Cable Industry Joins MPAA In Asking FCC To Allow Them To Stop Your DVR From Recording Movies

from the without-any-reason dept

Ars Technica has allowed the cable industry lobbyists' top lawyer to explain why the cable industry supports breaking your DVR in a misguided effort to add more windows to movie releases. Not surprisingly, he simply repeats the MPAA's flat out lies and misrepresentations on this particular issue. For example, he claims that the movie studios need this or they won't get content out to the industry early enough. But that's wrong. There is nothing stopping the movie studios from releasing content whenever they would like. In fact, we've already seen that some of the major studios are releasing movies in exactly this manner (prior to DVD release), despite claiming that it's impossible to do so without enabling this form of DRM.

If the movie industry wants to add a new window where they release movies for pay-per-view offerings before they come out on DVD, there is nothing stopping them from doing so today. Nothing.

The claim that this is about preventing "piracy" is flat out bogus. Even the movie studios themselves claim that nearly every movie is already "pirated" by the time the movies hit the theaters. And these pay-per-view offerings (they like to call them video on demand, but it's really pay per view) are for a window later than the theater release. So the movies will already be available via unauthorized channels. That won't change at all.

So, what are we left with? The two main arguments simply don't make sense at all. There's nothing stopping the studios from adding this window now. And enabling selectable output control (SOC) to stop your DVR from recording these movies won't do a damn thing to reduce unauthorized file sharing of the same content. The only thing it will serve to do is make legitimate customers pissed off, because they'll be confused and annoyed when the DVR they purchased to record what comes out of their TV sets refuses to record this movie that they legally are accessing, but want to time shift (which, again, is perfectly legal).

Contrary to the MPAA and the NCTA's bogus claims, this has nothing to do with enabling some "awesome" new service. This has everything to do with trying to lock down your TV and DVR in an age when consumers are finally getting back some control. What's amusing, of course, is that this comes just as the TV industry is finally realizing that letting consumers do what they wanted with DVRs didn't harm the TV industry, but helped it. One of these days, maybe the MPAA and the NCTA will come to that realization as well. In the meantime, though, they want to get a foot in the door to let them stop your DVR from working as advertised, in the misguided belief that they need to push back on what legitimate consumers want to do with the content they watch.


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  1.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:05am

    Just let them do this its a good thing ....

     

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  2.  
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    sure, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:13am

    Enlightenment

    in any covilized society to be so onemust have compassion and forgiveness to there fellow man.

    Copyright , acta , the mpaa , the riaa and these corporations are NOT civilized entities they have no cpmassion no forgiveness and show no remorse about screwing people the world and are damaging the knowledge base of the planet.

    THIS IS a direct shot a masonry and if they are so for freedom and knowledge then they should be using resources to stop this madness of a Spanish style inquisition on FREEDOM and KNOWLEDGE. DO they? NO...It is as i will say part of a control. AND part of the lie that was stated that if you believe in a higher power that created the universe and that knowledge and freedom are to be had. THE real question is for WHOM?

    I find it shameful that the mpaa would make my fathers VHS tape collection illegal , i find it abhorrent he would make my grand fathers collection illegal that fought in world war 1 , world war 2 , and north korea. I FIND THAT SICK UTTERLY SICK and there is no excuse that once the tv commercials run it should be paid for.

    Seems to me that the cable industry ( which btw is almost 90% controlled by media companies that are part of the mpaa ) would do this to veterans that have made them possible. PERHAPS granpa fought for the wrong side, but then Hitler was worse, but here we are not having learned what democracy is and doing it to people again.

    PROTEST THIS buy dumping old vhs tapes on the steps of movie houses and cable companies doorsteps

    through the shit back at them.

     

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  3.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    Technotcracy

    Can't you see that every "awesome new consumer-friendly technology" needs a government mandate to make it in today's market.

     

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  4.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    Re: Enlightenment

    Jeez dude. I appreciate the sentiment; but... were you foaming at the mouth while you wrote this?

    Take a breath, slow down long enough to be sure your words are clear and concise and your passion will win far more accolades.

     

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  5.  
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    Overcast (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:35am

    Do it cable industry.. and you'll get the DVR right back.

    Don't tempt me to ditch cable and sign up for NetFlix. I think about that enough already.

     

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  6.  
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    Brendan (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:38am

    Whoops.

    I wasn't paying attention to the main TD page, and submitted this article in a fit of rage from Ars.

    I guess I should check the front page before submitting...

