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Three Arrested For Conspiring To Violate the DMCA

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the not-being-a-felon-isn't-always-hard dept.

Hardware Hacking 335

jtcm writes "Three men have been charged with conspiring to violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act after federal investigators found that they allegedly offered a cracker more than $250,000 to assist with breaking Dish Network's satellite TV encryption scheme: '[Jung] Kwak had two co-conspirators secure the services of a cracker and allegedly reimbursed the unidentified person about $8,500 to buy a specialized and expensive microscope used for reverse engineering smart cards. He also allegedly offered the cracker more than $250,000 if he successfully secured a Nagra card's EPROM (eraseable programmable read-only memory), the guts of the chip that is needed to reverse-engineer Dish Network's encryption.' Kwak owns a company known as Viewtech, which imports and sells Viewsat satellite receiver boxes. Dish Network's latest encryption scheme, dubbed Nagra 3, has not yet been cracked by satellite TV pirates."

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Three arrested for conspiring to steal cable (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721351)

More apt headline.

I agree with the feds on this one (1, Insightful)

seekret (1552571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721353)

Serves them right, while I'm against the DMCA trying to profit off of someone else's work is not right. They deserve what they get.

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (4, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721513)

Serves them right, while I'm against the DMCA trying to profit off of someone else's work is not right. They deserve what they get

Sounds like entrapment to me [wikipedia.org] .

(I posted this link because it sounds like the Feds did to the cracker the same thing they did to Mr. DeLorean)

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721713)

Where's the entrapment?

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (0)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721971)

It was the federal agent the offered the money and the means to break the encryption.

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722201)

Err, no. The Federal Agents found that the 3 had offered the money. It's a poorly written summary.

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (2, Informative)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722021)

Oh my bad... Kwak was the one offering the money and not the other way around.

Apparently my dyslexia is bad right now.

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (1)

ZX3 Junglist (643835) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721955)

Entrapment is only valid if the accused did something they wouldn't have done otherwise. I don't see a jury imagining these guys wouldn't have used other means to accomplish their goal.

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722061)

My bad. I read the summary backwards. It sounded like the FBI offered Kwak the money.

But I got modded up so I guess other people read it wrong too.

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721989)

I agree with nomadic. There is no mention at all in the article what the Feds did to catch these people. A guy (Jung Kwak) who sells cheap satellite receiver boxes offered a cracker $250,000 and Kwak got busted for it.

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721979)

I completely support his efforts to reverse engineer the satellite system, and publish his findings. If he goes to jail it better be for piracy. I don't agree that he necessarily deserves what he'll get, he probably deserves a fraction of what he could get.

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722063)

Breaking encryption should never be a crime.

The satellite companies ahve a very weak business model. It involves sending information into everyoens house. If consumers find another way to view the data in their house, then tough tits for the satellite company.

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (2, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722255)

If consumers find another way to view the data in their house, then tough tits for the satellite company.

If businesses then go and market that way in the form of hacked decoder boxes... still 'tough tits' for the satellite company? In your legal frame of mind, I mean; it's obviously 'tough tits' for them in practice anyway and they have to introduce the next generation of encoding (or a different key.. whatever).

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (1, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722313)

And if I find a way to get into your car that you parked on a public street and drive it away, tough tits for you.

Or would that be a crime?

Yeah. I thought so.

Re:I agree with the feds on this one (2, Insightful)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722323)

So by your thinking, it's "tough tits" for the cable company if I steal cable from my neighbor? If I find a way to hack cellular communication and use it for free calling? If I hack into a company that uses wifi?

I disagree with the Feds on this one, 100% (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722215)

The sole purpose of the DMCA Act and its friends was to protect certain particular corporate interests. While you may say that copyright infringers "deserve what they get", the fact is that there are perfeclty legal uses for a device that unscrambles encrypted signals... like time-shifting, for example. Why should you be forced to buy or lease a "DirecTV-approved" DVR, for example, when they would be cheaper on a competitive market?

