Warner Brothers, Intel Begin Futile Legal Assault To Defend Ultra HD And 4K DRM

from the let-the-whac-a-mole-commence! dept

If you’ve recently decided to jump on board the ultra-high-definition (UHD) and 4K TV craze and bought a shiny new UHD set, you’ve probably run into HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) 2.2 by now. It’s the latest version of the entertainment industry’s video copy protection standard designed to secure UHD content. Unfortunately for consumers who rushed out to buy a new 4KTV set, they soon realized that every device in your home theater chain needs to support HDCP 2.2 in order to enjoy UHD.

That means that anybody with a new HDCP 2.2 compliant set also needs to spend money to upgrade their home audio receiver to one that’s HDCP 2.2 compliant, just so the entertainment industry can be provided with a false sense of security for a standard everybody knows will be bypassed in months.

And bypassed it quickly was. Last November copies of most major UHD/4K movies started showing up on BitTorrent. It’s believed that most of these copies were thanks to a Chinese company by the name of LegendSky, which has been selling HDCP 2.2 stripping hardware under the HDFury brand. Variations of these sleek-looking devices start at $200 and sit between HDCP 2.2 compliant devices:

Believing it can keep the lid on HDCP 2.2 stripping technology, Warner Brothers and Intel’s daughter-company Digital Content Protection have filed suit (pdf) against LegendSky. According to the lawsuit, the company’s technology violates not only the DMCA?s anti-circumvention provisions, but also the Lanham Act by falsely claiming that its HDFury hardware complies with HDCP?s license requirements. The suit, as you might expect, spends countless calories praising HDCP as an essential part of the video delivery ecosystem despite its long history of causing confusion and frustration:

“HDCP plays a critical role in linking consumer electronics devices, personal computers, cable and satellite set-top boxes, and other Digital Devices to allow consumers to access and enjoy digital audiovisual content across a wide array of products, all while effectively protecting the rights of copyright owners and controlling access to copyrighted digital content.

Of course, the only thing HDCP 2.2 “links” is the consumer’s wallet to companies making new HDCP 2.2 compliant home theater components they may or may not actually need. Warner Brothers hopes that it can get HDFury’s gear off the market before the company releases 35 movies on Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time later this year. But the damage has been done, and it’s only a matter of time before countless more HDCP 2.2 bypassing solutions flood the market, once again highlighting DRM’s incredible ability to do little more than eat money and annoy paying consumers.

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Companies: digital content protection, intel, legendsky, warner brothers

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Comments on “Warner Brothers, Intel Begin Futile Legal Assault To Defend Ultra HD And 4K DRM”

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63 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Balderdash

Nonsense, clearly someone at HDFury is a literal genie, which is how they were able to easily bypass the brand new form of DRM, as such a task is well beyond the ability of mere mortals.

As such, if they can shut down HDFury, and somehow prevent the genie from taking up employment elsewhere(perhaps by stuffing him back in a bottle somewhere), that will be the end of any DRM bypassing, until they introduce the next form of even better DRM, which will be even more beyond the ability of mortals to bypass.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Is more necessary or just better to some?

While I can tell the difference between HD and SD on my 42″ 1080P non smart TV set, I just don’t care. The SD is good enough, and much of my collection was shot in SD and will never be available in HD. The size (42″) does matter, depending on how close one sits to the screen.

Is 4K or UHD really that much better, or is it something that will be used to measure geekiness, which will only be effective amongst geeks who care? I know a few geeks who’s high testosterone levels will make them care, but the general marketplace?

It is also a safe assumption that all these new high definition sets will be ‘smart’ and reporting the size of your whatzitz should you walk into the room naked. No thanks to that either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Is more necessary or just better to some?

With content made for UHD, there really is a pretty large quality difference, especially on bigger screens. If that’s not something that interests you, then so be it, but it’s not a “geek” thing at all. My wife is the furthest thing from a “geek”, but she loves BD content, and won’t touch SD if she can help it.

jilocasin (profile) says:

Re: Is more necessary or just better to some?

