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Television Media

More on the Effect of Digital TV 355

EyesWideOpen writes "Here is an interesting article at Wired which mentions that existing DVR devices (Tivo, ReplayTV) aren't equipped to handle the digital TV signal that broadcasters are scheduled to start delivering in 2006. Also mentioned is a proposal being considered by the FCC that would allow cable companies to 'turn off' the firewire port, which DVR's will use to connect to digital televisions, so that some broadcasts can't be recorded. The proposal is being considered no doubt in response to fears like that of MPAA head Jack Valenti who has said that without proper security measures, the industry won't allow its movies to be broadcast because they don't want viewers to record 'perfect copies' of movies."
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More on the Effect of Digital TV

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  • by lunenburg ( 37393 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @11:51AM (#4025729) Homepage
    ...can we have multibilliondollar corporations going to Congress and saying "If you don't change the rules to help us, we are going to cut ourselves off from selling our products with this new form of technology, in essence leaving ourselves in the realm of the horse-and-buggy as we enter the automobile age" ...

    And actually have Congress give in!!! Remember that when the rapid advance of technology slows in the next few years.
    • If what you mean is that only in America can a creator of something valuable go to congress and ask that protections be in place to prevent stealing by people who don't create things (but think that they should get them for free), then I agree with you. It's always funny when Congress gets criticized for doing what it's supposed to do.

      Now, if you want to limit your criticism to stating that this is the WRONG WAY to prevent piracy and criticising the prevention of copying for personal use, then I'm with you.

      But to state that somehow Congress is wrong for wanting to find solution to enforce copyright laws so that the creators in society (i.e., the valuable ones) aren't ripped off, that is just ludicrous.

      • by TFloore ( 27278 )
        First, let's discuss what is legal now.

        I can legally record a show off my cable system onto a recording media of my choice (usually VHS tape) to watch later.
        I can take this media (tape) to my neighbor's house and watch it there with him.
        I can leave the tape with him for his kids to watch, without me there.
        I can watch this tape more than once.
        I can put this tape on my shelf, and watch it again 5 years later.
        I can fast-forward through parts that don't interest me.

        Now, would you like to discuss how many of these legal activities Jack Valenti wants you to be allowed to do? (Let me give you a hint... rhymes with 'Nero' the wacko Roman Emperor who fiddled while his empire's capital city burned...)

        This is not about putting in protections for creators. This is about putting in control measures to decrease consumer rights and increase profits, for the simple reason that they think they can get away with it.
        • I just want to ask....

          Since when could we make "perfect" copies of movies from TV broadcast anyhow?

          With the exception of pay channels (HBO etc) and pay-per-view the movies available from broadcast and cable are -=not=- perfect copies. They are dumbed down, heavily edited, often redubed, colorized, and otherwise mangled shadows of their former selves.

          Who cares if you can make a copy of Gone with the Wind and it's famous line "Frankly my dear I don't give a darn." Darn?!? WTF!!!

      • by lunenburg ( 37393 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @01:05PM (#4026364) Homepage
        If what you mean is that only in America can a creator of something valuable go to congress and ask that protections be in place to prevent stealing by people who don't create things (but think that they should get them for free), then I agree with you.

        Ah, I see you're falling into the thinking of "Big Hollywood == producers, ordinary folk == consumers." Because don't think for a minute that your garage band, self-published novel, or digital art gallery will get the same copy prevention technology as the MPAA and RIAA use. For no other reason than if anyone could mark content as "protected", then it wouldn't solve any sort of "piracy" problem. So what you're supporting is in essence a select group that can use technology as a "producer", while denying the technology to the mere mortals. Ok, gotcha.

        The fact of the matter is that there is a subtle difference between ensuring the right of someone to attempt to make a profit, vs. ensuring the right of someone to demand a profit. What the MPAA/RIAA are asking for is the keys to future technological development, so that they can dictate what new technology comes about, and when. It's not anyone's concern but their own that they have developed and clung to a business model that makes the assumption that they are the only ones who can produce and distribute "content" on a global basis. Times change, technology changes. Plenty of formerly profitable businesses are on the scrap heap of history because they could not or would not adjust to a changing technological landscape. Yet you seem to think that the Congress has the right, nay, the duty to grant the MPAA/RIAA a special exception to this, and to prop up their profit models in the face of a changing landscape. Curious.

        In a free-market economy, services pop up to fill a vaccuum. Big Hollywood has shown no inclination to fill the consumer's desire for digital media, so quasi-legal/quasi-moral industries have sprung up to fill the hole. Even now, Big Hollywood's attempts to fill the market are only halfhearted. They offer a small selection of music online, in restrictive formats, at fairly high prices, and wonder why people don't flock to them compared to the free filesharing services that popped up while they were ignoring the internet. Sorry guys, your loss. Do some market research, find out what people want, and give it to them. I daresay that if Big Hollywood offered their back catalogs in an open format at reasonable prices, a majority of people would go for that, if for no other reason than the quality control vs. P2P services. But no, they'd rather run to Congress and have MP3s, CD Burners, and firewire ports made criminal, rather than competing in the marketplace.

