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DMCA Loophole For Peer-to-Peer TV Show Sharing?

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the honest-it-was-just-broadcast-to-me dept.

Television 371

An anonymous reader writes "Fortune.com asks, "Is TV Show Swapping Legal? For those using TiVos or new Windows PCs, it just might be." Why? "The law that ensnared ... DVD hackers, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, doesn't specifically address the question of [personal video recorders]. But when it comes to the legality of hacking digital media, the law zeroes in on 'circumvention' -- did hackers have to circumvent protection to copy the video? Several hackers who have published their techniques online say they didn't have to crack anything to extract video from their TiVos""

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First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5026972)

First Post

Hi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5026976)

FRIST POOST!!

Re:Hi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5026992)

Beat You

Re:Hi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5026999)

Sucker...

What's the big deal about show swapping? (5, Insightful)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 11 years ago | (#5026988)

To the perspective of the networks, don't they want MORE people watching their shows? Plus, taping shows is already legal, what's the difference with letting people put it on computer?

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (3, Informative)

kahrhoff (580438) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027020)

They don't want just viewers they want people who will watch the commercials too. I would tend to think that most people who watch recorded shows skip the commercials. Not something networks want.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (5, Interesting)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027101)

I would tend to think that most people who watch recorded shows skip the commercials.

Even if the people watching the shows from a p2p download did watch the commercials, the network still wouldn't get paid for these viewings. They simply have no idea on how many viewers will see it, and have no way to prove it.

To me, all p2p has done is to change the business model. If the networks had any sense, they'd have every show available for download on a popular p2p app, with some major hosting at their end. Then they get to choose the commercials that exist in the de-facto standard download for that episode. And the advertisers will know that, and pay more for the privledge.

Or, you could just bribe politions to change the law in-keeping with current practices, and have no control over a system that is growing larger every day. You can get almost any popular show on p2p now, with no commercials in it, having been stripped out by the person who did the capture.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (3, Insightful)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027136)

I missed the Enterprise episode "Catwalk" due to bad weather. I just downloaded it and plan to watch it later. Love that Kaazaa!

One huge hole (2)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027141)

Then they get to choose the commercials that exist in the de-facto standard download for that episode. And the advertisers will know that, and pay more for the privledge.

Nah, because it'd be even easier to just cut out between the first keyframe of the brrak and the last keyfram of the break and reshare.

They wouldn't even have to do the capturing, the network would have done the hard work. It would literally be a 30second job.

Re:One huge hole (4, Interesting)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027175)

Nah, because it'd be even easier to just cut out between the first keyframe of the brrak and the last keyfram of the break and reshare.

Sure, but given a choice of the file with thousands of sources and ample bandwidth versuses the one with 3-4 from a couple of cable modems capped at 128k upstream, the "official" version will prevail. You can't control everything, and this seems to be the basic lack of understanding with these corporations.

Re:One huge hole (2)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027238)

The would have to release their own software which wouldn't let you fast forward during the adverts.

I really really hate watching dvd's in windows where it forces me to wait ages for that fbi warning. For me (and most ppl) I only see the fbi warning if I have the original dvd, and don't get harrassed by it if I have a ripped vcd or mpeg of it.

Re:One huge hole (2)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027257)

Indeed, I'd certinally get the original one.

Then I'd spend some of the time I saved cutting out the breaks :P

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (5, Insightful)

jgerman (106518) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027150)

Well, they really have no way of knowing if you watch the commercials now, unless you have a Nielsen box that is.


Though I do agree that the business model must change, it's not as easy for an executive to see that. The status quo is what makes them money, they don't want to change.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (1)

CuriousKangaroo (543170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027215)

Assuming you have a regular TV setup and a Nielsen box, you could still walk out of the room during commercials to get something to eat or drink or go to the bathroom. I imagine this was quite rampant and might explain why the # of commercials in any given break tends to be a little more random than it used to be. I predict this randomness will get worse in the future in an effort to prevent people from leaving during commercial breaks (afraid to miss the show when it comes back on).

At any rate, if you have a TiVo, Nielsen currently has no good way to work with such a device. See my other posting in this thread (titled "Ratings and TiVo") for further info.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (2)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027219)

Even with the Nielsen box, you can still go an put on the kettle and take a leak. It does give you a rough idea of your audience, which is better than nothing.

Mind you, modern (digial) cable systems can track watch you watch with their two communications. They will surely be observing channel-hopping during commercials, but for every 10 channel-hoppers, there are 1 or 2* people who did watch the commercial.