That all depends on just how big of a television you’re planning on getting.

You alluded to the reason [the main one for most normal people anyway] in your post:

“The size (42″) does matter, depending on how close one sits to the screen.”

I’m old enough to remember when SD color and 19″ was considered a really big deal. Such a huge television was only suitable for the living room. Nowadays I regularly hear of people putting 40″ class televisions in their bedrooms. 70″+ are common and I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see 100″+ televisions become a common sight in living rooms everywhere.

So, just how far away will you have to sit from your gigantic television to stop seeing pixels at 1080p? Is your living room that large?

With 1080p and 20″-40″ sets it was a question of how close you had to sit to be able to tell the difference between DVD (480p) and HD (1080p).

With sets approaching or exceeding 100″ and finite room sizes, I think the new question is how high does the resolution need to be (4K, 8K) so that you no longer see the individual pixels on the screen.

That’s my take anyway.

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: So, just how far away will you have to sit from your gigantic television to stop seeing pixels at 1080p? Is your living room that large?

Very likely, yes. It’s easy enough to work out: for a typical living-room viewing distance of 3m (or 10 feet, if you prefer), the optimal diagonal dimension for a 1080p set is 136cm, or 54 inches.

A 4K set would need to double that dimension. Make it smaller, and you’d need to sit closer, not further.

jilocasin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: So, just how far away will you have to sit from your gigantic television to stop seeing pixels at 1080p? Is your living room that large?

So;

If I have an 8ft high room, I can comfortably fit a 210″ class television (larger if I have a larger room, say 10ft high, though 8ft is common enough) with a typical viewing distance of 10ft, how high would the resolution need to be to not see the pixels from that distance?

If history tells us anything, people won’t get a smaller television, just because they don’t have a big enough house.

Seegras (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: So, just how far away will you have to sit from your gigantic television to stop seeing pixels at 1080p? Is your living room that large?

Ah, no. It doesn’t matter how small the pixels are, all it matters is how BIG they are. Because you just don’t want to see the pixels.

They can be as small as they want (and, with analogue films, they’re really really tiny, they’re the film grain), and you don’t need to sit any closer because of that.

Of course, there could be more details to be seen if you go to the border where you nearly can see individual pixels, and it makes economical sense not to have pixels so small you can’t discern them anyway, no matter the distance.

So for 136cm diagonal at 3m, 1080p is only “optimal” in the sense that you don’t “waste” any resolution. Lean forward and you’ll see pixels, go backward and the field of view gets smaller.

Rich says:

Re: Is more necessary or just better to some?

Not that I disagree with your main point (I don’t care about the differences either), but movies that predate “HD” were not shot in “SD”. These are digital concepts. Movies that predate digital were shot on actual film, which is naturally hi-def (film is about equivalent to 4k). The home release format (VHS, DVD, etc.) were all low def, but that doesn’t mean the source matter is.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Is more necessary or just better to some?

Good point. I suppose I mean ‘collected in’ rather than ‘shot’. Either way, the likelihood that I will re-collect any part of my collection just for a higher resolution is significantly less than the possibility that a satisfactory solution to the copyright and patent debacle will appear in 2016.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Is more necessary or just better to some?

But you didn’t actually BUY any of the content, you just licensed it, so obviously you should be entitled to a new copy in the most current format BluRay, HD, 4K, Xray, whatever that is.

Since we are only licensing the content, we should be free to format and media shift as desired, it’s not like we actually BOUGHT those movies on VHS, we only licensed the content on that archaic format…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Is more necessary or just better to some?

The definitions tend to vary depending on what the **AAs are trying to claim at the time. You want to exercise first sale rights on the content you bought? Sorry, that was only a licence, buy another licence if you want another format, etc. You want to transfer the licence, say by getting a replacement for a DVD that no longer works? Sorry, that was a sale, buy another.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Is more necessary or just better to some?