     

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  7.  
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    Sheesh, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:43am

    How many times is this ?

    Some people just don't take no for an answer.
    They are like childeren.

     

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  8.  
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    PushForth, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    That's Fine

    It won't be too long before someone finds a workaround. They always do.

     

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  9.  
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    Simon, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:49am

    The problem is...

    ...they assume everyone 'steals' if then can, because that's what they would do.

     

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  10.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Re: The problem is...

    What bothers me is that this won't fix the problem of piracy. The industry will then go to their hired guns in Congress and say "This didn't work. We need something more draconian." And they will probably get it.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:00am

    So what,

    They are going to hack0r into my homegrown Linux DVR setup? Let them try is all I can say.. Will be a good fight and I'm totally looking forward to it.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:00am

    They really think we're stupid

    They claim it is necessary to protect their "high value" content and will only be used for such. Of course, one week after it is mandated, they will declare that all their content is "high value" and render all DVRs useless.
    The only problem I see is that most people may very well be stupid enough to fall for it, and then will continue to re-elect the same lawmakers who were bought to pass this.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:03am

    Re: Enlightenment

    copyright corporation? masonry? the spanish inquisition? world war 2? what the hell are you talking about?

    honestly, you lost me at "covilized"

    and btdubs, playing the veteran card is a very puerile tactic that doesnt make any point in your case more legitimate

    furthermore, protesting by dumping vhs tapes on the steps of movie house and cable company building is shear senselessness. if anything you should be dumping your dvr on the steps because it would be that device that was now been rendered useless.

    yet still, littering never solves anything

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:07am

    limiting what our dvrs can and cant record- are they trying to prevent piracy or trying to cause more piracy?

     

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  15.  
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    Chris (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:20am

    Read the Comments

    in the Ars Technica article. They all say the same thing that everyone here is saying especially Mike. Also I do think it was good for Ars to publish this. They made it clear that it was an opinion and that he was legitimately trying to convince people (that he is completely wrong is another story).

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:29am

    The Carriage Problem

    The cable industry is in trouble as of the DigitalTV mandate. Remember, local broadcasters now have the ability to increase the number of digital channels using the same licensed space. For example, on ATSC, a broadcaster can have one 1080i/720p channel and still have room for three 480p/480i subchannels. In fact, if a broadcaster wanted to, they could squeeze 7 SD channels in their licensed space. (A number of channels on cable are still broadcast in SD, so this would be at parity with many cable carriage.)

    What does this mean?
    If local Over-the-air affliates of CBS started broadcasting Comedy Central, MTV, and SpikeTV in their digital space, it would meet the needs of many who have cable. If over-the air affiliates of ABC started broadcasting Disney, ESPN, and Lifetime, they would less depend on Cable for carriage. If over-the-air affiliates of NBC started broadcasting The Weather Channel, TNT, and MSNBC, they would depend less on cable for carriage.

    So when it comes to stopping the DVR for recording movies, it seems Cable is embracing it as a potential strategic decision to increase value based on a potential threat of OTA carriage by offsetting movie revenue. Which, on the whole, it isn't a bad idea, but the overall success of Redbox's $1 a day rental or Netflix's business model is proving that the majority of reasonable, target customers aren't fixated on instant gratification to the point legislation needs to be created.

    I have no clue. Do your own research....

     

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  17.  
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    william (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    One of the commentor on ars I strongly agrees with.

    If they so desperately need this, just talk to the consumer electronic manufactures to produce units that contains SOC.

    If this really is a CHOICE given to consumers then let both types of equipments which does or does not contain SOC exists in the market. If you want early content releases, go head and buy equipments with the added "enhancement". If you don't, just buy a regular equipment.

    Instead, they go crying to FCC to have this implemented on EVERYTHING.

    Why is that?

    Because they themselves and CE manufactures know that the so called "enhanced" products will be a bomb and no one will buy them except a very tiny percentage of people.

    The iPod example he raises is highly misleading. Apple didn't force EVERYONE to use their DRM. They didn't ask FCC to make every single audio player to adhere to their DRM. On the other hand, pro-SOC lobbyist are.

    What I find in McSlarrow's article is that at first glance it all looks good and nice. However, the more times you read it the more you find it deceiving. The problem is that an average person probably won't read into it as much as us so this kind of junk still works.

    It's a sad world.

     

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  18.  
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    william (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    Re:

    Oh yeah, and this quote really pisses me off

    "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set up a process—called the Selectable Output Control (SOC) rule—that would enable us to provide that protection so content owners have the confidence they need to distribute their high-value content sooner."

