HBO Decides It Still Isn't Difficult Enough To Watch HBO Shows

from the drm-doesn't-work dept

We’ve recently discussed the fact that HBO severely limits the availability of its shows to non-subscribers, and I’ve speculated that the success of HBO-style programming owes a lot to piracy as a way around those restrictions. But HBO is terrified of piracy—so terrified, in fact, that they’re willing to toss roadblocks in the path of their subscribing customers as well. Ars Technica saw some complaints on a satellite forum, and discovered that DirecTV users with older DVRs and TVs are suddenly unable to watch HBO shows, thanks to newly-activated encryption:

“No problem until today trying to watch HBO,” a standard definition TV owner with an HR 20 DVR noted on Saturday. “Get message that the program is content protected. I can view every other channel except HBO. This wasn’t the case last week. Something new?”

Ditto declared another poster a few hours later: “Noticed something strange this week also regarding HBO. Although my Sony is connected via HDMI I get the message that my ‘set is not compatible with….. ‘ displayed too briefly to read in its entirety. It is displayed when changing between HBO channels. Same TV, same HR20 for nearly six years, never a problem prior to this.”

“As of today, I can no longer watch HBO over HDMI to my television,” another consumer disclosed. “I get an error message that says ‘HDMI connection not permitted. Press SELECT for more information.’ (And pressing Select does nothing.).”

Turns out the problem is HDCP encryption, a newer part of the HDMI standard that premium channels are requiring pay TV operators to implement. Ostensibly this is to stop people from obtaining high-definition copies of movies and TV shows—but of course, HDCP was cracked a while ago and this will do little or nothing to stop the dedicated (and highly organized) groups that make such copies available. Meanwhile, it forces a bunch of paying customers who were happily and habitually enjoying the content to suddenly go out and get expensive new equipment (or, quite reasonably, turn to piracy to replace what was taken from them even though they still pay for it). DirecTV suggests a workaround—switching to component video instead of HDMI—but as Ars points out, this is a pretty weak response: component video is much lower quality, and some content still won’t work, because first-run movies employ selectable output control (another silly DRM restriction) to prevent analog output.

It’s truly amazing that companies like HBO still pursue such strategies. There is not, and never has been, a form of DRM that effectively prevents piracy—but every single form of DRM reduces the value of the product to legitimate subscribers. It’s pretty bizarre to continually punish the only people who aren’t engaged in the behavior you want to stamp out.

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Companies: directv, hbo

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Comments on “HBO Decides It Still Isn't Difficult Enough To Watch HBO Shows”

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Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Re: H... D.. M... I...

Why do you think the HDMI “standard” was pushed for and implemented?

The HDMI Founders are Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic/National/Quasar), Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, Thomson (RCA) and Toshiba. Digital Content Protection, LLC provides HDCP (which was developed by Intel) for HDMI. HDMI has the support of motion picture producers Fox, Universal, Warner Bros. and Disney, along with system operators DirecTV, EchoStar (Dish Network) and CableLabs.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re: H... D.. M... I...

you cant put all the blame for the HDCP issues at the feet of companies like Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic/National/Quasar), Philips, Silicon Image, and Toshiba. having read some about how the standard become a standard and got approval by big content, many of them didnt like some aspects of the DRM employed, some didnt like any of it at all, but they wanted an easy to use convenient reliable connection type that the average user couldnt screw up(unlike component connections..)

Im not a fan of DRM or for that matter HDMI, but, it is better then svideo or a few other options I saw being pushed for the same job…..

I still say they should have just gone with the use of cat5e or cat6 with a modified clip or notching or something…..

anyway, HDCP has been a mess since it was designed by intel, even my friends who work for intel hate it

PaulT (profile) says:

“turn to piracy to replace what was taken from them even though they still pay for it”

This is one of the more interesting questions in my mind. The reason why “piracy” is supposedly so bad is because it’s “lost sales”. The assumption, of course is that everybody who pirated a show would have paid for it if they hadn’t downloaded it. Despite this being clearly wrong, it’s hard to quantify and so is used for an excuse for everything from DRM to SOPA, as damaging as those things are.

Here, however, is something wrong actually being done if an HBO subscriber downloads a show that HDCP stops them from accessing? It’s not morally wrong – you’re merely obtaining the product you’ve already paid for. There’s no losses – HBO already have the money they should have obtained for the viewing. The only person potentially losing out is the supplier of the “upgraded” equipment, but they should have no say in the paid agreement for HBO to supply you with the shows you’re subscribed to.

It’s an interesting question in my mind, and I’d be intrigued as to how the occasional non-trolls explain this one away (I suspect the usual trolls will just insult and attack me). Realistically, it’s just another example of how the industry is making piracy more valuable and attractive than legal options and how it’s only paying customers getting screwed by the fight against piracy. But, I wonder how pro-industry people reconcile the “stealing” when HBO are the ones actually stealing from their customers (taking the money but not supplying the content in a viewable format as agreed).

Nellius (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You make a great point. Often I (as a UK TV license payer) will pirate a BBC or Channel4 show rather than watch it on iPlayer or 4OD, because the quality of streaming video can be patchy – especially at peak internet times. I’ve not taken anything I don’t already have legal access to. Is that still wrong?

I suspect the main argument against this is that the content provider is not selling you the media or the content. They are selling you access to the media and content in a specific way. It’s a pretty flimsy argument, which doesn’t make a lot of sense in the digital age; but I suspect it would be a winning argument in any relevant court cases.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Often I (as a UK TV license payer) will pirate a BBC or Channel4 show rather than watch it on iPlayer or 4OD”

I’ve often thought the same thing must be fairly rampant in most places… Take for example Family Guy. It’s on BBC3 every single night, but it’s unavailable though iPlayer for arcane licencing reasons best known between the BBC’s and Fox’s respective lawyers.

Now, let’s say I’m a UK licence fee payer and for some reason I miss an episode of Family Guy I wish to watch. If I watched it live or used a VCR/DVR to record the show, I could watch it quite legally (repeatedly with the 2nd option). If, however, I torrented the episode instead (the modern equivalent of getting someone else to record the show for you), then it suddenly becomes “piracy” even though it’s already paid for and nobody’s going to buy a box set to catch up on one episode.

The sad thing is that this type of situation goes unrecognised, and it’s totally the industry’s fault. Fox could clear up a fair amount of “piracy” of its shows by agreeing licencing terms to the BBC to allow iPlayer to stream it for a few days after transmission. Instead, they won’t/can’t licence it to address their viewers’ needs, and whine about piracy instead, using those downloads to lobby for legal “protection”.

“I suspect it would be a winning argument in any relevant court cases.”

Sadly, I suspect the same. However, the copyright owners will be surprised if they think that splitting legal hairs in such a way would convince anybody to pay them more more for their content. It’s more likely to completely backfire – i.e. people will stop paying for the content they’re already accessing rather than pay further premiums or replace their equipment.

Beej says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Let me give a similar example. I have a Barnes & Noble Nook ereader. There’s a British urban fantasy series by Mike Carey I love. The first 3 books of the 5-book series are available here in the US from B&N. The last 2 are not, although they ARE available from Amazon…which means they’re not compatible with my Nook.