Geekiness factors eventually go mainstream. I haven’t paid much attention to UHD video content but for gaming there is a big difference in quality if your computer can run it. In a few years time, 1080p will be archaic and UHD will be common. Then the geekiness factor will be the new Super Ultra High Definition and you will need your SUHD3DBDVD player watch movies. Once pixel density gets to the point that you can’t make out the difference, then there won’t be a point to go to a higher resolution.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Meh. Meh I say.

Most stuff is not a problem in SD. It doesn’t matter what resolution it’s being projected at. It’s just not spectacular enough to warrant the extra storage space and bandwidth that a “better quality” copy would require.

This even goes for a lot of “big screen movies”.

Few films actually benefit from the extra clarity.

…and yes, I do project my B&W reruns from the 50s onto a 120 inch screen.

Seegras (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Meh. Meh I say.

I’m watching movies at a distance of 100cm on a 24″ 1080p screen.

And I can pretty much discern 720p from anything less. I actually sometimes can’t see much difference between 720p and 1080p, but anything below 720p really has a “bad quality” feel.

But then, I’m myopic, and my glasses don’t correct everything, so it’s entirely possible someone with better eyesight would really see a huge difference between 1080p and 720p.

drawoC suomynonnA rehtonA tsuJ says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Meh. Meh I say.

52″ 1080p screen at approximately 9 feet viewing distance here. I agree, anything less than 720p is noticeably soft, though usually still watchable without being too distracting. MadVR does a pretty good job upsampling.

Heck, I’ll even watch the occasional cam if it’s interesting enough (e.g. The Force Awakens, after seeing it in the theater first which, while fun, reminded me why I don’t go there anymore).

I’ve never seen much of a difference between 720p and 1080p either though, hence why nearly all of my Bluray/HD-DVD rips are 720p. I feel the hard drive space I’ve saved did indeed make it the better choice (around 9.8TB by my estimate).

doubledeej (profile) says:

Re: Is more necessary or just better to some?

The most visible differences between SD and HD, and likewise HD and UHD, isn’t necessarily in the increase in resolution. It’s the increase in the color space and dynamic range (especially in the case of UHD). And you don’t hear much about that.

SD used NTSC for its color space, HD uses Rec.709, and UHD uses Rec.2020. The difference between 709 and 2020 is huge. UHD can display a LOT more colors than HD can.

The difference is very apparent in good quality UHD displays. Reds and greens are especially much more vibrant. That’s a difference you can see no matter how big or small your TV is, or how far away you are sitting.

Yes, in terms of resolution, you might not see much of a difference based on the size of TV and how far away you are. But the difference in color is pretty astounding. Standard def looks pale and bland compared to HD… and HD looks the same compared to UHD (at least when shown on a TV that handles it properly).

Dukrugger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Is more necessary or just better to some?

This is true, sadly you only appreciate it on the demo footages where you se a couple of landscapes and animals, movies on the other hand will try to trow the “UHDexperience” right in your face same as HD and 3D making it unbearable. Is like eating a whole truffle by itself, it just doesn’t work.

drawoC suomynonnA rehtonA tsuJ says:

Re: Re: Re: Is more necessary or just better to some?

A noticeable increase in dynamic range would be far more appreciated than a bump in resolution. As good as my 52″ HD television is, I do occasionally notice banding when it’s attempting to display fine gradients, mostly when they’re black and white (e.g. fog). Short of my TV dying, that is probably the only other thing that would make me consider investing in a replacement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Is more necessary or just better to some?

Imagine if you had to buy $1000 glasses to watch Television, Not television on your glasses. Glasses to decrypt the special visual signal that came out of the TV instead of the video itself. Because "people who haven’t bought their own viewing license might be watching from your couch".

Anonymous Coward says:

Child-like crypto with inadvertent vulnerabilities left there by inexperienced developers bypassed by a firm well out of reach of western law? Not sure what’s more entertaining. Also. They seriously sued a Chinese company? They don’t care. They just won’t show up. If they tried to sue them in a Chinese court the judge would rule something to the effect of “They aren’t bypassing your crypto we don’t know what you are on to. Dismissed.”

