goofing off on the job -- unless they're just spending a few minutes writing a polite reply to MPAA telling them that they're barking up the wrong tree.

  • by Rayban ( 13436 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:24PM (#803510) Homepage
    I think this battle took place in the early 80's over the VCR with regular analog signals, didn't it? And they determined that we, as consumers, have the right to time-shift shows off TV.

    I hope that ends up being a precident in this case.
  • I tried to comment on stuff before, and the process they had was completely clueless.

    See your tax dollars at work. [ncsu.edu]

    Has it gotten any better? I got an automated reply, and then nothing after that; it was *so* stupid.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • by vertical-limit ( 207715 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:24PM (#803513)
    I'm glad this issue is being brought into greater scrutiny. If the FCC rules that copy protection cannot be built into VCRs, the MPAA and RIAA will have to drop the issue. It's easy to bash lawyers and government employees for the sorry state of technology laws (see DMCA, EULA, etc.), but remember that if employed properly, they can be on our side as well.

    Don't pass up the opportunity to submit comments to the FCC on this. You don't have any right to complain about what happens if you don't make your voice heard. Let's seize this opportunity to strike a blow against intellectual property and protect our freedom to fair use.

  • With the Internet you could spread your work far and wide and some people might look at it and be entertained. They might even slide some money your way in the hopes of seeing more. The RIAA and the MPAA don't want that, so they see to it that it's difficult to manipulate the content created with "amateur" electronics. Wouldn't want some garage band taking so much as a single person from Metallica's audience, after all. Wouldn't want some guy with some home created video content to take so much as a single audience member from "Scarey Movie" or whatever other crap they decide to dish up this week.

    If they have their way, it will only get harder for artists not affiliated with them to have their content seen, despite the fact that the internet should allow anyone to publish content they've created with minimal difficulty.

  • To say it in my own words, it seems as if certain corporations hold the mistaken view that the public airwaves are not public, but are instead owned by them.

    Ok. This statement has me worried. The FCC decided to auction off the airwaves recently. If we've granted rights to corps through this action, the airwave may not be public property in the US anymore. Could someone with better insight on this speak up?

  • I taped a TV program just last night (hope the MPAA doesn't find out about it!) and watched it this morning; the quality compared to even regular TV, much less DVDs, was terrible.

    I think you're assuming that recording/storage technology will remain as it is, and that VHS is forever. MPAA is not.

    This is about digital TV. Within a year or two (maybe already?) there will undoubtably be digital TV capture cards that you'll be able to stick inside your personal computer. You'll be able to make perfect digital copies, or get a good compromise using some MPEG variant. MPAA fears this, since they equate the ability to infringe copyrights with actually doing it.

  • "..., this statement charges Congress with the duty of enacting Copyright and Patent laws..."

    No it does not charge Congress with the responsibilty of enacting IP Laws at all ! It gives them the ability to do so but does in no way require them to do so . This is principle to the interpretation that Author's rights are artificial ( that is that they are not constitutionally protected rights but rather enacted by congress ) . Consumer rights ( read citizen's rights ) are protected and are superior to artificial rights as far as the courts are concerned .

    Your Squire Squireson
  • Or... a company gets contracted by major ISP's to install proxy servers around the net to cache large streams of multimedia so the ISP's users have faster access to the digital movies.

    Does this sound reminiscent of the my.mp3.com case? MP3.com made internal copies to make access more convenient for its users, for which it got sued for.

  • Hehe. Your right of course, much easier that way. And if your willing to do something like that, no telling how far you can take it.

    The Scene: A man enters his living room, and plugs his PDA into the universal sync-cradle on his 60-Inch Digital TV. He grabs the remote, and powers on his TV. He is greeted by the following message from his TV's OS.

    TV: Good evening, Mr. Blank. Tonights TvOS is brought to you by AOL: so easy to use, and now pre-installed on every TV, no wonder it's #1! It has been 12 days since your last pay-per-view purchase. Please note that you must order another pay-per-view movie or event within the next 2 days to keep your "frequent watcher" preferred rate. Would you like to see a list of current pay-per-view titles available?

    Mr. Blank chooses Yes on his remote, and is promptly greeted with a list of categories to choose from. After 10 minutes of searching, he finds the title he wants, Slashdot: The Movie.

    TV: Thank you for your purchase of Slashdot: The Movie. Before we can begin the show, please take a moment to review the terms of Slashdot: The Movie's Licensing Agreement, which will be displayed in a moment. Under the terms of the 2011 Consumer Protection Act, you are authorized to have a lawyer present for the License Agreement and viewing. If you do not have a lawyer, an e-lawyer can be provided for you at an additional charge. Do you wish to contact your lawyer, or recieve more information about obtaining an e-lawyer?