I bought the 4th and 5th book from a UK-based ebook seller a couple of years ago. Not long afterwards the publishers stopped allowing UK-based sellers to sell to US customers.

What would my choices be now if I wanted those 2 books? Buy the Amazon versions and figure out how to break the DRM? It’s somewhat complicated. Or I can go to a source for a pirated version and get it immediately.

In this case the publisher’s own DRM and piracy paranoia is preventing a sale. I’d LOVE to buy those books and support the author but I can’t.

Andrew says:

Re: Re: Re:

That is not an example of the broken window fallacy. It was never implied that the economy in general would be better off because of the necessity of replacing the receiver. An individual company should obviously benefit from an additional sale. The fallacy states that this transaction will not benefit the economy as a whole because the money for it would have been spent elsewhere if was not necessary.

Rodney says:

Re: Re:

“The assumption, of course is that everybody who pirated a show would have paid for it if they hadn’t downloaded it.”

I think you need to replace the term “everybody” with “somebody.” It’s pretty clearly incorrect to think that EVERYONE who pirates content would, but for the ability to pirate, purchase a movie/song/etc. But, it’s probably a legitimate concern that at least SOME people have made (and will continue to make) the choice to pirate INSTEAD OF purchase, when they would have purchased if piracy was not an option.

I’m quick to admit that I’ve been pirating content since I was a kid getting booted from AOL for participating in “wArEZ” chats. And I’ll absolutely continue. But, I’m also not going to promote the fallacy that piracy is a “victimless crime,” suggesting that the only people who pirate are those who wouldn’t buy the content anyway. I have downloaded a LOT of content that I would have otherwise paid for if it had been necessary. I’m certainly not going to pay for everything I want just on principle, when I can click a link and have it for free. It sounds noble to say otherwise, but it’s a farce.

asd says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ahh victims.. what you’ve stumbled on to is that piracy is ALSO **FREE** advertising; all of the legwork is done by the consumers. They share and talk up our shows for free. Instead, companies insist on spending MORE money to STOP these people from advertising for free. Then turn around and shell out hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising campaigns.

Virtual piracy is not a victimless phenomena, but the studios are hurting themselves far more than piracy ever could.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, here’s the problem with the advertising: they’re not controlling the advertising anymore. Now if the product is good (say, like Game of Thrones), then more people seeing it is going to lead to positive advertising, word of mouth, and more people being exposed to the product. If the product is not so good (say, like John Carter), then the advertising is going to be negative, and less people will be “tricked” into giving it a shot, and it’s going to spiral downwards MUCH faster, meaning they bring in less money on crappy products.

So really, the victims here are people who work on crappy products. For years, crappy products could still be counted on bringing in a certain amount, and that is dropping off the cliff.

Now while that is a good thing in one sense as it seems like it would push for better products to be put out, in reality what will most likely happen is less chances are taken on major studio movies/TV shows/etc. I think we’ve seen that in action with all the remakes, unnecessary sequels, and unoriginal ideas being thrown out there: it’s a sign of an industry (well, industries) scared and clamoring for anything they think they can do for profits, since while the money being brought in is still astronomical, it’s not as much as they want, so in their minds, it’s failing.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Here, however, is something wrong actually being done if an HBO subscriber downloads a show that HDCP stops them from accessing?

This seems too obvious to be a conundrum. It’s illegal, of course, but I don’t think it’s even a little bit wrong. In fact, I don’t even consider this “piracy”. You’re getting the goods you paid for.

There are those who feel that any lawbreaking is wrong, and I understand that perspective, but the fact is that the law has become so ridiculous that it is effectively impossible to function in society without breaking some of them all the time.

In that environment, it’s hard to argue that following the law just because it’s the law is the moral thing to do. Laws just become the “rules of the game,” and doing a cost-benefit judgement on following them becomes the only rational way to function.

Mike E says:

Re: Paul T

It would take the average American three complete years worth of wages to pay for all the media I have on my drives. Obviously, I wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for piracy.

According to the law, having pirated movies and shows isn’t illegal. It’s sharing them that’s illegal. They simply can’t outlaw people having copies of the shows, considering they could have come from anywhere (Home-made DVR, backup disks for owned DVDs, etc)

When somebody get arrested for piracy, they were running a file server for others to download from.

As far as what’s “morally” wrong, I agree with you. Being subscribed to HBO and having HBO shows on a drive is less fraudulent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Taking it one step further, anyone with access to normal telly, would most likely at some point in the future have access to whatever they may or may not be pirating, which if being the case, all the content providers are doing is just fighting on the timing on when we can or cant view a particular media

Ladies and gentlemen……the chewbacca defense! ๐Ÿ™‚

Bigous-Dickous (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Someone could make some serious money pitching HBO an online alternative (if they accept it and let alone if they even let you breath one breath about the matter to any HBO head-honcho.) But if they did they would be bound to give you a cut of somthing. Even if you ask and they deny and end up doing it 2 years later they will give you compensation (Nike case anyone?) Sure you probably won’t get credit but u could get some greenbacks!

It’s not toobad of an idea, like a netflix sort of thing sorta.

No? You say this has been done before? Ok ill just crawl back into my cave.

Anonymous Coward says:

HBO should just be grateful that millions of cable/satellite subscribers who DON’T watch their channel are effectively ‘subsidizing’ or paying for HBO anyway, because of how cable/satellite are sold in bundles with several hundred channels. Isn’t that effectively a form reverse piracy, HBO stealing money from people with no interest in watching HBO?

That should be more then enough to make up for all the loses caused by piracy HBO suffers on the Internet.

Oh and another reason why this is short sighted of HBO, people pay them to run commercials on their channel. But HBO just killed off a bunch of their viewers who are no longer able to watch HBO legally and can’t afford newer equipment necessary to continue watching HBO legally. That means HBO can’t make as much money off of commercials anymore.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

ou bring an interesting analogy to mind: in the world of television, PBS commercials are analogous to Google text ads, compared to regular commercials which are like animated/flash/banner ads.

I don’t block Google ads. And PBS ads (even the ones they have now that are basically 30 second real ads) don’t bother me. I wonder if the Ad folks are listening here (probably not.) I block all other ads (and flash is blocked by default due to it being the slut of all software and allowing just about anything into your computer.)

It is an apt analogy and a bonus is that it didn’t include cars.

Haywood (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

PBS has jumped the shark, at least locally. They may have few commercials, but they have annoying fund raisers every other month, all month. I used to be an avid viewer and even a contributor, when they begged(fund raised) once a year. I even stuck with them when it went to 2 & even 4 times per year. Now it is every other month, the only place to go from here is: all begging, all the time. I’m not alone, most folks I have ask have left in disgust as well.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

PBS only gets a small portion of their funding from the government (a few years ago, it was around 10%). Most of its funding comes from donations made by individuals, and a large part comes from corporate grants.

