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Film Studios Sue Samsung Over DVD players 567

Lam1969 writes "The Korea Times reports that five U.S. film studios have taken Samsung to court for selling DVD players which allow users to bypass DRM features. The film companies, including Walt Disney and Time Warner, are demanding Samsung recall the players. According to a Samsung spokesman quoted in the article, the movie studios probably 'take issue' with Samsung's HD841 model, which Samsung sold in the United States for five months in 2004."
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Film Studios Sue Samsung Over DVD players

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  • More/Better Links (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:04AM (#14774918) Journal
    Engadget [] has a slightly more information.

    And ultimately, Google News will provide all the stories you could want []

    To summarize the facts:
    1. Samsung stopped producing this drive a year and a half ago
    2. The 'features' were unlockable through remote control key combos
    3. "The DVD-HD841 DVD-player can allow region encoding and high-bandwidth digital-content protection (HDCP) bypassing, provided a code is entered by remote control. Although pulled off shelves, its genes appear to have been transmitted to the DVD-HD747 and DVD-HD941." reference here []

    HDCP Bypassing!!
    Weren't we just complaining about HDCP a day or two ago?

    Run, don't walk, to eBay and get one of these players before Samsung pulls 'em.
  • Re:VCR (Score:3, Informative)

    by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:16AM (#14774958)
    ....or you can just throw it thru a genlock to fix up the buggy colorbursts.

    This post is in violation of the DMCA, if I was american.
  • CPRM (Score:2, Informative)

    by dartarrow ( 930250 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:40AM (#14775007) Homepage
    Content Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM) [] is THE thing used to enforce DRM in DVD players and are burnt in during production of the players. However it is AFAIK only mandatory in US, meaning u could get a player without CPRM keys that can play (and write) pirated DVDs in South American and Asian COuntries (except Japan and maybe a few other countries). Got a friend in Singapore? He could get you a good player

  • Re:Evidence (Score:2, Informative)

    by kfg ( 145172 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:20AM (#14775121)
    For instance, holidaymakers and businessmen not being able to purchase DVDs in the countries they visit due to zoning?

    Yes, they've researched this.I think perhaps you misunderstand. It is this sort of behavior that region coding is overtly supposed to cause. It's very raison d'etre.

    They aren't interested in maximizing sales, they're intested in maximizing profits. Region coding allows them to artificially manipulate markets. A lost sale here and there is nothing compared to this.

  • by thelonestranger ( 915343 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:39AM (#14775178)
    Here ya go, msung+HD841&hits=50&Search=Search []

    Seriously why is the fact that a dvd player can be unlocked such a suprise to some people? Walmart in England has been selling one for a number of months that plays off the shelf not only all regions, copies, divx and xvid but also plays them off of data cards as well. All this for £35.
  • by thelonestranger ( 915343 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:47AM (#14775206)
    1. Turn on player with no disc in the tray. "No disk" appears on screen.
    2. Press the "Repeat" key on the remote.
    3. Press "57538" on the remote. A number should appear on screen, indicating your player's current region (e.g. "2").
    4. Press the number for your required region (e.g. "1") or "9" for region-free/all-regions. The number will appear on screen, replacing the previous number (from step 3).
    5. Press "Open/Close Tray" and leave the tray open for a few seconds.
    6. Press "Power On/Off". The tray closes automatically and the player turns off. Next time you turn it on, it is region free (or whatever Region you selected in step 4).

    1. Turn your television ON
    2. Turn the DVD Player ON
    (You should see the Samsung screen saver appear on the TV)
    3. Ensure the DVD tray is EMPTY and CLOSED
    4. Wait for the message 'NO DISC' to appear
    5. Press the ANGLE button
    6. Press the numbers 4, 3, 2, 7
    (You should see the message 'HDCP Free' appear in the upper
    left hand corner of your television screen)
    7. Press the OPEN/CLOSE button to open the disc tray Your DVD player is now region-free and HDCP-free.
  • by halo1982 ( 679554 ) * on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:11AM (#14775250) Homepage Journal
    Large companies have more to lose if they don't toe the MPAA line (I'm seriously wondering how long it will be until players refuse to play a movie more than once a week or so).