Note: *Numbers made up

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (2)

jgerman (106518) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027237)

I have a feeling that tv networks have the same note on the bottom of their memos ;) This is exactly what I was saying though, even WITH a box they don't really know.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (3, Informative)

spanky1 (635767) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027024)

I think it boils down to the fact that networks make money on the commercials. They don't make any more money if you copy the videos and give them to your friends. Plus most people skip commercials when they record a show... a practice the networks HATE. That's why TiVo has never implemented an automatic commerical skip feature. ReplayTV has it, but they are getting harrassed because of it. Very lame.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (4, Informative)

rvaniwaa (136502) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027132)

Actually, TiVo does have a 30 second skip feature. It is just not enabled by default and it is not well known how to enable it. See this link [tivofaq.com] for details on how to enable it.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5027177)

But that's not automatic. ReplayTV actually has an automatic commercial skip feature, like the original poster said.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (1)

spanky1 (635767) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027223)

Yes, I am aware of the 30-second skip feature that can be enabled. But I was talking about AUTOMATIC commercial skip.

Ratings and TiVo (2, Interesting)

CuriousKangaroo (543170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027143)

Even more problematic is that ratings systems (the way networks determine how many people saw a show and its commercials and how much they can therefore charge in the future for commercial time) cannot currently effectively deal with the TiVo:

If you tape a show and watch it months later, how does it count? The ratings have already been published!

If you fast-forward through commercials while watching a program right after it actually aired, should it count?

While these aren't huge problems today, as more people get PVRs the problems will become larger. Neilsen has spent time investigating VCRs in the past and are working with TiVo right now to address these issues in the future.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (5, Insightful)

ryanvm (247662) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027187)

That's why TiVo has never implemented an automatic commerical skip feature. ReplayTV has it, but they are getting harrassed because of it. Very lame.

Very lame? I know the /. mantra is "I wan't it free!", but you've got to be realistic. These companies are providing you entertainment at no cost to you. They do this because they're paid by advertisers. Why shouldn't they be opposed to commercial skipping?

I don't think commercial skipping should be made illegal, but you have to understand that your actions have consequences. If everyone is skipping the ads, free TV is going to go away. Either you'll be forced to watch ads (like the unskipable previews on some DVDs) or you'll have to pay for your TV programming (e.g. HBO). There are no other solutions.

Personally, I'd like to see TiVo stay a cult item so I can "cheat" the advertisers with mine while the rest of you suckers foot the bill.

But you could make your case to Ad Agencies (4, Insightful)

RumGunner (457733) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027192)

..by reporting statistics like "Our show is the most swapped on the internet" which would probably do wonders for in show advertising.

I.e., imagine Stan and Kyle drinking Pepsi and belching. Or Cartman eating Hormel Beans and... well, you get the idea.

.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (2)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027025)

Don't you watch the news? Computers are EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL.

Besides, they don't want more people watching the shows, they want more people watching the commercials.

It's an important distinction. I certinally cut out the ads when I TV cap and even if I didn't you can bet my mate would whack "Forward 30secs" until they finished.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (1)

polakk (562391) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027046)

Yeah, and if there not breaking any copyright measures on the TiVo, its the same thing as taking a video cassete and recording it. Whats the difference between sharing a video cassete with a recorded TV show or movie with a friend and sharing with people on the net? We've been through this before when the vcr's first came out...

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5027147)

The argument they make is that you can only share a video cassette with a few friends one at a time wheras you can share a digital copy with millions of "friends" all at the same time AND they get to keep their copy without having to do any additional work.

Now I am not saying that I agree with them but that is the argument.

Because it's DIGITAL (5, Insightful)

ink (4325) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027131)

Didn't you already know? All copyright law has to be re-written because DIGITAL is completely different from analog copyright. Even though it's still illegal to violate copyrights, we have to have even more restrictions because of the almost-magical qualities of digital media. People who violate the copyright of certain materials should not only be prosecuted under conventional copyright law, they also need to be severely punished for breaking the magical digital restrictions as well.

Seriously, though, the governments and corporations of the world have taken advantage of us by pawning off all these "digital" versions of laws that are already in place. This is why the EFF keeps fighting it, and why everyone should too.

Re: What's the big deal about show swapping? (5, Insightful)

xchino (591175) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027162)

No, this is not what the networks want. Many people seem to think it's because they want you to watch the commercials, and most people tend to remove commercials from their recordings, but this has absolutely no bearing on the network. In fact, they'd probably rather you remove the commercials, not wanting to give out free advertising. The fact is, they want you in your seat giving your full attention at X time every Y number of days per week. If they can't control when you watch a certain show, they have no leverage for charging excessive advertising fees.
Also, keep in mind many advertisements are time based, due to store hours. What good would a burger king commercial do at 2:00 in the morning? All the burger kings are closed. So they need to make sure they get airtime while their open, and especially around eating times. If they can't be assured that their marketing plan is executed in a timely and proper basis, they won't pay up for adverts.

