(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Carlo Longino

Filed Under:
copy protection, drm, hdcp, itunes


Apple Adds HDCP To New Laptops; Piracy Continues, Legit Users Get Annoyed

from the yes,-again dept

It appears that Apple has begun using HDCP copy protection technology on some content it sells through the iTunes Music Store, and implementing it in its latest laptops. HDCP "protects" content as it travels across different types of connections, and is generally implemented in such a way that an HDCP-compliant source won't play content on a non-HDCP compliant connected display. So HDCP-ified content can't be played on a number of older displays, or ones that don't use one of the compatible types of connections.

You know how this thing goes down: movie studios insist on some new magic method to protect their content from piracy, it gets implemented, does nothing to stop piracy (sometimes even helps pirates), and ends up getting in the way for legitimate customers. In this instance, a guy who'd bought a movie from iTunes tried to play it over a projector connected to his Mac via a VGA connection; instead of being able to enjoy the content he'd legitimately purchased in a reasonable way, he was greeted with an error message. So here's a customer who legitimately purchased some content, and is being stopped from enjoying it in a perfectly reasonable, legitimate and legal way. Once again, it's puzzling to see content and technology companies implement these roadblocks to frustrate their paying customers. What's the incentive for this guy to pay to download a movie, rather than download a pirated version that he can watch on his projector? Apparently, it bears repeating for content and device companies: you don't stop piracy by annoying your paying customers.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Freedom, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 4:23pm


    You said it all!

    The only thing that is keeping any revenue going to the movie companies is that more people don't know how to use torrents. Sadly, instead of training people to use legit methods of acquiring movies, all the movie industry is doing is training a new generation to not pay for their material.

    At some point they'll wake up. The question is will it be too late.


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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 4:48pm

    Apple added to list of boycotted companies, Soon there will be no way to watch a movie then at a theater.

    Time to start reading books again.


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

  3. identicon
    Matt, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 4:50pm


    apple wasn't on your boycott list already?

    There's a number of reasons they are crap. Overcharging, DRM and restrictive software are just 3 of the many. add HDCP to the pile.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 4:50pm

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

  5. identicon
    thomas, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 4:56pm


    The movie companies do not really care if anyone can actually VIEW their movies. As long as they pay for them and cannot copy them, it's fine with the movie people, and Apple too apparently. Heaven forbid that people should be allowed to watch the movies! what is the world coming to?

    So, you know that a legitimate copy of movie Z will not play on your setup, what do you do? don't buy the movie. It's not surprising that people simply buy pirated copies. I don't approve or do it, but in my book the movie people are asking for people to steal.

    One big reason why I haven't bought a blu-ray is the players are so riddled with DRM that playing a new legitimate blu-ray disc may or may not work and you're out of luck. Why pay $40 for a movie you can't watch when you can buy DVD and at least watch it for half that?

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

  6. identicon
    Just Some Dude, Not Just Some Guy, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:20pm


    Book, what's a book? Oh, you mean those things made out of paper with silly little characters on them? We where told to never speak of them again!

    On a serious note though, I have given DRM a shot; Conclusion it is bad. There is nothing that will stop someone from copying "Not stealing, at most devaluing" any kind of content that hits a client, whether the client be a web browser, a media player, my TV.

    Personal Happenings: I bought spore, hard drive got corupted I then tried to re-install (Via EA Download) and it blocked me. SO I said F* you, I will get it DRM free and for free. I still paid for the content. On a different occasion, I had bought Rainbow 6: Vegas via Direct Download, it worked at first, then I had re-installed windows; downloaded the game again, now it will not accept my key! Not going to re-download that game, it was horrible buggy on the PC.

    Point is, do not go after the people who buy your content, or even download your content. go after the people who truly de-value your content, people who distribute it wrongfully.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:27pm

    What is really silly is HDCP won't even slow down the pirates. There are plenty of web posts regarding bypassing HDCP so it only a matter of time before the whole schema is rendered obsolete.

    Here's some dated ones but I'll bet you dedicated web surfers can dig up the surefire hack. As TechDirt says, this only serves to annoy legitimate customers.


    http://www.p spsps.tv/2007/05/bypass_bluray_copy_protection.html

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

  8. identicon
    Beefcake, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:33pm


    They finally trotted out a solution to the analog hole. Well whoop-de-effin'-do.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:36pm


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

  10. identicon
    TPBer, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:37pm

    I have been training...

    everyone I talk to in the method of DL via torrents, UTorrent works great along with PeerGuardian, and using either flash drives and how to format external hds into FAT32 partitions and plugging in directly to a TV or dvd with usb media port, Philips or Samsung, are my favs, and you can use these drives as MOVIE_PODS.

    No need to copy to dvds any longer. Thanks MPAA for showing everyone the way to NEVER paying for ANY movies.

    :) the Happy TPBer

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:59pm

    Re: I have been training...

    I have been doing the same thing. Ever since they started with their greed, I've shown everyone I have know how to download torrents using utorrent. These people in turn have taught everyone they know. I wonder how many people I've converted from paying customers to pirates. The only thing I need now is a nice private tracker with good quality dvd rips of movies, because the compressed shit they put on TPB is no good. And the more the industry cracks down on the pirates instead of fixing their broke ass business model, the more they will push the pirating underground. It makes me smile to think of the day they shut down OiNK, and immediately, 5 other private trackers then sprouted up with generally the same content.

    PS I love it how I can download full seasons of tv shows and albums faster on private trackers than I could legitimately buying the content.