        Congress' role is to protect the rights of the people, not Jack Valenti's paycheck. By bending to Hollywood's whims, Congress is most likely delaying or eliminating a marketplace where artists can sell directly to their fans without the expense of a middleman like the *AA, and where new and different musical artists and genres can gain exposure over webcasting stations that are not beholden to Clear Channel's top-10 directives. By granting control of digital technology to a group that fought the VCR all the way to the Supreme Court is shortsighted at best, illegal and immoral at worst.

        So the issue is not one of protecting the rights of artists - that can be accomplished within the framework of current copyright law. The issue is that Congress should not prop up the profits and business model of any industry, simply due to its influence and campaign contributions.

        As an aside, I'm also going to take from your post that you oppose the rights of people to have access to VCRs, audio tapes, Xerox machines, or pens, since they can all be used for, and have been used for, "stealing" from "creators."
    • ...because they can't wait to auction off the UHF TV spectrum that DTV is supposed to free up.

      Sadly, this puts the RIAA and broadcasters (media providers of all sorts) in a strong position. If they don't get their way on this Firewire port-disabling, broadcast don't-copy-me-flag or whatever nonsense it is this week, they won't release the product. No product, no consumers. (Given the very weak sales of high-priced DTV equipment, it seems that consumers are perfectly happy with the 1954(!)-era NTSC 525-line colour standard.)

      I think the industry can basically tell Congress, 'Mandate these features or we won't release media'. Without the media, no manufacturer would dare release hardware. If no one buys the new hardware (due to the lack of media), how could Congress release the old UHF spectrum to auction it off?

      It just seems like DTV has been in turmoil from day one. I remember hearing of multiple competing formats in the late 80s and promises of a decision and some technology by the early 90s. Looks like that never happened...
      • I think the industry can basically tell Congress, 'Mandate these features or we won't release media'.

        And Congress can basically tell them, "OK, then, I hope you've figured out how to send your broadcasts by carrier pigeon [ietf.org] because in 2006 you won't have any broadcast spectrum that fits your requirements."

      • It's not that I'm happy with NTSC, it's that I'm very unhappy with all of the digital solutions out there currently. I'm not one of these people who has $10,000 to blow on a TV, and that's the market all of the digital TVs seemed to be trying to capture at the moment. Not only that, but in most places (outside of large cities) you have to special order such a TV, as your local WalMart certainly sin't going to carry it.
  • So...? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Quixotic137 ( 26461 )
    Of course I haven't read the article (this is Slashdot for God's sake), but does this really matter? My TV isn't equipped for DTV either, but the FCC (and others) have been saying for years that I will just need a converter box to get an analog signal for my TV. Couldn't I just use that on my TiVo?
  • by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @11:54AM (#4025749)
    So, the "industry" would rather go out of business than risk a few people recording their content to view later.

    This is a bluff to get something unreasonable from us. And it certainly isn't how a free market works. If there is a market then people will create for that market. Otherwise we are dealing with an illegal monopoly and it should be broken up.

    Dissolve the MPAA it is acting as an illegal trust.
  • by PD ( 9577 ) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @11:55AM (#4025755) Homepage Journal
    Of course my TiVo is compatible with a digital signal. All I need is my D/A converter, which I'll be using anyway.

    Folks, you don't HAVE to eat what they're dishing out. Honestly, 525 scan lines and a mono speaker really is enough for me.
    • That's awfully nice if you can stomach those god-awful 525 scan lines at all of 30 fps with your mono speaker... If I watch a movie I'd rather have my HDTV signal providing 720 vertical lines @ 60 fps or 1024 vertical lines @ 30 fps with a full surround sound system... Heck even all my Anime on DVD has higher resolution and sound than you want...

      If you want to suffer go ahead, just don't screw it up for the rest of us...
      • If you want to suffer go ahead, just don't screw it up for the rest of us...

        No. If you want to watch a movie with that resolution, fine. But, why should everyone else sacrifice fair-use rights so the signals can be broadcast over public airwaves?

  • Same old Shit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by siskbc ( 598067 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @11:56AM (#4025770) Homepage
    This is the same guy that said VCRs would kill the TV and movie industry 15+ years ago. The same people that were worried that people would tape everything they wanted off of the radio.

    There are, and always will be, tangiable benefits to being able to buy a copy, assuming they price them reasonably. If people are willing to have crappy, off-the-air (even digital) copies, with no bonus footage that comes with DVD's, then that says something about the price of DVD's, doesn't it?

    And anyway, how long does it take for movies to get to broadcast anyway? 2 Years? Who waits that long?

    This guy is as paranoid as those freaks who have bomb shelters and 2 years of rations in their basements.

    • and the rest of him, too. Sounds to me like he reeeeeally needs a Moe-Howard-style bitchslapping.

      He Just Doesn't Get It.