    They already tried this in 1998 []. Perhaps it was just a bit before it's time?

  • Re:Evidence (Score:3, Informative)

    by gnarlin ( 696263 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:19AM (#14775265) Homepage Journal
    I found this lecture [] rather interesting.
    Professor Koleman Strumpf: "The Effect of File Sharing on the Sale of Entertainment Products: The Case of Recorded Music and Movies"
    Warning: This is a realmedia stream! If anyone knows how to download it and convert it please tell me, I would love to have a copy of it localy.
  • Re:VCR (Score:5, Informative)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2@earthsho[ ] ['d.c' in gap]> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:46AM (#14775333)
    There's a problem: Macrovision. They deliberately put high-voltage pulses in the vertical retrace interval of some frames to confuse the automatic gain control in the recorder. The AGC sees the spike, winds the gain down and you get a dim picture for several frames. Then it goes bright again. Then they put in another spike and it goes dim. As far as protection schemes go, this one is totally christian. You will just need a DVD player with the option to disable Macrovision; a VCR with RGB inputs; an RGB to composite encoder {NB; must be the appropriate video standard, PAL, SECAM or NTSC, for your region}; a timebase corrector; or an image stabiliser.

    One very simplistic way to defeat Macrovision is to build a simple level-limiter circuit, so the extraordinarily high voltage pulses sent in the vertical retrace interval will be clamped to peak white level {1V} before they reach the VCR. This is really nothing more than a DC-coupled, non-inverting, high-bandwidth version of a guitar distortion pedal.

    To build a more sophisticated timebase corrector, use a 1881 sync separator [] to get the timing signals, and some sort of bilateral switch {a 4016/4066 will sort of just about do, but look at the Maxim web site [] for some higher-bandwidth, lower-on-resistance ones} to switch between the existing video signal, and a locally-generated "black" signal {about 0.3 volts}. The 1881 has a composite sync output which should be used to add "clean" timing to the artificial black {just force it down to 0V when the timing signal goes low}. Be sure to use op-amps with a decent slew rate, not 358's! You will also need either a bunch of TTL ICs {if you're hard} or a microcontroller. At the beginning of each frame, switch to "artificial black" for about the first 20 lines of picture, then switch to the real picture for all but the last 20 or so lines, which should be replaced by more artificial black. You may need to experiment with the number of lines you strip out. If you are 500p3r l33t, you might even care to insert your own locally-generated Teletext information in the newly-created vertical retrace interval; but don't expect this to come out right on a VHS recorder.
  • by grandmofftarkin ( 49366 ) <> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:50AM (#14775343)
    Use "Mac the Ripper" (yes it really is called that) and Popcorn (by Roxio).
  • Re:Uh, fast forward? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:10AM (#14775388) Homepage Journal
    So, all those previews, notices and warnings can be fast forwarded through but, yes are still incredibly annoying.

    No, not all of them. A DVD author can disable your fast forward button for certain sections of video, just like he can disable your next/previous and menu buttons. That questionable part of the DVD spec is called "prohibited user operations".
  • Thanks MPAA! (Score:5, Informative)

    by TPS Report ( 632684 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:14AM (#14775397) Homepage
    You know, I had (honestly) forgotten all about "region free" DVD players, etc. But all the MPAA's fuss, and this associated Slashdot article about it, has reminded me that I do want a more capable DVD player. A while back, I had wanted a player that did DivX, so I could fit two or three of my movies onto a DVD for the little ones to destroy (instead of damaging the original $$ DVDs). At that time, the DivX playback on the units pretty much sucked, so I let it go and forgot about it.

    Anyway, this article reminded me that there are [] really good DVD players out there that support region-free, HDCP-free, high-resolution playback at a reasonable price.... and they play back DivX as well. I think I will order one right now, in fact.