I’m guessing that the need for more fundraising comes more from a reduction in corporate and individual donations as a result of the economic downturn.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

no no no, your not seeing republican logic, PBS is a public service paid for by tax payer dollars and its not making rich people like Rupert Murdock money, so it must be defunded till it learns that it must whore itself out and run itself as a private “free market” business.

free market saves all….or didnt you get the memo…..

Doug D (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m a current subscriber, and I cannot recall seeing a single commercial during a show. In between shows they do advertise their other content, but I haven’t seen other kinds of advertisement at any time.

(As an aside: if it were my decision alone, this change would probably get me to cancel HBO. But I can’t make that decision for my family unilaterally.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Do you know what HBO is? It’s a premium channel. It can come with a bundle, but I’ve never seen a cable company that requires you to get HBO in order to get other non-premium channels. Sure it tends to be included in top-tier bundles, which is exactly why HBO doesn’t want to provide their streaming service to non-cable subscribers because they’re afraid the cable companies may switch to a different premium channel to be part of those default bundles. The a la carte law that was passed was so that people could get HBO and still only pay for the cheapest cable service that was provided (plus the cost for HBO). What you’re describing is like reverse a la carte.

And there are no commercials on HBO other than for their own programming.

Clay says:

Re: Re: Re:

You are correct, with a big “but”. The problem is that every cable tv provider pushes a “free” premium package for new subscribers that they conveniently forget to cancel after the specified freebie time. Sure, they’ll wipe all the extra fees off your bill…IF you catch it on time, AND you call in and spend an hour on hold, AND you bitch loud enough…

JMG says:

Re: Re:

Uh… Have you ever subscribed to HBO? It’s a premium additional channel/package that you choose to subscribe to. It’s not subsidized by a basic cable package. You have pay a monthly fee in addition to a basic cable plan for HBO or a “movie” package including it.

And there are no commercials on HBO other than promos for HBO shows/movies airing this month, and the occasional “look how great our shows are with all these Emmy nominations and wins” reminder.

Nick (profile) says:

Re: HBO isn't subsidized

HBO is actually a “premium” package that you have to sign up for separate (unless you get the “ALL IN ONE” package that is really just their second highest tier with the premium channels added to it, with no savings per month). When I worked for DTV, HBO was in fact the most expensive of all the 4 premium channel packs (HBO, STARZ/Encore, Showtime, Cinemax) clocking in at 15 extra bucks per month just for the HBO channels. The other packs were each 12 dollars, meaning that HBO felt their 6 or so channels were worth more than Starz’s 15. They have, of course, since then raised prices of all these packages even more since I left.

Long story short, it’s actually hard to get HBO without intentionally asking for it, as the premium channels are usually the first to go when people realize they are paying 15+ bucks for 6 channels.

One advantage of most premium movie channels are that they in fact have little or no commercials at all. a movie on HBO will tend to go froms tart to finish with no commercial break, unlike one on TMC in which you can’t go 10 minutes without 5 minutes of commercials. What few commercials there are tend to be between movies, and are just ads to show when other HBO movies will be on later that day/week.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

HBO is a paid premium channel, so you pay specifically to add that channel to your cable package (or, you might pay for a package of premium channels that include HBO, Starz, Showtime). So in most cases, if you have HBO, it’s by choice, not by force. Furthermore, there aren’t commercials on these channels for anything other than their own shows.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Thanks, now I’ve got an image of Johnny Depp and the Black Pearl sailing around my head “reverse pirating” merchant vessels in the southern Caribbean.

“Yar, I be fillin yer pockets with these here doubloons whether you like it er no! And then me and the mates are goin to sail about rescuin marooned sailor from their sea turtle rafts.”

Ryan H says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think you know anything about HBO. HBO is a premium channel that is never bundled and NEVER shows commercials. That is why you must pay extra for the channel. It is fully paid for by subscribers who specifically ask for the channel from their cable/satellite provider. The argument here is that they are basically stealing money from those who already pay for the service because they are no longer able to watch the free on-demand content that is included with your subscription to HBO.

Ryan H says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think you know anything about HBO. HBO is a premium channel that is never bundled and NEVER shows commercials. That is why you must pay extra for the channel. It is fully paid for by subscribers who specifically ask for the channel from their cable/satellite provider. The argument here is that they are basically stealing money from those who already pay for the service because they are no longer able to watch the free on-demand content that is included with your subscription to HBO.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: All of these discussions come down to one thing.

Exactly. Although it is not completely convenient for the pirates. They had to change their bookmarks to from .org. Also, the site doesn’t have torrent files any more. Btw. do you have any idea how long does it take to download a full HD movie on a rural “broadband” connection? Piracy is not exactly your average heaven.

DataHappy (profile) says:

Re: All of these discussions come down to one thing.

Without a doubt. It’s the equivalent of a retail store putting cameras everywhere. If somebody decides they want to steal, they’re gonna find a way to do it. The way to prevent theft is to hire people who aren’t thieves.

And the way to prevent piracy is to add value to what you provide so people want to pay for it, not make life miserable for those who are already playing by the rules.

Frost (profile) says:

Enforcement vs good service

More proof that taking a hard line is just stupid. Bans and “enforcement” is almost invariably a bad idea. Anyone sane would choose to make content as easy and enjoyable to get as possible and then simply seduce people away from pirating – it’s still more work to go find “illicit” copies than it is to just subscribe to a service and get them delivered to your set. Price it reasonably and remove all the BS and watch people subscribe in droves.

Instead, they’re choosing to screw their paying customers over and are trying to literally change civil liberties and laws to make taking a hard line even easier – even though nobody anywhere truly believes DRM or enforcement will work.

I don’t know why they’d do this, because it seems so stupid to me, but I presume somebody somewhere makes more money from it, just like the “war on” drugs is still being “fought” because a lot of people make a lot of money off it. Any sane observer of the whole thing will have realized by now that the only way to truly make things better is to legalize everything and then seduce the users away from being junkies and treating people who need help getting out of it… but again, that would just totally interrupt the gravy train for the DEA, the for-profit prison complex, probably some alphabet soup agencies we don’t even know yet and so forth.

A softer line to the goal you’re after invariably works better than trying to enforce your way there… but that presupposes that your stated goal is your actual goal, and not just a smokescreen. I think we’re seeing lots and lots of smokescreens right now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Eventually, the various MAFIAA cartel members and their ilk will have locked up “their” content so tightly that no-one will be able to access it.

Then they’ll all go bankrupt, starve, and die. Finally.

Their grave-stones will read “OK, so it was always about convenience. But you can’t teach dumb old-school turds anything – you have to starve us to death.”

After a brief pause for a massive planet-wide celebration of their demise, the world will finally be able to get on with the future.

My last message to the all cartel members and their ilk: please hurry up and fuck off and die!

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Component can be 1080

I am not sure why I hear this every so rarely, but component can be more than 720p. I have a multi tap style video game cable that outputs component. My xbox360 is hooked up to it and outputs 1080p. You can switch the xbox between 720p and 1080 and very clearly see a difference. Yes, 1080p component cables may cost you an extra dollar or two compared to 720p, and yes it would be super annoying to be an HBO customer and have them shovel this crap on you.