    • The same people that were worried that people would tape everything they wanted off of the radio.
      No. Valenti is head of the MPAA. The RIAA is in charge of protesting the airwaves. Different organization, same idea. They both leave a bad taste in your mouth.
  • "Perfect copies" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SyniK ( 11922 ) <tom@ga[ ]zday.com ['mer' in gap]> on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @11:57AM (#4025778) Homepage Journal
    Janis Ian's article yesterday summed it up pretty well:
    "They can fight with compelling value--whether it's built in videos, computer games, free tickets, unique passwords to go download bonus tracks, demo tracks and dance mixes...karaoke tracks for each song, alternate vocal takes... Who could, or would, want to spend the time reproducing all that via downloading?"

    So I have a perfect copy of a movie... so what. If the DVD contains 30 minutes more footage and/or full length commentary, then there is a reason to go buy it instead of ripping it with a Tivo.
  • "...Wired which mentions that existing DVR devices (Tivo, ReplayTV) aren't equipped to handle the digital TV signal that broadcasters are scheduled to start delivering in 2006"

    Two words: Planned obsolescence.

    Just like cellphones with games designed to wear out the keypads so you have to get new ones.

  • Simple Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NumberSyx ( 130129 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:00PM (#4025809) Journal
    If my cable company renders my Tivo usless, I will no longer have any use for thier service and I will cancel. Sure I loose the cost of my TiVo, but it would only take about 6 months of not having to pay a cable bill to recover the cost of my TiVo.
    • Just sign up for a cable modem and get the attached basic cable, that i assume will still be TiVo supported.

      If this fails, someone will design a $10-$20 signil filter that will remove the DO NOT RECORD, signil from your cable service.

      • If this fails, someone will design a $10-$20 signil filter that will remove the DO NOT RECORD, signil from your cable service.

        Which is illegal under the DMCA. And since the bitrates involved here are not trivial it'll probably be a bit more complex than a radio shack kit. Which means there's a manufacturing plant that the MPAA/RIAA/whoever can shut down. Hard.

        Of course, the cable industry is seriously pushing for cable boxes that don't output firewire in the first place. The only output they want from the box is full resolution analog video over DVI, which is too much data to store bit-for-bit and currently too much data to (affordably) re-encode in realtime. And even if you did re-encode you'd not only lose quality, you'd once again be in violation of the DMCA.

  • the industry won't allow its movies to be broadcast because they don't want viewers to record 'perfect copies' of movies.

    Well they already have a measure in place to prevent this in the analog world that would work just fine when everything goes digital. The version of the movie that they release to the TV stations is of very poor quality; it is downsampled so as to seem fuzzy and crappy. Not only that, but the good swearwords are covered up and the blood is cut out. These are by no means 'perfect copies' of the movies.
  • Jack Valenti, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, has said that without proper security measures, the industry won't allow its movies to be broadcast.

    Fine with me, Jack. Don't play your movies on TV, see if I care.
  • If they don't want to broadcast their movies, fine! let them do it. Let's see them come back squirming later on. We can always find other sources of movies.
  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:03PM (#4025829)
    Just how "imperfect" does something have to be before I'm allowed to watch it?

    I mean, "fullscreen" movies on most cable outlets have a significant part of the original widescreen image lopped off. Isn't that imperfect enough for Jack Valenti? How about if he takes the sound down to simple mono and superimposes a silhouette of himself at the bottom of the screen, delivering meant-to-be-funny lines about the movie MST3K-style? Is that bad enough? Or does he need the cable company to agree on subpar cabling, too, so I get some ghosting?

    The Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal that would allow cable companies to turn off the firewire port.

    So I buy a TiVO because I really, really don't want to miss your programming but you scheduled "Cheers III: the redemption of Cliff" at 1 AM while I'm at work. You, in response to this infamous behavior on my part, hack my machine so I can't see it? Way to twist your head up your *ssh*le. What industry thinks that way?

    • So the FCC mandates that we all need to upgrade to high-def, but the quality of high-def content will be crappier than what we get now. I think we're being hosed. I think I'll stop watching tv in 2006.
    • You, in response to this infamous behavior on my part, hack my machine so I can't see it? Way to twist your head up your *ssh*le. What industry thinks that way?

      Apparently any industry involving any sort of intellectual property.

    • What industry thinks that way?

      Ones that know that they are rapidly becoming outmoded and a hinderance to their subject matter rather than a necessary part.

      The MPAA and RIAA are middlemen, pure and simple. Consider just how many middlemen computers have eliminated and you might understand why they're fighting like cornered dogs.

      I vehementantly disagree with what they're trying to do, particuarly since in many cases they don't even do what the purport to do (such as pay the artists a reasonable wage in the case of the RIAA), but I can at least understand it.

      And be afraid of it.
  • I'd buy an HDTV Tivo setup RIGHT NOW. But, the market isn't there for them so they aren't making them yet. When it's time, they will. Scientific Atlanta has an HD cable box with PVR, the 8000.

    It's suddenly become popular to pick on HDTV lately.
  • by philipsblows ( 180703 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:05PM (#4025849) Homepage

    First, is it possible for HBO et al. to broadcast Macrovision copy protection on their signal so that one cannot record such broadcasts? I know TiVo honors copy protection (on video tapes primarily) so I wondered.

    My actual question, along a similar avenue, is whether the general public would repond in anger or in apathy to any real implentation of copy protection. Macrovision can be filtered out (but the copy of a VHS tape may not be worth the trouble) and CD copy protection hasn't caught on enough to trip up the masses. But what if copy protection just started appearing without warning, like that HBO scenario?

