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Philips Targets Wireless TV Retransmission At Home 367

Posted by timothy
from the make-sure-people-can't-use-it dept.
cadfael links to this EE Times story, excerpting: "Philips is attempting to start yet another industry initiative to tackle digital rights management, this time focusing on the wirelessly networked home. 'At stake here,' said Leon Husson, executive vice president of consumer businesses at Philips Semiconductors, 'is the "free-floating" copyrighted content that will soon be "redistributed" or "rebroadcast" to different TV sets throughout a home by consumers using wireless networking technologies like IEEE802.11.'"
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Philips Targets Wireless TV Retransmission At Home

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  • Arrest (Score:1, Interesting)

    by zhar (533174) <mike@nOSPAm.goldtwo.net> on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:18PM (#2837143) Homepage Journal
    Didn't someone in Canada get arrested for rebroadcasting someone else's signal? I mean if it is running in the 802.11 spectrum, and someone in the apartment below you tunes into your cable signal, couldn't they be arrested for cable piracy?
  • Big Problem, I hear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by merlin_jim (302773) <James@McCracken.stratapult@com> on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:18PM (#2837147)
    This is a huge problem. You know, I have friends who are all the time buying 802.11 gear ($200+), and content encoders/decoders ($100/each and requires a PC to run) just so they can broadcast cable from the living room to the bedroom.

    Oh wait, no that was a dream world. Sorry, I'm just not seeing how wireless piracy is a big problem, especially since, by focusing on wireless piracy WITHIN the home, there's an implicit assumption that the transmitter of the content has the rights to view it in the first place... otherwise, the focus wouldn't be in-home transmission, but rather how the content got to the home in the first place...
  • by stretch_jc (243794) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:19PM (#2837153)
    What is going on here? Didn't Philips just try to prevent 'digital rights management? [slashdot.org]
  • by thesolo (131008) <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:20PM (#2837156) Homepage
    Say I have a DVD player in my computer, which is in my bedroom. But my TV is in my living room. What's the difference between buying a DVD player and putting it in my living room, or streaming the content to a wireless receiver at my TV??

    Unless doing that is somehow illegal (which is unbeknowst to me), I don't see a problem with it at all. I own the media, so why does it matter if I stream it to a different TV in my own house?

    This seems like an attempt to get people to pay if they want to stream the content which they purchased to another location in their own home.
  • by Iguanaphobic (31670) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:29PM (#2837224)
    Is it just me or is now a really good time to start buying uncrippled hardware? I've noticed that the current generation of devices (PVR, MP3 Players, DVD+RW, CD-RW, Hard Drives etc.) do not have DRM technology included. I've also noticed that the next generation of hardware will have this technology included, possibly at gunpoint by the content providers. I will be buying lot's of tech soon to avoid the DRM cripples that are due in all our hardware. I will also be closely monitoring the computer situation to buy my next machine just before they encrypt the BIOS and only allow DRM enabled operating systems to run on these systems. If you don't think this will happen, you have learned nothing from 100 years of corporate behaviour. If they can, they will. Usually just because they can.
  • by BeBoxer (14448) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:38PM (#2837294)
    "This seems like an attempt to get people to pay if they want to stream the content which they purchased to another location in their own home."

    Smart guy. In fact, this is exactly why they want this technology. From the article:

    -----quote-----
    "we can help content owners create a new business revenue model." Content owners, for example, can start charging consumers every time their digital content is re-distributed within the home, or viewed several times during a certain number of days specified by them.
    -----end quote-----
  • by medcalf (68293) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:46PM (#2837340) Homepage
    The thing that strikes me about all of the attempts that I have seen to implement DRM, is that they all work on the principle that the consumer is a thief. If the content owners keep making this argument, and implementing it in hardware, it will actually spawn rampant thievery. After all, today I buy CDs (and rip them to MP3s immediately) and DVDs. If I cannot play a CD in my computer, I'll get it from a pirate online so that I can listen to it. How long, then, until I decide to skip the step of buying the CD in the first place? And it will be the same with movies at some point, I'm certain.

    -jeff
  • by letxa2000 (215841) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:47PM (#2837349)
    If I read this correctly they now want to somehow implement copyright protection mesaures at the protocol level? So now not only will companies and courts have control over what I transmit, the protocol will decide whether or not I can transmit? A protocol that prevents use is a protocol that won't be used.

    It also seems to be a contradiction. DirectTV can transmit from their satellite to almost every square foot of North America, but if someone grabs that signal on their private property and decodes it then the person who received it is legally responsible, not DirectTV. But here, for some reason, they believe it is necessary for the sender to have some kind of permission to transmit with a range of a few hundred feet?