    Mr. Blank chooses No, as by now he nearly has the license agreement memorized. What follows is approximately 10 pages of leagal documents that scrolls slowly by on his screen. Mr. Blank agrees to never record or rebroadcast the following material (not that he could even if he wanted to), or to publically release any description of said film, through any media. He also agrees to not comment on said file, either in the form of review or personal opinion, without the express written permission of the MPAA.

    Mr. Blank stares at the TV through the whole 10 minutes of the document: if he gets up from his seat, the infrared sensors in his cable box will detect his absense and pause the license agreement until he returns. At the end of the agreement, Mr. Blank digitally signs 3 forms, legally acknowledging that he has read and understands the license agreement. Copies of these documents are uploaded into his PDA, and also transmitted to his cable company and the MPAA.
  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:26PM (#803536) Homepage
    Surely this will make people sit up and notice the absurdity of this whole copyright situation? Suddenly it's illegal to make an analog recording of something, simply because it was once in digital form?

    And wasn't home television recording hashed out (and decided by the Supremes) quite some time ago?

    Joe Average may not care about DeCSS, but tell him he can't record Monday Night Football (or Buffy, or whatever) and you just may have a revolt on your hands. I can only hope so!


  • Drive down demand for VCRs (anyone who believes that even marginally-desirable programming won't be copy protected is fooling themselves. No more taping "The Simpsons"... but for only $29.95 you can buy three episodes on DVD!)
    Luckily the companies that make VCR's are mostly the same companies that make the content these days, so they can absorb the cost of such changes. We (as in the "we" that does not read Slashdot) will never notice any difference.
  • by Sawbones ( 176430 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:26PM (#803543)
    But wouldn't a recording made from an HDTV source suffer from the same problems recordings from regular TV sources suffer from, namely analog degradation. I can understand they may want limitations put into future pure digital recording devices (NOTE I said I can understand why they would want that, not that I agree with it).

    Right now this seems very analogous to the whole Napster is/isn't home recording debates. So I've got a DVD or HDTV broadcast of a great movie. I make an analog copy of it - some loss of quality. My buddy wants one so I make an analog copy of my analog copy - starting to look worse now. As the owner of a 3rd generation copy of Mafia vs Ninja (those who appreciate truely awful Kung Fu should check it out :) ) I can attest that after the first couple of dupings any advantage HDTV would have had is completely lost.

    Supoosing that the MPAA is worried about digital recorders ala Tivo or ReplayTV - those still implement lossy compression schemes when making recordings so wouldn't the net result be the same?

    And yes, I did RTFA, I just don't get quite what their new problem is.
  • by Wind_Walker ( 83965 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:26PM (#803545) Homepage Journal
    Once again, the MPAA does all it can to throw the idea of "Fair Use" right out the window. Now, instead of attacking a new technology (i.e. DeCSS), they're attacking one of the oldest technologies out there. I remember having a VCR back in the early '80s. Whatever appeared on television was fair game for taping (well, aside from HBO and other specifically copyrighted materials).

    Next, I expect to see no more radio-tape recorder hybrids. After all, the information that's being sent out through radio waves can be copied instantaneously to another media.

    The MPAA has really shot itself in the foot, IMHO. Before, I could see their side of the story (albeit limitedly). A digital copy of a work (DVD, and even MP3 for the RIAA) is an exact copy. Quality is not degraded through the copying process. But now... Have any of you watched a video recording recently? I taped a TV program just last night (hope the MPAA doesn't find out about it!) and watched it this morning; the quality compared to even regular TV, much less DVDs, was terrible. Even if the feeds are coming in through digital means, VHS tapes are a horrible representation of the original.

    What's more, if I buy a Pay-Per-View event, I am paying for the rights to watch that movie/event. I am not paying for 2 hours of television time; I am buying a license, and that license should entitle me to watch it whenever I want, whenever I want. This is akin to buying a computer game, watching the media it came on disintegrate, and then "acquiring" a copy from another place (this also happened to me just recently). I pray that this will not be upheld by the FCC.

  • Whats next then, local webpage caches?

    CNN sues user for illegal copying
  • I'm voting Libertarian. I think Al Gore would be a disaster, for this reason:

    The entertainment industry is pumping millions of dollars into the war chests of both major political parties, vastly outspending both technology startups and individual artists. That could make it difficult for those "little guys" to get their messages across to legislators.

    According to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics, the Democrats have collected $5.8 million from the television, movie, and music industries, ranking it fourth on the campaign donation list. That figure outpaces the Republicans by $2.1 million, which ranks the entertainment industry eleventh. --Wired: D.C. Awash in Entertainment Cash [wired.com]

  • One of the things about hacks is it takes some skill to use them. Sometimes it takes very little, sometimes a lot. Also people just won't go to the trouble. There will be tons of people who will but there will always be those who don't want to risk getting caught, voiding a warranty or service agreement, etc.