Re:What's the big deal about show swapping? (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027232)

The networks dont care whether or not you're watching their shows. They don't care whether or not you're buying the things in their commercials. If you're not watching their show when its on, they aren't getting "credit" for it. Make it harder for you to do that and you'll more likely tune in to boost their ratings.

distribution (1)

vena (318873) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027261)

Plus, taping shows is already legal, what's the difference with letting people put it on computer?

the difference is distribution. watching the show doesn't mean a damn thing unless you're watching it on the television, when the show is on, on the network it's being aired.

the anti-media-sharing has never really been about anything more than keeping control of distribution networks, imho.

DMCA Loophole? What about a copyright loophole? (5, Insightful)

smd4985 (203677) | more than 11 years ago | (#5026990)

Seems like all this talk of a DMCA loophole is irrelevant - I'm more interested in knowing if sharing TV shows is allowed under copyright law. I'd assume no.

Feel free to celebrate this loophole though - but perhaps you should read the chapter in 'The Hobbit' entitled "Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire". :)

Re:DMCA Loophole? What about a copyright loophole? (5, Funny)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027033)

If I get ensared in a trap, I'll just hurl enchanted pine cones at the DMCA lawyers and call on the FSF eagles to whisk me away with free legal advice.

Re:DMCA Loophole? What about a copyright loophole? (5, Insightful)

MisterFancypants (615129) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027061)

Of course it is a copyright violation to share/redistribute these shows. As many others have mentioned, including yourself, the DMCA angle is irrelevant.

You can't even show a TV broadcast in a public place without proper written permission, according to current copyright law, let alone record and redistribute the the content...

Re:DMCA Loophole? What about a copyright loophole? (5, Interesting)

jgerman (106518) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027165)

Technically, you're not even allowed to describe some tv broadcasts... notably NFL games. Listen to the legal bit at the end of one. What a crock that is.

Re:DMCA Loophole? What about a copyright loophole? (2)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027251)

That's their story and they're sticking to it. Journalists still write about sports events.

Re:DMCA Loophole? What about a copyright loophole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5027205)

I'll fucking hobbit you in a minute!

Re:DMCA Loophole? What about a copyright loophole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5027252)

perhaps you should read the chapter in 'The Hobbit' entitled "Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire".

Keep yer geek books to yerself.

DMCA is neither here nor there (3, Interesting)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5026994)

Just because the DMCA doesn't mention it, it's still distribution of copyright material

At least in the UK this is still illegal. Hell, recording to a VCR for personal use is I believe technically illegal

Any info on the situation in other countries?

Re:DMCA is neither here nor there (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027045)

> Karma :Karma Cameleon (It comes and goes)

Funny sig. Funny how you can't spell Chameleon.

Re:DMCA is neither here nor there (2)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027104)

I must have a misnamed Mp3 I did it from the title of the culture club song.

I'll fix it :)

Re:DMCA is neither here nor there (2)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027168)

Now that damn song is running around in my head. You both should be take out and shot, or at least flogged!

(Whip it, whip it good!) (Now I got you back!)

Just what we need ... (2, Funny)

mustangdavis (583344) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027000)

First, people were trading beanie babies ...

Now they'll be trading re-runs of Friends ...

What is the world coming to???

Where are the trolls? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5027003)

C'mon, you know who you are. Let's liven this leftist hippietech dumpster up a bit.

To cheep for cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5027005)

In my city cable stinks, so i have my frends tape the few shows I watch in trade for tech help, it would me much nicer if I could have my shows e-mailed to me.

Re:To cheep for cable (4, Interesting)

Patrick13 (223909) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027211)

Also, as in the case of Enterprise [startrek.com] the program is only on the UPN network. UPN is not available in every market (or internationally), so I happen to know that it is an extremely widely traded program.

I think having the episodes downloadable with "embedded" adverts might really be a feasible way of having the network maintain control of their product, and make money on it.

I wouldn't even mind having to use a "branded" viewer to play the episodes, or download a "star trek" codec so to speak so that they can say track the number of viewings it had or whatever.

Of course this may never happen, since the Media Conglomerates are so protective of their content.

Then of course, they should make the complete season DVDs available without the adverts, to guarantee DVD sales.

Anyhow, I am a big fan of the series, but I have never, ever seen it on TV.

there is that whole (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027008)

copyright issue.

Trading copies of the program(regardless of medium) to people is a copyright violation.
sure, you can record a show for your own use, but not for distribution.

Re:there is that whole (3, Insightful)

Cyno (85911) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027186)

I believe as long as you are not selling it fair use applies. Besides most TV shows are broadcast across the airwaves making them public domain, since anyone could intercept them. Basicly everyone has a license to view TV programming. HBO Movies might be a different story. Or an encrypted TV network, like digital cable or HDTV.

