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Macrovision Wants Old DRM to Work Forever

CmdrTaco posted about 8 years ago | from the descrambling-some-eggs dept.


Grv writes "Macrovision's best-known form of copy protection inserts noise into analog video signals to make it difficult to get a good copy of the DVD or VHS recording. A company named Sima has products that eliminate this noise when digitizing such video, as any good digitizer would do. Macrovision argues that this is a violation of the DMCA, and a court sided with them in June. Now the injunction is being reviewed, and several organizations are siding with Sima and Fair Use, including the American Library Association, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Home Recording Rights Coalition, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. If it isn't overturned, this decision could make it illegal to develop products for making copies of commercial analog recordings." This story selected and edited by LinuxWorld editor for the day Saied Pinto.

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Digital, eh? (5, Insightful)

The Dalex (996138) | about 8 years ago | (#15931120)

If these are analog signals, does the DMCA apply here? Is cleaning noise out of a signal considered "hacking" now?

Re:Digital, eh? (1)

LinDVD (986467) | about 8 years ago | (#15931190)

I think analog hacking [] just might be taking on a new meaning...

A better solution (2, Interesting)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 8 years ago | (#15931807)

A better solution is to make a really really good digital copy. I thought the idea was that your TV could display the signal with macrovision noise added, but your VCR would lose sync and get all garbled because it was unable to make a good copy of the "noise". If you make as perfect a copy as you can, wouldn't you be able to play it back? It may still violate copyright, but you wouldn't be circumventing anything - the macrovision would be intact.

Re:Digital, eh? (5, Insightful)

vancondo (986849) | about 8 years ago | (#15931351)

Everything is hacking now.. It's much easier to make everything against the law than to fiddle with technicalities. Altering, modifying or improving old technology is a threat to the economy. You should be out buying new stuff not using or enjoying the stuff you've already bought. Anything else is communist intellectual elitism!

Re:Digital, eh? (5, Insightful)

DittoBox (978894) | about 8 years ago | (#15931358)

Yes. "Digital" and "Millennium" were just buzzwords at the time. Using the two together was simply a crafty ruse to make copyright law stricter in light of new digital technologies. They never use the word "digital" as in binary systems but instead the word "technology".

This Macrovision noise crap is "technology" too, which means it's quite possibly protected. Or at least they say it is. That's the entire problem with the DMCA right there. It's too vague, which means this kind of the opportunistic crap will happen more and more as time goes on and innovation occurs. This is yet another example of how innovation dies at the hands of the DMCA. Again government has failed us in their understanding (or lack thereof) of technical concepts by creating legislation that is incredibly vague. I think they're smoking DOPA.

Thanks for nothing Congress. Vaguely written, hastily thrown together, anti-everyone-but-the-guys-who-paid-you-off legislation is bad m'kay?

Re:Digital, eh? (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 8 years ago | (#15931510)

There was no failure to understand here. The bill wasn't hastily thrown together in ignorance. The industry lobbyists who wrote the law spent a lot of time working on the details, and knew exactly what they were doing. Congress failure was in not caring much beyond what the lobbyists could do for them, not in not understanding the subject matter. (I'm not saying they actually understood, just that for their understanding to have any relevance they'd have to first care about the substance.)

What about market regulation? (5, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | about 8 years ago | (#15931367)

Forget the DMCA, let's throw the content industry's arguments right back at them. What they're asking for is regulation--laws that change the market. They want it illegal to copy, illegal to break content protection systems, even illegal to remove or bypass things like region encoding. They want market regulations.

Yet when we ask for regulations to protect end-users (see "Net Neutrality"), they can't cry "laissez faire" fast enough.

Now, I have some pretty strong opinions about the way they do things--personally I'd like to see less region coding et cetera. However if that's how they choose to do business, they are free to do so. What they should not be permitted to do is use the legal system to lock out competitors who threaten their chosen business model. It's already illegal to infringe on copyright. We don't need redundant regulation, especially against consumers, and we do need to tell the content industry that they can't have it both ways. If they don't want to be regulated, they need to stop regulating everyone else.

Re:What about market regulation? (2, Interesting)

Jonny_eh (765306) | about 8 years ago | (#15931488)

I don't think the MPAA has weighed in on the net neutrality debate yet. I fail to see your point. You seem to have lumped all the companies that you don't like into one big pile.

Re:What about market regulation? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15931558)

TimeWarner AOL?
Cable companies?

Despite what the MPAA wants you to believe, there's more to "content providers" than than your local movie theater.

Re:What about market regulation? (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | about 8 years ago | (#15931587)

I don't think the MPAA has weighed in on the net neutrality debate yet. I fail to see your point. You seem to have lumped all the companies that you don't like into one big pile.

Have you completely ignored the astroturfing campaign, including TV ads, that attacked Net Neutrality in specious ways? Do you really believe the MPAA did not have anything to do with that?

Re:What about market regulation? (2, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 8 years ago | (#15931857)

Have you completely ignored the astroturfing campaign, including TV ads, that attacked Net Neutrality in specious ways? Do you really believe the MPAA did not have anything to do with that?

I think AT&T, Comcast, and the rest of the telcos are perfectly capable of hiring a PR firm and buying some TV time. Nothing about that implies the involvement of the MPAA.

Lumped? Well... (5, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | about 8 years ago | (#15931605)

I referred to the "content industry." Yeah, that's lumping. But I'm making a comment, not writing a meticulous dissertation.

I mentioned Net Neutrality parenthetically and only as one example of how regulation is denounced by large companies and consortiums when it regulates them, but not when it regulates their customers. Net Neutrality is a quick and dirty example; the specifics of the Net Neutrality debate are not really germane to the topic at hand, merely illustrative of the principle.