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

  12. identicon
    Adam, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 6:53pm

    Meantime, as per other news, pirates in China are happily burning away BD copies en masse and Pirate Bay hits reach record levels. Brilliant **AA, brilliant...



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

  13. identicon
    dave, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 6:53pm

    It's a stupid implementation of DRM

    First, this kind of DRM is stupid, because it's way easier to strip off the DRM from the original file almost instantaneously than try to capture and re-compress the video in realtime.

    But even more importantly, Apple is going far beyond what is required by the movie industry by just flatly not playing the content just because a "non-compliant" display is connected. The user still is permitted to display the content in HD on any so-called compliant display (such as the laptop screen), or the content could be downsampled to 480p (or possibly some higher resolution) on the non-compliant display.

    Frankly, I'm surprised and annoyed that Apple has gone with the most simplistic implementation of DRM, that goes way beyond what is required by the content industry, let alone the end-user's actual fair-use rights.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 7:13pm


    Thank you for sharing this information, I will forward it on, and on, and on etc etc etc etc

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

  15. identicon
    Stute, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 7:43pm

    I'm starting to get the feeling this is all a conspiracy

    and that these companies really make money off of piracy, because boneheaded moves like this, that defy logic of the "should we do this" test keep being done, for years and years in a multitude of companies.

    It has to be a conspiracy, there is no way all these businesses are this moronic

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

  16. identicon
    tyedyed computers, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 9:18pm

    Old school Tech

    Sounds like apple is using Old School VCR Tech so you couldn’t run a tape and patch it to another VCR then patching to your TV to duplicate movies from your favorite Rental establishment or were ever you got it. Also with the group about a total Pain!

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

  17. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 9:46pm

    Apple Makes It Kewl!

    If Apple does it, it must be cool! Suddenly all the hippest dudes and dudesses are doing copy protection! It won't be "I'm a Mac ... I'm a PC" any more, it'll be "I'm HDCP"! Once again, Apple makes everybody else look like also-rans! Freedom is beige!

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 10:12pm

    Ugh, no

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2008 @ 3:48am

    SlySoft / AnyDVD products are great, but they're Windows only.

    Are there any good Mac options that truly do the same thing?

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

  20. identicon
    CN, Nov 19th, 2008 @ 4:54am

    It's not working! How can they not get it?!?

    Using the various forms of DRM to "stop piracy" seems a lot like punching yourself in the face to feel better. *Smack* *pow* *bam* ... hmmm, it doesn't seem to be working... maybe I need to punch harder!!

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

  21. identicon
    Michael Foord, Nov 19th, 2008 @ 6:43am

    Legal and legitimate

    Well, he was a teacher trying to show a movie over projector. If there was an audience then it was a public showing and unless he had the appropriate license probably *not* a lawful showing. :-)

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

  22. icon
    chris (profile), Nov 19th, 2008 @ 7:13am

    Re: Amen!

    At some point they'll wake up. The question is will it be too late.

    it was too late 5 years ago. the war was lost when napster was shutdown and piracy grew instead of shrinking. right now, it's practically effortless to copy anything digital, and it's only going to get easier.

    all the hardware and software DRM in the world won't make a lick of difference because pirated stuff is not DRM'd. it either never was, or the DRM was stripped prior to upload.

    you can implement all of this trusted computing stuff if you want, but it's only going to increase the market for open hardware and software.

    this document here explains why DRM is bad for everyone:

    it works like this: a consumer buys a dvd or CD. then he/she goes to play it on the unauthorized/unsupported player (a projector, old/cheap dvd player, old laptop/game console, etc.) and fails.

    he/she tries a few things, gives up, and downloads an unrestricted copy from an unauthorized source. in the future, what's the incentive to buy the legitimate copy in the first place?

    i that scenario, drm not only fails to stop piracy, it actually encourages it.

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

  23. identicon
    Vincent Clement, Nov 19th, 2008 @ 7:38am

    Losing Control

    Every action the movie industry takes to 'stop' piracy has yet to work. Macrovision? CSS? Ripguard? SecuRom? ARccOS? On and on the list goes on of failed content protection schemes.

    All content protection does is annoy the paying customer who either wants to watch the content on the device of their choice, wants to make a backup copy or who wants to make a Divx/Xvid copy for use in their child's portable DVD player.

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

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2008 @ 8:21am



    Strips out HDCP protection.....

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

  25. identicon
    nasch, Nov 19th, 2008 @ 8:53am

    Re: Legal and legitimate

    Generally educational uses fall under fair use. Besides, are those restrictions really legitimate? If you're not distributing the content but only showing it, why is the copyright holder allowed to restrict who you can show it to, or where? What law gives them that privilege?

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

  26. identicon
    Josh, Nov 19th, 2008 @ 10:00am

    Re: Legal and legitimate


    No law gives them the privilege and no law is needed - its their content, they can do what they want to it and try to sell it. However, the DMCA makes it "illegal" to break any type of copyright protection measure even for perfectly legitimate legal uses.

    What this does is turn ordinary people into criminals and dilute the power of the law. It teaches us that laws are completely arbitrary in our society, that they are not there for our protection or to promote good - but to protect huge corporations that cannot adapt to a changing world.

    If you know you're going to be a criminal anyway, why not save yourself the hassle and simply download the content without paying for it in the first place. An unintended effect of the law, but an effect that anyone could have predicted (and people did predict it before the law was passed). It even makes it so that people feel good about breaking the law by "sticking it to the man" or "defying the evil corporate pigs" or whatever phrase appeals to your particular viewpoint.

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

  27. identicon
    gadget n device, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 12:20am

    hahaha just dont wanna think of it any more....

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

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