Re:there is that whole (3, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027268)

I believe as long as you are not selling it fair use applies.

People have argued this both ways, but your interpretation seems to be losing.

Besides most TV shows are broadcast across the airwaves making them public domain, since anyone could intercept them.

No. That's not how copyright law works.

Basicly everyone has a license to view TV programming.

To view it, but not to redistribute it.

Time limits (5, Interesting)

march (215947) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027011)

I wouldn't be surprised if a time-to-live feature is added to "swapping" devices. I.e., you can swap all you want, but the swapped copy has a limited lifetime and then erases itself. Like those disposable DVD's.

This could be easily done by the folks at TiVo or ReplayTV.

Re:Time limits (3, Insightful)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027053)

It could indeed be done

But there's the loophole again. Play it back through a PC with a capture card and goodbye limited life time.

This is the problem with limited life DVDs, it makes it no more difficult for some (evil - RIAA rep) person to rip it and copy it. That only takes 40mins or so and one read pass.

Re:Time limits (1)

URSpider (242674) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027273)

I wouldn't be surprised if a time-to-live feature is added to "swapping" devices. I.e., you can swap all you want, but the swapped copy has a limited lifetime and then erases itself.


You mean like the one that the record companies have added to CD's? Or the one that video game distributors have added to their games? And these are people who've had a lot longer to contemplate their fate at the hands of file swapping.

Copyright ? (1, Redundant)

tiwason (187819) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027013)

Sure taking the files from tivo to a pc might be legal by the DMCA, but I really don't think that has to do with sharing them... Thats a entire new can of worms....

I think the networks copyright comes in here somewhere.. (not that i agree with it 100%, just saying)

Re:Copyright ? (3, Interesting)

eohrnberger (628608) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027062)

Pulling video out of a TiVo and burning it on a DVD is just the same as taping the TiVo show onto VHS tape. The only difference is the media. Now if you go and give (make available for download or copies on DVD) the recorded shows to multiple people it's distribution, and I'll wager that it'd be as illegal to do this with VHS tape as it is with DVDs or MPEG files. The usable time to live quality feature of a VHS protected it more than the infinately copyable DVDs, so I figure that the DVD copies may very well get more attention than VHS.

Re:Copyright ? (1)

mark_lybarger (199098) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027073)

yeah, i'm not familiar with the author, Greg Lindsay, but his reporting and theories sounds more like a slashdot-microsoft-bashing-kde-is-great-story to spruce up a lame thursday afternoon.

his theories are full of more loopholes than the laws he theorizes on. just because the dmca doesn't say it's illegal to copy the mpeg data from a pvr doesn't mean it's legal to distribute your mpegs either. he does't exactly say it's legal, but it's heavily implied.

i gots to quit reading these articles!

I don't understand how the dmca aplied to this? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5027014)

Please start having quality content slashdot, I'm increasingly growing sick of this.

Re:I don't understand how the dmca aplied to this? (2)

mustangdavis (583344) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027058)

I hate feeding a troll, but ...

I don't understand how the dmca aplied to this?


Hmmmm ..... the "D" in DMCA stands for digital ...

TV shows are digitally stored and transmitted

A + B = C

Can you "C" the answer?

What could it "B"??

Is this really "A" hard question???

Just shake your head and smirk ...

suing micro$soft? (0, Offtopic)

chimpo13 (471212) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027027)


That one made me laugh. "You're found guilty of hacking Bill Gates. Based on your trial about being a monopoly, you're punishment is a $100 fine. Try not to let that happen again."

The DMCA is not the whole story (5, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027028)

Even if the DMCA does not prohibit sharing TV shows, regular copyright law probably does. However, software and hardware which allows TV show sharing might be legal to sell if this article is right. OTOH, they didn't need the DMCA to shut down Napster, so my guess is that the TV networks will use similar contributory infringement arguments if they want to go after ExtractStream and friends.

No story here re swapping copyrighted stuff (4, Interesting)

declana (214275) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027029)

Taking the poster's "legal analysis" as true "sharing" copies of television shows is still a violation of other copyright laws. As the MP3.com case proved, no one has a right to make a copy for you. Only you have the right to "space shift" (transfer to VHS, CDR, etc) an mp3 file (or television show). This is where Napster and MP3.com were found to violate copyright law. Not the DMCA's anticircumvision.

extracting files from tivo (1)

anjrober (150253) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027030)

so does anyone have a link to show how to extract files from a tivo. I have looked around some and not been able to find a program to let me extract the files in a format that is useable. Thanks.

Re:extracting files from tivo (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027060)

It's quite easy. Hook up a TV tuner card to your PC and wire it into your Tivo, select the program you want to extract using the Tivo's remote control, hit "record" on your TV tuner card video capture software, and then hit play on the Tivo's remote.

