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Microsoft Encryption Media Security Television Your Rights Online

Windows Media Center Restricts Cable TV 448

Posted by kdawson
from the no-HBO-for-you dept.
PrescriptionWarning writes "With the latest Media Center Edition update from Microsoft, I and many others are finding that content available on television is now completely unwatchable from Media Center. The message states: 'Restricted Content: Restrictions set by the broadcaster and/or originator of the content prohibit playback of the program on this computer.' A simple search on the subject reveals that HBO programming and, in my case, Braveheart on AMC are among the many selections now restricted for playback or recording by Windows Media Center Edition. What's next, restricting every piece of programming on television?"
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Windows Media Center Restricts Cable TV

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  • Try myself (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSciBoy (1050166) on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:41AM (#19206317)
    Does this only apply to Media Center? Maybe I'm wierd, but this actually makes me more interested in buying a cable-digital card for my computer and running MythTV or something. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:08AM (#19206451)
    Bah, this isn't necessarily M$ problem although much of it probably is.

    Regardless you can't pin it all on M$, some of it has to go to the content providers who bitch that M$ is allowing something they shouldn't allow. Chances are this is part of M$'s tactic to dodge provider lawsuits.

    Sure, it's probably a case M$ would win, yet it's away of avoiding legal fees and the like.....
    I suppose.... O.o?
  • Re:TV? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Silver Sloth (770927) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:11AM (#19206467)

    TV is an outdated concept
    Well, it maybe for you but for many others it's not. What is an increasingly outdated concept is the delivery method. Various timeshifting methods - I personally use Sky+ - allow the consumer to watch in their own schedule and to edit out the ads where appropriate.

    As for there being nothing on worth watching - Yesterday I watched 'To have and have not', got up to date with Heroes, watched Saturday's Dr Who, and finished off with a fascinating documentary about Jimi Hendrix. Ok, none of it was earth shattering but hardly nothing to watch. And yes, I could have downloaded all of these but I saved myself a lot of time and effort by not downloading.
  • Re:TV? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grimJester (890090) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:13AM (#19206481)
    There is nothing which interests me on television anyway which I can't find somewhere else. And the rest? Game shows, reality shows, ... I couldn't care less about them!

    Almost by definition, peer-to-peer networks contain what the users want. Shows no-one is interested in are left out.

    Incidentally, watching anything I want whenever I want is exactly the service I'd be willing to pay for. Go figure.
  • Re:TV? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:20AM (#19206511) Journal

    TV is an outdated concept... I hardly watch any television anymore myself, why would I want to watch something on a specified date and time? I'll watch it whenever I feel like it!
    It's funny that you say that TV is an outdated concept.

    I recall reading an article which discussed how people are moving away from movies and towards TV, because TV shows come in smaller chunks with more plot and character development.

    There is nothing which interests me on television anyway which I can't find somewhere else. And the rest? Game shows, reality shows, ... I couldn't care less about them!
    Your interests are just that. Yours.
    Millions of people are watching these shows and those eyeballs draw billions in advertising revenue.

    Desperately trying to hold on to an outdated concept, which has made them alot of money in the past. Too blind and stuck in their old patterns to find new ways of making money...
    Blind and stuck in their old patterns...
    TV shows on DVD, they're doing that.
    TV on the internet? They're doing that.

    It's easy to criticize what you perceive as the status quo, so tell us:
    What's your alternative.
  • by Urkki (668283) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:26AM (#19206537)

    ...and what DRM is for.

    Its sole purpose is to keep you from using the media you would otherwise have rightful access to in any way other than what the copyright holder explicitly wants.

    In short, its sole purpose is, ultimately, to make you pay every time you make use of the media, and to control the flow of information.
    I personally look forward to the day, when I can get *any* movie or TV series episode for one-time (or one-day or whatever) viewing for a few euros, legally. I'm also looking forward for the day when I can get *any* piece of music playing once for a few cents, preferably with heuristic music selection service ("people who liked the songs you listen also liked these songs, add to your playlist?").