    How's that for blowing up in your face, MPAA? I'm sure I'm not the only one that is now thinking, "yes, actually, thats exactly what I want. Thanks for the reminder."
  • Re:Evidence (Score:3, Informative)

    by glesga_kiss ( 596639 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:20AM (#14775416)
    Is it all just about cinema attendance, i.e. not wanting Europeans to get their hands on USA DVDs before a US film is released at cinemas in Europe. If that is the case I cannot believe that zoning generates more revenue than it costs in lost sales.

    It does make far more money. There are several reasons why the industry might want to release at different times in different areas. Film reels are very expensive and the reels from e.g. the US opening weekend will get sent on to Europe for showing there. Remember that most boxoffice sales are in the first couple of weeks from the opening, after that the number of screens showing the movie drops considerably.

    Another thought is promotion. At the simplest level, the money made from the US weekend can go into advertising elsewhere. If the film flops in the US, it might not even get released elsewhere. Also, the stars of the film tend to go on TV to promote the movie. They can only be in one country at a time.

    I was an early DVD adopter and there was a period when I was importing US disks several weeks before cinematic release over here. This happened mostly because of the aforementioned release stagger, but also because DVD releases were out sooner to promote the format early on. It's not so common now.

    Recently a movie was released in DVD retail and the box office on the same day; a possible sign of things changing. Unfortunately the cinemas went apeshit at this possible attack on their business model and many refused to show it over this simple issue.

  • by daBass ( 56811 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @08:01AM (#14775524)
    When and for how long you play with your kid should not be dictated by movie studios.

    That is a very good point. Besides, the guy blindly criticising my brother's parenting skill obvioulsy has no idea what kind of parent my brother is.

    He's spends a *lot* of time playing (and educating) his son, but he is also a geek, and if it can be hacked to make it better, it must be done! :)

  • Re:Thanks MPAA! (Score:3, Informative)

    by rikkards ( 98006 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @08:28AM (#14775586) Journal
    Disclaimer: Satisfied customer
    If I was to plug a DVD player it would definitely be mine. When I got my HDTV, I also ordered the Oppo OPV971 for the following reasons:
    - DVI output
    - Upscaling to 720p or 1080i (through DVI)
    - DivX/Xvid support
    - Firmware upgradable.

    Something I didn't know before but do now is their support is impecable. I emailed them last Saturday night at 8:00pm while watching a movie to ask about the angle icon appearing. I had a response by 9:30PM. I also have emailed comments before and they have got back within a day or two (more like day and a half).
  • Macrovision (Score:3, Informative)

    by Peter Simpson ( 112887 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @09:10AM (#14775749)
    Actually, it's not "high voltage pulses". Macrovision has evolved past the stage where you could remove it with a "couple of passives and a one-shot" bypass circuit. Now, they mess with the level (and position, I belive) of the HSYNC pulse in a pseudorandom way. You need to work a bit harder to remove it, but I believe it's still possible with enough effort.

    Ever try bringing your DVD player to a rental home where they have an old, RF-input only TV? Even with a video modulator, you're out of luck on a rainy day. Ask me how I know this.

    Rather than try to remove Macrovision, I've taken the MythTV route. I replaced my Panasonic VHS recorder with a $150 PIII-900 class machine, a $80 200G hard drive and a $150 PVR-250 NTSC receiver card. For about $400 (and hours of fun for the idle mind setting it up!), I have my own, DRM-free, time-shifting PVR, DVD-player and -ripper, and video/audio archive. I can rip DVDs, record shows, skip commercials and transfer any of it to iPods or PCs. will help you do it, too.
  • Re:Come after me (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @09:48AM (#14775921) Homepage
    Let's get even more realistic.

    I have a HD display. I recompress my dvd's using the DVD drcryptor and DVD shrink dance to hold only the movie on a DISC in my Pioneer 200 Disc DVD changer. I have a high end line doubler and even after the recompress and other nasties added during the process I STILL get a fantastic picture. It's better than most CableTV HD channels because the cable company is compressing them hard now to fit more in the pipe.

    Plus dinking with HD content I can download off the internet and play with my DSM-520 off the server in the house makes any next format player 100% useless to me.