Child's play. Your mother could do it.

Re:extracting files from tivo (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027089)

I forgot the link. There's quite a good description of what's involved here [slashdot.org]. Also check Google [google.com] as that seems to have some good stuff too.

Hope this helps!

Re:extracting files from tivo (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027125)

Or of course you could Google for "ExtractStream", which is in the article. Then one of the 295 search results, such as the first, will give you this information too...

Re:extracting files from tivo (2)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027075)

All I can think of is that a PC with a capture card could be used to re-capture if you played it from the tivo

Indeed I use my PC straight from my Digital TV box to do just that. I dare say the tivo files are a pretty standard format. Maybe you could stick the tivo HD in a PC?

Re:extracting files from tivo (2)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027142)

It's in mpeg2 format (hardware encoder/decoder), and if you go via a capture card, you're going to lose quality and colour balance. Digital transfers all the way please, just get a network card for your TIVO.

Re:extracting files from tivo (2)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027163)

Well to another hardward MPEG2 you shouldn't lose too much.

But absolutely the best idea is to try to get the original capture. Or just to buy a hardward MPEG2 for your PC/MAC/Amiga with Video Toaster

Re:extracting files from tivo (2)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027255)

Well to another hardward MPEG2 you shouldn't lose too much.

I disagree with that. You compress then decommpress with a loss of quality. Performing the same process again will not cause you to lose the same "pieces of quality", especially with a physically different encoder and the lossess/changes associated with the analog stage.

Try it with an mp3. Encode, convert to wav and repeat using a different encoder. It sounds baaaaaddd! ;-)

Re:extracting files from tivo (2)

RatBastard (949) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027264)

You will get more signal loss than you expect. Remember, you are turning the signal from digital to analogue and back again. This will add more noise to the picture and amplify any MPEG atrifacts in the original encoding.

If you do not already own a TiVo, look into a ReplayTV. I can suck the files off of my ReplayTV via the ethernet port on the unit with no additional loss in image quality.

Screw Tivo (5, Informative)

mhoover (446585) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027031)

I have a ReplayTV. Love it! Can share my files directly off the Replay to the net (with some firewall rules). Not to mention software like DVArchive [sourceforge.net] that "emulates" another replay on my network allowing me to dump the files from the replay to my fileserver and share them back again for later viewing.

Re:Screw Tivo (1)

spanky1 (635767) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027097)

Yeah, those are some nice features that Tivo users would also like to have. But will ReplayTV survive the law suits? AFAIK they are being sued because of this and other features like commercial skip.

It really sucks that companies get screwed for innovating and giving people features they want.

Re:Screw Tivo (2)

Evil Adrian (253301) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027169)

Well, I believe that part of watching the shows is allowing the commercials in as well. You aren't really allowed to edit them out, as far as I know, that is after all how broadcasters make money.

I wish it was the same in the US as it is in England; everyone pays for a TV license, and they get no commercials. Easy to enforce (TV detector van!) and no commercials.

Re:Screw Tivo (3, Insightful)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027275)

Actually the van doesn't contain anything - the dectector bit is just hand held. Ya see, the tv signals are kinda weak and so are overlayed on this big strong high frequency signal. (tv+Strong signal). So in the tv all it does is generate another strong signal(different frequency for different channels) and overlay that on top of the incomming signal with a phase difference of 90. (tv+Strong-Strong = tv!).
The detectors just simply try to pick up what the strong signal from the tv.(Which btw means they also know what channel you are watching).

my four ha'pennies... (4, Interesting)

blaimue (637983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027034)

Compare this to open source software:

The code is freely available. You can download it from the internet and do whatever you want with it. Anyone can watch a TV show and record it if they want.

So why do people pay for things like Linux distributions? It's the convenience. They're not paying for the code, they're paying for the packaging, the tech support, etc.

Same thing with the TV shows. If people want to record them and share them for free (essentially providing a service), that's their perogative.

Who gives a flying fuck? (1)

josh crawley (537561) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027047)

I think we all can agree that the DMCA is a horrid law, and possibly unconstitutional at that. Still, who cares about the DMCA (in this issue)? This issue is about Copyrights, not protections.

If the user copied AND distributed the show without the owner's permission (understanding that copies can be made for backup purposes), it's an offence.

DMCA Bemmsheeaa. This is a simple copyright violation

Cracking up: the far side (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5027049)

Several hackers who have published their techniques online say they didn't have to crack anything to extract video from their TiVos"
Well, duh! They had to crack open their TiVo units in order to get the hard drives out. That's good enough proof of circumvention for an American court.

Point missed (2, Insightful)

javatips (66293) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027051)

I believe the reporter missed the point.

Digital or not, copying copyrighted content without the consent of the copyright holder (beyong fair use) is illegal.