    I don't need to *own* that music, or those TV shows, or those movies. I just want to have access to them, any time I want. And I don't mind paying more for items I want to hear/watch often. Actually, now that I think about it, quite the opposite: I'm more than happy to pay little for one viewing/listening, and more for those I like enough to listen/view many times.

    If only somebody at entertainment industry had the vision *and* the power to make that happen, offer that feature integrated into a set-top box type device, he'd make trillions. DRM is not really an issue, ease of use is the issue. Of course that might be the beginning of the end for regular TV and radio programming, so there are powerful players who'll oppose this at all costs.

    And I don't see the problem of information control. Quite the opposite, if you have the freedom to view any news broadcast from all over the world with a click (well, that's reality even now, I think), there's no control. If people want information, they'll get it easily (well, at least here in the free world). If they don't want it, no DRM is going to make them want it.
  • by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:29AM (#19206549) Homepage Journal
    Reading that thread, it does not look like driver problems, but broadcasters spuriously adding copy protection flags to their broadcasts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:29AM (#19206553)
    There are those two neighbors, Joe Sixpack and Joe Sixbit. The first buys whatever the ads say and just brought home his new shiny Microsoft Media Center PC, the second enjoys spending some time learning how to build things and just installed Freevo or MythTV on a spare box.
    For a while Joe Sixbit was laughed at by Joe Sixpack because while he was working on his ugly PC, Joe Sixpack's MSMCE-PC was already working and indeed looked more professional.
    Then, after some time, Joe Sixpack started to face some problems: failed updates, unsupported codecs, and every time he had to call a number where someone gave the same not working answers. Joe Sixbit's system, instead, was working better and better: not only it supported every media it was thrown at, but it was also possible upgrading it to new media without waiting for a single software house approval. It could show weather forecasts and web pages, but also it run games, voip phonecalls, videoconferencing and other tasks it wasn't designed to thanks to an active community.

    After some months Joe Sixbit still enjoys his self made media center and has learned a lot working on it, which pays he back of the time he spent, while Joe Sixpack only learned he has to reinstall the Windows MCE every now and then to make it work again after a software install screws the system, and still there are tasks he cannot perform and media he cannot play, which pays he back much less for the time and money he spent.

    The moral is.. HECK! you still need a moral to stop using proprietary software after it's so clear how it's screwing you?
  • Re:old news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ingolfke (515826) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:01AM (#19206721) Journal
    Exactly. Good post. At worst MS can be charged w/ not making their DRM software user friendly enough.
  • by jeroen94704 (542819) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:20AM (#19206821)
    For the longest time, I absolutely refused to install Windows MCE on my media PC for exactly that reason. However, after finally giving it a test-drive (just to confirm my prejudice, you know), the surprising conclusion was obvious: I've tried pretty much all mediacenter packages out there, and NONE (even the commercial alternatives) are even within shouting distance of MCE when it comes to ease of installation, stability and user friendliness. I can get a clean machine up and running in an hour with MCE. Compare that to the RedHat MythTV Howto [wilsonet.com], which takes many hours for even a basic install. And after that, it's a pain to get everything set up and working as it should. All that is a steep price for avoiding DRM that (in my experience) never gets in the way. Of course, all this changes when suddenly a bunch of content becomes impossible to record, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there (or when it gets here, across the big pond).
  • by ElleyKitten (715519) <kittensunrise&gmail,com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:27AM (#19206851) Journal

    I personally look forward to the day, when I can get *any* movie or TV series episode for one-time (or one-day or whatever) viewing for a few euros, legally. I'm also looking forward for the day when I can get *any* piece of music playing once for a few cents, preferably with heuristic music selection service ("people who liked the songs you listen also liked these songs, add to your playlist?").
    You want to pay for you music every time you listen to it? Why don't you just get a service like Rhapsody where you pay a monthly fee to have access to all their songs? As for TV shows, I don't know how it is in Europe, but in America, you can buy most TV shows for a couple dollars, if that. DVD sets cost between $30 and $45 for 13 to 25 episodes, iTunes sells episodes for $2, and most TV channels even stream their episodes from their website for free (though ad-supported). If you really hate owning things, you can delete it from iTunes after watching it or give the DVD set to a library. I don't think it would be a plus to have it delete itself automatically, but still charge the same price, and I can't believe it's that much more expensive to get TV shows in Europe so that would seem like a deal there.
  • Re:TV? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by boyko.at.netqos (1024767) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:29AM (#19206867)
    You're British, aren't you?