    I have a question though: How would this affect devices like TiVo, etc... Would it make them illegal (or whatever)?


  • by ravi_n ( 175591 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:28PM (#803559)
    Here's [nw.dc.us] the link that the Home Recording Rights Coalition [hrrc.org] has set up for people to send comments (in support of the HRRC) to the FCC.

  • by Dungeon Dweller ( 134014 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:28PM (#803562)
    1 Most people already have VCR's, and can record to content, unless you scramble it somehow.

    2 People have been recording from TV for years, it's a good thing. Now you want to take that away to bleed us even more

    3 If you're going to broadcast it, you should be prepared to at least allow people to record it. You don't own the ground lines over which this is broadcast

    4 Don't you make enough money not to have to harass us even more?

  • You said "Unless there are explicit bits about copyright in the constitution itself, that would overturn all case precedent to date on that topic. " Take a look at Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. It says:

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    Without providing specific names, this statement charges Congress with the duty of enacting Copyright and Patent laws. The Constitutional purpose of these laws is to promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts. Any law which is deemed to inhibit the progress of science and the arts would be unConstitutional.

    One could argue that reverse engineering is necessary for the progess of science. Similarly, one could argue that fair use of artistic works is necessary to promote the arts, as artistic works are influnenced by other works and prohibitions on the playback of those works effectively removes them from the public's eye and thus diminishes progress.

    It'd take a talented lawyer to effect these sorts of changes in the screwed up system we have presently, however.

  • The article says that time shifting of material for later use is fine... so what is all the fuss about?

    If VCR's are just time shifting devices then what is the problem. As long as the data is not "archiveable" then I can't see there being a problem. Currently there is not a problem as there is no way of providing long term archive of digital data at a reasonable rate. CD-R is not a long time archive format as they degrade. Unless people are going to archive their data to DLT tapes then they only use for short term time shifting.

    However what happens when hard-disk video units can be connected up to DVD-RAM drives? Will this be seen as archiveable media and then be restricted? Are DVD-RAM disks viable long term storage?

    At the end of the day I don't understand what the problem is CD-R hasn't killed the CD market, so why would DVD-RAM kill the TV market? What are they affraid of, and why has "digital" changed anything? I think it is just another excuse to try and ban video type devices becuase they failed the first time ;)

  • Luckily the companies that make VCR's are mostly the same companies that make the content these days, so they can absorb the cost of such changes. We (as in the "we" that does not read Slashdot) will never notice any difference.

    If this were true, there would be no deadlock. Fortunately, it's not true. The only company this vertically integrated is Sony, and they're not the only or even the dominant supplier of VCRs and televisions. Matsushita (Panasonic, etc.), Mitsubishi, Philips (Magnavox, etc.), Samsung, Goldstar, etc. etc. all have economic interests in this regard. Not being content companies, they're copy-protection agnostic or hostile. They just want to move hardware. (I'm personally waiting for Philips' portable MP3 CD player; the ones currently on the market have fit-and-finish issues. We'd never see such a device out of Sony.)


  • Home Taping Is Killing Music!

    Anyone remember that slogan from all those years ago? What the MPAA and RIAA would like to do, in the ideal world, is to confiscate everyone's VCRs, tape recorders, etc., and even then they would not be happy because people could hum tunes or act out what they'd seen on the TV.

    I really don't see how their insistence that copy protection should be installed into VCRs would help. Let's see, there are how many VCRs currently in use? 100 million? 200 million? Even if new domestic machines did not have the ability to record certain shows, all they would be doing is preventing Mr/s home consumer from copying them - big time pirates with lots of $$$ would surely have devices available to break protection. I bet the pirates are rubbing their hands together with glee!
  • What's wrong with a digital signature? They're providing it to you and they should be able to do exactly what they want with it as long as it reaches you, including stamping a registration on it stating that the broadcast was originally prepared for you. As long as they don't hide from you the fact that it's there.

    If you choose to re-broadcast it then go ahead. Just be prepared to take some responsibility if they trace it back to you and possibly prosecute you under an assortment of rebroadcast laws.

    On the other hand if someone reverse engineers their system and works out how to remove the signature, it's their (MPAA) own fault.

  • What can I say? Cable companies suck. The have a local monopoly in practically every place they exist. Their service is the worst of any business in any industry, with the possible exception of "mob boss" or "drug kingpin". Their technology is crap too. That Scientific Atlanta garbage changes channels slowly, and the digital cable looks worse than the analog cable.

    Satellite companies like Direct TV don't necessarily *have* to be better than the cable companies, but there is always the possibility of competition which usually improves service and quality of a product. That's why I always try to get my friends to subscribe to satellite TV and drop their cable.

    If your cable company buckles in and makes you jump through hoops to record your favorite shows, you are SCREWED. There is one cable company and nobody else.

    If your satellite provider does the same thing, then you might have a choice of another satellite provider.