Hollywood is already going after people who share digitaly captured content from analog signal (no circumvention device used) using the DMCA and other copyright laws.

The fact that you don't circumvent protection mechanism does not allow you to share (beyong fair use) copyrighted material without the holder consent.

Re:Point missed (3, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027178)

I think you missed the point. Under existing copyright law, it's illegal to use such a feature for purposes other than those protected by Fair Use (for example, transmitting a show for educational purposes only to a specific individual, or using such a feature to make a backup, or using such a feature with permission from a copyright holder, or so on. Prosecution of an individual for breaking copyright law using the ability to get content out of some set top PVR box has always been possible.


However, the person who made the box, provided the feature, or wrote a piece of software to get data out of a Tivo (ExtractStream) to the best of my knowledge did not themselves infringe existing copyright law. That's why the DMCA is relevant. Contributory infringement, admittedly, already existed, but there is a redline test involving "primary purpose or effect". The DMCA doesn't require any such test to be applied if "circumvention" has occured (no this isn't a formal legal analysis, just my current recollection).

"Traditional" copyright prohibits sharing anyway (2, Informative)

mike449 (238450) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027054)

If the show is copyrighted, you can not distribute copies. DMCA has nothing to do with this. It only adds criminal liability in case when the copy was created by circumventing a protection scheme. The civil liability is always there.

!DMCA != legal (3, Informative)

DdJ (10790) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027055)

Just because the DMCA doesn't forbid it doesn't mean it's legal. Show-swapping is still a violation of ordinary, regular copyright, whether done via TiVo or VHS tape, regardless of what the DMCA says.

If you pay to receive programming, and you make a videotape of it, and you give that videotape to someone who doesn't pay to receive the same programming, you're violating copyright and are breaking the law. Using a TiVo doesn't change that.

Circumvention (4, Insightful)

sigwinch (115375) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027059)

The wonderful (not) thing about the DMCA is that anything can be considered a protection system, because protection is in the eye of the content provider. The only way you can tell if your actions are unlawful circumvention are to try them and see if you get sent to jail.

Re:Circumvention (2)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027126)

Indeed. If you copy from a subscription service like DirectTV say you're doomed simply because technically the subscription fee is protection.

In the market (1)

Gary (9413) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027069)

I've just started to entertain the idea of purchasing a PVR. I was under the impression that you could already trade shows with the Replay. Am I mistaken? That's certainly one of the things on my list of gotta haves, via a standard 10/100 BaseT RJ45 connector.

Mostly I want this capability for moving shows around rooms, including something I could play on my home computer, but it'd also be nice to get a copy off the net if I missed a particular show.

So if the DMCA did forbid such capability I don't imagine Sonicblue would include it in their PVR.

G.

I'll respect the DMCA when and only when.. (3, Interesting)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027077)

they provide me with the capability to create a legitimate backup of my purchases...

If I can't make a backup copy then screw em' because that's my right.

If it wasn't for the moral erosion in the world by both corporations and consumers alike the DMCA would most likely not even exist.

The author of that story is confused (5, Informative)

btempleton (149110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027078)

The Tivo just has a tuner and mpeg encoder that records video onto its hard disks. This is no different from any number of tuner/encoder cards for PCs such as the ATI All in Wonder, which have been out for years, and will record video to your hard disk.

There is nothing new in the Tivo doing this, and it does not violate any laws. If somebody takes a copyrighted TV show and transmits it to others, they may be violating copyrights, and this has nothing to do with the DMCA or anything else.

In fact, the Replay doesn't really do much different either. The studios are suing the replay because it makes it really easy to transmit shows, and they claim that this should be illegal. (Not transmitting shows, that's already illegal. They want it to be illegal to make equipment that automates the process.)

Again, this has nothing to do with the DCMA. The DMCA made building tools that decode DVDs illegal. It doesn't actually much affect the rules on what you do with a decoded movie once you have it -- regular copyright law still applies there, and it can be illegal to make a copy of the movie for somebody else, and legal to make a backup copy for yourself.

Tivo did indeed not have any protection system in it. They used a different filesystem to store the files but otherwise they were in a minor variation of standard mpeg formats.

This could be *really* interesting (2)

giel (554962) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027083)

As I understand the article either one of three, each interesting things, could happen: M$ gets a hard time, thoughts about copying should be changed or perhaps DMCA proves to fail.

Or worst case, nothing happens... But that's something I cannot image because big players are involved...

So what if it is shared (4, Insightful)

Jedi1USA (145452) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027088)

Shows are broadcast to an audience of unknown specific size or location with no guarentee that anyone will actually watch it. Why should they care if it is redistributed again elsewhere? If it were being sold....that is a different issue all together. Sounds like someone is getting upset for not maintaining 100% control. Of course these are the same people that say watching the shows commercial free is theft, so there is already precedent there is no sound logic behind their motives.