So yeah. The real incredible thing in all of this is they keep trying with DRM and failing over and over and over and over….

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> Child-like crypto with inadvertent vulnerabilities left there by inexperienced developers…

The crypto was probably developed by seasoned professionals. They simply had an impossible job.

Cory Doctorow once explained it in a talk to the Microsoft Research group:

Cryptography – secret writing – is the practice of keeping secrets. It involves three parties: a sender, a receiver and an attacker […]. We usually call these people Alice, Bob and Carol. [A few explanations of cipher, ciphertext and key] In DRM, the attacker is also the recipient. It’s not Alice and Bob and Carol, it’s just Alice and Bob. So Alice has to provide Bob – the attacker – with the key, the cipher and the ciphertext. Hilarity ensues.

Which is why encryption is just part of the defense; most of the rest is DMCA-style laws against breaking the encryption, backed by import controls.

Eldakka (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Nice talk. I especially loved this prophetic bit (it was written in 2004) of it:

Anticircumvention is a powerful tool for people who want to
exclude competitors. If you claim that your car engine firmware
is a “copyrighted work,” you can sue anyone who makes a tool for
interfacing with it. … We have companies like Lexmark claiming
that their printer cartridges contain copyrighted works … Even garage-door opener companies have
gotten in on the act, claiming that their receivers’ firmware are
copyrighted works. Copyrighted cars, print carts and garage-door
openers: what’s next, copyrighted light-fixtures?

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Anyone planning to invest in a 4K TV should buy one of these. And that’s without piracy entering the picture at all.

Making off-site backups is simple common sense. Especially when your DVD, Blu-Ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are typically not covered by insurance.

And especially with the long history of HDCP-compliant devices not talking to each other.

jilocasin (profile) says:

And this is news, why?

And this is news, why?

  1. New format devised
  2. New DRM created
  3. New works published in new format with new DRM
  4. DRM broken
  5. Prominent enablers sued by music/movie industry
  6. Prominent end users sued by music/movie industry
  7. Return to 1. (rinse, lather, repeat)

It’s about as effective as forcing non-infringing users to watch the unskippable “You might be a pirate” messages on DVD and Blu-rays. After the DRM, those are probably the first thing that gets stripped from unauthorized copies of movies. Soon followed by ads and other unskippable marketing.

Anonymous Coward says:

The proper way to abuse the public:

1. WB and Intel buy stock in major home entertainment equipment manufacturers, and secretly buy HDFury

2. Tweak a few lines of code and you have HDCP 2.3

3. Every sucker has to buy new equipment

4. Enter HDFury and pretend like it’s a bad thing, and sue, sue, sue

5. Goto 2 and add .1 to the version number

Anonymous Coward says:

again what this shows is the total ignorance of the entertainment industry in expecting everyone to rush out to buy the latest equipment that will last a few months, then be obsolete. it also shows how much concern there is for customers. if there was any, they would sort out this damn copyright protection so it fought against those that can break it, rather than keep trying to ramp it up rather than using competition! what the lack of competition shows to me is the total fear the industries have of being put out to pasture. let’s face it, that’s where they should have been put years ago and the reason they weren’t is the constant whining to politicians on the backs of bribes and the promises to security. they ignore the harm they are doing being concerned only with themselves but eventually, everyone will see the errors and drop the backing of them in favor of progress!

DannyB (profile) says:

How to prevent making consumer equipment obsolete

All consumer equipment which has DRM, right down to your toaster and vacuum cleaner, should be continuously connected to the internet to enable monitoring by the manufacturing company.

For your protection, naturally. (think: Macrovision quality protection)

Devices could be continually up to date with the latest firmware. For your protection.

Think how much this would improve your life vs the olden days when your TV, VCR, toaster and vacuum cleaner could not get updates from the manufacturer which could fundamentally change their technology. (think: PS3 getting downgraded after you buy it)

The ability to make remote connections into your devices would only be used to update the DRM. Never anything else. Not for spying. Collecting and correlating information between vendors. And certainly not by hackers. All these devices inside your firewall continuously connected to their respective mother ships would not represent a security concern.