Or if that's too much thinking for you, you might also have interpreted my parenthetical inclusion of Network Neutrality as a way of reinforcing what appears to be a trend that transcends the boundaries of any one industry's behavior. The MPAA and the RIAA (again, for instance) are not (entirely) composed of the same people, but criticisms of one are often accurate of the other.

The point which you fail to see is an 800-pound gorilla, and your inability to recognize it suggests willful misunderstanding. The point is that the U.S. government is increasingly concerned with regulating its constituency while relaxing regulation on corporations. The market is increasingly free for large corporations--which I'm willing to accept as a possibly good direction!--but decreasingly free for consumers and new business models. The imbalance is unacceptable if not outright dangerous.

I try (often unsuccessfully) to keep my comments reasonably short--to make my point and trust the intelligence of the audience to bridge any gaps I might have left. I ask only for a charitable reading. But hopefully now you see my point, despite the parenthetical inclusion that seems to have completely derailed you.

Here Here! (1)

Inhibit (105449) | about 8 years ago | (#15931845)

Just wanted to let you know the comment is right on.

Re:Here Here! (0, Offtopic)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 8 years ago | (#15931936)

Just wanted to let you know the comment is right on.

I think you mean "right (on)."

I used this tactic (4, Insightful)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | about 8 years ago | (#15931709)

When Hollings (D-Disney) was proposing the SSSCA/CBDTPA, I wrote to Pres. Bush and asked him to work against it, and veto it. I spewed a lot of malarkey that I didn't believe, such as "Hollywood liberal elite", "Unnecessary regulation of business", etc...

Putting someone's own prejudices to work for you is sometimes all that you can do.

Re:Digital, eh? (4, Interesting)

farrellj (563) | about 8 years ago | (#15931692)

Well, if you have an ATI TV Wonder card, you can simply modify a value in the source code that will eliminate Macrovision "interference". I do this on my home system so that I can watch my DVDs and Video Tapes on my 17" monitor. I don't have a lot of room where I live, and I sold my TV a while ago. So I have a dual monitor setup, with one being used as my "TV".

I don't see why modifying said value could be so hard for the other drivers...but it probably works on all BT8x8 based cards.


One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 years ago | (#15931126)

"Wanna watch Erik The Viking?"

"Can't. It would be a violation of the law."

"What Law?"

"The one that prevents us from taking the old video tape I bought of it, which I can no longer watch on newer video devices due to built in DRM and I am prevented from recording onto a computer and removing the old DRM and writing to digital storage which the new digital video devices read."

"Man, obeying the law sucks!"

"No, creating laws which paint people into a corner and then hand them the brush suck."

Ultimately, the way DRM and DMCA is going, you will not have owned DVDs, CDs, LPs, 45s, etc. You will merely have rented them until the march of technology locks you out of enjoying the content any further.

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (5, Interesting)

BalanceOfJudgement (962905) | about 8 years ago | (#15931178)

Ultimately, the way DRM and DMCA is going, you will not have owned DVDs, CDs, LPs, 45s, etc. You will merely have rented them until the march of technology locks you out of enjoying the content any further.
Telling my friends and family this have gotten me accused of everything from lying to fear mongering.

They really sincerely believe that people won't stand for it and that the government will stop the content distributors from doing this.

It's sad how much faith they have in people who are genuinely trying to screw them.

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 years ago | (#15931211)

Telling my friends and family this have gotten me accused of everything from lying to fear mongering.

Those old Beatles records you bought years ago, you can't just digitise them so you can listen to them on your iPod. Not with the RIAA's blessing anyway. And TFB if you have something on vinyl which never came out, or in the case of my ELO Out Of The Blue double-LP, was clipped when making the abbreviated CD version.

stormtroopers are standing by

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (3, Funny)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#15931295)

And don't you dare photoshop the cover art to make it look like it looked before we photoshopped them. We're watching for that shit.


Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (0, Troll)

c6gunner (950153) | about 8 years ago | (#15931420)

Isn't that rather like arguing that you never really owned your record player, because you were forced to buy an iPod in order to keep up with technology? You can still play your old beatles records on an LP player. That's what you bought originaly - an LP to play on an LP player. And it still works exactly as advertised. If you want to enjoy it on a different player, buy a different version. If it wears out and no longer works, such is life. When your car wears out, you don't complain that you should have had the right to a backup copy, you go out an buy a new car. Why is music (or movies, or even books for that matter) any different?

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (2, Insightful)

Belgarath52 (121024) | about 8 years ago | (#15931457)

If I was artifically prevented from creating a brand new car at no cost to anyone, when my old one wore out, I'd be pretty pissed. The only reason that these old copies of music "wear out" is that it's illegal to update them.

Put another way, how would you feel if it was illegal to maintain your car? I mean, you can buy a new one when it wears out...

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (2, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | about 8 years ago | (#15931508)

Ah, see, with that line of reasoning you get into the "why can't I download music without paying for it when it's not harming anyone" line of argument. Which has some merit to it, sure, but it's hard to blame the companies for trying to make a buck. Anyway, I have made digital copies of old material in the past, I'm just curious why people seem to think that they've bought the song instead of the physical medium containing the song. The music companies make it quite clear that you have no real right to the song itself, other than being able to play it from the original medium which you bought it on.

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 8 years ago | (#15931555)

I believe you're in a different world to me because last time I checked in the UK at least for the last 20 years you've bought a licence to own/watch/etc. the media but the content it's self. That is why we have disclaimers like "This video is not for resale or rent. Public views are not allowed" etc.

Maybe you live in some fictional world where these sort of things arn't common as hell.

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (3, Insightful)

MMC Monster (602931) | about 8 years ago | (#15931593)

If I bought it on the medium, I have the right to sell it to another.

Try selling a copy of MS Windows on ebay. The RIAA is against the reselling of music as well, but they lost that battle.

If I bought a right to use it, I should be able to get another copy of the medium if mine was damaged or destroyed for the cost of the medium+shipping. Try to get that on MS Windows (Tell them it came with your computer and you want an OEM copy, but will settle for an end-user copy).