WAY better idea (2, Interesting)

drdanny_orig (585847) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027093)

Why don't we show them who really holds the cards and just stop watching the damned TV and stop buying CDs! Jeebus H. Kriste, books are better for you, cheaper, and more fun besides.
Just a thought. I'll take my mod points offline, thank you.

Re:WAY better idea (2)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027170)

Books? Cheaper? hahahaha

Cable - $50 CAD / month for hours upon hours of "entertainment"

Books - $10 CAD to $100 CAD each for 3 to 10 hours of entertainment (unless you go to the library where selection is often limited)

Books are not "better" for you - sure, you may be more likely to find more interesting content in a book, but there are plenty of trashy novels out there and plenty of educational and/or interesting tv shows as well.

(For the record: I watch 5 hours of TV per month and read about 5 to 10 books per month.)

Fishy (3, Insightful)

Espen (96293) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027107)

This smells like a plant. This kind of copying is obviously still protected by normal copyright legislation, which does in fact protect the copyright holder. The only reason I can think of for someone to come up with this kind of misleading information would be so that it can be used to back a pro-DCMA arguement ie.: "Look what terrible things can go unpunished without the DCMA".

Another suspected 'plant' I've seen lately in the media is the idea that "consumers may soon have to may for things they used to get for free" (ie. making copies of media). Well, that is an interesting spin, because consumers never got that for 'free'; they payed for the product, and they knew that included the ability to copy it, it wasn't an unexpected bonus.

Circumvention required for SOME Tivos (4, Informative)

undie (140711) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027111)

I have a DirecTivo and participate in the Deal Database [dealdatabase.com] forums regarding Extraction, etc.

I wanted to mention that extraction of video from Standalone Tivo does not require circumvention, but extraction from DirecTivo units does.

DirecTivo's store the stream from DirecTV directly to the hard disk. Though it is stored AFTER the Access Card has decrypted it, it is re-encrypted when written to the hard drive.

A smart person over at the forums wrote a kernel module that disables this (noscramble.o). This allows you to extract TYstreams (almost MPEG-2 :)

So, from what I've read above, this loophole only applies to Standalone Tivo units.

Sorry Charlie... (4, Interesting)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027112)

The DMCA sets a pretty low bar for circumvention - DVD CSS is arguably a copyright protection mechanism. Mind you, there is no real jurisprudence yet on what constitutes circumvention, and, as always, the standards are likely to come down to whether a judge thinks a "reasonable person" would consider it circumvention of copyright protection measures. Was the undocumented Tivo filesystem a copyright protection measure? Somebody might be able to make an argument that it was.


The good thing that the Tivo hackers (and I'm included in this one, I've hacked my Tivo unit and even got ExtractStream to work once or twice over my TivoNet connection - and that's no mean feat, unless somebody's made the damned thing work better since then) have going for them is that Tivo isn't really interested in having them prosecuted because Tivo isn't protecting their own copyrighted material. As for the copyright owners, I'm not sure they really care since with respect to Tivo, this is a hobbyist hack, and it sure is a hack (like I said, you try getting ExtractStream to work reliably).


You can bet that anybody that commercializes an easy to use system for sharing saved shows will get sued (i.e. ReplyTV). For the time being, the desktop TV Card-based PVR software products are all so damned klunky that I doubt anybody has cared enough yet to push the US Government to action. When somebody mass markets a product for the top of your TV set, that's what gets panties in a bunch - the content producers figure that a few egghead hobbyists isn't a big deal but a mass market product is.

Always has been illegal... (4, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027114)

It's always been illegal to swap TV shows under conventional copyright law, nothing under fair use covers that. It covers time-shifting, and using small portions in various ways.

What DMCA added was that it outlawed any tool or information that could be used to circumvent protection mechanisms (and screw any fair use or other applications it might have).

I really don't see the point here...

Kjella

Re:Always has been illegal... (4, Interesting)

jgerman (106518) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027226)


It's always been illegal to swap TV shows under conventional copyright law, nothing under fair use covers that. It covers time-shifting, and using small portions in various ways.


Illegal or not, they can bite me ;) I'm usually out on friday nights, so I fully expect the right to ask a friend to tape Firefly and borrow the tape later to watch. This wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't so easy to release shows to the masses digitally but it's still pretty much bullshit in my book. Especially in the cases where the show is no longer avilable. For instance if I wanted to watch The Wonder Years I can't without finding someone online who has a capture. Or waiting on the remote possibility that it will be shown... at a reasonable time, on a channel I have, and in a reasonable order. As far as I'm concered, I will never feel guilty downloading and watching something I have no other way of obtaining.

My TV (2)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027120)


The networks better keep their gripes to themselves or Bill might just make "My TV" a reality..