When you have competitive markets, you see lower costs, and improved technology. Sure, it leads to companies having their encryption broken, and being forced to re-invent the wheel... which they should be doing anyway. In the long run, it drives improvements in the market and technology.

The DMCA is detrimental to the economy. The DMCA works to stifle innovation, in AMERICAN markets and for AMERICAN products.

Protectionist policies, like this one, are seldom a good idea. The free market always did better.

I am not blaming enforcement for enforcing the law, but it's a bad law. A very bad law.

Proprietary algorithms (1, Insightful)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721359)

Is there a reason that Dish Network can't use an open algorithm and some open, established encryption 'scheme'? Wouldn't that actually be more secure? And cheaper to develop?

Re:Proprietary algorithms (4, Insightful)

Idiot with a gun (1081749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721455)

Depends on the algorithm involved. Often one way algorithms rely on certain actions being computably inconvenient, not impossible. ElGamel and RSA basically break down to the idea that it's easier to multiply really big primes, than it is to factor the resulting really big composite. But in an embedded situation like a dish network box, they might not have the computational power to outrun a hacker with a desktop, so a bit of obscurity helps in slowing down any attacks. There's a strong chance that it'll be hacked at some point, as witnessed by the fact that they're on Nagra 3, not Nagra 1, but the hope is to hold off any attacks as possible, and make attacks prohibitively expensive.

Re:Proprietary algorithms (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721593)

Still, "breaking the encryption" would mean reverse-engineering the access card to extract a decryption key.

Re:Proprietary algorithms (2, Insightful)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721643)

I get it, so it's about how they secure the key, not really about the algorithm used.

Re:Proprietary algorithms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721715)

Correct. Key distribution and security is the primary issue in this setup, not the algorithm.

Re:Proprietary algorithms (1, Troll)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722197)

How on earth was this a Troll?

Re:Proprietary algorithms (2, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721647)

A satellite broadcaster has, for the most part, a one-way stream. If the encryption was completely open, all you would need to do to pirate the signal is to share a valid key with as many people as you'd like.

Paying customers need to be able to decrypt the stream, but they are not trustworthy credential holders.

Re:Proprietary algorithms (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721863)

I'm sure the key storage chip can be made just as difficult to reverse-engineer as a custom encryption chip.

Re:Proprietary algorithms (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722071)

Open encryption does not equal shared key.

Re:Proprietary algorithms (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721673)

It could be that the proprietary algorithm makes things weaker(certainly wouldn't be the first time); but it is also possible that the algorithm wasn't the issue. Any DRM system, no matter the algorithm, consists of giving the device the key(so that actual subscribers can play whatever the material is) while ordering the hardware to keep the key away from them. This is true whether the key is to some crap proprietary algorithm, or the finest in vetted standards. If you attack the hardware cleverly enough, you can get the key from a given piece of hardware. (whether or not a single key is of much use is another question, and does come back to the quality of the design)

Wait (2, Interesting)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721361)

I'm not a lawyer, so this confuses me. This isn't a civil case? it's a criminal case?

Why aren't downloaders put in jail then?

Re:Wait (0, Troll)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721407)

just you wait, in a few years it'll be upgraded to being a threat to national security, and they'll have to reopen gitmo.

Re:Wait (0, Offtopic)

TheCodeFoundry (246594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721679)

Since when is Gitmo closed? Post-election and post-promises, President Obama has decided that the "hair on fire" issues at Gitmo aren't that bad and has decided to leave it open....exactly what President Bush and Senator McCain were both arguing for. Interesting that Obama supporters aren't up in arms over this, since they were the ones who gnashed their teeth that it was a human rights fiasco down there.

Re:Wait (1)

oneTheory (1194569) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721775)

They have cable now, so it's fine.

Probably satellite based, from Dish Network no less, thus keeping this thread on topic!