I am not defending their decision to add pointless DRM, or the decision to tell people they need to buy new gear (actually that is quite stupid and likely to drive customers away). I merely wanted to point out that some component cables are perfectly capable of relaying the 1080p we know and love.

Also, it is listed on the wikipedia page as well as supporting 1080p:

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Component can be 1080

Also, it is listed on the wikipedia page as well as supporting 1080p:

Hmm – I misunderstood this when I read the Ars piece too, because you’re right, component can support more. But I just looked around at some DirecTV forums and it sounds like the receiver does in fact downgrade component output to a lower quality – again, a supposed way of preventing HD copies.

Chris says:

Re: Component can be 1080

It certainly can be 1080 – I use component mainly because I wanted to have a switch-box to change between my hi-def Blu-Ray player, a computer, and my cable box. Have you priced HDMI or DVI switch boxes? I got a 4 input remote controlled component switcher for only $20.

The reason is the DRM – there is none on component video, but due to digital DRM, every piece in your set-up must be DRM compatible, including switches and receivers. HDMI/DVI are also very limited in cable run length compared to component, and I needed to run a long cable around the room to a projector for my home theater. Even the direct signal using HDMI through a long cable would break down from my cable box and result in a degraded picture, but there is no such problem with component.

For a few hundred bucks you can get a hi-def component capture card for a computer and record hi-def, so I can see why premium channels would want to disable component output. Fortunately, my HBO still works fine with component, at least for now.

Granted, I had to buy a cable to allow component input on my projector, and a video card with component output for the computer, but it allowed me to do what I wanted to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Agreed, but from a different perspective – try living in Eastern Europe. It’s pretty hilarious hearing people justify ye’old “lost sale” argument when their content is NOT in any way or form legally available in that country (or, maybe, just maybe, it will come in a few years). Not even speaking about price/wage comparison (pay 1/10 of your salary to go to cinema with a girlfriend/wife… yeah, sure…).

“Lost sale” argument is stupid when the service is available, but to bring it forward even when it’s not available, especially if it’s supposed to be but the supplier screwed up… I don’t even have the words for it.

MRK says:

Re: Re:

The premium channels have done a very good job of making it very hard/expensive to subscribe. I wanted to get HBO in order to watch Game of Thrones. Its just not worth the MASSIVE expense.

My cable provider bundles HBO with a $140/month digital cable package complete with dedicated cable box. The box is incompatible with my DVR, and you get 1 box per household. You can of course pay even more money to get multiple boxes and a DVR.

In order to get HBO I need to downgrade the number of TVs in my house from 3 to 1, and drop my DVR. So don’t feel like you’re missing out too much.

Drew (profile) says:

Wow that sucks lol. I decided to dig around a few FTA community forums. It seems that very little of them are having any issues with getting HBO free. The majority of people with the issues are actually paying customers.

Good job HBO keep blocking the people that still think your services are worth paying for! That’s some pretty good promotion for people to get into piracy rofl! Piss off the customers so bad they see it’s more easy to just buy a FTA receiver and enjoy satellite tv for free.

Same thing goes for direct tv would it have been so hard to actually check out your customer database to make sure they was not going to be blocked? If so at least contact them and give them a free upgrade considering they’ve been customers for a long time to have had such old boxes in the first place.

Fighting piracy DOES NOT mean only making your actions hurt subscribers. They should realize anyone that is getting it for free is still going to figure out how to keep it that way.

How about making your companies image so good anyone that was getting it for free would feel like shit for doing it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Component vs. HDMI

I was going to say the same thing. I use Component cables on my XBOX 360, and I get 1080p resolution. The only drawback to those cables are the lack of audio. The HDMI standard was pushed because it’s digital and can be used to block content, which can’t be done using analog cables such as component. Since I switched over to HDMI on my TiVo I can’t transfer to my PC most of the shows it’s recorded. To think HDMI cables are far superior to component is to believe the content police propaganda.

Rob says:

Re: Re: Re: Component vs. HDMI

…correct me if I’m wrong, less susceptible to interference since they’re all digital, no?

You’re not really wrong, except in the case of long cable runs. (And maybe somethings else I haven’t thought of.) And in these cases, it’s not that the picture is screwed up but rather that the HDCP thinks you’re trying to “steal” it and shuts you down. You often need special repeaters, and they’re not cheap, and they don’t always work right, especially if your cable runs too close to the A/C blower, or your pipe organ or fridge or whatever is in the way. So you may end up buying the cheaper repeater set, finding it still doesn’t work then getting the expensive one — with luck you can return the first.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Component vs. HDMI

HDCP only applies to Blueray and does not shut you down if you’re playing a Blueray disc.
How big of a house do you have? Repeaters(amplifiers)are usually only necessary on runs of 100m or more.
HDMI is only designed to go from your tuner or device to your TV.
Perhaps you’re referring to long coax runs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Component vs. HDMI

Hdmi is as susceptible to interference to as any other wire if it’s not shielded.
Analog uses a high voltage to push a positive and then a negative voltage down the line and will pick up surrounding RF and amplify it on the negative side so you wind up with snow.
Digital doesn’t have a negative voltage and thus is not amplified

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re: Component vs. HDMI

this was assumed to be true for a long time, but I have had a couple reliable sources tell me 1080p is quite doable over a proper component setup, note, i said component not composite, I have been told its “possible” to use composite to push 1080p BUT its not reliable in real world use because it requires very high grade cabling and shielding or you endup with signal noise.

Component video is fine IF your equipment and cables are good, if not, dont bother.

HDMI has some advantages, it can carry both digital and analog data, you dont need pricy high grade cables(we have tested this ourselves with cheap monoprice cables vs monster and other high grade cables, no diff at all…)

the biggest problem is that not all devices seem to properly comply with HDCP standards so they will at times not work…

a friend of mine has a brand new 56″ plasma tv(beautiful unit, actually does 1920×1200 when hooked to a computer rather then 1080p) BUT his receiver dosnt see it as having HDCP….his ps3 however has no issue with it….from what we can find, hes going to have to buy a new box OR use a hacked firmware on his receiver to get around the problem….

personally I wish they had gone with the cat5e/cat6 idea would have made custom cables easier to make…and could easily move as much or more data then HDMI can….(i have used dvi-d to cat5e converter boxes to move data to HD projectors on a few jobs, they work great, even up to 2,048 ? 1,536 (need good quality DVI cables and proper powered converters, will not work over a computer network, MUST be END TO END direct line)

still, Im really hoping display port catches on for PC, I like the demo’s i have seen (in person) of what it can do….amazing stuff ๐Ÿ˜€

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Component vs. HDMI

Sorry But 540p is not the same as 1080i.
540 and 720 and 1080 refer to the number of lines of resolution.
The i and the p stand for the scanning method used.i for interlaced and p for progressive.
540 p is also known as enhanced SD (standard Definition)
the Bandwith required for 1080 is more than 540.Its 540 lines doesn’t get multiplied.
if its an “i” it gets scanned with the interlace method, that is every other line is scanned then it starts over and scans again, 1-3-5-7-9 etc then 2-4-6-8 etc.
Progressive is all lines done once in order.1-2-3-4-5-etc. Much faster.