  • by Pollux ( 102520 ) <speter@@@tedata...net...eg> on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:33PM (#803582) Journal
    ...but whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?
  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:34PM (#803586)
    ...at this url [hrrc.org].

    This is just plain *wrong*. The MPAA is trying SO hard to take advantage of the digital age to take away our rights to record and archive our own media.

    We need to beware reasoning like "We want to make sure that [the device] has the ability to provide copy protection, but it doesn't mean all product running into the box won't be able to be copied" -- this kind of vague, "honor system"-based lingo doesn't limit what they can later decide to do with the technology. Once it is in place, they can do whatever they want with it.

    Honestly, the MPAA frightens me.
  • by gammatron ( 120978 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:35PM (#803590)
    There won't be any hacks out "shortly after it came out"... what they are proposing would all be done in hardware, and from the looks of it, with encryption (as opposed to the current macrovision scheme). It would take a hardware device capable of decoding the data then outputting an unencrypted video data stream to the VCR or other device, unless you can re-program you VCR, which seems unlikely at best.

    This differs significantly from Macrovision-type copy protections, which insert an anomoly into the analog video signal (usually a pulsing pure white signal outside of the visible screen area or else a munged colorburst) - TVs are able to display the picture fine, but the anomoly screws up the VCR and the signal that gets recorded either exhibits a large pulsing of the brightness value or else has a rainbow-type artifact smeared across it; either way, its pretty un-viewable. This scheme wouldn't let the TV display anything unless it had the decoding circuitry built in (read the article about how it potentially renders current HDTV equipment useless). This cicuitry would never be put into VCRs, which means they'll never be able to record this stuff. The MPAA and its thugs won't allow the construction of external set-top boxes to decode this data, either, since the output could easily be diverted to a recording device.

    It is possible that someone will be able to write a DeCSS-type program for this scheme, but the MPAA et al have probably learned their lesson and won't make it so easy this time.
  • by Coward, Anonymous ( 55185 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:35PM (#803591)
    [The MPAA] believes an open signal to a VCR would make the risk of widespread copying of hot movies far outweigh the potential profit from broadcasting the material.

    If this were true, there wouldn't be any movie studios which would put movies out on pay per view. The fact that they do put them out on pay per view shows that they think the risk of loss from widespread copying is less than the potential profit from broadcasting it (unless their goal with pay per view is to lose money, if that is the case then the MPAA is correct).
  • The FCC is accepting comments on this matter through Sept. 7, and may issue a ruling as early as Sept. 14.

    Why are you teasing us? Where is the announcement/instructions on how to submit comments?
  • This reminds me of the times I fought with my brothers when I was younger:
    "Mom, Raymond's punching my face!"
    "Don't punch your brother in the face!"
    "Mom, Raymond's kicking my leg!"
    "Don't kick your brother in the leg!"
    "Mom, Raymond's biting my foot!"

    I fully support copyright holders who want some compensation for what they own, but this is getting ridicuolous. Whining to governments to put in new laws for every stupid situation that comes up is unworkable, and at this point they are making life difficult for everyone, even the people who fully respect them and have no intent of abuse. If their business model no longer works, they need to change it. These legal contortions will only annoy people, and will not extend their lifetime for very long.

  • What kinds of petition campaigns have been successful online?

    Show me one petition online that changed anyone's mind about anything. Signing an online petition is feel-good activism that doesn't do squat.
  • by Luminous ( 192747 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:38PM (#803599) Journal
    Up until now, the MPAA has had the benefit of working against obscurity. Few people knew or cared about DeCSS. But a great deal of American's know about their VCR's and what they can do with them (even if they can't work the digital clock).

    Start messing with what people have already come to accept as a God Given Right (the right to watch the porno they taped off of The Hot Network at 2am anytime they please) and you'll rampant, flagrant violations.

    Essentially, a congressman pays a little attention when a small group affected by a ruling writes. But when a vast majority of MiddleAmerica(TM) begin to get pissed off, that congressional representative starts to hold hearings to guarantee his constituent feel he is doing his job.

    I can't wait for this to play out.

  • People have been recording analog signals with VCRs. With the advance of digital-based recorders and digital signals (HDTV, etc), however, the MPAA and others are worried about what you would do with a digitally recorded copy.

    You could easily upload it to the 'net for others to download *without commercials*. They could enjoy the same high-quality show you got (no degredation since it is digital)*for free*. This would be against their idea of copyrights. You could record it to a DVD and bootleg it (think about HBO sending a digitally recordable movie).

    Heaven forbid!

    It is the same reason that you will never see a digital video out on the back of a name brand DVD player - it would allow for too easy of a non-encrypted digital copy (the same problem the MPAA has with deCSS).