    Here's the thing: The Brits actually have good TV, because it's publically funded. It used to mean that the BBC produced series that were cheap - look at the production values of a classic Dr. Who episode compared to a classic Star Trek episode of the same time frame, but as the private networks in the U.S. have found that they can make more money by producing nothing but super-cheap TV shows and cancelling anything that doesn't get a hell of an audience immediately, now it is the British, who care about providing good value for the tax revenue rather than stuffing pockets, that produces superior television shows.

    I mean, I saw the BBC Casanova miniseries, and can you imagine an American show going that far, production wise, for a three-episode mini series?

    Additionally, all the good news channels - CBC, BBC, CNN International - aren't available in America on any of the different ways to get television here. HDNet has Dan Rather, but I don't have an HDTV and even if I did I don't have a local provider for it either.

    So when you hear people complain about there being nothing good on TV which to record - yeah, I can see that. I don't know when I last turned on the television here but I don't think it even has the rabbit ears hooked up!

  • by Skye16 (685048) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:31AM (#19206871)
    What? How in the hell have you had it crash? It has been in (almost total) constant use for me for three solid years and has never been the result of a crash once. This is in Windows XP *and* Ubuntu (SageTV and MythTV, respectively).

    Either your particular card is somehow faulty, or you're trying to run it on a blender. There's no reason for it to crash even once. My old roommate had one as well and he never had a crash that I noticed, ever (his was the one hooked up to the primary TV in the apartment, so I would have noticed it).
  • Re:Try myself (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheSciBoy (1050166) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:37AM (#19206899)

    I was unclear in my post. What I was asking was if the problem is unique to just Media Center? If this is some kind of industry standard blocking ability, then it should be present in more systems, no?

    Also, whatever the reason for the block, what I meant about the other part was that I've been looking into buying a digital decoder for cable for my computer (quite expensive today, terrestrial decoders are half the price, I guess the card reader is a part of the problem). And that I found it strange that reports of this kind of problem just makes me more interested in trying for some reason.

  • Re:Try myself (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paganizer (566360) <thegrove1@NoSpAm.hotmail.com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:43AM (#19206941) Homepage Journal
    I am not 100% certain, but I think the problem is directly related to the DRM subsystem that is installed with Windows Media player 11.

  • by NZheretic (23872) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:23AM (#19207149) Homepage Journal
    Getting down with the VCPs to get the DRM message out ... [With deepest apologies to the Black Eyed Peas for the parody of "Let get Retarded"]

    Vista Retarded is hereSung by the V.C.P.s
    [voiceover] The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history [auckland.ac.nz].

    Vista "Retarded", is here...

    And content not playin' playin', not playin' playin',not playin' playin',not playin' playin', not
    playin' playin', not playin' playin',not playin' playin',not playin' playin', not...

    In this context,Vista disrespects, so when I click to play, the display disconnects.
    We got find methods for us to reconnect to new codecs by the network effect.
    Bout to lose your fair use. Microsoft's institution. Infect your computer with D.R.M. pollution.
    Cause when we click on, the sound is gonna be down. You won't believe how we ow shout out.
    Burn can't cause we locked out, Sample can't cause we locked out, act up from north,west, east south.

    [Chorus:]
    Everybody (ye-a!), everybody (ye-a!), let's get into it (Yea!).
    Get stoopid (click on!).
    Vista retarded (click on!), Vista retarded (click on!), get retarded.
    Vista retarded (ha), Vista retarded is here.
    Vista retarded (ha), Vista retarded is here.
    Vista retarded (ha), Vista retarded is here.
    Yeah.