Anonymous Coward says:

that’s because it is so much easier to prevent legitimate customers and they still have to pay even if they now cant watch what they are paying for. the solution should be to make those that have implemented new DRM to pay for customers to upgrade their equipment. perhaps that would induce second thoughts on using DRM in the first place?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I personally know at least a dozen people (not counting their neighbors). Some in parts of a medium-sized city, but most in rural areas. Some people have only a channel or two they can no longer receive, some receive nothing.

The problem seems to be the directional nature of the new signals. The signals can be easily blocked by landscape features, and the farther you are from the antenna, the more likely you are to have problems.

Many of these people have cable, so they don’t actually care that much. Most of the ones who don’t were initially angry, but have since learned how much more enjoyable life is when you don’t watch TV, and they certainly aren’t complaining now. So it’s not all bad! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

A big part of it is that a digital signal is either all there or all gone. In the analog days you could get a fuzzy signal and it would be fine. Maybe a line or an occasional flicker but nothing that prevented you from watching the show. With digital if any of the signal is missing you get a black screen. So lots of people that had fuzzy FOX or CBS for decades now get nothing.

The powered antennas help sometimes but a lot of people are just missing a channel or two these days.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

A big part of it is that a digital signal is either all there or all gone. In the analog days you could get a fuzzy signal and it would be fine. Maybe a line or an occasional flicker but nothing that prevented you from watching the show. With digital if any of the signal is missing you get a black screen. So lots of people that had fuzzy FOX or CBS for decades now get nothing.

Yeah, that’s what passes for progress. It’s really too bad that there’s no way to include redundant data and a checksum in the digital signal so that the decoder could do on-the-fly error correction…

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

I was tempted

I was tempted to buy the Dutch HBO cable package (mostly because of Game of Thrones). Now I’m not going to anymore.

Fuck that, I’m not going to give money to a company that thinks it can screw their PAYING customers up the ass with these extra hoops.

HBO, get a clue. Adding more roadblocks will drive people towards the easier option (piracy) rather than try to deal with your idiocy.

Adapt or expire, those are the only two options, and you’ve just chosen ‘expire a lot quicker’.

Anonymous Coward says:

it doesn’t matter what the media or service is or how it’s distributed, companies make no differentiation between legitimate and illegitimate users. if there were safeguards put in place that prevented any changes from being implemented by companies unless they either gave customers the option of free cancellation or ‘paid for’ upgrades, abuse would at least be reduced. when there is nothing that customers can do other than pay out themselves to keep getting a service or pay to cancel it, this sort of thing will continue.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

General: Pirates are breaching the fort! Close the gates!

Soldier: But General, they’re not pirates, they’ve paid to enter the gate.

General: But could pirates enter the gate?

Soldier: Well, technically pirates could enter the gate. But those people are not pirates. They’ve paid for the right to enter the gate!

General: Oh well, in that case CLOSE THE GATES!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

HDMI verses everthing else

All the content providers in the US(cable,Sattelite,OTA,Internet)
Send you 1080i and tell you you’re getting 1080p.
So using any cable is fine.All the cables have the same wire inside them (a wire is a wire (copper or aluminum))They all work the same.What make the difference is the circuitry inside the device that controls what can flow thru the wire.
HDMI requires HDCP (High Definition Content Protection).
HDCP was developed to protect Blueray content.No HDMI,no Blueray.
If you want true HD,Use Blueray.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: HDMI verses everthing else

Are you sure about that? My TV tells me the signal quality of the input I am using. For instance when I turn it to my xbox it says 1080i but when I turn it to my cable box with an HD channel on it tells me 1080p. Is my TV a liar too?

“What make the difference is the circuitry inside the device that controls what can flow thru the wire.”

The difference is how much bandwidth it can carry.

“No HDMI,no Blueray”

You can watch blue-ray without HDMI it just isn’t 1080p.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: HDMI verses everthing else

My apologies.I should have been more specific.
For most people the actual resolution received from the various content providers is all over the place…from 480p to 1080i, on basic or standard packages.
I first came across this issue about five yrs ago when I had to duke it out with Dish network over their HD claims on their digital recievers.
True they were digital but not HD.
So many people think that because its digital that its automatically HD.
Digital only refers to the method of transmission.
So they sent me a new box that was capable of HD though only up to 1080i.Then they told me that I could recieve full HD if I paid extra for it even though my box was not capable of 1080p.We parted ways.Not long after that Dish started giving away their HD content.(1080i)
So if you subscribe to an HD channel you MAY be getting 1080p.
My point was and is that the only true HD content that you can count on is Blue-Ray via HDMI. And yes I suppose you can play a Blue-Ray Disc on some players over component connections…but why would you want too!
As to Bandwith, the wire inside all the insulation and shielding is all pretty much the same in all types of the more common AV cables and more than capable of carrying full 1080p (plus full 7.1 audio with HDMI)…I have built many of my own cables in the past, so I know this to be the case.Current = Bandwith and current can be measured.The lower the resistance of the cable the more bandwith(current) you get. If this is really a big issue for you get yourself a voltmeter.
No I’m not calling your TV a Liar…I would not want to insult it or hurt its feelings.
All in all it really doesn’t matter what the resolution is…the only thing that does matter is how it looks to you!

shawn says:


The old ways are dying. It is time for full ala carte pricing. We should be able to subscribe to just the channels we want, and view them on TV or streaming. No bundle, no package. I pay only for channels I want, and get exactly that.
There are so many options now online, that cable and antennae should just about be useless anyway.
Sorry cable companies and content providers. todays consumers are more informed and capable than the crop of idiots that raised us to watch our VCRs flash 12:00. No, we can now watch all your movies and shows with less effort than you spend getting to work in the morning.
The time has come for the TV industry to change it’s business model towards the consumer for once. we are no longer cattle, we own you… And we choose to pay your salary, or not.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: HBO's Website

its almost certainly licensing issues, Im sure they made deals with cable and satalite companies that dont allow them at this time to provide their own streaming service without the person also paying for an HBO package from their tv provider(even if they dont have one)

also this way, HBO sees it as good PR because people dont get that they cant get it without already being an HBO subscriber, and those who do get it are paying for HBO content twice!!!

Give it some time, they will either figure it out or HBO will die and be bought by somebody else who likely will get it.

Anthony says:

So out of curiosity last week i checked to see how quickly season 2 episode 3 of Game of Thrones would make it on to demonoid. a whopping 10 mins after the episode concluded on the air it was up and was ~720p quality. How obvious does it need to be your business model is outdated? these anti-piracy methods are clearly useless and more hazardous than than helpful.

Anonymous Coward says:

You’d think for a website called Tech Dirt, the author of the article would know about a/v cables. Component is not lower quality than HDMI; HDMI is just the audio and video in one cable, rather than being split into three video and two audio. Composite is lower quality than HDMI. 480i/480p televisions have composite inputs, not component.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You would think that somebody attacking the OP would know that almost all HDTV’s on the market have component inputs these days, and would also know that HDMI is not just like combining component cables into 1 cable.