    No they didn't set that up. YOU and YOUR BUDDIES proposed that and you want FCC to force everyone to implement it. And FCC has NOT set that up and in fact strike the idea down couple times already.

    He's trying to spin it making it sound like FCC has already approved it, and all you oppositions are going against FCC's regulation. Shouldn't this be illegal to falsely representing a government body?

     

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  19.  
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    Derek Reed (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:54am

    Re: Read the Comments

    Agreed. Only nitpick I'd make is Ars hiding the comments at the bottom behind a click. Seems like a really poor attitude towards those "unscrupulous comments those dern people keep asking for on our articles". But other than that, good, the intro to the article does seem adequate to indicate the nature of the post.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:59am

    Re: The problem is...

    ...and what's your point? That law enforcement should become so overpowering, oppressive and tyrannical that "everyone" is forced to act a certain way?

    The law should extend itself from society. The opposite, that society should mold around the law, is literally impossible. Even in the most oppressive nations in history it's the law that has always ended up bending, not the people.

    If "everyone" wanted to steal, there is literally nothing that the law could do about it.

     

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  21.  
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    sure, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: Enlightenment

    did you read it i was talking about hte fact say if my grandfather had a VHS tape collection and that instead it was a DVR collection and whats the difference other then a lil extra quality YOUD have him called a criminal when he fought for the very freedom ( whats left of it ) that we have , and that piece a few days ago where some alleged 32nd degree mason went on at the hip about knowledge and freedom when its all a crock and they are in fact part of that which is doing the controlling by virtue of there "business meetings"

    the same crap was tried in canada with billc61 which was written for the conservative party and in fact would have outlawed VHS tapes !!!!
    the theory is that OK lets get everyone of them in canada and dump them on the lawn of parliament and or the movie/media houses in canada as a PR stunt of how many people really use said tech

     

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  22.  
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    Jeff, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    wth

    What is funny about this, is that most cable companies are the ones tossing in the free DVR's with their cable packages. If they are so against it, they should recall all of these DVR's first. It's like giving the guy the gun and then after he shoots someone with it asking the govt to make it illegal to have the gun.

    I love the reasoning the MPAA gives on this. This is so we can get the content out sooner. HUH? What does me being able to record something on my tv have anything to do with you deciding when it's going to play on my tv in the first place. If it's not there to record, then how can I record it any sooner then they release it to me?!?

    Just another bogus attempt to get the government to force everyone to give them more money!! Sad that when the movie companies are telling us they are breaking records in sales. Then turn around and say they are going out of business cause they are going broke because of the piracy.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re:

    Corrupting government bodies should be illegal as well. It won't stop the bribers, sorry, lobbyists though.

    Hey, check it out:

    "I say to you that the SOC is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston tickler is to adorable little puppies." - The Greatest Shill of All Time

     

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  24.  
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    Comboman (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    How much shift do you need?

    While I too fear that adding the do-not-record flag to any broadcast sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to adding it to everything, some of the arguments presented here don't make a lot of sense. Time-shifting is indeed a legal, fair use of broadcast content, but why would it be necessary to time-shift a video-on-demand program which in which the consumer sets the schedule? That's what the "on-demand" part of video-on-demand means (and the difference from pay-per-view, in which the broadcaster sets the schedule). All the systems I've read about allow you to start the program whenever you want, as well as pause it and resume later. Also, it's not really a broadcast, it's a streaming video that is only viewable and controllable by the purchaser, so I'm not sure if the fair use for time-shifting set out in Sony v Universal (a.k.a. "The Betamax Case") would really apply to video-on-demand.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    I know it sucks, but honestly, is anyone telling FCC otherwise? Sitting here and bitching about it online will only get us so far.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    Re: How much shift do you need?

    If the content industry wants to have a television that removes part of it's functionality so it can play some movies then it can compete, on the market, with televisions that DON'T remove part of it's functionality and DOESN'T play some movies.

    Why it needs a government body to force ALL televisions to remove funtionality is beyond me.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:20pm

    So if all programming on tv is 1/3 movies, hypothetically, that must mean that the cable company is also going to reduce my DVR rental fee by 1/3 too when they remove that content, right?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Enlightenment

    "buy dumping old vhs tapes on the steps of movie houses and cable companies doorsteps"

    So movie houses and cable companies sell these 'dumping old vhs tapes' on their doorsteps?