    Lose control, of privacy and goals.
    Won't run too fast cause, bloat makes it slow.
    Won't get away, your locked into it.
    Y'all hear about it, Gutmann'll do it.
    Get Vista, be stoopid.
    Don't worry 'bout it, Ballmer'll walk you though it,
    Step by step, you'll be restricted
    Patch by patch with the new solution.
    Transmit bits, with D.R.M. pollution
    Claim the contents irresistible and that's how they move it.

    [Chorus:]
    Everybody (ye-a!), everybody (ye-a!), let's get into it (Yea!).
    Get stoopid (click on!).
    Vista retarded (click on!), Vista retarded (click on!), get retarded.
    Vista retarded (ha), Vista retarded is here.
    Vista retarded (ha), Vista retarded is here.
    Vista retarded (ha), Vista retarded is here.
    Yeah.

    Playin' playin', not playin' playin',not playin' playin',not playin' playin', not...

    C'mon y'all, let's get Do-do! (uh huh)
    Let's get Do-do! (in here) - Right now get Do-do! (uh huh)
    Let's get Do-do! (in here) - Right now get Do-do! (uh huh)
    Let's get Do-do! (in here) Ow, ow, ow!
    Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya...

    Let's get ill, that's the deal
    At the gate, Microsoft restricts your will. (Just)
    Lose your mind this is the time,
    Y'all test this will, Just and download still. (Just)
    Rob the resolution, from your monitor or to your speakers.
    Get pixel-ated and suck.
    Yo' movies past slow-mo' in another head trip.(So)
    Locked in now cannot correct it, so be ig'nant and left apoplectic .

    [Chorus:]
    (yeah)Everybody, (yeah) everybody, (yeah) get locked into it.
    (yeah) Get stupid.
    (click on) Get retarded,(click on) get retarded (yeah), get retarded.
    Vista retarded (ha), Vista retarded is here.
    Vista retarded (ha), Vista retarded is here.
    Vista retarded (ha), Vista retarded is here.
    Vista retarded (ha), Vista retarded is here.
    Whoaoa
    Yeah.

    You Cukoo! (A-ha!)
    It's Po-Po! (is here) - Be a Fool! (A-ha!)
    M.S. Tool! (be their) - Like Voodoo! (A-ha!)
    You cukoo! (out here) -Ow, ow!
    Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya...

    Playin' playin', not playin' playin',not playin' playin',not playin' playin'
    [fade]

  • Cheaper than cable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:30AM (#19207221)
    "He uses the extra time saved to read books he checked out of the library, because he ran out of cash trying to buy all the content he wanted to see off of iTMS."

    No, actually he's able to afford the books because he spent less on a Mac MINI plus the purchase of shows he really wanted to watch, rather than an expensive cable subscription.

    ITMS delivers quality equal to most cable feeds, and with no annoying ads or shifts is resolution (for HD feeds) to contend with. I tried recording Heros using OTA HD the other day (I have an OTA HD receiver as well that I can also use as a DVR on my Mac), and lost half a conversation thanks to a weather alert obscuring on screen subtitling. Back to ITMS where it all - Just Works.

    Not to monetion I don't even pay any money until I'm ready to watch something - taking a month off from TV means no expenses.

    OTA is OK for News, and perhaps sports - but really nothing else.
  • by SilverJets (131916) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:01AM (#19207477) Homepage
    What is the point of Googling something if you are not even going to read through the search results? The 5th link down,
    Ed Bott's Media Central HBO stops working with Media Center contains an explanation of the problem, the cause and the fix.
  • Re:Try myself (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DJCacophony (832334) <v0dka@mygMONET0t.com minus painter> on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:03AM (#19207493) Homepage
    I've been looking into buying a digital decoder for cable for my computer

    Where have you been for the past year? You can't buy a digital cable decoder for your computer. They are only being sold to OEMs that provide "certified" computers to make sure that nobody can hack up the hardware. Even if you did manage to get your hands on one, it wouldn't work on your PC, only a certified one.
  • by jaysones (138378) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:30AM (#19207809)
    FWIW, I can see HBO HD on the firewire port of my Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD in NYC on Time Warner. I know very little about this but I plugged in my Macbook Pro, installed Apple's Firewire SDK and was able to record that content and play it back with no problems.
  • by Vancorps (746090) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:43AM (#19207949)

    MCE can do all that right out of the box. You can also link your XBox 360 for an additional front-end. Short on features it is not. Install the klite codec pack and play anything you like.