    My opinion? As someone who is big into high-quality home theatre, I hope I am able to record digitally (maintaining the same quality of the original source) for later viewing. I hope the FCC rules in favor of the populace. I, for one, am not really against protections that allow for one generation digital copies and no more. I do want that one generation, though.
  • Welcom to the land of the free and home of the brave!

    (Based on preference, previous agreements notwithstanding. Void where prohibited. Results shown are not typical. Some readers may experience differing levels of freedom based on regional situations. Residents of VT and WA do not need to send postage. Must be 18 years of age or older to participate.)
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:42PM (#803605) Homepage Journal
    The FCC and the court system are both bound by the laws Congress passes. If the FCC says consumers do have the right to record TV shows, the MPAA can still lobby Congress to have a law passed to limit the consumer's rights.

    The courts would have to abide by that law unless it conflicts with the Constitution. I don't recall that there's a whole lot in the Constitution on the subject of IP law (I could be mistaken; IANAL and it's been a while since I've read it.)

    While your congressman knows that voting yes to such a thing would make him somewhat less popular with his constituents, the RIAA and MPAA have a lot of money to sling around, and your congressman can be sneaky in a variety of ways in order to reduce the danger that he'll be accountable for such a vote. Which is probably how a good bit of the erosion of the constitution and the rights of the people has occurred over the years.

    Of course, the ultimate power still rests with the people. A jury charged with prosecuting a case stemming from these laws could refuse to convict the defendant under such a law. Betting on jury nullification to save your ass isn't particularly safe, but it may end up being the final refuge against laws some company has bought from Congress.

  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:54PM (#803607) Homepage Journal
    Here's what I just sent. (Starting with the HRRC boilerplate and expanding on it.)

    I understand the Commission soon will be deciding whether VCRs can be hooked up to digital cable systems, and whether home recording from digital cable will be allowed. Hollywood studios apparently claim that home recording is the same as theft of service and that this justifies limiting home taping. Your agency should protect consumers' rights to record and view DTV signals. The Commission should respect the Supreme Court's ruling in the Betamax case, and not equate private, noncommercial home recording with theft of service! In short, the Commission should take action to protect the interests of consumers in this proceeding.

    Enough of the form letter. To say it in my own words, it seems as if certain corporations hold the mistaken view that the public airwaves are not public, but are instead owned by them. As we all know, this is not the case. Restrictions are put on the use of the airwaves only in order to prevent uses not in the interest of the public and not, as many of these large corporations seem to think, in order to enhance their profits. Enhancing of profits is fine, as long as it is done in a fair manner. It is not fine when it crosses into anti-social territory.

    In the past, both the courts and the FCC have taken a reasonable, balanced view, not trampling on the rights of the the true owners of the airwaves while also preventing the sort of anarchy that would prevent individuals and corporations from being fairly compensated for their creations. It is my hope that both the FCC and the courts will continue to find that balance, protecting profits, but not at the expense of completely reasonable use of the airwaves by private citizens.

    And in my mind, that fair and reasonable use is quite simply. If I pay, either explicitly, or implicitly through watching advertising, for signals to be sent to my house, I have the right to view those signals in any way and at any time that I see fit, provided I do not transfer those signals to someone who hasn't so paid. That is fair and reasonable. It imposes no onus on the private citizen and yet provides a fair profit to the creator of those signals.

    Thank you for reading my views.


    Steven R. Burnap
  • The writing is on the wall. The suits can see TiVo and ReplayTV becoming REAL popular as digital TV (i.e. compressed video signals which can be stored very efficiently on hard drives) becomes more popular with consumers.

    You can bet that TiVo or ReplayTV or one of their upcoming competitors would love to add a nice "ad-blocking feature." It makes sense. These devices allow you to capture all the shows you want, and watch them later, even more easily than with VCR's.

    How many more TV shows would fit on a drive if the ads could be blocked?

    This is the real fear for the suits... not whether Joe Blow is going to have a perfect digital recording on his DVD-RAM. (Hell, they know as well as we do that copy protection will never stop a committed pirate.)


    P.S. Wouldn't it be cool if TiVo/ReplayTV/et. al. allowed consumers to write video-processing add-ons for their units? Gawd that would be awesome! Imagine how many ad-blocking units would be written in a few weeks. Talk about adding value to your product! (id Software has proved this technique time and time again.)

    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:55PM (#803611) Homepage
    Ho ho ho, the Constitution is the solitary source of the Congress's power to pass copyright laws. And it IIRC three important limitations built into it.

    Given the most similar case before (Sony v. Universal) I would expect the Supremes to continue to rule against copyright holders. It doesn't matter if it's digital or not. And even if the Congress passed a law that supported the copyright holders, it would likely be struck down as unconstitutional. Fair use was created by the judiciary straight out of the Constitution. It'd be quite a feat to see it legislated away.
  • Most of us agreed, when TiVo started hitting it big, that the establishment would either have to fight the saturation of "personal television" devices (i.e., TiVo, Replay, etc.) or adapt. Television earns its keep through drawing in viewers to watch advertisements. Now, more and more people are circumventing that mechanism by, via one medium or another, recording television programming for later viewing and skipping the commercials.