    HDDVD and BluRAY are 100% useless. you can easily fit full HD content on a regular DVD using mpeg4HD compression and it looks fantastic. They want it only because they built it with DRM from the beginning and not useability.
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:12AM (#14776070)
    I wanted to point out that "region free" mode will prevent some American DVDs from playing. Hollywood got angry a few years ago that people in Europe and other parts of the world could buy and play our DVDs on region free machines, so they put a nasty little trick in to prevent that. I have forgotten what they call it. Here is a simplified version of how DVD players normally work in region free mode:

    Normal DVD talks to DVD player: My region is region 1. What region are you?
    DVD player: I'm region 0. That means region free. I can play you.
    Normal DVD: Go ahead and play me.

    However, with some American DVDs, the conversation goes like this:
    DVD talks to DVD player: My region is region 2. What region are you?
    DVD player: I'm region 0. That means region free. I can play you.
    DVD: I lied! I'm really region 1. Since you can play me as a region 2 disc but I am supposed to be sold only in region 1, that means you are region free. I won't play on you.

    I don't remember the studios that do this except for Paramount, but for these discs, it is necessary to switch the DVD player back to region 1 to play the discs.
  • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @11:55AM (#14776902) Journal
    All the things you mention above are true - they don't have anything to do with piracy (except that they will argue about the region coding bullshit)

    No, they're pissed about the ability to disable the HDCP encoding of the upconverted output on this player.

    HDCP is DRM, and disabling it does help with copyright violation.

    (I have one of these players, and I recommend getting one specifically for the reason I did - disable the HDCP and have upconverted HD video over component outputs)
  • by SoCalChris ( 573049 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @12:20PM (#14777108) Journal
    To be more correct...

    It's copyright infringement.

    Piracy is defined as "an act of robbery esp. on the high seas; specifically : an illegal act of violence, detention, or plunder committed for private ends by crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft against another ship or aircraft on the high seas or in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state"
  • by n8_f ( 85799 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @12:23PM (#14777135) Homepage
    It is called "Region Code Enhancement", or RCE, and it works basically the way you have described. I would just note that as you implied, the difference is that region code checking is done in hardware, while RCE is done in software. So with normal region codes, the DVD player is supposed to check the region of the disc and not play if it doesn't support that region. Region-free DVD players just skip that check. WIth RCE, the software on the disc, the code that drives menus and whatnot, checks for the region code.
  • Re:Come after me (Score:2, Informative)

    by quantum bit ( 225091 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @12:46PM (#14777343) Journal
    Try lsdvd or ifo_dump. Then just glance at the list and see which title has the longest run time.
  • Re:Thanks MPAA! (Score:3, Informative)

    by stunt_penguin ( 906223 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @01:34PM (#14777702)
    To heap more praise on Samsung, remember that they also promise that all their LCD panels, including TVs, are dead-pixel free. I like what samsung are doing as of late, and hope they don't screw it up.
  • Re:Oppo? (DRM) (Score:2, Informative)

    by TPS Report ( 632684 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:45PM (#14779824) Homepage
    Oppo OPDV971H:

    The latest shipment of units are not region free. To change to region free mode do this:

    1. Press Setup on remote control to access the setup page
    3. A secret menu will pop up
    2. Enter 9210 on the remote
    5. Press Setup on remote again to exit
    4. Select 0 to 6 in region code (0 is region free)

    NOTE: This document utilizes TPS REPORT encryption. Breaking or attempting to reverse-engineer this encryption is a violation of the DMCA.


    1. No HDCP issues as there isn't any HDCP!

    Thanks to all the previous posters regarding this player. I did not know this product existed, and it seems to do pretty much everything I want it to do. Thanks again.
  • Summary judgment (Score:3, Informative)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:56PM (#14779945) Homepage Journal

    I after all know the Kryptonite of any standard corporate lawyer-ninja squad: the jury trial. You'll be hard pressed to find a jury that will award against Joe Q. Public to a multi-billion dollar corporation for doing something that seems reasonable.

    Which is why big-shot corporate attorneys will do their damnedest to get a summary judgment []. This means that the presiding judge rules that even if the facts are exactly as the alleged infringer states them, what he or she did still violates law. In the United States, juries are said to try the facts, not the law.

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.