    I don't think many people realize just how well done it was this time around. MCE sucked when it first came out, but the Vista iterations are outstanding until now of course. The DRM blocking channels is ridiculous and will kill a product which would otherwise be great. Of course, this is why choice is a good thing. It's not like you have to scrap all your hardware to go for a MythTV box after the fact. Won't cost a dime, just a weekend project for those that really wish to record HBO. More and more people will move off as additional content is blocked but make no mistake, the solution is not as elegant as the old way so it will take a lot of blocked content to create a tidal wave that will have any impact on product use of MCE.

    I think Microsoft lost an opportunity here, content companies are forcing them to support this type of DRM, they should have done something to add value to the product before adding something which clearly reduces the value of it. It would be like car manufacturers removing the radio from all new models because they are a distraction to the driver. If they don't add something else to make up for the lack of radio then no one will buy the vehicle.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @10:27AM (#19208403)
    I hadn't set up any sort of system that the MAF-IAA would oppose of. I was just using my TW cable box attached to a single TV in my apartment, without even so much as a VCR hooked up. Sometime last September, my cable signal would randomly turn to snow for several minutes, then go back. By the end of October and several tech visits later, Time Warner still didn't have a clue what was wrong.
     
    I called them and asked to have two months refunded since I hadn't been able to watch. They refused. So I asked them to cancel my subscription. They didn't even TRY to keep me as a customer.
     
    And since then, I haven't felt a day of regret. TV is overrated.
  • Re:Works for me... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Erwos (553607) on Monday May 21, 2007 @10:45AM (#19208583)
    HBO is "copy once". HBO On-Demand is "copy never". So, nominally, you should be able to record your regular HBO shows on your computer, but not burn them to DVD or copy them elsewhere. In other words, your system is working as expected.

    The problem here, from what I understand, is that a few regional US cable operators are improperly passing "copy never" down the line on stuff like A&E, in violation of FCC regulations. Or there's the Canadian case, where there's no rules about that stuff at all, but Media Center honors it anyways - so all the cable and sat operators just flag everything as "copy never", and screw the Canadian users.
  • Re:Try myself (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tuxic (769908) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @10:56AM (#19208727) Homepage
    DVB-T, DVB-C and DVB-S, yes. Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial, Cable, Satellite.

    The DVB-C (Cable) will probably (it's preferred to be certified) work with ComHem, but no channels are unencrypted. I raised an eyebrow when I noticed that they have unencrypted digital cable content in the US - very interesting. You can only hope the digital cable companies in Sweden some day in the future offers that as well, but according to comments I have read on other news sites on the web, it seems that ComHem at least, wants to charge a distribution fee even for free channels, because there is a cost involved in the distribution itself, according to them. Well for me it tells me that they don't have enough paying digital customers to cover costs for those who aren't interested in trying out digital cable until you can get some free content to start out with.

    But still, ComHem aren't taking digital cable seriously anyway, as they are always squeezing out propaganda about their wonderful analog cable they are proud to distribute in Sweden while at the same time pushing tv channels to exist in both analog and digital worlds. Terrestrial airings are soon to a complete end, there are only about 5 more months left. Satellite distribution is nothing but digital here now, so it's up to the few analog cable companies on the market to decide when our TV future will start getting exciting. I know Tele2Vision (former KabelVision) does digital now, after reading an article about issues with the customers not getting a digital set-top box on time to watch tv.

    It's a big subject and preferrably brought up in its own forum. Actually I haven't found any forum online for digital tv that is worthwhile, so I might go and start one myself.
  • by kitgerrits (1034262) on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:32AM (#19209163)
    Macrovision invented a special system with copyright bits and epiry dates.
    http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/22/13 10234 [slashdot.org]

    They have already been in the news a lot:
    http://daringfireball.net/2007/02/macrovision_tran slation [daringfireball.net]

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