So, did I buy MS Windows, or just the right to install it?

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (4, Insightful)

mvdw (613057) | about 8 years ago | (#15931629)

As far as I can see, the **AA needs to make the decision of what they are selling.

If they're selling me a licence to the song(s)/movie, then it should be reasonable for me to buy a replacement for my existing media at less than the cost of someone without an existing licence. For example, should my CD/DVD wear out (and, believe me, they do), I should be able to take the worn-out medium somewhere, and get a new one for approximately cost price. I can't do this at the moment; the business model simply doesn't allow it.

However, if the **AA is in the business of selling shiny discs, then I should be able to damn well do what I want with my shiny disc. Including, but not limited to, making copies of it (but probably not selling them, due to trademark reasons rather than copyright reasons).

The **AA wants to have its cake and eat it, too. They want to be able to sell shiny discs, and at the same time rent you the content encoded on the media.

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (2, Funny)

gsn (989808) | about 8 years ago | (#15931699)

Maybe because the song is what gives the physical medium any value to us...

Also if anybody ever asked you if you had a CD of Pink Floyd do you think they cared about the physical medium or listening to the content.

A physical medium is a delivery device - an outdated one because it costs money - the great thing about digital media is that you can make N copies for effectively free - you can change its format, you can rip a section of it (either a time segment, or only the audio from a movie say) - its more versatile and powerful. It also has the nice side effect that it takes a lot more to make the data unretrievable. My grandfather used to have some recordings on tape spools - just open tape that went between two reels - player broke - no one around could convert the damn things. Media companies recognize these benefits and you can be damn sure they use it - e.g. cut out the people who make the physical film in favour of digital video recorders.

Thats also the problem with the digital medium though - if you treat things as a bunch of 1s and 0s and liberate it from a physical medium then your buisness model whcih relied on you delivering that physical medium fails. Unless they can control the hardware which is what HDCP tries to do, and is the point of all this trusted computing stuff that scares me. But really such control of the hardware is an artificial limitation of technology. What you should do is change.. or die. Theres no rule that demands that these recoding companies have to survive this century - music won't die. It might just become less corporate.

So sure let them say you have no real right to the song and all you can do is play if from the original medium you bought it on. And let people with cdrom drives and cd rippers and mp3 codecs and mp3 servers and p2p networks tell them to go take a flying leap.

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (1)

yakumo.unr (833476) | about 8 years ago | (#15931547)

well put. If you don't like car analogies I just change it to "PC", or maybe house, as they're more likely to last as long as some old music media than most cars or certainly computers.

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (1)

redhog (15207) | about 8 years ago | (#15931517)

Once uppon a time, when your car weared out, you'd grab your wrench and other tools and you'd fix it. Once uppon a time, when you bought an LP, you'd tape it to a casette tape (or reel tape) and you'd play that, maybe in your car.

Today, you are saved from this DIY attitude by laws that forbid you from fixing your car (without a license from the maker to use the special tools only they make), forbid you from copying your music for personal use to another medium.

How is music different? It isn't. But the times are.

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (1)

c6gunner (950153) | about 8 years ago | (#15931541)

And once upon a time we walked 20 miles to school in a blizzard in june, uphill both ways :)

Although I did find this part interesting:

"Today, you are saved from this DIY attitude by laws that forbid you from fixing your car "

Where the heck are YOU living?

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (1)

nolife (233813) | about 8 years ago | (#15931724)

What restrictions are you talking about with the automotive tools and repairs? I was under the impression that there was case history and laws that prevented them from doing that.
I know the standard OBD2 computer controls that are on every car sold in the US since 1996 are not "protected", even the additional extensions that automakers add above and beyond the federally mandated emissions controls can be read and diagnosed with any decent OBD2 code reader. Fixing computerized problems and fault codes takes more then a wrench but the data to fix it is available.

I will say that when computer, internet, data, entertainment, and copyright are mentioned in the same sentence, there does seem to be a different set of standards and laws are applied. You can make an aftermarket alternator that is fully compatible for a BWM 5 series and you are fine. Make an aftermarket accessory or internal replacement part for an Xbox and be sued into oblivion. It is sad that we have been become numb to that.

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (2, Funny)

feepness (543479) | about 8 years ago | (#15931394)

It's sad how much faith they have in people who are genuinely trying to screw them.

Or perhaps encouraging how little they care about watching Buffy: Season Three in 2018.

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (5, Funny)

cpu_fusion (705735) | about 8 years ago | (#15931441)

With all due respect to your well-thought-out-argument, if the DMCA prevents me from watching Erik the Viking in 2050, then it has finally done something good for once. ;)

Re:One Fine Day In The Not So Distant Future (1)

indil (911425) | about 8 years ago | (#15931801)

Ultimately, the way DRM and DMCA is going, you will not have owned DVDs, CDs, LPs, 45s, etc. You will merely have rented them until the march of technology locks you out of enjoying the content any further.

Technically, you only own the disc the media is on. You don't have any inherent right (according to contemporary licensing laws) to use the content on them as you see fit. The license you agree to abide by -- which happens when you buy the disc -- is what makes it illegal for you to make copies for others or convert them into other formats. That is, unless you bought a CD that uses a license more liberal than most.

Not good (2, Insightful)

andrewman327 (635952) | about 8 years ago | (#15931155)

this decision could make it illegal to develop products for making copies of commercial analog recordings.

I thought that the DMCA did that already. These products are knowingly removing DRM from an original tape. Regardless of how you feel, the DMCA specifically outlaws this. According to TFA, the problem is that the means by which the program strips DRM is through converting it to digital and by outlawing the program the judge could outlaw AD conversions.

Re:Not good (3, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15931176)

Regardless of how you feel, the DMCA specifically outlaws this.

"How we feel" is the central tenet of a democratic society. If a law is unjust, it is our duty to defy it.