Imagine if the MPAA could disable your kitchen appliances and lock the refrigerator door when the TV is playing a commercial.

The biggest benefit of all is that continuously updated devices would never be obsolete.

Oh, the blessings of technology.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How to prevent making consumer equipment obsolete

The biggest benefit of all is that continuously updated devices would never be obsolete.

Funny man, devices would be bricked would be unable to sup[port the latest DRM every time the manufacturer needed more sales to boost profits, and this would render them useless.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Wrong

“HDCP plays a critical role in linking consumer electronics devices, personal computers, cable and satellite set-top boxes, and other Digital Devices to allow consumers to access and enjoy digital audiovisual content across a wide array of products, all while effectively protecting the rights of copyright owners and controlling access to copyrighted digital content.”

Wrong. HDMI does that. HDCP’s specific role is to PREVENT those connection.

scatman09 (profile) says:

we all know drm is wrong

but is there a fix anywhere in sight? Should content providers even seek copyrights? Is copyrighting, itself, just and antiquated ideology? How should we be thinking about ‘payment for artistic works’ in the future? One time payments? Royalties for only 1 year, then it’s all up for grabs?
Right now it’s just a silly cycle: someone makes it…mean corp. puts a lock/payment code on it…someone breaks said lock/payment doohickey…on and on ad infinitum…
What’s the fix?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: we all know drm is wrong

How should we be thinking about ‘payment for artistic works’ in the future?
You are asking the wrong question, as artists will make their money the same way as always, support from their loyal fans.
The people suffering from the impact of the Internet are the middlemen publishers, as self publishing artists are direct competition to their business model. There is no reason why they should not have to find a different source of income if they cannot provide services that the artists are willing to pay for.
While it may not be te same artists who make a living if the publishers disappear, their disappearance will not prevent new art being made available, and if anything will increase the money flowing to actual artists by removing what has become a parasite on the works of artists.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: we all know drm is wrong

“What’s the fix?”

Stop applying DRM to everything. It never works, it’s always broken, it always has unintended consequences, and it never affects pirates for very long, only people who legally bought the product. Legal purchasers will be pissing around with the DRM long after pirates are able to get 4K movies with no DRM.

The cries of “you can’t compete with free” have been proven wrong time and time again. People will pay for content, even if a pirated version is available. Not every person for every copy, but this has never happened anyway. Nothing needs to change about payment methods, royalty structures, etc. to pay artists.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: we all know drm is wrong

DRM and copyrights are not the same thing.

The music business abandoned DRM a decade ago. The music you download from iTunes and Amazon is DRM free, and yet iTunes and Amazon thrives as a business and most of that music is still under copyright. They don’t need DRM to run their business.

And not all DRM is bad. Netflix uses DRM, and aside from hindering Linux users it’s worked out fine for them. DRM’s only bad when it gets in the way of something a legitimate customer is trying to do. In this case, simply watch a movie they bought on incompatible equipment. The only thing illegal going on is breaking the DRM, which is why DRM is wrong here, and having a law against breaking DRM is wrong.

fairuse (profile) says:

Oh, HDCP and Cinavia you drive audio visual salesmen to dap dance

Nope, I can’t go UHD and Blue-ray and new audio amplifier and maybe a new computer just to watch my LED based Samsung TV gather dust in a corner.

Streaming? Sorry I can’t stop laughing at that pile of DRM based headache.

However, I love Amazon Prime and xfinity online via 27″ iMac. Note: 300Mbit/s cable modem, theoretical.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Oh, HDCP and Cinavia you drive audio visual salesmen to dap dance

“Streaming? Sorry I can’t stop laughing at that pile of DRM based headache.”

“I love Amazon Prime”

So you do a lot of laughing while watching your streamed movies on Amazon?

Seriously, though, while I despise DRM on purchases, at least it makes some sense with rented content, which is what streaming is. I’d still prefer it not to be there for device compatibility reasons and promoting adoption of open source, but it’s easy to understand why it persists.

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