HDMI can carry both analog(component) and Digital data, it can also carry much more data and isnt subject to analog line noise common with lower grade unshielded cabling.

Koyaanisqatsi says:

Challenge, reward and convenience

People who pirate do so for the challenge of overcoming the latest attempt to stop them, and the reward for providing access for their friends to the media that was being ‘protected’.

People who use pirated media do so because it’s easier and/or cheaper than getting it from the authorized source.

If you want to stop piracy, take away the challenge and reward for the pirate and make it more convenient for normal people to get your content from you than it is to get it from a pirated source.

It’s that simple.

Digitari says:


I have HBO, I did not ask for it, I also have the sports package, my wife and I NEVER watch sports. I have the digital package. I asked to drop the sports package and HBO, the cost was 160$ a month I pay 120$ now, hows is that possible??

I have phone net and digital package bundled but to “unbunbdle” it it costs 40$ MORE

flubaluba (profile) says:

Idiots all of them

Again another day and another loss for the idiots who decide who is going to and who is not going to watch there shows. Whether they pay for it or not. Just another chip out of there profits with people canceling there subscriptions.I this carries on much longer they are not going to have enough customers to stay in business, or is there plan to go to the government in a years time and say look we have no customers they are all pirating. It will all end up being blamed on the pirates but do we care hell no we don’t. They are incapable of actually thinking like businessmen, do you think it is maybe because of them taking drugs or catching something from all the whores they pay because nobody else wants to see there big fat asses.

vastrightwing (profile) says:

Reverse piracy or subsidy?

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Yes, in fact, bundling pay TV content is in fact reverse piracy. The content providers are now the pirates stealing money from the consumers who are paying for content they don’t consume! The people who claim we need bundled channels to promote niche programming simply don’t consider this an act of blatant piracy in the other direction. So if a consumer has unauthorized access to programming you call it piracy. But done in reverse, it’s not piracy, it’s called a subsidy.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: component or composite?

sorry but the “component video provides a more vibrant color output” and “it is capable of any resolution HDMI can currently output” isnt really true.

first, we will address the “component video provides a more vibrant color output” this is the same thing people said about DVI vs VGA back in the day, VGA was “better” this was true on some low grade monitors with poor internal designs(that in some cases converted dvi-d to analog then back to digital….) but with quality units has never been true, same goes for HDTV’s, likely its either Observer Bias or poor internal design to blame for any difference between perceived quality/color/vibrancy(i have tested this myself, its like people saying monster cables sound better then monoprice cables or coat hangers…they cant tell the dif in a blind test)

next: “it is capable of any resolution HDMI can currently output”

now, this is true for the most part, component cant carry the resolutions used by some newer projectors or large screen monitors(used for display purposes)

HDMI current spec is 1.4/1.4a and can do 4096?2160p24 I have done testing and even current 1.3 rated cables(decent quality ones) can support 1.4/1.4a specs.

1080p is as high as component is rated for at this time.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's a pirates life for me!

As I can’t get HBO here, I pirate Game of Thrones, so whatever they’re doing to stop that obviously isn’t working. Don’t get me wrong though, I’d watch them legitimately if that was an option, but unfortunately it’s not. I’ll buy it on DVD if it’s released in the UK to make up for it ๐Ÿ˜›

alex says:

Absolutist statements are always, always misleading

“There is not, and never has been, a form of DRM that effectively prevents piracy?but every single form of DRM reduces the value of the product to legitimate subscribers.”

I hate DRM as much as anybody, but this is a weird sentence.

The first half is stated as an absolute: no DRM prevents *all* piracy. Sure, but clearly *some* kinds of DRM prevent *some* piracy from some people. (I don’t think HBO thought they would prevent *all* piracy.)

The second half is also stated as an absolute: every form of DRM reduces the value of the product to subscribers. But this is even more misleading, since for *most* consumers it has no visible effect at all. (Obviously if this made HBO unwatchable for *everybody*, HBO would have turned it off right away.)

From a philosophical point of view, DRM is stupid and holding back the industry. But from an economic point of view, it’s a benefit to content providers in the short term as long as the prevented losses from piracy outweigh the losses (unsubscriptions, and PR black eyes) from paying customers unable to view it.

I don’t know which side of that line HBO is on here, but I suspect, sadly, that time will show they were right. When the problem is “my 10-year-old hardware doesn’t support this”, and the answer is “so just buy a new one like everybody else”, that’s a situation that naturally goes away pretty quick. There are a lot more new people being born and buying new TVs than there are people with last-century TVs considering getting HBO.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Absolutist statements are always, always misleading

actually, those who sell companies on DRM state their services as an absolute or very close, I have heard their sales pitches in person, and have caused more then a few of them to storm out or start cursing at me for pointing out how their products fail to do what they are describing.

Somebody from told somebody high up at HBO that enabling this would stop piracy, and that person said “they we have to do it”, they didnt mention that a huge number of subscribers would also be effected.(nore did they care, im sure they got paid well to flip the “enable drm” flag to on….)

DRM does lower the value to a large portion of the market, I know many people anymore who arent geeks but who have been burned by DRM who check what DRM games and software have before buying, some even research for months before buying to see how the DRM is working and if its causing a major negative effect(spore/bioshock/neverwinter nights 2 examples of piss poor drm use)

when it comes to this situation, its effecting people using HDMI boxes to HDMI tv’s (hdtv’s) this shouldnt be a problem, but it is….and nobody should have to buy a new box or tv to keep getting the service they are already paying for, specially seeing as most people RENT their equipment from their providers (even dish rents their stuff here)

again this issue shouldnt be an issue, and according to specs, ANALOG tv’s(pre hdtv’s) shouldnt be effected and probably arent.

khory (profile) says:

The point of DRM is to make it difficult to copy content, correct? Do these corporations know that it isn’t difficult to copy content even if it has DRM. They are all easily cracked.

I think a study should be commissioned on how many sales are lost due to DRM. Seems to me if you eliminate DRM you’d get those sales back and have one less reason for folks to pirate. Everyone wins!

Avehn says:

Satirical Letter from HBO

Dear paying customers,

We apologize that the money you are actually spending on our service is not as valuable to us as the imaginary amount of money we could be making if we could just stop those horrible pirates. We have randomly decided that we could actually be making a bajillion dollars more a year in revenue if there was any possible way to stop the pirates. We just can’t grasp the concept that the pirates possess the knowledge and equipment to circumvent any and all technology we can use and thus must make your life difficult because you play by the rules.

Please excuse all of the impositions we are making on you by demanding that you constantly buy the latest equipment to support our whims for encryption. Blame the pirates not us for our ongoing campaign to make the worst possible user experience in order to obtain an unachievable goal. Instead of being mad at us for occasionally stopping you from watching shows you are paying for, be mad at the pirates who are taking advantage of our magnanimous decision to allow our shows and movies onto the internet in the first place.

Of course we could focus on improving the ubiquity of HBO Go on all devices and improve its ease of use so that piracy would be more time consuming and potentially dangerous than just paying a small fee, but we prefer to tackle this problem head on and spend millions (remember, we could be making bajillions!) on stopping the pirates instead.