    What is going to happen when the RIAA and the MPAA finally purchase the right representatives and get all of these laws and practices changed in their favor? Will people simply not watch some programs since they can't record them? Will there be an uprising after people are effected by all of this nerdy stuff they read about on the internet for so long? Will people simply go with the flow and accept the reductions in freedoms?

    For every form of copy protection I've ever seen (dongled software, MS keys, macrovision, DAT copy bits, exploding paper, etc) there always seems to be a workaround to circumvent the protection and allow the copy... if that becomes impossible (it might at some point, they could get lucky) what will the public at large do?

    I have to admit, I would almost (ALMOST) like to see all of these protections get implemented just to see what happens.

    Unfortunately, I think the public at large will be angered, and they might even lament their inaction as it was all unfolding (that would be now), but they will feel and be powerless to make any changes. They will still patronize RIAA and MPAA properties and in time people will forget that we used to be able to tape movies to watch later.

    Alternate scenarios encouraged...

    • These copy protections WILL get implemented, and you know what, no one will care.

      Why? Because most people are sheep. They're also pretty stupid. Most can't figure out how to fix the flashing 12:00 on their VCRs. Look at TiVo's market penetration. It's pretty small compared to the number of TVs out there.

      That said, while many people will be up in arms, the majority will be happy with the options provided by digital TV: "I missed the show, but now I can watch it on NBC 5." On top of that, my own cable company is now testing Video on Demand and that will only grow as digital TV is introduced.

      And while the cable companies aren't against PVRs right now, imagine what will happen when they figure out they can "rent" TV shows to you for 75 cents per play in a nickel and dime Video on Demand scheme. They'll be right there with the movie studios saying PVRs and time shifting are bad!

      Those of us who do care about these things will be powerless to change them. We can "vote with our dollars" but the new revenue streams will outweigh any lost revenue from pissing us off.
      • Yeah, people are stupid because they don't have TiVos. That's a good argument. Do you work for TiVo, or do you keep the CEO's penis in your mouth for free?


    • I believe that movies and music would enter more of a black market similar to drugs and (in the 1920's), alcohol. Many people are disgusted at the prices we're forced to pay to see a movie in the theater or the price of a full CD, and you can see how many people have turned to file sharing networks. The demand for movies probably won't go down, but if there is enough profit out there then we'll see more and more underground systems pop up that will distribute movies and music.

      Throw in some international laws and all of a sudden the .tw people have a billion dollar export market for black market movies. When that much money is at stake, people will find a way.

      I know I wasn't ashamed to download Undercover Brother. If I had paid to see it I would have been treated to nearly a DOZEN scenes with the boom mic in-frame. However I would have gladly paid $15 to see Lord of the Rings, it was completely worth it to pay for a quality viewing experience.
    • Yep and given the upcoming elections and the silence as an issue and you know the IP industries will have at least 2 more years to push threw their agenda before voting can be used.
    • Here's an alternate scenario.......

      The public becomes discusted with the direction that "entertainment" is heading. They discover that being entertained by the usual suspects is getting more and more expensive while they are getting less and less. They discover that they are prevented from doing the things that they want to do, like send a cool new song to a friend or share an interesting movie with their co-workers. They simply discover that the entertainment cartels are simply not "entertaining" any more!

      As a result, they search out new forms of entertainment, they go to live theater for instance, they go out to see live music, they search out new and varied forms (small independent bands/labels), further fragmenting the entertainment industry's market. They stop buying new CD's from Tower and start shopping at their local used shops if they shop at all.

      Next, the entertainment industry reacts by attempting to shut-off all alternative forms of entertainment and delivery which further alienates the consumer. They attempt to violate the "first sale" principle of copyright by getting a piece of every used CD and DVD sold too. They attempt to save their failed business model through legislation which forces themselves into the middle of every deal and gig. They hold back their "product" from the market until we accept their demands. But the "genius of capitalism" takes over and the consumer finds a way around their roadblocks. Fair or unfair, the rate of piracy in music and software is a response to the supply/demand/cost curve. Piracy is like smuggling, it will ALWAYS exist and can only be controlled by removing the incentive.

      This is already starting to happen! People are seeking out alternatives right now! I only shop used CD's now. I'm on boycott for new CD's. I watch less TV than I used to (now down to less than 30 min/day and a total of 3 hrs/week. I'm spending more time reading and in front of my Linux box attempting to create rather than consume. I've only seen 2 movies this year (Goldmember and LOTR), I don't purchase products that have DRM or support DRM formats. I don't have a DVD player. I don't use "dongled" software. I bring this up because I don't think I'm that different from most people, I assume that there are many like me.

      I'd also like to see what happens if the entertainment industry get their way too. It might provide the best "once-in-a-lifetime" entertainment event ever seen. Imagine the uproar, the hype, the bugs, the enormous lawsuits. Fortunes made and lost overnight. If all of the DRM and copyright enforcing mechanisms that the entertainment industry wants were put into place overnight, this might possibly be the "Greatest Show on Earth".....they'd loose almost all of their remaining customers! They would be killing the "Golden Goose" with their greed.