    Clearly, it is far simpler for the MPAA to decry change rather than to adapt. The MPAA and the RIAA have taken horrifically similar approaches to the vagaries of the recently commercialized digital distribution channels. While the RIAA attacks Napster and dogs MP3 player manufacturers, the MPAA attacks DeCCS, 2600, and now you and everyone else with a VCR-like device.

    Isn't it wonderful how, in this modern day and age, that the first and seemingly most popular approach taken by establishment against innovation is a law suit?
  • OK... So I record a show. Whats the difference when I watch it and why does the MPAA care when I watch it??

    They care if there's any money in in your pocket that doesn't go to theirs. Soon we'll be having to pay licenses to speak about a movie with some friends on the sidewalk. Hell, why not save all the trouble and just decree that everybody owes an infinite amount of money to Jack Valenti and his pals?

  • The cost bearier to enter the DTV market is very steep. A friend of mine purchased a DTV and receiver last weekend for almost 7000$. The current FCC rules are aiming for a total migration from the current analog format to the digital format by 2006. However, not allowing the recording of DTV programming in a similar fashion as current analog programming is only going to slow down the migration. You will have fewer early adopter which will keep the prices higher for longer.

    I know I will not be tempted to by a digital TV until both the price comes down and there is a Digital Tivo.

  • If this (Digital TV) is the mandatory broadcast standard (I've heard by 2006, IIRC), looks like I'll be getting all my entertainment the old-fashioned way

    First of all, HDTV is very far from being ready for mass market. I am sure that in 2006 we will be watching the very same analog TV as today. This is because most customers don't need anything that HDTV offers. High resolution assumes either huge screen or eagle-like vision. Super-duper audio quality is irrelevant for many people - after all, most of TV appeal is picture. High cost will remain a problem, and I doubt that it will drop any time soon. Even if it does, so will the cost of analog TV sets.

    Secondly, -precise- recording of digital signals will be more difficult anyway because the amount of data in HDTV signal is higher than in analog channel. You would need to record an MPEG data stream directly as it is received, or re-encode it in HDTV VCR. This isn't cheap. Another approach is to export decoded and smoothed, resized NTSC signal. This would wreck the whole idea of HDTV, and difference in formats may cut part of the image too.

    As I see it, entire HDTV business is much ado about nothing. I don't need HDTV. What I need is good programming on analog TV - and that's not something I should hold my breath for.

    It should be noted that many distribution channels, notably satellite and cable, aren't interested in blocking you from recording. They want to sell more channels to you, and if you can't tape them you won't purchase them! Satellite links already come in digital form and I don't think anyone will be launching new birds in 2006 only to comply with HDTV, and new receivers in millions of homes would be costly to upgrade too.

    So basically MPAA and their henchmen try their tactics again, but I think the natural resistance is too great, and their efforts will not succeed.

  • Not in our three branched government. The courts interpret the law. That's one of the puposes of the Supreme Court, to rule constitutionality of laws.

  • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:46PM (#803620)
    Remember kids, the HRRC, despite its warm-fuzzy name, is about the interests of electronics manufacturers. Don't think for a minute that your best interests are represented by either side here.

    The HRRC is only concerned about the MPAA's proposals inasmuch as they might

    • Make existing sets obsolete, burning their most profitable sector of early-adopters or (probably) forcing recalls.
    • Drive down demand for VCRs (anyone who believes that even marginally-desirable programming won't be copy protected is fooling themselves. No more taping "The Simpsons"... but for only $29.95 you can buy three episodes on DVD!)

    Given that the MPAA/networks won't budge on the copy-protection point, I'm not surprised the issue has gone to the FCC to decide.

    And as a licensed amateur radio operator (KC4TQP), I can tell you the FCC is the fox guarding the consumer henhouse. If a consumer-friendly ruling comes down from the FCC, it will be purely coincidental.


  • Here's the letter I sent:

    I have learned that the Motion Picture Association of America wants VCR and HDTV manufacturers to be required to include technology that will prevent me from recording certain digital TV broadcasts for the purpose of watching them later (a.k.a. time-shifting).

    I am opposed to such legislation. The law already allows me to "time-shift" any TV program that is displayed on my television. It also lets me watch such recordings over and over again.

    The MPAA would like nothing more than to strip me of all such rights. I feel that they are an unethical corporation that cares much more about their bottom line than consumers such as myself.

    Therefore, I am writing you this letter to let you know that you should oppose any restrictions to my ability to watch and record TV programs, especially those that the MPAA wants.

    I urge you to decide against the MPAA.