Thank you for continuing to financial support us in our insanity, and we hope to find more ways to inconvenience and annoy you very soon.

HBO (not really written by HBO)

Ashley A H says:

Easy way for them to solve their problem.

I don’t see why they don’t just make their episodes available for download on their site, for a small fee ($2-$5). They could even do this 24 hours or a week after the original airing of the episode. If content is easily available and listed for a fair price, I always prefer to buy it because I DO WANT TO SUPPORT that show. Are they worried about DVD sales? Throw in extra content and freebies into their boxed sets and even though people have bought the episodes online, they’ll also go out and buy the boxed sets. Game companies have done this forever in their collector’s editions and people don’t mind shelling out up to $50 more than the standard game edition to get all the little “freebies”.

Anonymous Coward says:

I illegally downloaded The Wire after hearing so many great things about it… I watched 3/4’s of the first season and then went out and bought the dvd box set. Fantastic show, but I never would have had the chance to watch it had I not downloaded it first.

Similar story with Curb Your Enthusiasm, except I kind of did have the opportunity to watch it; it gets cut up and censored for network tv… so what I did see of it before downloading it was a pale version of the real thing. Once I saw the real thing, I was hooked and felt compelled to buy to show my support.

DoneWithTV says:

Done with it.

I will say that I have been most happy with giving up DirecTV over a year ago and I haven’t even subscribed to HBO or Showtime in over a decade. It is a waste of money and time to have a zillion channels of crap that you are forced to get. So I decided to go back to old school and just get it free over the air. Yes less selection but with the internet and such. I can watch pretty much what I want when I want without a 100 dollar bill every month. I figured I have saved about 1600 dollars each year by going this route. I find out now I spend lest time watching TV and more time doing other things with my time.

Anonymous Coward says:

This just recently happened to me. My satellite provider gave us a free weekend of HBO, and since we were debating getting it anyway, we decided to watch.

We got the error MANY times throughout the weekend. Most of the time we could fix it but unplugging and replugging the HDMI cable. My wife thought that something was broken until I explained that it was just HBO that was ‘broken’, and then explained what HBO was trying to do.

Needless to say, that made up our minds that we would never get HBO.

Dirk F. (profile) says:

Component misconceptions

“DirecTV suggests a workaround?switching to component video instead of HDMI?but as Ars points out, this is a pretty weak response: component video is much lower quality, and some content still won’t work, because first-run movies employ selectable output control (another silly DRM restriction) to prevent analog output.”

As someone who works for a cable provider, I am not really sure why people still carry this misconception about component. First off, component is capable of 1080p video, and the difference for a blu-ray between component and HDMI is fairly negligible. For broadcast TV: Not a single HD channel broadcasts in 1080p. They all broadcast in 1080i or 720p. So now we’re at there being absolutely no difference in picture quality between HDMI and component when it comes to broadcast television.

In TV setups with surround sound systems, it could be argued that running component directly to the TV actually produces a HIGHER quality picture than setups with HDMI routing through the surround sound receiver, because the video signal is no longer being needlessly routed and processed through a secondary device before going to the TV.

As far as the ability to limit “first run movies” from outputting through component, I have never seen this with my cable box being hooked up to the TV through component. Maybe DirecTV boxes work differently, but my cable company’s boxes certainly never generate any DRM errors when outputting through component. Ever.

Jeff R says:

Re: Component misconceptions

So, sending the digital bytes directly from the source to the TV results in better picture than sending them to the audio receiver and then copying them and sending them to the TV? So, I should be using gold plated HDMI cables too, then? Do you also have a bridge to sell me?

The entire point of HDMI is that it is a digital signal and that there is no processing or signal loss that would effect the picture quality between the source and the display. To say that component is exactly the same quality because they’re both capable of 1080p is missing the point.

Component is still analog. if the source and the display are both digital, then the conversion to and from analog will introduce picture quality degradation.. and that’s before any interference picked up by the cable while in route.

All of that is completely beside the point that HBO and/or DirecTV is going out of their way to make happy customers unhappy. That’s never a good business decision.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re: Component misconceptions

Jeff R, some receivers mess up the signal, they process it and change it, what goes in isnt identical to what comes out, its espicially bad in the super cheap walmart style box sets (all in 1 home theiters kits), I have been involved in doing signal compairsons, It shouldnt happen but it does….

one kinda cool thing some cheaper units have done tho is only directing the audio into the receivers circuitry and just direct linked the in and out ports for the rest of the wires(or in some cases all wires) (its a cheap method that works well in some cases)

AzureSky says:

Re: Component misconceptions

this is VERY Dependant on the receiver used, some range from MEH to UGGG, others are great, the great ones tend to cost alot more then the cheapo walmart setups most people get.

as to the cable company drm thing, I have seen it, not with comcast, but with others, I really think it depends on the provider and if they actually support doing that, some do, and I had a friend who worked for one company tell me it took them 14 months to work out some issues with some tv’s that supported HDCP being seen as not supported due to a firmware issue with the boxes….the main issue was the company that made the boxes had never expected to have to push a firmware update of this type over the coaxial line, they for a while where sending techs out to use the firewire or rj45 ports on the boxes to update them….(that must have been fun…lol)

BUT it was only effecting a small number of titles and a smallish % of users…like this….

Craig Schumacher says:

The answer is in this paragraph

“It’s pretty bizarre to continually punish the only people who aren’t engaged in the behavior you want to stamp out.”

It’s because the point isn’t to prevent piracy. Sony and all the rest of the greedy corps understand that there is no way to eliminate piracy, period. But, when everything is super difficult to share, everyone has to pay to get the content.

A library book is a good example of this: you can lend a library book innumerable times with a single purchase, but the second it becomes digitally protected, you can’t just hand it to your friend unless you can make do without the reading device it’s on.

That’s the point. It’s the same game that has played out for centuries in copyright. The Catholic Church couldn’t control the printing presses in France, even under the threat of death. Do you think that this can be controlled, either? No, but in the meantime, it can be used as a bargaining chip.

DRM is a means to an end, not the end itself. Amazing how easy the answer is when you look to historical precedents and the patterns are the same while only the technology has changed. It’s all about control and greed. A bit shameful that people still buy products from these companies, really. Last thing I bought from Sony was back in 2008 and I got it used.

Wake up, people, you don’t NEED that new tv. And if it has crippling technology, just refrain from purchasing it. Demand a good product, not a broken one from the day of purchase. Or give up tv, there’s a thought. It’d probably do you some good.

E.B. says:

First, I’ve don’t recall ever seeing a commercial on HBO other than for its’ own programming, between movies and shows.

Second, if you subscribe to HBO, chances are you are eligible for the FREE web-based HBO GO service, which allows you to watch just about everything HBO airs. And they’re fairly prompt about uploading their shows. Hell, sometimes they’ve put the show on HBO GO *before* they air it. (Bored to Death, don’t quote me though.) There’s no 8 day wait or whatever, like Hulu. It’s available for smartphones AND XBOX 360 (not sure if PS3 as well), So get a cord for your computer to your TV, or start using it from your Xbox. It’s not that hard. At least until you can afford to get a new one or something, I dunno.