      That too, would be "once-in-a-lifetime" entertainment.....that moment after the "Golden Goose" get's it's head chopped off, it running around helter-skelter, that moment would be spectacular!...no telling what kind of golden turds would drop out then!
  • the industry won't allow its movies to be broadcast because they don't want viewers to record 'perfect copies' of movies.

    They could just *force* the cable companies to watermark the movies that they do play on their digital airwaves. That way, they would not be "perfect" copies.

    But Nooooo.... use legislation, not technology to make sure the profits keep coming in...

  • by coupland ( 160334 ) <dchase@ h o t m a i l.com> on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:05PM (#4025854) Journal

    Apparently Jack Valenti hasn't watched a movie on TV recently. They're 33% commercial with half the interesting scenes cut out to accommodate and all the swear words overdubbed by people who sound nothing like the original actor. Perhaps he's more worried that people will be expecting a 99-cent flurry long after the promotion is over...

    "Any one of you DARN GOOFS move and I'll execute every GOSH DARN last one of you!"

  • Ok MPAA.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Restil ( 31903 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:06PM (#4025861) Homepage
    Go ahead. quit offering your movies for broadcast. Hey, while you're at it, quit offering them up for rental, as they can be copied there too. Better not sell them either.
    And gosh darn it, people are making illegal copies of your movies while they're still in the theatre, better quit having movies shown in theatres. Can't risk having anyone steal your precious products.

    Oh, btw, you now make NO money, but at least you're secure in the fact that nobody has made a perfect copy of your movie. Must be a great relief huh? :)

    • After they do all that, they'll insist their profit loss is due to massive piracy. The stupid government will believe them and give them "royalties" off of some other product.

  • One of the neater talks from DefCon (I just got back) was the GNU folks talking about doing RF decoding entirely in software.

    Now, on its face, this sounds boring, until you realize that they can make a TV, HDTV, Cell Phone, radio, HAM, and CB transciever entirely in software. Once decoding is in software, we can choose whether to obey the broadcast flags or not. I suspect that this whole broadcast flag thing won't last that long if the GNU folks get that project really working well.
  • Jack Valenti, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, has said that without proper security measures, the industry won't allow its movies to be broadcast.

    Is Jack Valenti trying to say that people actually watch movies on television anymore?

    If you need any more proof that the man's certifiably insane, there it is. :-)
  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:11PM (#4025913)
    "Jack Valenti [...] has said that without proper security measures, the industry won't allow its movies to be broadcast because they don't want viewers to record 'perfect copies' of movies."

    Alright, so you're saying that if you don't deny digital recording of digital television, you won't sell your product to TV broadcasters. So you're getting less money from fewer sales to broadcasters and you're also getting less money from people who might have bought a real copy if they were exposed to your movie via TV. All in all the consumer gets to keep more of their spending cash, or at least buy other things while MPAA sales dwindle.

    Does anybody not see this as the MPAA shooting itself in the foot? Broadcasters only buy movies to fill up time slots they don't bother to try to fill with their own programming and only tend to buy movies (instead of airing more reruns) so they can compete with all the other broadcasters showing movies. Yank the movies out of the equation, you have a poorer MPAA while the broadcasters just fill the time slots with more reruns. Wah.

    Of course, the MPAA doesn't give a rat's ass about customers, they (like all other corporations, by definition) care only about the investors. If they weren't so damned worried about appearing profitable to Wall Street, they'd be all for letting customers make their own perfect digital copies.
    • The MPAA is simply thinking that anybody who copies from broadcast will not bother to purchase the movie and that's where most of their revenues are. Unfortunately they make two incorrect assumptions:

      1. That most people are still buying the videos once it hits broadcast. Since broadcast is so long after the movie hits the video stores and videos historically sell their vast majority in the first couple of months from release, the money they would be "losing" is probably very small.

      2. That they would actually be losing broadcast revenue. Broadcast revenue comes per broadcast and not by ratings or how many record the movie. By the time copied movies make an impact on broadcasts the movies will be worth nothing anyway and will be playing on bad cable networks.
    • Does anybody not see this as the MPAA shooting itself in the foot?

      These are old-school businesses that live in the monopolistic mindset. They are incapable of making short-term investment for long-term returns. What used to work has been proven and they will hold onto it until you wrestle it from their cold, dead hands.

      Take as an example the recording industry which although not identical, is similar. Their strategy has always been to forbid all dissemination of their product through new channels and use the legal system to enforce old ways. But think about it this way: What if 5 years ago a record company had launched a web site that had RealAudio streaming of all your favourite songs? What if you could click on "buy this song" and get an MP3 for $1 with no restrictions whatsoever? And what if they encouraged you to buy all your favourite songs (for $1 each) and burn them to a CD so you didn't need to buy crappy songs you'll never listen to? Everyone would gladly pay $1 for a song they like, the record companies would be transporting their money in dump trucks and someone would now be CEO of Sony. Instead, record sales are slumping because companies think that consumers are the enemy and they answer only to investors. They'll get their wake-up call, a free market makes it inevitable.