Re:Not good (5, Interesting)

nmb3000 (741169) | about 8 years ago | (#15931210)

"How we feel" is the central tenet of a democratic society. If a law is unjust, it is our duty to defy it.

As long as you are willing to face the consequences of such actions, yes. Defy away; however, a more reasonable and responsible citizen might suggest that if a law is believed to be unjust, they have a duty to try and get it overturned through legal and ethical means first. If that doesn't work, then I think you have a tea party :)

Re:Not good (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15931244)'s_stages_of_ moral_development []

Disobeying laws is sometimes the most moral, reasonable, and responsible thing to do. Ask Gandhi.

Re:Not good (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | about 8 years ago | (#15931436)

I think Gandhi would be offended with the equivocation of fights against racial injustice and poverty and ingrained prejudice with DRMed albums and films. Disobeying a law that you could just as easily have changed doesn't pass for "moral" in the rational world. It passes for "lazy."

Re:Not good (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15931579)

"Disobeying a law that you could just as easily have changed "

I'm not sure I even have to comment on this one, but..

"Easily changed"? Sure, it's easily changed if you have a few million bucks lying around to buy off some senators and congressmen. Yeah, that's JUST as easy as disobeying it, which is something that doesn't require you to be a blueblood capable of "lobbying" those in power.

Re:Not good (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | about 8 years ago | (#15931702)

It's not righteous or morally superior to disobey DRM laws. Don't pretend that it's some great injustice that has been ignored--it's easier to ignore the law than to change it, especially when enforcement is spotty and infrequent. If it really bothered the public, it wouldn't continue. The problem is that the public doesn't really care or understand, and it's just a minor inconvenience (at worst) in the eyes of the average joe. As long as that's the case, DRM won't change. For better or worse, welcome to democracy.

Don't compare it to Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Movement, or the American Revolution. That's all I'm saying.

Re:Not good (3, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | about 8 years ago | (#15931298)

"they have a duty to try and get it overturned through legal and ethical means first."

How do you get a law overturned, without first breaking it and going to court? And what is unethical about breaking an unethical law?

Re:Not good (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15931525)

And furthermore, for how many decades of my life should I suffer the unethical law while trying to get it overturned through legal means, before you would say I've tried enough and can finally remedy it myself?

Re:Not good (1)

nmb3000 (741169) | about 8 years ago | (#15931765)

How do you get a law overturned, without first breaking it and going to court?

Most likely by attempting to show that it violates some other law or previously established right. Economical methods such as boycotts are also available.

And what is unethical about breaking an unethical law?

I didn't suggest there was anything unethical about breaking the law, just that one stays within the accepted bounds of ethics while attempting to remove the offending law. Don't go around killing innocent people to make a point, as an extreme example.

I certainly don't mean to say that breaking the law is always "wrong", at any rate. I usually break the DMCA several times a week by different means because I believe in fair use. That said, one shouldn't think that they are absolved of the consequences of their actions just because the law seems/is unfair, unjust, or unethical. Until it's changed, the law is still the law.

Re:Not good (1)

Ethan Allison (904983) | about 8 years ago | (#15931780)

Um, hiring a lawyer and going to court against them of your own volition?

Re:Not good (1)

fishbowl (7759) | about 8 years ago | (#15931887)

"How do you get a law overturned, without first breaking it and going to court?"

There is always the legislative approach, where you persuade Congress to act on your behalf.

"And what is unethical about breaking an unethical law?"

Nothing at all, provided you are willing to face the full consequences of your actions.

Re:Not good (1)

pwrtool 45 (792547) | about 8 years ago | (#15931366)

Well, I don't know about all that, but the MPAA exec tells me I get an extra $5 if I say "oh what a lovely tea party."

Re:Not good (1)

chmod a+x mojo (965286) | about 8 years ago | (#15931370)

more reasonable and responsible citizen might suggest that if a law is believed to be unjust, they have a duty to try and get it overturned through legal and ethical means first. If that doesn't work, then I think you have a tea party :)

Arrrrr ta hell with dat matey, lets just loot and plunder first!!

Re:Not good (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | about 8 years ago | (#15931567)

Man, now there's an idea. Set up shop on a public corner and offer to rip people's DVDs for them and burn them unencrypted versions. Make them sign something verifying that their DVDs are legal. Bring a few hundred people along to help.

You'd want to publicize it, of course.

Re:Not good (2)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15931659)

I definitely agree. As egregious as putting up with "annoying" infringements of rights like airports delays/rfid passwords/ -- becuase it boils down to people imposing their will on others simply "because they can" -- the following step to civil war must be taken only under dire circumstances.

But don't take it from me. Take it from the wise folks who started this country:

and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government

And when you have people (both american citizens and captured foreign nationals) languishing in prison without trial, tens of thousands of civilians dying in a war the majority of the population does not approve of, secret laws, free speech zones, and any logical check of the government being denied for reasons of "national security"... then there is only one recourse.

Imperial Britian called the american colonists terrorists because they raided merchant suppliers, targeted officers on the field of battle, and ambushed their enemy using guerilla tactics. Of course those in power will drum up a holy crusade against terrorists towards the end -- it is the sign of their death knell.

Re:Not good (2, Insightful)

Tyger (126248) | about 8 years ago | (#15931223)

Yes, the DMCA makes it illegal to break DRM. However, the analog MacroVision copy protection is not strictly "Digital Rights Management" so it seems a bit of a stretch that it is covered under the "Digital Millenium Copyright Act".

Right - it is not DRM. It is AI (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 8 years ago | (#15931460)

Analog Inconvenience, that is.

Simply a nuisance which many would not bother to circumvent, but by no means a strong licensing enforcement mechanism like DRM.

Re:Not good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15931350)

Well, the d in DRM and DMCA stands for digital, and I'm not entirely convinced that analog right management bypassing has been fimped, yet.