  • by Luminous ( 192747 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @12:47PM (#803624) Journal
    ...even then they would not be happy because people could hum tunes or act out what they'd seen on the TV.

    In other news, two co-workers were arrested for piracy when one told the other in explicit detail what had occured in the summer hit movie 'Scary Movie'. The MPAA spokesperson said, "Water cooler chat is killing the movies. Why would anyone watch a show when they can hear all about it from their friends and co-workers? This is why we have requested a complete gag order on anyone who has entered a movie theater. If you buy a ticket, you are essentially entering into a non-disclosure agreement with the movie studio not to relate any detail of the movie to anyone." The MPAA has also extended this gag order to any person reviewing the movie, with exceptions only going to people who get their reviews OK'd by a local MPAA spokesperson.

    Tomorrow...the RIAA sues people taping songs from the radio.

  • What this probably comes down to is analog vs. digital recording technology. With analog VCR's the industry introduced 'Macrovision', which played with the vertical synch on the VCR's output. Thus the VCR could tape TV shows with good quality (for the day) but VCR to VCR dubbing led to fairly crappy looking tapes due to vsynch signals being lost along the way.

    The concern of the big media companies is that digital content isn't as easily toyed with as analog. They probably couldn't give a crap about you taping HDTV Buffy with your analog VCR, but the thought of someone taking the HDTV signal, piping it into their PC and putting a hot new pay-per-view movie up on the internet as an MPEG two hours after its first showing probably scares them shitless. So they want some digital version of Macrovision. Being 'content' people and completely nontechnical they don't know what that is, what it means or how to do it...but they'll spend whatever amount of money it takes to get it done...the only problem is the electronics guys are looking at putting TiVO-type tech. into every TV/VCR/blender/whatever (and charging you $200 extra for it) and they don't want their cash cow messed with.

    The only reason this is news is because the big 'content' companies and the big 'device' companies can't agree. If someone had found an easy way to do this 6 months ago it would have been signed, sealed & delivered without ever popping up on SlashDot and this time next year all the digital VCRs on the market would have some "MacroVision II" lobotomy built into them that people would be trying to hack their way around.

    Welcome to the new world order. Read books instead.
  • [Being allowed to tape for private viewing]'s only a "longstanding tradition" if you are too young to remember the "Betamax case".

    I've always thought that the fact that VCRs were made so hard to program by mere mortals was actually a result of the hardware companies striking back: "You wanna record our stuff? You'll have to be able to set the time first... MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

    Maybe I should switch to decaf.


  • I don't understand why the FCC could take away a right given to "We, The People" by the Supreme Court (time/space shifting). Somebody 'splain that one!

    The problem isn't whether copy protection *can* be built into these devices, it's whether the MPAA can strong arm manufacturers into forcing them to do so.
  • by Barbarian ( 9467 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:04PM (#803631)
    ..I can see in certain controlled societies (Russia? China?) that news broadcasts would be unrecordable, so that people could not bring up inconsistencies later.

  • by Surazal ( 729 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:05PM (#803632) Homepage Journal

    Do you also blame people for putting locks on their doors?

    No, but when people start installing locks on my doors for me without my permission and lobbies for laws that let them arbitrarily change the lock whenever they so choose, *then* I start raising hell.

  • Do you also blame people for putting locks on their doors?

    No, but I certainly wouldn't want them putting locks on my door/VCR/etc...

  • Let this happen. Let the MPAA have its way, such that digital stuff can't record or timeshift or whatever.

    We *want* consumers to see the effects the MPAA have on all of us. We want them to see the fact that TiVOs, HDTV, digital cable, etc, doesn't work. We want them to see that the MPAA is doing some stupid stuff. I think it would be reasonable to suffer this sort of inconvenience if it can topple the MPAA entirely. It's sort of an entrapment case, but in this situation, we let the MPAA set the trap and the bait itself, and we pull the trigger/noose later on it!

    Let the MPAA take away *all* the rights consumers are used to. Don't let them record from DVDs->VCRs, don't let them copy CDs to mp3s, tapes, or other CDs, don't let them copy broadcast shows onto VCRs, TiVos, or mpgs, etc. See what happened when we let Circuit City debut DiVX? It *died*! Let the MPAA do what it wants, and let it collapse on itself!

    Of course, if the people are all as stupid as *they* assume, they'll just win the battle...

    The nick is a joke! Really!
  • Some of the wording in this case makes me think that they want to be able to claim ownership of any information stream. In this case, any content provider would be able to stop people from recording any part of it, unless they pay royalties of some sort to the content provider. While this may sound a bit innocent (though not entirely), there are some eery ideas that could come of this.

    Think for a minute if someone like @home were to say that you could not record any of the data stream that was routed through them to you. You would not be able to save any files from the internet, even ones sent to you through email!!! Admittedly this is a very far fetched idea, but it is one that could be possible if this line of reasoning is brought to its logical conclusion.