     

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  29.  
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    Wanderlust (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    Re:

    I can get whatever TV show or movie for free online but use my DVR for TV and Netflix for movies. They can keep my DVR and I'll cancel the Netflix account and just download whatever movie I want rather than give either one of them any money. Of course using the cable companies bandwidth to download them.

     

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  30.  
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    R. Miles (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:35pm

    Re:

    Wait, you're under the impression you'll be able to view these PRE-DVD releases at a reasonable price?

    Brighthouse offers a couple and they *start* at $10!

    Netflix already wins and the MPAA dream of controlling customer content and systems hasn't even been implemented.

     

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  31.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Just let them do this its a good thing ....

    This is the cable industries attempt at DRM, and we know how happy consumers are with DRM of any sort. We go out of our way to purchase devices that are crippled and wont do what we expect them to do. We look forward to having CD's install root kits that cause crashes, and spy on us. We grin from ear to ear when our e-book readers delete books we have a book report due on.

    Its a good thing because, the NCTA, and the MPAA will be shooting themselves in the foot just like the music industry did. SOC will at first be used to protect this new "media distribution window". Slowly it will be used to protect more and more content that they deem valuable. Causing anger and pissing off cable subscribers.

    In all actuality this will lead to a more people pirating and less people actually watching cable. The inevitable outcome is for people to choose what they wish to see and have it automatically downloaded so they can watch it at their leisure. Just like they currently do with the DVR, imagine that. Only instead of using the new NCTA and MPAA window it will be through piracy.

    I wish NCTA and MPAA all the best of luck in this endevour

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Enlightenment

    Seriously.

    You're going to criticize a post for a clear typo, when you fail to use proper word selection in your own post?

    Shear senselessness is not equivalent to sheer senselessness.

    Just for your edification: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shear

    and http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sheer

     

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  33.  
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    batch, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 1:14pm

    Guess I'll just continue going to movies less and renting more. Do whatever I can to contribute to losses on the MPAAs part. Fair is fair.

     

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  34.  
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    Haywood, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    Re: That's Fine

    There already is one; build your own DVR from a computer with a TV card, it won't care where the content came from it is just recording 1s and 0s.

     

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  35.  
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    Wanderlust (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Enlightenment

    Shear Sheer, WHO CARES AC??? Go somewhere else for your education classes, are you the official TD grammar/spelling Czar? The post was a senseless rant, not a simple improper use of a word.

     

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  36.  
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    robin, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 5:51pm

    Re: ACTION!!!

    you're absolutely right:

    http://www.publicknowledge.org/action/say-no-to-soc

    fill out the form on this page and submit it to the fcc (all electronically of course).

    tell them just how opposed you are to soc.

     

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  37.  
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    Paul Keating, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 2:45am

    Zone codes for DVDs

    While we are at it can you explain why companies still feel the need to release DVDs by zone? I am constantly amazed this still goes on. I have recieved sooo many Zone 1 DVDs as gifts (still do) but since I live in Spain they serve no purpose. I simply take them back to the US on my various trips and give them away.

     

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  38.  
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    gorehound (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:07am

    hollywood sucks

    I would just start boycotting hollywood like i am doing.those assholes are never getting me to pay for their krap new ever again.they will lose at leasst a 1,000 dollars from my buying.imagine if all of use just tell em to frak off.
    multiply the lossses.they want to screw all of us over so we do the same back to them.

     

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  39.  
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    Rekrul, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: Read the Comments

    Only nitpick I'd make is Ars hiding the comments at the bottom behind a click.

    That's because Ars doesn't have "comments" like this site, it has a fully functional discussion forum. The "comments" that you see after clicking are a frankenstein-like merging of the news site with the forum. Basically it's a stripped down, simplified interface to the actual forum.

     

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  40.  
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    Rekrul, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Re: How much shift do you need?

    Time-shifting is indeed a legal, fair use of broadcast content, but why would it be necessary to time-shift a video-on-demand program which in which the consumer sets the schedule? That's what the "on-demand" part of video-on-demand means (and the difference from pay-per-view, in which the broadcaster sets the schedule).

    To the best of my knowledge, most PPV systems allow you to watch a movie anytime within a 12 or 24 period. However, there are situations that might come up, where a person isn't able to watch the film in that time. Suppose they order the movie on a week night, after dinner, which is the first free time they have all day. Five minutes into the movie, some friends show up and want to play cards, or take them out. By the time the friends leave or they get home, it's too late to watch the movie because the person has to get up for work the next day. They go to work, come home, eat dinner, sit down to watch the movie and it's expired.