Re:Not good (1)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | about 8 years ago | (#15931922)

Excerpted from [] :

"This is achieved through a signal implanted within the offscreen range (vertical blanking interval) of the video signal..."

So, of course it is removed--it is not part of the visible picture! Even if you could capture that junk, it would not serve its intended purpose anyway.

Re:Not good (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | about 8 years ago | (#15931928)

Where do you draw the line between plain noise (stray magnetic fields, wrinkled tape, koolaid all over barney) and DRM noise?

The DMCA is just effing BROKEN (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15931164)

And the sad thing is not enough people care about it to get anything done about it.

We have law A which states fair use and then law B (The DMCA) which says fair use as long as you're not USING it.

I wonder how much the RIAA and MPAA paid to get the DMCA passed. A-holes.

shocked (2, Interesting)

joe 155 (937621) | about 8 years ago | (#15931167)

I am shocked that people still care about "rights" (sic) abuses on analogue material, the only reason you would be doing this is because you had bought a copy a long while ago and now want to be able to enjoy that copy on a system you have. Do they even make VHS? new piracy would be stupid from this angle. Besides cracking it in digital format is far easier...

They are just trying to screw you over again and again and again. Fortunately I don't live in a country with the DMCA or equivalent, but I sympathise, I hate getting screwed over by companies and the government when their working against the people.

Re:shocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15931209)

Nobody is screwing you over. You are screwing yourselves by buying useless (copy-protected) media.

Re:shocked (4, Insightful)

cyberworm (710231) | about 8 years ago | (#15931292)

I agree with the spirit of your post, but the one thing that people overlook in their "government+companies vs. the people" argument, is that companies are made up of people. I think the spirit of what companies do to protect their investments, is to help protect their money. Money which they use to pay their employees, who in turn, contribute to society.

I do, however, agree that these kinds of things suck, and feel that if I own a VHS tape or LP, I should be able to transfer them to whatever media I choose.... But by admitting that I have the ability to do so, also is an admission that I have the ability to still play the original media and am not locked out of it. Granted, I own an mp3 player, and think it would be cool to listen to those old unpublished B sides I have stored away on vinyl when I take the dog for a walk, or any media I own, that for whatever reason isn't considered profitable to some guy sitting in a tower. Artistry in any form needs to be preserved, regardless of popularity or profit. Admirers of "unprofitable" or "unpopular" art, in my opinion have a duty and right to preserve and protect art for future generations, when others won't do it.
To me, copy restrictions amount to nothing more than the censorship of art, and a slippery slope of allowing only a select few to choose what parts of our past carry on into the present. Remember this one thing: "History is written by the winners."

Re:shocked (1)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#15931312)

. . .cracking it in digital format is far easier...

It isn't available in digital format.


No one cares about rights - it's Macrovision (3, Insightful)

leehwtsohg (618675) | about 8 years ago | (#15931378)

No one here cares about rights. This is simply macrovision trying to survive. If:
1. Anyone can overcome macrovision protection,
2. It will be useless to even build it in anywhere.
4. No company will by the protection from macrovision.
5. Loss

Re:No one cares about rights - it's Macrovision (1)

Lorkki (863577) | about 8 years ago | (#15931783)

The movie and record industries don't have a very good track record of following on those lines. Anyone can overcome CSS and Macrovision, but there seems to be enough collective fear about piracy around that even appalling protection measures seem better than nothing to them. Hence, it doesn't seem completely useless to build it everywhere, and thus the protection vendors profit and legit customers keep cursing the completely artifical limitations set down upon them.

Re:No one cares about rights - it's Macrovision (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 8 years ago | (#15931855)

Your logic is rivaled only by your spelling and counting.

Re:No one cares about rights - it's Macrovision (2, Informative)

gbobeck (926553) | about 8 years ago | (#15931938)

Apparently, Macrovision must have successfully scrambled item number 3.

I've had a SIMA Color corrector pro for years. (3, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 8 years ago | (#15931198)

I don't know how good it is at color corrections but it did a fine job of removing macrovision before my new DVD player came into the picture.

I for one endorse this product if you have the need.

Its about who owns what. (5, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | about 8 years ago | (#15931260)

I have nothing against the content producers making financial gain from their efforts. In fact, I work for a company that makes a considerable amount of money licensing code to third parties. I'm well aware of the situation that copyright creates, and I'm all for ownership of intellectual property.

That said, ownership is a two way street. I exchange my ownership of the code I produce for the salary my company pays me. I consider it a fair deal - I work a given number of hours in exchange for a one time payment. Once I've cashed the check (before, actually), I no longer own the code that I write. I have no problem with this arrangement. Whether my company sells one copy or a million makes no difference to me, because I've already been paid for the work I did. If the company can't sell my code, well, that's their loss, not mine. Or, if they are obscenely profitable, that's their gain. After all, they bought my code, and they own it. For them to make obscene profits does not impose any additional work burden on me.

However, the movie industry is actively opposed to intellectual property. When you buy a movie from them, they take your money, yet behave as if both the money and the movie are still theirs. You see, they don't believe in property. When you sell a piece of property, you give up any and all claim to the property. The movie industry's idea of a sale is more like an indefinite lease - you get to have a copy of the content for as long as it suits the studio. They feel that if they are not making enough money, they have the right to charge you time and again for the same material. (i.e. new movie on DVD instead of VHS, the "director's cut" version, etc...)

And you are supposed to like it. You pay for the DVD, but you don't own it:

  • You can't make a backup copy and aren't supposed to try.
  • You aren't allowed to post clips from the movie for critical review.
  • You can't make backgrounds from screenshots of good scenes.
  • You have to buy the soundtrack separately rather than recording it from the DVD.

Granted, I know there are ways around all of these, but they are not easy to come by, and require a technical aptitude beyond what the average user will possess. In effect, the studios are "Indian givers" - they aren't satisfied with either your money or the movie - they want them both.