  • by Cramer ( 69040 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:10PM (#803644) Homepage
    Well, it has to be displayable on your TV. So, therefore, it is copiable. Unless your entire home theater system is all digital where the "firewire" data is encrypted between devices, it's always gonna be recordable.

    Personally, I think MPAA is a lost cause. In the digital world, there is no way to prevent criminals from being criminals. You can, however, render everyone a criminal and be done with it. This seems to be MPAA's ploy.

    What's next? C&D orders to people looking at billboards on the side of interstate highways?
  • by jayhawk88 ( 160512 ) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:10PM (#803646)
    Rant Time: It seems the MPAA won't be satisfied until they control all media with an iron fist. Usually I scoff at people who talk of things like "The MPAA is Big Brother", and "Your being spoon-fed what they want you to have", but after reading articles like this, I wonder if, to paraphrase the X-Files, I'm not paranoid enough.

    I can't belive the MPAA has the balls to do something like this. They can talk all they want to about "artists rights" and "copy protection", but I think it's pretty clear that this whole issue is about one thing: executives making money. This is even more offensive with TV shows, where advertising already permeates nearly show in existence. So now, not only do I have to endure 10 minutes of ads, but I cannot record it and fast forward through them? Sad thing is, it'll get worse before it gets better. Hey MPAA, many people have e-mail accounts now. Why not send e-mails to everyone, and make them digitally sign and return the e-mail as proof that they won't record, rebroadcast, or distribute a show, and that they will watch all the advertising like the good little sheep they are?

    OK, rant over. It's funny, though: since I got my cable modem, I spend most free evenings either playing D2 and Team Fortress Classic online, or just generally surfing Slashdot and the like. About the only TV shows I watch any more are SouthPark, Simpsons, X-Files and sporting events, and even then it's hit or miss. I think organizations like the MPAA, RIAA and their ilk have known for a while what I'm just figuring out: that they are pimping a dying media, and they must squeeze it for every nickle while they still can.
  • Heheheheh... One of the things that the "Digital Age" should definitely be known for is bad analogies. :]
  • by Th3 D0t ( 204045 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @01:11PM (#803651)
    Ideally, they should take casual copying into account in the license fee structure for rebroadcasting shows. I'm sure they already do, though, and they'd have a hard time justifying this to the broadcast/cable companies that are already paying for this. And what about digital satellite? That's been out a long time, rebroadcasting DVD-quality signals. You can already copy DVDs and digital satellite. Why is cable any different?
    I think we'll be seeing a lot of this crap in the next few years as last desperate gasps of a dying industry.
  • "There would be hacks out for it shortly after it came out to circumvent the copy protection because it's such a crappy idea."

    Still, do you want a MPAA-backed law that says you can't record that episode of "Law and Order" for later viewing in your own home? The Supreme Court said that recording some program off TV for later viewing is legal ( Sony v. Universal Studios [hrrc.org] ), and yet the MPAA wants to tell you what you can and can't do in your own home. Quite frankly, if this did go through, you could have all the hacks you wanted (even though this is a hardware issue). But no matter how many hacks you'd have, it wouldn't matter, because the MPAA won anyway.

  • by levendis ( 67993 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @02:10PM (#803657) Homepage
    I think it was repealed somewhere in the DMCA....
  • See what happened when we let Circuit City debut DiVX? It *died*

    The real reason it died is that it was competing with DVD. If the whole MPAA had gotten behind DiVX and left DVD to rot, DiVX would be king today. Oh sure, we would have bitched about the necessity of a phone connection, but how many of us now have TiVos?

    Amusingly, I recall foolish people speaking out on Slashdot back then, about how DVD deserved to win because it was an "open standard". Open standard that you're not allowed to write a player for... yeah, right!

  • My letter:
    Your Message was sent to Federal Communications Commission.

    Andrew Sullivan

    PP Docket No. 00-67

    I understand the Commission soon will be deciding whether VCRs
    can be hooked up to digital cable systems, and whether home
    recording from digital cable will be allowed. Hollywood studios
    apparently claim that home recording is the same as theft of service
    and that this justifies limiting home taping.
    The studios are DEAD WRONG on this issue. It is CRITICAL that
    the right to record signals at home, digital or analog, be preserved; this
    is basic FAIR USE that has been protected under copyright law.

    The Agency needs to follow the Betamax precedent and preserve
    consumers' rights in this case. The rights of millions of consumers are
    more important, and stronger, than the onerous claims of the studios
    for control of their films and their marginal profits from repeated

    Thank you for your consideration of this critical issue.

    Best regards,
    Andrew Sullivan
  • Does this mean that if you have really good memory, you could break the law by watching digital TV?

    As another poster pointed out, VCR's are just a memory-augmentation device. It's something we already do, and it's something that may eventually be incorporated into our bodies more intimately. What then?

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.