      • This brings to mind a revelation I had while walking through the checkout at Wal-Mart yesterday.

        I wonder how much revenue the recording industry would make if they put CD's with 1-2 songs on them at the checkout counter and sold them for a $1. I thought of this while looking at the bottled water sitting right next to the checkout. If people are willing to pay $1 for water (which they can probably get at home for free in a few minutes) then I would think they could very easily pick up a CD with a good song (not ready for that argument in this post ;-) ) everytime they check out of the store.

        I bet that the year the RIAA did this they would have record setting revenues. But they won't ever do this will they?
    • Does anybody not see this as the MPAA shooting itself in the foot?
      The MPAA is only shooting themselves in foot if they lose the battle and "proper security measures" are not implemented. Naturally the MPAA doesn't want to lose money, they are just making a threat (yes a threat; by not allowing their movies to be broadcast, the cable companies will also lose potential ad revenue) in order to get what they want. Do you think they will lose the battle? They certainly don't plan on losing.
    • I don't see the problem either. I have a tivo, I would be perfectly willing to let them block any content that they don't want me watching time shifted. Unless it was really good, it's doubtfull I would ever watch that content non- time shifted.

      It so happens that my hearing is not as perfect as it once was, and as such I cant really stand to pay to watch most content that I cant rewind a bit to catch what I missed. often having to turn on the ClosedCaptioning for a bit. (O/T but be really nice if tivo auto turend on CC like my DVD player, when I hit skip back 30 seconds.)

      Can we use the american Disabiltys act, to force them to let people like me replay what we cant hear the first time?
      • Can we use the american Disabiltys act, to force them to let people like me replay what we cant hear the first time?

        That's a good idea -- even if you lose, you paint them as being against folks with disabilities, which nobody in their right mind would want to be against. And just like there's nobody stopping me from walking up the wheelchair ramp or hitting the big blue button that opens the door or using the big bathroom stall, I too will benefit. Yay!
    • Sure they'll loose money, but they'll just blame the lost revenue on people still pirating movies, which means we need even more laws to stop those damn dirty pirates...
    • Of course, the MPAA doesn't give a rat's ass about customers, they (like all other corporations, by definition) care only about the investors. If they weren't so damned worried about appearing profitable to Wall Street, they'd be all for letting customers make their own perfect digital copies.

      It seems rather ironic then that people (most of them MPAA customers) only invest in mutual funds with the highest rate of return. These fund managers then go out and demand better profitability from corporate America.

    • Their power as a content distributor in addition to its power as a content source unfairly tilt the balance in their favor. No content = no sales to other content distributors like cable so it is not like they or the manufacturers have much clout. Heck, the digital transformation is a federal deadline so they can just wait it out. With legislation on their side and the Bush regime pushing broadband subsidies I expect a massive consolidation with each industry a small monopoly in its own right.

      In today's world IP rights = property rights and that trumps political rights. Look at Powell at the FCC, CARP, DMCA, CBDPTA, etc. The writing's on the wall.
  • the industry won't allow its movies to be broadcast because they don't want viewers to record 'perfect copies' of movies."

    Perfect copies ? You mean, the blurry pan-and-scanned content-edited time-edited verions they show on cable ? Good lord.

  • The reason: Digital signals create perfect copies that won't degrade. Executives fear they would deliver perfect copies to millions of viewers.

    Ummm. I disagree with Mr. Valenti in that I don't think a lot of consumers would really care whether their copy of the movie (be it video tape or digital) is absolutely perfect or not. True I don't know Jack (okay really bad pun:) but frankly I don't see people building giant archives of digital movie and depriving studios of their rental revenues and I don't think he thinks that is going to happen either. I mean the VCR has been around for decades and it hasn't hurt anyone and cutting out the commercials you can get a movie just as good as on cassette. The only possible thing easily facilitated copying of movie s from the TV without commercials might possibly hurt is the movie sales. However in that case most of them are new releases which arn't on TV for a few years anyways and even then they will all be on DVDs by the time this is relevant in which case you have all these special features which cannot be taped on TV.

    I'm pretty sure is this is just another (paranoid?) attempt to get a little more control over the media with the hope that you could squeeze a little more cash out of the cnosumer and hopefully one that is destined to fail. I hope it seems as bizarre to the rest of the world as it does to me in that you are losing control your TV and you can't choose what to watch on your own terms. If they continue these shinadigans (okay I know misspelt that) I think the general public might be approaching the point where they starts percieving these so called "prirates" who are copying media and watching region encryped DVDs as Robin Hoods (there seems to have been that perception here for a while). I'm not sure how anxious I am to reach that point but when we finally do (and we are well on course) it will be interesting to see who ends up on top.
  • Blockbuster? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MeNeXT ( 200840 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:17PM (#4025961)
    By the time a movie comes out on cable I've already rented it or bought the DVD. Why would I want to tape (sorry record) it.

    If a movie is good, it's cheaper to buy a dvd than to pay for Pay Per View. At least you can watch it whenever you please and you can pause it to go to the loo.