Which, I think is one of the key reasons why I seldom buy movies anymore. It just doesn't seem right to give money to someone whose stated purpose is to explicitly rip off their customers, and goes to great length to defend the practice .

Flawed analogy (5, Insightful)

OhBoy! (842699) | about 8 years ago | (#15931426)

Your company isn't paying you for just a single copy of your code - they are paying you to assign them the copyright, so they can make as many copies as they like.
It would certainly be possible for you to pay to media companies to assign the copyright to you, but it would cost a lot more then $15.
The fact that you got modded +5 insightful only illustrates how difficult it is to sort out intelectual property owernship issues. Almost all analogies made with cars or computers or whatever people tend to come up with don't work - this is a different beast and as a society we haven't figured out yet how to deal with the problem of something as essential as culture being a commercial product at the same time. Perhaps our culture isn't all it is drummed up to be?

Not disagreeing with you, but books are very simil (2, Insightful)

Saanvik (155780) | about 8 years ago | (#15931474)

I'm not disagreeing with you, but it's not really that different from a book, the one exception being fair use of excerpts.

You pay for the book, but you don't own it:

  • You can't make a backup copy, and you are supposed to try (as the signs at Kinko's have often reminded me).
  • You can, due to fair use, post excerpts for critical review.
  • I don't believe it's legal in the US to make backgrounds of images in books.
  • No soundtrack except what's in your head.

When a new version comes out (like the English version of "A Clockwork Orange", a paperback, or an ebook) you have to buy it if you want it in the new format or with the extra material. If your book wears out, or you spill coffee on it and it become illegible, you have to buy a new copy.

The biggest difference is a book never becomes unusable due to technological obsolescence.

Books != Movies (1)

Alaren (682568) | about 8 years ago | (#15931666)

The biggest difference is a book never becomes unusable due to technological obsolescence.

That difference flat-out overshadows the similarities you point out. Technological obsolesence is, with a bit of work, simple to overcome. But these days, it's also illegal.

Furthermore, parent post suggests several ways in which you don't "really" own the movie, but while these are all worth discussing, the most important one regards backups. You actually can make a backup of your books. There is absolutely nothing illegal about scanning and digitizing your library--and there is nothing in the way books are made to prevent you from doing so.

The same can't be said for movies.

Re:Its about who owns what. (2, Informative)

Ferretski (160396) | about 8 years ago | (#15931595)

Your analogy is fundamentally flawed. If you make software, and you haven't yet sold it, it has a certain value to you (how much it cost to develop) and it has a certain value to say, the business that wants to buy this code (how much return on investment they can get).

However, the value to the buyer is MUCH MUCH less than the value to the producer: it's certainly not worth the $2mill development cost to the buyer. So you charge what the buyer is prepared to pay, say, $5K.

But with no concept of licensing instead of ownership, the second you sell one copy, there's no reason the buyer won't just put it up on BitTorrent. As far as they see it, they're saving everyone else $5K and doing everyone a favour. And since they're not taking anything away from you, it's not stealing either.

Suddenly there's no incentive to produce expensive software that has a wide appeal anymore.

Enter copyright, and LICENSING - whereby the producer sells the right to use the code, not the ownership of the code. Along with that license comes restrictions, and now the producer is more likely to be able to recover their costs and turn a profit.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no DMCA fanboy, in fact making it illegal to sell software purely on the basis that it has the abililty to help people infringe copyright is a terrible move. All I'm saying is that you can't have ownership of intellectual property, no licensing, and expect everything to come up roses.

DMCA... (2, Interesting)

demon_2k (586844) | about 8 years ago | (#15931265)

As far as I am aware, DMCA covers only digital media and encryption.
Wo what the hell has that got to do with VHS.
It's not digital, nor it contains encryption.

The Macrovision curse (5, Informative)

Simonetta (207550) | about 8 years ago | (#15931365)

Basically this was sold as a way to prevent anyone from using two VCRs to copy a rented videotape. It (Macrovision) was placed on most commercial videos of Hollywood product from the mid-1980s to the present. Since the 'owner' of the video content had to pay a stiff license fee to Macrovision company, almost no porn tapes from that era had this nonsense added.

    Macrovision is a burst of noise added to the vertical sync in the brief period after the current frame has ended and the next frame (a single 'photograph' or still image on the television set) begins. This burst of noise happened about once every ten to fifteen seconds. It caused the picture image to lose sync and 'roll' and/or 'tear up' for a short period of time until the vertical sync stabilization circuitry in the recording process
kicked in and made the picture stable.

    This is how Macrovision was able to mess up the video copy without destroying the video integrity when watching the original commercial video tape. The sync stablizer circuitry only was active during the recording period, not during playback. But the video copy was polluted by tearing and rolling every ten seconds or so.

    The way to defeat this pollution was/is to use an 1881 sync seperator IC, a track-and-hold circuit, a 4053-type analog 1-of-2 switch IC, and a timer on a microcontroller (or a 555 one-shot timer IC). Use the sync seperator to detect the beginning of the vertical sync pulse. At this time, sample the black video level using the track-and-hold. After sampling, switch the video signal to the recorder (for the content being copied) to the sampled black level for the period before the actual video image analog signal begins. Then switch the recording back to the analog video signal of the original. Your copy will be solid and without tearing and rolling.

    Oh my goodness!?! Did I just break your fucking law by explaining this? Oh my, I am sooooooo sorry! Oh well, to quote Emil Faber, "Knowledge Is Good". That's from the first video that I thought was worth copying.

Mostly correct (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15931458)

What Macrovision does is to mess up the automatic gain control (AGC) on the vcr. A tv also has an AGC but it reacts fast enough that the visible picture isn't affected. Old VCRs are either not affected or can easily be adjusted so they aren't. Any VCR made in the last fifteen years is pretty much tamper proof with regard to the AGC. Macrovision tricks the AGC by deliberately messing up the "black level" during the vertical sync period. It's not noise per se. As the parent points out it is easy to defeat. In fact, every decent video studio or tv station has equipment which, as part of its normal operation, removes macrovision from a video signal.