    Or maybe a husband and wife both want to see it, but they have really dusy schedules and hardly ever have free time at the same time? The wife orders and watches it in the afternoon, but by the time the husband has time to watch it, the movie has expired.

    Or how about just wanting to watch it again later. Some, especially in the movie industry, will claim that doing so is illegal and that all recordings must be erased after being watched. However, US courts have never actually ruled on the legality of keeping such recordings. When asked to decide this issue, they usually avoid it. So at the moment in the US, keeping a copy of something you've recorded off TV, at least with a VCR, is neither legal or illegal. It's a grey area that has never been clarified. My personal opinion is that something that hasn't been declared illegal, is by default, legal.

     

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  41.  
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    Rekrul, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 10:15am

    Re: Zone codes for DVDs

    While we are at it can you explain why companies still feel the need to release DVDs by zone? I am constantly amazed this still goes on. I have recieved sooo many Zone 1 DVDs as gifts (still do) but since I live in Spain they serve no purpose. I simply take them back to the US on my various trips and give them away.

    Don't do that! There are two different programs for computers that will allow you to bypass the region code; DVD Region & CSS Free and AnyDVD;

    http://www.dvdidle.com/dvd-region-free.htm
    http://www.slysoft.com/en/anydvd.html

    I haven't tried AnyDVD, but I know that DVD Region & CSS Free works. I'm in the US and my friend gave me some region 2 DVDs he'd found in the trash. They played perfectly.

    Also, if you search on the net, many DVD players have secret codes that can be used to change the region, either to specific regions or to region 0 (all region). Just do a search for your DVD's model number and the words "region free".

    The fact that region 1 DVDs use the NTSC TV standard might be a problem if you have an older TV, but most new ones, especially LCD models should handle it no problem.

     

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  42.  
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    Derek Reed (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Read the Comments

    Even so, it would make the article less like an article and more like a discussion if they were to bring either that full forum or a different system into the foreground. It's not nearly as bad as not having comments, but it's still limiting.

     

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  43.  
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    PJ Rodriguez, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 11:11am

    Time shifting is time shifting

    Since I work at NCTA, I feel I ought to chime in here.

    We're not arguing that SOC will stop piracy. But you seem to be saying that if a measure doesn't stop all piracy, then it shouldn't be implemented. This makes no sense. No house is impregnable. Does that mean you shouldn't lock your doors at night?

    "The only thing it will serve to do is make legitimate customers pissed off, because they'll be confused and annoyed when the DVR they purchased to record what comes out of their TV sets refuses to record this movie that they legally are accessing, but want to time shift (which, again, is perfectly legal)."

    VOD is just another way of watching "time shifted" content. If you record it yourself on a DVR or watch it via VOD, what's the difference? One piece of content sits on a device in your home and another sits on a server at the headend. You can still watch the VOD content. It certainly doesn't "break" your DVR.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Time shifting is time shifting

    We're not arguing that SOC will stop piracy. But you seem to be saying that if a measure doesn't stop all piracy, then it shouldn't be implemented. This makes no sense. No house is impregnable. Does that mean you shouldn't lock your doors at night?

    In Canada, people regularly leave their homes unlocked. To contrast, Americans are paranoid crazy about security and worried about the Boston Strangler entering into their home. Does that mean you shouldn't lock your doors at night or even when you're home?

    To add, if an officer of the law comes to your home, and you don't answer, or left the home unlocked, the officer can legally open the door and enter your home if there's evidence of a crime. If evidence of a crime is apparent, they can detain you.

    VOD is just another way of watching "time shifted" content.

    True, until you start looking at TimeShifting was the basis of Fair Use. When people like Rupert Murdoch desire to Re-Test Fair Use in court, it raises an eyebrow. After all, the concept of Time Shifting was the basis of Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. which was heard by The US Supreme Court. This is interesting because Rupert would have to appeal to a court higher than the US Supreme Court. Either he's fully fallen off his rocker or is preparing something to the WIPO.

    Now, if people believe the WIPO can supersedes US Supreme Court Law, then we have a much bigger problem.

    How do you do this?
    ACTA membership includes News Corp interests Janet O'Callaghan. among others.

    Taking this into consideration, your organization should look to selling content instead of selling content with strings attached.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    just some dude, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    These people "__AA's" are idiot's. Now the cable co's are going down the same path good luck.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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