    The only time I watch movies on cable is when I have nothing better to do. I have yet to purchase one on Pay Per View but I will rent a DVD that I've seen before if the movie was good, even if it's free on TV, at least nothing is cut out and it has no poor editing such as changing words to meet the TV audience.

    I have moderator points and I'm not using them go figure.

  • Perfect? (Score:5, Funny)

    by telstar ( 236404 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:19PM (#4025972)
    "the industry won't allow its movies to be broadcast because they don't want viewers to record 'perfect copies' of movies."
    • Why don't they start by making a couple perfect movies, and
    • then they can worry about people making perfect copies.
  • Perhaps instead of getting 350 restricted channels, I'll just start paying my $100/month for 10 commercial free, high quality stations that allow me to record.

    Eventually the industry will make its product so crappy some newcomers will come in and take over. Adapt or step out of the way. Otherwise, you'll get trounced eventually.
  • Right. So let me get this straight.

    The MPAA says they may not be able to show edited, commercial-ridden movies over the airwaves. Where's the problem?
  • Isn't bad enough, (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bogie ( 31020 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:24PM (#4026010) Journal
    that every channel now has 1/10 of the screen taken up by their stupid corporate logo? My favorite is TNN. I love watching a compressed version of the movie while useless shit constantly scrolls along the bottom and distracts me from the show. Just how long is it going be the "new TNN" anyway? That dam logo has said that for like 3 years now.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:24PM (#4026012) Journal
    This is such a staggeringly stupid thing to say, it occurs to me to wonder if we're not being misdirected.

    Could it be that Mr. Valenti isn't trying to sabotage the people pirating movies, but instead going after the root cause of the decline of old-fashioned hollywood power: the television itself?

    If we come to a day where (due to alleged concerns about piracy) the gullible public will accept that the studios have a legitimate reason NOT to release their films on DVD, then aren't we back in a pre-VCR era where to see a movie in it's full glory you actually have to go to a THEATER? Suddenly re-releases come back as a valid market-milking strategy, theater revenues/values climb and the only way you get to see a film EVER is by paying them the ticket price EVERY TIME YOU WATCH IT?

    Granted, it sounds pretty damn stupid to me too, but this is the same industry that thinks they make more money by selling $8 tickets and $6 popcorn, and then can't figure out why people would rather sit at home, eat (nearly) free popcorn and pay a $4 rental fee no matter how many people watch it.
  • I hope nobody with a photographic memory gets to go to the movies, then. They'd only ever have to see a movie once, thus depriving the hard-working movie industry of any repeat business, which, as we all know, is equivalent to not only stealing, but ROBBING, RAPING, AND MURDERING PEOPLE ON THE HIGH SEAS!!

    Now we know where whirlpools come from: Blackbeard spinning in his watery grave fast enough to create a new subduction zone.
  • by MeerCat ( 5914 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:30PM (#4026056) Homepage
    "Perfect copies" - spare me.

    Here in the UK we can get Digital TV over the airwaves, by satellite or over Cable, and ALL of them have terrible picture quality (funnily enough the adverts are the only parts that they seem to pre-compress and spend some time and effort doing properly), because the broadcasters MPEG encode on the fly, and try to get a much higher compression ratio than their hardware will allow. This is most obvious with live TV (news and sport especially, and when the news footage was already compressed to come over the satellite, then expanded and re-compressed ... well I'll let you guess what it looks like)

    Digital TV is nearly unwatchable at times - when the picture isn't breaking up and freezing then the MPEG artefacts and the blurred textures render stuff unwatchable. Go to a TV shop, and get them to show you BBC1 on analog and on digital on 2 adjacent TV's and you'll never want digital TV.

    My wife runs a DVD mastering studio, and she just kills herself laughing at the picture quality over Sky etc.

    • When you say "digital tv", are you sure you're referring to high-definition TV, which is what the article is alluding to when discussing the PVRs?

      Tivos and RePlays and all other PVRs handle "digital" signals just fine, as long as there's a device in-line converting to analog. It's important to distinguish the type of signal, however: I have "digital" cable, and you're absolutely right: the cable co takes the extra bandwidth, uses it for more channels, then compresses the hell out of the 480i signal you get, reducing the quality greatly.

      But you're wrong about OTA "digital", in the form of high-def: at least in the San Francisco Bay Area, the compression's at a minimum, and both 720p and 1080i look beautiful. Any artifacting you're seeing is likely due to the line doubler either in your set or decoder, or both. Live OTA HDTV does occasionally show compression artifacts, typically with fast pans and zooms. That's more an effect of the equipment in use and the manner of use rather than the level of compression in use.
    • I have no doubt that that's true in the UK; since I've never been there, I'll take your word for it.

      But I own an HDTV. I watch, I guess, about eight or ten hours of week of over-the-air HD programming. (If you take out Leno, which I watch in spite of the host, that comes down to about 3-5 hours a week.)

      Over-the-air HD programming in the US is pretty f*cking amazing. I've got a trained eye, I suppose you'd say, so I can see compression artifacts when watching some sports programming, but it's visually indistinguishable from uncompressed HD almost all the time. And my girlfriend, who isn't used to looking for artifacts, thinks it's positively perfect.