Re:The Macrovision curse (1)

smclean (521851) | about 8 years ago | (#15931542)

I had (crap, I still *have*) an old two-head VCR for years that was seemingly immune to VHS copy protection. I often wondered if the fact that the two VCRs I was using to dub were a mix of two and four head units had any effect on it. No tape it recorded ever had copy protection problems, and it recorded a lot of tapes.

Also, wasn't it possible to just run the signal through an RF amplifier to sufficiently remove the effects of copy protection? Perhaps it normalized or 'smoothed out' the vertical sync noise?

Re:The Macrovision curse (1)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | about 8 years ago | (#15931636)

Your old VCR probably had manual gain controls (a.k.a. "record level") or fixed gain. Also, any old sample-and-hold circuit will easily defeat Macrovision.

Re:The Macrovision curse (2, Informative)

radarsat1 (786772) | about 8 years ago | (#15931696)

I see.. is _THIS_ what stops me from running my DVD player through the Line-In on my VCR so I can watch it on my TV?
I often play CDs on my DVD player, so most of the time I leave it plugged in through my VCR to my living room sound system. But every fucking time I try to watch a rented DVD the screen starts flashing to that blue "no signal" screen, and I have to reach back and swear to myself as I pull the plug out of the VCR, unplug the VCR from the TV, and plug the DVD player into the TV. Since there is no line-in on the DVD player this is the only way to set things up. What a pain in the ASS. I'm not even interested in copying these DVDs, I just want to WATCH them, you know, exactly what I bought the player for.

Re:The Macrovision curse (2, Informative)

bguzz (728614) | about 8 years ago | (#15931730)

is _THIS_ what stops me from running my DVD player through the Line-In on my VCR so I can watch it on my TV?


Re:The Macrovision curse (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | about 8 years ago | (#15931810)


Damn it!
so... angry...

1. 2. 3. phew.. okay. i feel better now.

Macrovision introduces noise... (1)

Alternator (995114) | about 8 years ago | (#15931376)

I wont stand for a product which is made inferior on purpose, even if that purpose is supposedly to stop piracy.

If I spend my good money on a product I expect the best that product will give me... Well I guess it will be another example of me voting with my feet.... NO SALE!

Re:Macrovision introduces noise... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 8 years ago | (#15931409)

Hey, the eighties called, they want their mix tape back.

who is Saied Pinto? (0, Troll)

bunions (970377) | about 8 years ago | (#15931397)

and why do we care about what articles he lovingly selects for slashdot and which he doesn't?

Re:who is Saied Pinto? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 8 years ago | (#15931597)

maybe this is the /. version of throwing pasta against the wall and seeing what sticks??

IE if we don't do a pitch fork and torch /. on this guy maybe he (and a couple of his buds) will be in the mix of postings??

sort of like getting a "Real Chef" to do a school lunch to see if anybody notices??

Re:who is Saied Pinto? (1)

bozendoka (739643) | about 8 years ago | (#15931660)

Just a guess, but they're probably trying to be upfront about articles that are from other sources so people don't cry foul about people submitting a bunch of stories from LinuxWorld and the OMG ID10T!!1! editors that don't catch them.

Is that what it's supposed to do (2, Funny)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 8 years ago | (#15931407)

Macrovision's best-known form of copy protection inserts noise into analog video signals to make it difficult to get a good copy of the DVD or VHS recording

Is that what they are trying to do. I never can tell, the window that pops up to tell me what DRM scheme is being bypassed flashes by WAY too quickly for me to catch it.

Go America go go go (2, Interesting)

ngdbsdmn (658135) | about 8 years ago | (#15931410)

This is just a drop in the bucket. I'm curios to see if I'll live to see it publicly recognized, that having a law, writing that ownership on an idea exists, is fundamentally wrong. The problem is so elemental that many people will have to die before this thruth comes forcefully to light, just like it was with communism.

With so much outsourcing for the actual work, with services so expensive, America more than anyone is dependent on the cash flow from copyright. To make matters worse, the society is based on greed and the only stopper to that is competition, twisted so much as it turned into distributed greed, helped to prosper by the law. Even if a spiritual revolution should come tommorow, and looking at who is the elected president there are no worries for that, the enterprise demons created by this society won't just dissapear without a fight. And that is natural.

A thick, well established and powerfull layer of people fight over your bodies as you stand and watch your politically correct shows day in and day out. How can this perfect 1984 society claim to honour freedom as it's founding fathers did, when freedom was lost a long time ago? How will you be able to kill the sick system that already exists when all you know is TV and TV dinners? How can you justify yourselves the fact that your copyright laws caused millions on this planet to die in horrible sufferings because medicine developments are stalled when you need dozens of patents to even start research on anything?

I'll humbly suggest the first step: Literally throw away your TV and start caring about each other. Stop buying crap, stop buying movies from Hollywood and start getting your music by going to concerts played by your local artists. Maybe then, your children will have a fighting chance and the rest of the world won't have to enter in the third war against a once great nation.

P.S: I appologies for my english. It should've been better by now.

Does anybody out there know ... (2, Interesting)

LaughingCoder (914424) | about 8 years ago | (#15931421)

if the mysterious "HQ" technology that suddenly started appearing on all the VCRs had anything to do with Macrovision or copy protection? I have always suspected this, as, by my recollection, HQ appeared around the time this copy protection arrived. All that whining about putting a special "tax" on blank tapes went away around the same time as well. It all makes me wonder if the "HQ" (that allegedly gave you a "20% better picture") wasn't actually the enabler for copy protection. This could help explain why TVs didn't have a problem with copy protected content, but VCRs did. I thought maybe someone in /. land might have some first hand knowledge about HQ and could shed some light on this.