    Who even cares? I suspect DirectTV provides a lot more free content to pirates than neighbors transmitting via RF do or will.

    Everyone thought that Internet was great, that the new economy was great, and that all this communication and information would enlighten and unite the world. That was until companies started realizing exactly what that meant...

  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:51PM (#2837382) Journal

    Scenario 1: Ubiquitous wireless home networking. I can get up from the football game and there is a networked screen in the bathroom, etc... In fact, I think somebody did a commercial that illustrated that vision.

    Scenario 2: I can't network anything without paying twice for content I've already bought, and the devices that do it cost more because they have to support real-time encryption. Because of this, I choose not to buy the devices and simply do the "bathroom and snack rush" during commercials.

    This just makes no sense. Once the content is in the home, why should they care how many outlets it comes out of? This is like the electric company charging me more for installing a new socket, even though I'm using the same number of kilowatt-hours.

    Ordinarily I dismiss some of the things I see on /. as AIP/paranoia, but I have to concede to the /. crowd that controls like this for intrahome networking violate fair use, and probably a number of other things.

  • by mblase (200735) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:53PM (#2837394)
    I was puzzled by this concept, myself -- surely I have the right to broadcast my cable TV signal to as many televisions or computers in my own house as I see fit?

    But if we're talking about Wi-Fi, then the problem isn't just inside my house. I'm essentially empowering any Wi-Fi receiver within my broadcast range to see what I'm watching on my own system -- whether it's television, cable TV, pay-per-view, or pre-recorded home video.

    Think of the potential problems. A student in a dorm room could broadcast a rented DVD to every other student in their building, a clear violation of the big "at-home use" FBI warning you see at the start of the movie. A pay-per-view sports broadcast could be sent to everyone in my apartment building. My next-door neighbor could pirate my cable TV feed just by tuning into/cracking my Wi-Fi frequency. It's not a problem if we're talking about broadcast television signals, but anything else is a major violation of copyright, essentially turning my home system into a small pirate broadcast station.
  • by Masem (1171) on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:04PM (#2837463)
    Basically, the large media companies want control over their content because they want to "keep the honest people honest." Though this sounds very Big Brotherish in nature, keep in mind the fact that if 80%, 90%, or 100% of the population could make unlimited, perfect copies of digital media to share with their friends, it would likely put the entire industry out of business.

    Except that for those 80-100% of 'honest people' have no idea how to make copies, much less record stuff typically in the first place. The VCR, as a prime example, without tools like VCR+, is very hard for average people to program, though I'm sure most geeks know their way around it. It took the intervention of this VCR+ system or things like TiVo with interactive program guides to get the common man familar enough with VCR programming.

    So it's very doubtful the common honest person is the one they are putting this in place for.

    As a few others have stated, while the tech they are trying to describe will prevent the wireless signals from going to other TVs in the same house, it's more than likely they're trying to make sure that a nearby neighbor cannot pick up on your wireless emissions and effectively 'steal' the signal, just as people used to do with cable. And those that would steal it would not be the honest people, but instead those with both the intent and the means to work out how to do it.

  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:04PM (#2837470) Homepage
    if someone grabs that signal on their private property and decodes it then the person who received it is legally responsible

    There is, unfortunately, precedent for this, at least in the US (though it strikes me as something probably implemented elsewhere in the world, too).

    There are laws on the books that (IIRC) forbid even listening to certain radio frequencies (or, more accurately, criminalizes having equipment capable of picking up those frequencies), because those frequencies are used by police and/or military (or something of the sort). In addition, there are the more familiar laws which (again IIRC) criminalize decoding of cell-phone transmissions.

    While I can understand why they WANT to criminalize such things, as you point out, it sets a disturbing precedent. The signal is being sent through MY (and your and everyone else's) property. It is as if Government, Inc. has legslated permission for couriers to walk through your house any time they want, and requires you to cover your eyes whenever they do so, lest you see things the courier is carrying....

    With a precedent like that, Government Inc can add laws, if they want, that criminalize receiving certain other channels (including 'channels contained copyright-protected materials such as satellite television broadcasts') 'without proper authorization' (e.g. broadcaster-sanctioned equipment only).

    A side effect of things like this that REALLY bugs me is that it inhibits personal educational experimentation. Want to learn about electronics and radio transmissions by building your own receiver? You'd better have the existing skills and ability to design the circuits to specially block out reception of the 'special' frequencies or you're breaking the law. (And this is BEFORE the DMCA, which basically just extended this same prohibition to a ridiculous degree, to include non-broadcast material).

    Personally, I think that if Government Inc. would spend the time and money making decent encryption available, instead of 'don't look' laws, the issue would be moot by now....

  • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:06PM (#2837479) Homepage
    The problem with wireless is that other people in the neighborhood can free ride off your signal. One student in a dorm might subscribe to cable and rebroadcast it via 802.11 to the rest of the dorm. Or you might have your neighbors hooking into your 802.11 net without your consent and find out that you watch the porn channels or the 700 club.

    The Philips proposal sounds to me to be of the form 'what do we need to do to make this pass likely regulation' rather than 'what can we do to support the RIAA and MPAA'.

    While no DRM solution can ultimately be proof against a moderately determined attack it is certainly possible to produce stuff for the consumer market that does not support piracy without deliberate modification. For example you might see 'home media servers' being sold that store several hundred CDs and DVDs that can be broadcast to a number of access points in the house. These access points would initially be set top boxes but could be embedded in the TV if there was a recognized standard.

    I don't fault Philips for anticipating likely regulation here. I would much rather that Philips produced something that was a reasonable compromise than waited for the RIAA and MPAA to buy votes in congress to either impose something completely derranged or try to kill the field altogether.

    There are already attempts to kill off ReplayTV, the broadcast media would much rather support Tivo which has made it clear will roll over whenever asked. So we lose features like the ad-skip button.

  • Re:Wireless (Score:2, Interesting)

    by theancient1 (134434) on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:07PM (#2837488) Homepage
    Here's the story I've heard.

    Once upon a time, TV signals were only available over the air -- cable companies didn't yet exist. It difficult to get distant signals without spending a lot of money on a big antenna. One day, a guy who owned just such an antenna decided to offer service to his neighbours by running a cable to their homes. Thus the cable company was born.

    Sounds similar, doesn't it?

    While this isn't a perfect ananlogy (you have to pay for digital cable), recall the case of iCraveTV -- one person put up an television antenna and broadcast the signals over the internet. It's pretty much the same thing, but today, you immediately get sued for trying something like that.

    I guess back in those days, "rights management" wasn't such a big issue. ("Rights", of course, always refers to the rights of corporations to protect their business model.)
  • by Snaffler (311068) on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:08PM (#2837495)
    The ultimate copy protection scheme is right around the corner. Word has it that the major studios will encode their movies on celluloid "film" and maintain exclusive proprietary rights to the product. In order to view it you will have to purchase a "ticket" and attend a "theater" which will post the showing times on the lighted billboard outside.
  • Explanation? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by CrazyDwarf (529428) <michael.rodman@gmail.com> on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:10PM (#2837503) Homepage
    I don't think I understood any of this article... at least I hope I didn't.

    I have a VCR, and 2 DVD players in my home, connected to TV's which are all cable ready and have cable running directly to them. If I understood this article correctly, Phillips is concerned I might broadcast something via wireless network technology to another TV in my home, when all I have to do is plug it into the cable, or plug a VCR/DVD player in? Or is their concern more for digital cable subscribers or people in areas where you have to have a cable box to descramble the pay channels?

    Is this the kind of waste of resources that causes prices to go up?
  • by merlin_jim (302773) <James@McCracken.stratapult@com> on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:14PM (#2837529)
    I wouldn't have such a big beef if that's what they said they were going after, but they never explicitly say that's a problem. They probably don't want to admit that 802.11 and other wireless technologies tend to be very easy to hack, otherwise this wouldn't be a problem at all. As a result, they only mention piracy within the home. I looked for direct quotes, the closest I could get was:

    At stake here, said Leon Husson, executive vice president of consumer businesses at Philips Semiconductors, is the "free-floating" copyrighted content that will soon be "redistributed" or "rebroadcast" to different TV sets throughout a home by consumers using wireless networking technologies like IEEE802.11.

    I wonder how close the above paraphrase is to what he actually said... if he used the phrase throughout a home I would be VERY concerned with what this means for fair use, as I mentioned in my original post...
  • by letxa2000 (215841) on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:27PM (#2837596)
    The signal is being sent through MY (and your and everyone else's) property. It is as if Government, Inc. has legslated permission for couriers to walk through your house any time they want, and requires you to cover your eyes whenever they do so, lest you see things the courier is carrying...

    Exactly.

    For example, I can understand why DirectTV doesn't want people to decode their transmission without paying for it. I can see why they would make every effort to make doing so as expensive and inconvenient as possible. It's in their best interest.

    However, when they decided to build a satellite-based delivery system they knew that their signal would be available to anyone who wanted to pick it up--even if they were not subscribers. As such, they knew there would be people that would receive and use the signal without paying for it.