      Digital transmission-- be it over wires or 8VSB or satellite-- is just a medium, like any other. It can be used to carry a clean signal or a noisy one, depending on what you feed into it and other outside factors.

      For example, I used to have digital cable TV, for standard definition programming. The picture looked like ass, because the cable company was compressing it down to 1 Mbps or less for transmission, in order to squeeze more channels into their service. Naturally, I cancelled their service and bought a satellite dish. It's not uncompressed, by any means, but it's much better.

      So don't just jump to the conclusion that "digital TV is nearly unwatchable." It's more accurate to say that a particular broadcaster's signal-- which happens to be a digital signal-- is nearly unwatchable. For every shitty 2 Mbps cable channel out there, there's a 19 Mbps OTA HD station showing programming that's virtually indistinguishable from the uncompressed master.

      (Okay, actually the ratio isn't anywhere near one-to-one yet, and I know that. I was just trying to make the point that digital != bad, but rather some digital == bad while some digital == good.)
    • Here in the UK we can get Digital TV over the airwaves, by satellite or over Cable, and ALL of them have terrible picture quality

      Pardon me, but I do believe they are thinking more along the lines of what is going to be in the market place when HDTV becomes more popular. I have an HD, and I definitely could make some perfect copies of movies with the right equipment.

      But laying that aside for a moment, I have digital cable from timewarner, and the quality of the picture varies from channel to channel. HBO's looks much sharper than it's analog counterpart. Occasionally there are MPEG artifacts, but for the most part it is wonderful!
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation&gmail,com> on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:39PM (#4026115)

    ...where is the incentive to try and pirate the content? Everybody that wanted it would have taped it already from the source. The key to the MPAA's future business is VALUE-ADDED content that you can't get from the TV.

    Anyway, there is already enough disincentive to tape movies from TV: Commericals, including network logos in the corner; and censorship/editing. When you consider all the extra features they put on DVDs, it just makes more sense to pick up an original feature-rich copy at the store than to deal with and edited and censored for TV mess.

    To further my point...I videotaped six of the 8 seasons of Red Dwarf off of PBS. I bought 2 seasons at Suncoast. At this point, I have little reason to buy the official tapes of the seasons I taped myself...moreso since they're commercial-free on PBS. However, if BBC was to come out with DVD sets of those seasons that include all sorts of extra material, I would snap them up in a second!

    Of course, if Hollywood is stubborn enough to not broadcast their tripe, you can always get off your ass and volunteer to walk dogs and play with cats [save-animals.com] at your local animal shelter.

  • I have a good HD TV and Time Warner gets me my HD content via a 3100HD cable box. No antenna so it's easy and cheap.

    But, I want better content. I'd be much happier gettings History, Discovery, and A&E in HD than I would with the major networks. Will & Grace still sucks in HD. Nothing will change that. But, give me shows on Egypt's pyramids and nature shows in HD and that will be something. It would actually ENHANCE the show's experience.

    Movies on HBO in HD are nice, though. Better than DVD.
  • NEW YORK, N.Y. - The Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), an industry association which represents more than 1200 consumer publications, announced today that all of its magazine will now come equipped with special "AccuView" viewing filters. These new magazines can only be read through these special filters, which slightly distort the pictures and text.

    When pressed for comment, an MPA spokesperson stated, "Well, good Lord man, we don't people getting their hands on perfect copies of these things.. just think of the possible consequences! Boston Strangler, woman alone, need I say more? We are confident our new AccuView technology will protect the priceless intellectual property of our members, while still providing a rich "AccuViewing" experience for our cherished revenue strea- I er.. readers."

    Coming stories: Next generation computers which cannot copy bits, and Ford unveils its new wood burning automobile engine. Thank you for reading.
  • ...that testified under oath that the VCR was to Hollywood what the Boston [slashdot.org]
    strangler was to women home alone?
  • Change is a vital quality in any industry, the ability to change your business to accomidate for the changes that are occuring in the world around you. In this case, the MPAA is resisting change and trying to reverse the situation by changing the world and Mr. Valinti is their leader. Never has it worked before and it won't work again, put copy protection on movies and either people will just stop watching them on TV (yay for blockbuster) or some 14 year old kid will figure out how to bypass whatever stupid technology they implement.

    It's not going to work, learn to live within the reality that we call life and change your business to suit. This Valinti guy is the biggest idiot I've ever heard of, you know NBC, ABC, and CBS used to be radio stations right? What happened when TV came along? Well, they became TV stations.
  • Why bother copying an air broadcast signal when I can copy directly from the media the TV station is using to generate the original signal in the first place?

    I don't have to piece it back together then. 5 years DVD players will be $20 bucks, and the cheap taiwan imports will not have any such Protection technology.

    Or I'll just by my player in "O Canada..."
  • "The proposal is being considered no doubt in response to fears like that of MPAA head Jack Valenti who has said that without proper security measures, the industry won't allow its movies to be broadcast because they don't want viewers to record 'perfect copies' of movies."

    Fine by me. Keep your mits off my hardware and I promise I won't view any of your pathetic drivel.

Parallel lines never meet, unless you bend one or both of them.