Re:Does anybody out there know ... (1)

f8l_0e (775982) | about 8 years ago | (#15931641)

VCRs had a problem recording Macrovision because of the auto gain circuitry on the VCRs inputs. The Macrovision signal sends the video out of NTSC spec, short of where it is not visible, but the VCR turns down the gain far enough to ruin the image. Macrovision didn't effect really old VCRs that don't have auto gain.

Re:Does anybody out there know ... (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | about 8 years ago | (#15931773)

And did HQ perhaps include autogain? What was HQ?

Re:Does anybody out there know ... (1)

bozendoka (739643) | about 8 years ago | (#15931693)

Well, FWIW this guy [] didn't mention it, and his explanation seemed pretty coherent.

At least, he used a lot of words and I don't think he misspelled anything.

Re:Does anybody out there know ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15931949)

HQ stands for High Quality and all it is is a pre-emphasis circuit to help preserve sharp edges in the recorded video signal. No relationship whatsoever with Macrovision.

Tivo bends the rule a little. (2, Interesting)

DiscoRaj (794735) | about 8 years ago | (#15931440)

I have a Humax Tivo with the DVD burner and front inputs for recording camcorders etc. I recently recorded an old VHS (via the front inputs) to transfer to DVD. The Humax lets me record to Tivo (on HDD) but it blocks me from burning it to dvd or transfering it to my computer via media option. Tivo lets me bend a little but not break Macrovision. It's the first time I have seen the "Copy Protected" symbol on my Tivo.

Well Duh!!! (1)

Catiline (186878) | about 8 years ago | (#15931585)

How else did you expect them to run a perpetual ownership system without perpetual copy protection? </sarcasm>

Sarcasm aside, the thought still stands: of course they don't want old copy protection to stop working. To them that would be a gigantic flashing neon sign saying "FREE MOVIES HERE!" (Never mind that copyright law is the protection they need/want/have, not Digital Rights Manglement.)

Wrong laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15931708)

How can this be protected under the DMCA? I believe it would be more properly protected under the AMCA. And as that was never passed, or even proposed, well... too bad.

Macrovision (2, Insightful)

LindseyJ (983603) | about 8 years ago | (#15931747)

They have a pretty ironic name for being so short-sighted.

The copyright clause in the Constitution... (3, Interesting)

karl.auerbach (157250) | about 8 years ago | (#15931754)

The copyright clause in the Constitution allows Congress to enact laws to protect the work of authors only for limited periods of time.

Now, in the Mickey Mouse case, the court said that protection periods on the order of 100 years are OK, but the Court kinda hinted that it might not go along with this much further.

Anyway, the technique of leveraging DRM protections in via a copyright and then having them live forever is rather a slap in the face of the Constitutional limitation on the duration of copyrights.

Of course, Congress does have a weasel-way out: they might say, "oh, we allow DRM to exist forever as part of our powers over commerce among the states."

But in practical terms, DRM forever transforms what is supposed to be a copyright of limited duration into a copyright that lasts for all eternity. And that, is contrary to the purpose, a purpose actually stated in the US Constitution, to promote the arts and sciences, for copyright and patents.

See my note "The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities" [] . It's short, so I'll just copy it here:

The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities

It seems to me that in the fight over copyright and digital rights management few have considered what happens in the distant future when the material being protected is no longer covered by copyright. That thought led me to propose the following rule and accompanying pledge.

The Rule Against Digital Perpuities:

        No Digital Rights Management (DRM) limitation or anti-copying mechanism may endure longer than the original copyright in the protected work.

The Pledge:

        I pledge to neither specify nor standardize nor implement any system that does not conform to the Rule Against Digital Perpetuities.

video production equipment illegal now? (2, Insightful)

Digital Pizza (855175) | about 8 years ago | (#15931761)

I don't know which device made by Sima they're complaining about, but last time I checked (can't open their webpage now) they make equipment for legitimate video work and that's their target market. I have a Sima Color Corrector Pro which can remove Macrovision protection from video signal, but it's a video production device that's made for and targeted to legitimate video production work.

You can kill someone with a hammer; are they gonna make those illegal too now?

There's a consumer based solution (4, Insightful)

nightsweat (604367) | about 8 years ago | (#15931763)

Use less media. See fewer movies and NONE at the theater. Buy no new music, just buy used CD's.

Golly, you might not be cool, but you won't be a sucker, either. Fuck the media companies that want to ruin our intellectual property system.

DX-11 (3, Interesting)

certsoft (442059) | about 8 years ago | (#15931777)

I bought one of (WARNING-POPUP) these [] a number of years back for about $30. There are schematics available on the internet for equivalent devices built with half a dozen cheap IC's.

Nice... (4, Informative)

(H)elix1 (231155) | about 8 years ago | (#15931856)

As classic video (magnetic) tape only lasts 10-20 years, you cannot expect anything on tape to still be around in 100 years. Without killing the macrovision, there will be no archives other than what might be on (real/reel) film.... Not that I expect congress to leave the dates alone.

Wow (3, Insightful)

GXFragger (758649) | about 8 years ago | (#15931881)

This is another reason why I joined the US Pirate Party [] . The laws need to be reformed and the DMCA needs to be replaced with a more sensible, consumer friendly version. I'm simply sick of being told what I can and what I can't do with my legally purchased media, as long and I don't like that trying to make it into a rent style system.

We need to form together to help change these laws. I believe joining the Pirate Party may be a start to this. Boycotting also works effectively, but only if enough people do it. Raising awareness of these issues is also a very good thing to do as many people simply aren't aware that it happening until it is too late. Even just trying to talk to your representatives may help things as most of th time they aren't even aware of these types of issues or if they don't listen, then vote for someone else next time. If we can get enough people to realize what is really occuring, then change can happen.
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