    If, knowing all that, they still decided to deploy a satellite system it is because they made the business decision that they'd still be able to make a profit. If they had considered non-subscriber use of their signal to be a show-stopper then they would have deployed a cable or fiber-optic system that is more difficult to intercept. But they opted for a satellite system because it was probably cheaper and, with it, the risks and costs of busines that go with it--which include use by non-subscribers.

    It may be illegal to listen in on a cell phone call, but it shouldn't be. And anyone who says something on a cell phone expecting privacy or secrecy is an order of fries short of a happy meal...

    Anyway, I believe that people and companies ought to only transmit that information they are comfortable having intercepted and used. If they are comfortable with their encryption, transmit away. If they aren't, don't.

    Meanwhile, I'm going to use anything I find on my private property. Including RF signals.

  • by vtaluskie (138739) on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:29PM (#2837609)
    Amazing example of Corporate Split-Personality. Last wednesday folks were hailing Philips for their stance that Philips Says Compact Discs Can't be Copyprotected [slashdot.org] and now this report.

    Either they're really smart or their right hand doesn't know what their left hand is doing :)

  • by NanoGator (522640) on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:58PM (#2837803) Homepage Journal
    Hmm... so let me see if I understand this. If I take my computer, rip all my DVD's to DivX, then get a wireless card, anybody close enough to me in my apartment complex can potentially watch those movies.

    Okay, fair enough. Given the range of 802.11, I think maybe 6 people are close enough they'd get a decent signal. Which is fine because I think I wouldn't be able to handle much more than that since a dvd rip is roughly 1 megabit.

    For this to happen, all 6 of my neighbors would have to not only have computers (I think 2 of my neighbors have computers), wireless cards, and I'd have to talk to each one to give them information on how to hit my computer to get the info.

    I just don't see this happening. First off, with all the neighbors I've had in the past, I can only think of one that'd actually even try it, let alone rely on it.

    Secondly, I'm the only guy I know that has a computer permanently hooked up to a television. (gotta put my demo reel on VHS somehow!) I can't imagine any of my neighbors watching a movie on anything but their television.

    Third, for all the trouble this would take, I'd have better luck just sending them the movie over ICQ than by trying to get all this wireless bs worked out. As bandwidth improves, wireless as way to transmit it is even less interesting.

    I think wireless networks will take off, but I have trouble seeing people sharing their networks to other people. Who'd want to? I'd be afraid of security issues. I don't want my neighbor finding a way into my computer and reading my torrid emails to my girlfriend.

    I think the industry is solving the wrong problem. Instead of trying to encrypt very specific files over 802.11, how about trying to figure out how to make money on this. Check out http://www.intertainer.tv for an example. You pay them $4, and you can watch a full length movie immediately. That's a better service than I'd ever care to provide, and they can make money on it.
  • by sam@caveman.org (13833) on Monday January 14, 2002 @03:07PM (#2837864) Homepage
    naturally the neighbor is breaking the law for listening in (if by law we define the cable companies policy, which may as well be as they will fine you, etc).

    but cable companies also hold the customer responsible with heavy fines for 'sharing' their cable knowingly (see my example of drilling holes between apartments to share cable: both parties would be in for some $$).

    and watch out, because probably it will become your burden to prove that you did not know your neighbor was listening in on your cable, not on the cable companies to prove that you did know. this isn't 'real law' here, folks, it is the cable company (read: monopoly in most areas) who sets whatever arbitrary policy they choose.

    -sam
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday January 14, 2002 @03:09PM (#2837877) Homepage Journal
    Then they need to go after individule perpertrators, who are innocent until proven guilty, I might add.
    By the way, rebroadcasting in a dorm setting may not meccesarily violate Fair-use, but I see your point.
    the FBI wrning is pretty vague, when you really start to think about it it come down to "down transmit this illegally" but in know way defines what is legal, or illegal. Just putting something in the warning does not supercede the law.

    For interesting copyright reading I suggest here [cornell.edu]
  • by MsGeek (162936) on Monday January 14, 2002 @04:00PM (#2838145) Homepage Journal
    ...maybe this technology might bring a more viable option for encrypting 802.11x traffic. Right now WEP is useless, and unless you encapsulate everything zipping around the network in encrypted tunnels you are fair game for "wardrivers."

    We need a practical means of strong crypto for wireless. If this need coincides with the questionable need for the MPAA and the RIAA and other entities to nickel and dime us every time we look at their precious content that's beside the point.

    The threats to the doctrine of Fair Use need to be addressed. Reasonable Intellectual Property rights (emphasis on REASONABLE) need to be preserved, but so does the doctrine of Fair Use.

    However, a lot of these ideas I've read about in the article sound like great ideas for solving the current wireless (In)security problems.

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