I get that it sucks, but sometimes you just have to accept that it is what it is, instead of just sitting there and bitching about it, go ahead and fix the problem yourself or find a workaround.

I personally watch Bill Maher religiously (lol.) on HBO GO every saturday/sunday, the day after it airs, because I am currently not at home and won’t be for quite some time. (there are other people who watch it as well though.)

PaulT (profile) says:

Paul T

“It would take the average American three complete years worth of wages to pay for all the media I have on my drives.”

Well, each to their own. I have a couple of hundred gigs of legally obtained music, over 800 DVDs (a collection built over the last 15 years) that have been ripped to my drive, etc. Were I to have downloaded those rips instead of spending hours doing it myself, I would be branded a “pirate” even though I’ve bought the content.

“According to the law, having pirated movies and shows isn’t illegal. It’s sharing them that’s illegal.”

Yet, this move directly affects people who are only trying to obtain content for personal home use, as do most DRM tactics.

“When somebody get arrested for piracy, they were running a file server for others to download from.”

Arrested, perhaps. Sued and/or threatened with being cut off from the internet completely if a ransom wasn’t paid? Not so much.

Niall (profile) says:


Technically, since there is no protection for format-shifting in British law, yes you’re breaking the law, even though that is beyond stupid. Only time-shifting is allowed, even if the effect here is just time-shifing in another way.

So I can save a BBC program onto my DVR or video, but the moment I try and copy it to my laptop I’m a dirty commie evil thieving law-breaking pirate. Even though I can go onto iPlayer and ‘legally’ download it for a week. Then it magically becomes ‘illegal’ for me to possess a copy.

Niall (profile) says:


The whole pointo if it being a fallacy is that value is actually being destroyed (the window being broken) as the owner of the window still has to spend money replacing something that shouldn’t have needed replaced (it’s not like windows have a sell-by date). Therefore he has less money to spend on other things, hurting him. In the broken window fallacy, although the same amount of money is available, and is just redistributed, there is a clear winner (the glass-fitters) and a clear loser (the innocent window owner) for no actual improvement to society, and in fact, since it could potentially suck money from productive elements of society, it’s likely to be a net loss overall.

Dirk F. (profile) says:

Component misconceptions

Jeff R.,

I never implied that component was exactly like HDMI because of 1080p. What i said was that the difference between the two was negligible. People push this idea that component cabling is somehow far inferior to HDMI in picture quality. Which is not the case. I would challenge you to set up two TVs of the same model, one hooked up to a blu-ray player through HDMI and the other through component, playing the same blu-ray, and ask random people to sit at normal viewing distance and tell you which TV looks better. Guarantee you, the majority of people won’t see a difference, and those that do, around only half of them will choose the TV hooked up via HDMI as looking better.

There’s two reasons for this. One, and most importantly, component is not some kind of super inferior cable that significantly lacks the picture capabilities of HDMI. Again, the difference is negligible. The second reason, is that your average TV watcher doesn’t know anything about HD or how to see the differences.

You would be surprised how many people watch the SD 480i channels stretched and think they are seeing HD. Sounds dumb, but I can’t tell you how many times I have taken calls into the cable company from people asking why all of the sudden channel 10 doesn’t fill the screen, only to spend the next half hour educating the customer that channel 10 isn’t even a HD channel and what channel # they need to actually be tuned to to get HD.

A lot of these people are surprised and start tuning to the correct channel, and some idiots won’t care and demand I “fix” their TVs so they can watch the SD channels like they always have. Even people with brand new 50″ LED TVs.

The only reason the industry has pushed HDMI so much is DRM. From a picture quality standpoint, there is no real difference between HDMI and component.

Dirk F. (profile) says:

Component misconceptions

You’d be surprised how many people route the video signal through an audio receiver. Because they are told by places like Best Buy that it is how they get the best possible picture and sound.

I have had a Best Buy employee tell me that HDMI had a better audio quality than optical. I laughed at him. But your average Joe is not going to know that these people are full of sh*t. So yes, a lot of people route HDMI video through the surround sound receiver.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Component can be 1080

Wow, that seems pretty lame to downgrade the quality. If I ever want lower quality I hook the PS2 back up (but usually its because I want to play one of the older better games, not because of quality).

Purposefully downgrading quality to your customer because they don’t have the cable you want them to have is just asking to drive them away (as you well pointed out).

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Component can be 1080

I actually used the multi console component cable because it was an easy way to split the audio and the video from all machines since my projector doesn’t do audio.

A switchbox I suppose would have served much the same purpose, but as it is I function almost identically. The only drawback is that I lack the remote.

I am surprised that after all these years companies still try to force DRM on anything. It is very clearly a waste of their time and money, and only annoys customers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Component vs. HDMI

Hi Kinda late to the party here but so you and others may understand this better I thought I would reply anyway
HDCP(High-bandwith Digital Content Protection or High Definition content protection)is not built into a computer’s
Video output channel unless you buy (or build)one with an HDMI output.HDCP only applies to HD disk or Blue-Ray
Disk and does not have anything to do with the computer’s resolution.
1080p applies to the resolution of Video (movie,TV,etc)
There’s nothing wrong with your friends TV.

Anonymous Coward says:

Component misconceptions

Well here I go Again!

Optical is superior to copper wire in terms of the amount of data it can carry.
The optical Audio output on the back of your TV is what I assume you’re talking about.(or optical input on your Home theater system. Same thing).
Suppose your watching a movie or sitcom on ABC and you see it’s Dolby 5.1.(the maximum you get with Broadcast)You can switch your Audio out thru the Toslink connection to your Surround system and listen that way.Toslink is only about sound and not video.
In that application it is superior and HDMI does not enter into the equation.
You can also elect to pass thru audio with the standard RCA (Red and White)Connectors and still get 5.1, but neither one can be used for more than 5.1.

HDMI On the other hand is about sound AND video and can carry 8 channels of sound (7.1)
In this application HDMI is superior.
But the big problem with 7.1 sound is that there is very little content available that uses it.(MI 3 Ghost Protocol is 7.1) and is only used with Blue-ray Disk.

So your both right!

Mark Henning says:

breech of promise

I pay
1) for High Definition television. To me that means 1080p delivery of my programming
2) for HBO for the specific purpose of viewing programming for which they charge me a non insignificant fee. This includes High Definition program delivery.

Directv suggests we purposefully degrade the signal of the programming… for which we pay… delivered to us over a transmission media capable of delivering 1080p, to a device capable of displaying 1080p (which was a significant purchase for my family. This is not acceptable.

None says:


HBO is not one of the channels that you consider a “subsidized” channel. HBO is a subscription based channel, which only makes revenue from that source when people subscribe to it. What you’re thinking of are your typical cable channels, which get bundled together to spread the cost of the individual channels among all the subscribers of that package.

Also, HBO does not run your typical commercials on their channel. If you own a business you can’t just call up HBO and purchase ad time. The only “commercials” they show are for events or shows they’re promoting.

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