Copyright schmopyright... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5027139)

Jesus Christ, when did we get so many freaking social conservatives in here?

So much for the edgy-young-hotshot persona, /. is officially full of PHB's.

Good Commercials (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5027160)

Perhaps if the majority of companies would stop producing stupid comercials and having them played twice in every comercial break, people would actually be more inclined to pay attention to them. There are certain good commercials that I pay attention too, simply because they are funny, witty, intelligent(somewhat) or visually appealing, but comercials that get played to often or are just plain annoying, stupid, condescending, etc. aren't worth my time or attention. It's quite obvious how ever that once a show is recorded with out the commercials, the viewer won't see them again BUT for the person recording to actually skip the commercials, they have to watch them, then even if they give a copy of the program to a friend, there is a 95% chance that that friend has already seen the commercials that have been skipped over. I don't see a problem with that in the slightest. With the amount of advertisement that the average person sees in a given day, there should be nothing wrong with skipping over a bunch of it. After all, seeing an ad for... i dunoo, some deoderant over and over and over and over is more than likely going to leave a hateful impression in my mind and when its time to go buy some deoderant I'll choose the product that wasn't bruted forced to my attention.

Wake up marketing people! Wake up!

It's always more interesting than it seems... (3, Insightful)

werdna (39029) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027173)

Here's the deal. It is just fine to have a VCR, because VCR's are capable of substantial noninfringing use and don't get sold primarily for swapping. It is not fine to have a centrally managed PTP file sharing system like Napster for reasons only the 9th Circuit can fathom, and Napster couldn't afford to bring to the Supreme Court (which reversed the 9th Circuit's opinion in the Betamax case). Now, there is also the claim of DMCA, which I agree is not an effective circumvention method, particularly when used just like a VCR -- the content that was broadcast was in the clear, and not encrypted.

But this does not mean that a mechanism for sharing TIVO files digitally would be lawful, or that any particular sharing would be lawful -- any more than it means that a VCR tape copy made of a movie may be freely shared (it can't be). If someone contributes to the infringement of another, and there is no substantial noninfringing use, there may be liabliity in the contributor as well -- in most every case, the TiVo user who swaps files is very likely an infringer of Copyright.

In short, the devil is in the details, and there is no meaningful TiVo exception to the Copyright Act. That the DMCA might not apply (and it probably does not unless the original content were encoded in some manner) is beside the point, they might get you the same way they got Napster -- straightforward and good old-fashioned claims of copyright infringement.

A fight I can't wait to see... (3, Interesting)

gillbates (106458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027213)

"We're sitting here wondering how long it will be until Microsoft gets sued,"

Personally, I'm waiting for the content faction (RIAA, MPAA, et al...) to take on Microsoft for "contributory copyright infringement" . It is illegal to market a device whose primary purpose is to facilitate copyright infringement, and it appears that the new Windows functionality does just this*. It's only a matter of time before:

  1. The content faction sues Microsoft, or
  2. Microsoft "retroactively" (via Automatic Update...)incorporates DRM into its OS
From my standpoint, it seems as if option 1 is better for Microsoft; DRM could hamper the widespread adoption of the new Windows OS's. Though Microsoft would like to push Palladium, I think they realize that they'll sell more operating systems without it - simply because people need a good reason to upgrade. Being able to record and swap tv shows is a significant reason to the average PC buyer; without it, Microsoft might have a harder time selling upgrades, especially in this stagnant economy.

Personally, I'd like to see Microsoft buck the content faction, and get sued. As both Microsoft and the content faction have lots of money, it would be interesting to see them embroiled in a legal battle against each other, rather than trying to screw their customers...

* - yes, ATI has produced hardware which allowed PC users to record tv shows, however, it is not nearly as universally recognized or used as Microsoft. Microsoft's backing of tv recording programs has a much bigger impact, as the software will be on virtually every desktop sold.

This violates several laws (5, Insightful)

abbamouse (469716) | more than 11 years ago | (#5027220)

Although this may not violate the DMCA (depending on how courts construe "circumvention"), it violates several other criminal statutes. First, it violates the No Electronic Theft Act, which criminalized copyright violations even without a profit motive. While the Act requires a value of $1000 of content to trigger its provisions, courts have allowed this threshold to be met by production or "black market" prices rather than realistic costs. In addition, this may violate the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act, which criminalized unauthorized access to servers. While this was intended as an anti-hacking law, perhaps it could be extended to unauthorized intrusion into one's own server (Tivo) if (and this is a HUGE if) owning the thing doesn't automatically authorize one to access it.

While the second of these is speculative, the first can and has been used to prosecute warez folks so I have no doubt the Justice Department of John Ashcroft would use it should entertainment companies begin wailing about TV piracy.
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