Re:Wait (2, Informative)

ari_j (90255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721495)

US copyright law provides for both civil remedies, such as a copyright holder suing infringers, and criminal remedies, where the government can fine or imprison an infringer. I don't remember in my lifetime watching a video tape that didn't include the FBI copyright warning about this, so it's definitely not a new thing. Whether right or wrong to do so, it has long been the case that federal law can lock you up for copyright infringement.

What FBI Warning? (3, Funny)

acklenx (646834) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721569)

I don't remember in my lifetime watching a video tape that didn't include the FBI copyright warning about this

Clearly you got your video tapes out of the trunk of a car on a different corner than my parents did.

Re:What FBI Warning? (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722091)

Yeah, "Grumpo" said he added the FBI warnings to his wares to make the bootlegged tapes seem more authentic. I think he may have used the wrong crayon to write the warning, though.

Re:Wait (4, Informative)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721525)

Title 17 (AKA the copyright chapter of the U.S. federal statutes) provides for both civil and criminal penalties for infringement/circumvention.

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html [copyright.gov]

See section 506 for criminal penalties.

Most of the time, copyright owners are left to fend for themselves in court by bringing civil suits. That is why you typically only see civil suits against small-time copyright infingers such as serial uploaders, etc.

But apparently when you get into the high-end satellite decoder cracking business, you get on the DOJ radar. That is when you go to jail.

Now you may have noticed that the actual charge is "conspiracy to violate the DMCA" and the actual statute on the face of the indictment is 18 USC 371.
(http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/371.html). This statute is used to prosecute conspiracy to commit a federal crime (i.e. violation of title 17).

Hope that clears that up.

Re:Wait (3, Insightful)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721793)

This statute is used to prosecute conspiracy to commit a federal crime

I know this has been used to put serious criminals away, and is probably a great tool in preventing crime, but prosecuting for conspiracy is still a nasty idea. I think that if I had to describe the boundary between acceptable government behavior and police state, it would be right after this.

Re:Wait (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722161)

Well, I disagree. I believe to prosecute for conspiracy the members of said conspiracy much actually put at least some part of their plan into motion. So you can plot all you want, so long as you never actually perform "step 1."

Re:Wait (1)

KylePflug (898555) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722195)

The requirements for a successful "conspiracy" conviction are pretty demanding. Go browse your local law library and read the chapter on "inchoate" crimes. It should give you an idea of (a) the necessity for such a system and (b) how relatively reasonable the rules actually are.

Did not cross Menominee River with a drink can (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721537)

At least they didn't walk across the Menominee River Bridge with an empty soft drink can and try to get 10 cents from the State of Michigan for it at Angeli's. According to the sign, that can get you 5 at the Big House in Pontiac.

Re:Wait (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722089)

Becasue downloading isn't a crime, distribution is, and for good reason.

If the company that you got your DVD player from turned out to have broken some contract law, do you want them coming after you?

Attention my Granny sucks my cock (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721365)

And she can suck yours too.

yeah (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721369)

jews

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721491)

jews

No, they were crackers, aka racist white people.

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721559)

cracker is a racist term for white people, nigger.

Alrighty then (2, Interesting)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721371)

So am I supposed to be outraged just because the DMCA was involved?

Re:Alrighty then (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721579)

Sure, why not?

Anonymous Coward (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721377)

I hope they crack it soon, I miss my ppv

cracker? (5, Funny)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721391)

what a racist article...

Re:cracker? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721869)

No, man, you misunderstood. He meant, you know, hacker cracker, not cracker cracker.

Re:cracker? (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722093)

yeah, i got that, it was just a joke... although i have to admit, for a split second i actually thought it meant cracker cracker.

Re:cracker? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722205)

on the other hand, maybe it meant cracker hacker, not cracker cracker.

Re:cracker? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722247)

Don't worry, you obviously only made that mistake because you are not a wise latina.

CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (4, Funny)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721433)

I mean, really... That's like awarding a Nobel Prize for *Attempted* Chemistry!

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (2, Funny)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721439)

nope, it's like awarding a nobel prize for intending to attempt chemistry.

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (1)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721473)

Touché.

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (1)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721497)

Uh... that is... Touché.

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721625)

I like the copyrighted version better.

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721751)

it was funnier the first time you messed up, since the copyright symbol was there :P

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721553)

It just proves that the government is the ultimate conspiracy theorist.

Just for fun: Find how many instances of 'cocaine' and 'conspiracy' show up in Bill Clinton's pardon list. [usdoj.gov]

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721601)

Conspiracy IS a violation of the law.

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (4, Interesting)

Gravedigger3 (888675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721699)

When I was arrested as a juvenile and got charged with 2 moderately serious charges, I had 2 counts of conspiracy, which were also felonies, added for "thinking" about doing it before I actually did it.

Apparently in our justice system unless you just spontaneously do a crime with no premeditation whatsoever you are gonna get slapped with a charge for thinking about it on top of the charge itself. To this day I don't understand it.

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (0, Offtopic)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721811)

It is there because it is much easier to convict someone on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime than actually committing a crime. It is also much easier to convict people you purposefully set up.

In a truly free society it wouldn't make any sense but it makes perfect sense in today's world.

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (1)

KylePflug (898555) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722271)

It's a matter of prosecutorial efficiency. They want to get you with the charge, but they know that if they can't, they might at least get you with conspiracy because you tried (or took some concrete step towards trying).

Rather than losing the first charge and then trying to get you on conspiracy, they just throw the whole book at you and see what the jury is willing to give them.

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721719)

More like awarding money to somebody's grant proposal so they can actually get the Nobel prize winning thing done.

Seriously, a conspiracy requires an overt act, the summary alone covers several.

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722109)

I think the prize for attempted Chemistry is called the Darwin Award~

Re:CONSPIRACY to violate a law? (2, Informative)

KylePflug (898555) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722237)

No, that's like awarding a sentence for "attempted" murder.

Or should we always wait until irreversible damage is done before we prosecute criminals? You'll find that every legal jurisdiction in the world has some concept of conspiracy culpability.

offered a cracker more than $250,000 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721435)

I don't see what his race has to do with it...

Re:offered a cracker more than $250,000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721755)

Mod parent +i, Funny-Offtopic-Troll.

Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721441)

I'm sure this sort of behavior makes the DMCA seem a lot more legitimate in the eyes of the public (not to mention lawmakers.)

I'm thinking... (2, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721451)

...that (a) this is a good thing (commercial operation) but that (b) the DMCA wasn't necessary at all. Aren't there theft of service laws already on the books for receiving private/pay TV services without paying for them? And, since this isn't actually a DMCA violation case, but rather a conspiracy to violate the DMCA, wouldn't it be just as much a conspiracy to illegally receive service?

Re:I'm thinking... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722043)

Aren't there theft of service laws already on the books for receiving private/pay TV services without paying for them?

I imagine theft of service would only allow them to go after the end users, whereas this allows them to go after the ones developing the product.

Oblig, (3, Funny)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721457)

<Sideshow_Bob>Conspiring to violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act... Now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for conspiracy chemistry?</Sideshow_Bob>

Sounds like my friend (3, Interesting)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721507)

I had a friend who claimed that he had found a way to pirate DirecTV's service. He only stopped doing so when he realized there was still nothing worth watching. Eventually he opened his own business. He named the company after a component that was essential to the process. I remember when I helped out we'd get about one call a week from people trying to ask not in so-many words if we could help them with their "DirecTV stuff". (It was my first call on it that caused me to mention it to my friend, who then told me what the company name actually meant.)

He pirated the service for about two years. Funny thing was, about a year after he stopped he got hit with a lawsuit. He transferred as much stuff as he could out of his own name and braced for the inevitable. He only got away because he had a friend who knew some influential people. Incidentally, my friend his now his friend's personal no-cost 24/7 concierge tech support.

Anyway, he'd get these calls from people and he'd try to deny that he knew what to do. If someone pressed the issue (usually it was his friends or old co-workers telling others who could help) he tried to do the "scared straight" thing. Funny thing is, some of them would get mad at him for not helping. So many people are willing to throw away financial security just so they don't have to pay for the NFL Channel.

Re:Sounds like my friend (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721991)

He only got away because he had a friend who knew some influential people.

So not only does he run a business based on stealing a service, he's also willing to use personal connections to get special treatment from the legal system.

If we're ever at the same party, please don't introduce us.

Re:Sounds like my friend (1)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722259)

So not only does he run a business based on stealing a service, he's also willing to use personal connections to get special treatment from the legal system.

I do not know where you got that first part at all. No, he did not run a business based on stealing a service. He only named the service after one of the components because he liked the name. It was not implied at all that he assisted others. In fact, my story specifically states the opposite.

As for your second point, if you were in his position, I highly doubt you would be so willing to stick to the ethical high ground and lose everything you have in exchange for a greater sense of self worth.

Re:Sounds like my friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28722085)

I'd be pissed if I had to pay for it too, but that's for entirely different reasons.

Good (3, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721533)

I'm (very) rarely a fan of the DMCA but, in my opinion, this is a good example of why it was set up - to stop commercial abuse of IP. These guys were knowingly circumventing copyright protection methods in an effort to make a profit. These exact situations are what needs to be stopped, not the teenager posting a mashup on youtube...

Re:Good (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722157)

I would argue that making personal receivers shouldn't be a crime, nor should breaking encryption. Making it a crime to prop up a bad business model isn't a good reason.

Re:Good (1)

Bigby (659157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722187)

How can you treat the two differently? Whether it is a company or a person, both entities are looking to violate or actually violating something. If you can't treat individuals special or you introduce a loophole for companies to farm out their violations to individuals...actually quite similar to this instance.

Also, what does cracking the encryption have to do with copyright? Cracking it doesn't mean you watched/streamed any channels. Also, to what TV channels does Dish actually own a copyright? How can they enforce someone else's copyright?

probably depends on intent ..... (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722265)

The guy imports satellite boxes - if his goal was to reverse engineer the cards so that his boxes could work on Dish with a legally obtained card then the DCMA safe harbor for "interoperability" kicks in and he's legally OK. On the other hand if he's trying to obtain satellite service without paying Dish for the service they should throw the book at him.

Think of it from the O/S world - should people be allowed to reverse engineer the cards to allow MythTV to work with a paid for Dish card?

It was the Villiage People (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721547)

It's fun to violate the DMCA
It's fun to violate the DMCA

I have mixed feelings about this. (3, Insightful)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721551)

I consider the DMCA to be one of the most unjust and cruel laws the USA has. I sympathize with the people doing this to the following limited extent: If you are a subscriber to a service, you should be able to use any compatible QAM enabled equipment you wish.

This is a little different because people who violate the DMCA like this usually are doing so to secure their fair use rights. These people just wanted to outright steal the service. So thats bad. However, two things.

Why are police involved in this sort of thing? Well, really, although in theory, violating the DMCA is a civil action, but around 2003, the government decided that all copyright infringement was criminal. Because the Intellectual property 'scam' is all that the US has against the Chinese, the US has decided to criminalize copyright infringement to create laws to fight the Chinese with.

The DMCA needs to be repealed, but I don't see that happening unless there are large demonstrations. People are generally too stupid to care. (I really would like to see anti-DMCA slogans with people marching by the millions.)

Re:I have mixed feelings about this. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28722269)

Insightful? Sorry, copyright infringement was made criminal more than 30 years ago. In the 70s, at least. Which if you check your history, was when China was undergoing the Cultural Revolution, persecuting the intellectuals and idolizing the peasant lifestyle.

So yeah, I don't think it was China that inspired criminalizing copyright infringement.

Re:I have mixed feelings about this. (2, Informative)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722309)

Insightful? Sorry, copyright infringement was made criminal more than 30 years ago. In the 70s, at least. Which if you check your history, was when China was undergoing the Cultural Revolution, persecuting the intellectuals and idolizing the peasant lifestyle.

So yeah, I don't think it was China that inspired criminalizing copyright infringement.

I don't know why it posted the previous comment anonymously. Here it is again, under my name...

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot... (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721555)

Although it was eliminated by dubious judicial means shortly after becoming law, the DMCA allows for reverse-engineering for the purposes of interoperability. The entire market for these devices is based on non-interoperability. Because if the CAM became truly portable and emulated fully in software, it's a tiny step to a digital video recorder that is completely under user control receiving HDTV. Which is actually the main selling point here. They took our VCRs away, and now we're attacking people who want to get them back the only way possible; At this point it doesn't matter whether his intent was to sell descrambler boxes or not, or anyone's, because that's the only way you're getting that functionality. An irony, really, that you could be paying the same fees as someone with an "approved" box, accessing the same content, and yet wind up in jail because your equipment wasn't up to the provider's specifications... Namely, that you wanted to "time shift" the content.

Damn criminals, flaunting their freedoms in front of us... They get what they deserve, eh?

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot... (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721667)

You can still get "Tunerless" VCRs and DVD Burners. They take Component and Composite inputs and will record whatever they see onto DVD. But they really aren't able to control the box any.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot... (2, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721819)

You can still get "Tunerless" VCRs and DVD Burners. They take Component and Composite inputs and will record whatever they see onto DVD. But they really aren't able to control the box any.

Component and composite outputs on the back of every descrambler out there will spit it out in standard definition. You can't record HD signals out of them -- many won't even downgrade the signal, it'll just be dead. Getting high definition on any of those requires an HDMI hookup, which is encrypted, and therefore "tunerless" VCRs and DVD burners can't be used. Even getting signals OTA (not scrambled) doesn't do you much good because the tuners are usually integrated into the television. I haven't tuners being sold separately with HD outputs that can be sent to any COTS recording equipment. This is intentional, purposeful, and frankly conspiratorial on the part of the manufacturers.

Piracy is the only way the market for HD video recordings will survive.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot... (1)

ezelkow1 (693205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721965)

look at just about any high def satellite receiver, they all have component outputs that you can record to your burner with. You can even get one of those boxes that has ota input on it and record both sat and ota over the component output. Its only cable that really limits you with their crappy boxes

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot... (1)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722135)

That's not true in all cases - I get high def out of my components just fine, and for one of my TVs, it has less artifacts than the HDMI does (likely because of a bad connector on the TV).

It really depends on how locked down your boxes are. The ones our cable company provides are Scientific Atlanta(ic?). They really are atrocious in all other ways, but at least they spit out high def on component!

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721927)

You can still get "Tunerless" VCRs and DVD Burners. They take Component and Composite inputs and will record whatever they see onto DVD. But they really aren't able to control the box any.

And they will obey macrovision - which all the satellite/set-top boxes output on their component/s-video/composite outputs. Thus requiring one to buy a macrovision stripper aka a copy-control circumvention device - pretty much exactly the same type of thing that these guys were hiring someone else to build for them.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot... (1)

ezelkow1 (693205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722131)

No they dont, they only do it if it is required by their content providers which none of them do at this point. Macrovision support is generally required to be available at the disposal of a content provider but none use it. The only sort of protection currently mandated by any provider is by HBO and Cinemax who both mandate CGMSA. CGMSA is not widely accepted by alot of recorders, there are 2 standards and luckily the content providers happened to be stupid and chose the one that most recording devices in the USA do not abide by, there are some exceptions though and some do listen to both so you should check before purchasing. Macrovision only works on 480i/p signals anyway, so on a component output in HD it doesnt matter. Cgmsa just runs over a specific vbi line in the signal, so that can be easily ignored if need be.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot... (4, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722115)

This is not for interoperability. The goal of this operation was to create smart cards that allowed people to view channels they did not pay for and to allow people who do not have an account to view the channels. The goal was to facilitate theft of service, not interoperability.

I object (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721591)

I am offended by the term 'cracker' could they at least say 'Caucasian American'

oh thank God... (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721605)

At first I read Viagra card instead of Nagra card.

I don't even want to consider a future where our DVRs come with ED pills...but hey, maybe you fo, and who am I to judge? ;-P

Re:oh thank God... (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721651)

maybe you fo,

Good God! That's Mr T's music!

obviously I meant "maybe you do"..

Group keying and revocation... (4, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721623)

These days, the model is very much based on some really funky group keying and key revocation, which allows the sattelite provider to revoke individual keys because each receiver has a unique key rather than a group sharing a common key.

Among other things, this makes piracy MUCH harder, because the sattelite providers can buy pirated receivers, take them to the lab, find out the key used, and revoke it, disabling that entire batch of pirated receivers without affecting normal customers.

Excuse my rude question.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28721735)

..but what the fuck does "co-conspirators" mean? I'm generally not a grammar sensitive person, but this is a bit redundant, isn't it?

Crime depends on who you are... (4, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721957)

I'm thinking that if a security researcher had done the same thing, he would not be in jail. Nor would a large corporation.

But a set top box importer does it, and suddenly it's a federal crime.

The most troublesome part about this is that engineers routinely reverse engineer the work of others for the sake of creating compatible products - an exemption the DMCA explicitly allows. Perhaps the company wanted to offer a cheaper STB to Dish, and undercut the competition. Or perhaps they planned to sell directly to the black market, engaging in fraud. The act of reverse engineering a component tells us nothing about the company's intentions.

I mention this because this very thing was done to Lexmark printers a few years ago. Instead of getting arrested, the manufacturer of competing cartridges was sued under the DMCA; the case went all the way to the SCOTUS, and Lexmark lost. It would appear this would set precedent regarding the legality of reverse engineering for the sake of creating interoperable products, but strangely, the FBI seems not to follow precedent. I find it odd that an activity which was legal and sanctioned by the DMCA - and even supported by the Supreme Court, is now interpreted as being illegal according to the very same law.

If anything, this shows the illegality of an action depends more upon who you are than what you do. Best not to offend our corporate overlords, lest they have the FBI arrest you.

Re:Crime depends on who you are... (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722305)

A) A large corporation would be charged with the same thing.
B) The goal of a security researcher is research. The goal of the people involved in this scheme was to clone desktop boxes and security access cards for profit.

C) The Lexmark case has almost nothing in common with this case. The Lexmark case was about people reverse engineering to compete with an end product. This case is about people reverse engineering to allow access to someone else's end product and information, possibly without paying for the end-product and information.

Why don't the North Koreans and Iranians do this? (2, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 5 years ago | (#28721977)

I know they are generally poor countries and the military advantage of nukes must seem appealing, but they could create WAY, WAY more nuisance for Americans if they would devote those resources to basically Pirate Bay-ing everything copy protected. It'd be hilarious if within hours of a new you-can't-copy-it scheme came out if pirated versions were available along with free tools and FAQs for making your own copies or subversion devices.

IIRC, this idea was also (better?) expressed in some science fiction novel I can't remember -- although it was China that basically ruined IP protections.

N3 partially cracked (1)

r6_jason (893331) | more than 5 years ago | (#28722225)

Dish Network's latest encryption scheme, dubbed Nagra 3, has not yet been cracked by satellite TV pirates." Not true, N3 is partially cracked.
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