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HD Monitor Causes DRM Issues with Netflix 540

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-years-low-resolution dept.
Jeremiah Cornelius points us to Davis Freeberg's blog, where he discusses his "nightmare scenario" of losing access to his DRM-protected purchases by upgrading his PC monitor. "When I called them they confirmed my worst fears. In order to access the Watch Now service, I had to give Microsoft's DRM sniffing program access to all of the files on my hard drive. If the software found any non-Netflix video files, it would revoke my rights to the content and invalidate the DRM. This means that I would lose all the movies that I've purchased from Amazon's Unbox, just to troubleshoot the issue. Because my computer allows me to send an unrestricted HDTV feed to my monitor, Hollywood has decided to revoke my ability to stream 480 resolution video files from Netflix. In order to fix my problem, Netflix recommended that I downgrade to a lower res VGA setup."
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HD Monitor Causes DRM Issues with Netflix

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  • vista only (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:12PM (#21903180)
    Tag this Vista only. I ain't got no problems like that with XP.
  • Owned (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CJ145 (1110297) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:12PM (#21903186)
    Yet another reason to pirate all the content you want.
    • It's often like the industry is trying to sabotage itself.
      • Re:Owned (Score:4, Interesting)

        by filbranden (1168407) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:58PM (#21903748)

        It's often like the industry is trying to sabotage itself.

        And as much as they try it, they still can't do it effectively!

        I find it amazing that people don't boycott this stuff more. I mean, buying DRM content is really stupid.

        On the other hand, sometimes boycotting bad products is almost impossible. Until some time ago, it was impossible to buy a notebook without Windows bundled in it. That meant that if you wanted to boycott Microsoft you would have to give up on your notebook. It took several years, but the market is changing and now it's possible to buy notebooks with other OS or no OS even from major vendors.

        DRM content, on the other hand, is easier to boycott. You really can live without it. And in some [slashdot.org] cases [slashdot.org], it seems that the boycott is being effective.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rmerry72 (934528)

        It's often like the industry is trying to sabotage itself.

        Nah, they just believe that 95% of the population won't care enough to boycott and most will simply accept their terms and keep on shovelling money at them to view their latest blockbuster. They are probably right. It's likely a wise business move.

  • Cancelling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lulfas (1140109) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:14PM (#21903212)
    Looks like I'll be cancelling my Netflix account for awhile then. Once again, it proves that companies make it easier to just pirate stuff than it is to try and legally pay for it.
    • Re:Cancelling (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Thomas M Hughes (463951) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:18PM (#21903978)
      In this instance, it's not really Netflix's fault. Netflix has repeatedly said that they want to make their steaming feature available to more operating systems, browsers and the like. The reason they haven't is because the MPAA studios which supply the movies that Netflix's rents won't license them movies unless they use some form of DRM that they approve of. And they only approve of Microsoft's DRM, which means the only options open for Netflix are Microsoft supplied DRM movies or nothing at all.

      If you want proof of this, there are videos of Netflix having a working demo of their streaming tech on OS X from back in March, but they still haven't released it for the main site, since they still haven't gotten approval on the DRM from the sudios.

      If you're going to protest, your protests should be directed at the MPAA. That may involve a boycott of Netflix as well, but it definitely shouldn't stop there, nor should Netflix be the primary focus.
  • Do I have this right? So the MS DRM sniffer goes and finds MS sample videos added as part of the default XP install and invalidates everything?
    • I would hope that it bypass the M$ video files that are part of the os / M$ apps and the HDCP DRM system needs vista.
    • This sounds suspicious. If this story is true, then all the more reason to be extra mistrusting about the pay-for video download sites. For audio (at Amazon), it's dumb simple: click the song you want, & download your mp3(with one-click service). Why shouldn't it be this simple with video (I haven't tried Unbox yet)?
      • by clem (5683) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:31PM (#21903458) Homepage
        The fact that you can download mp3s from amazon.com is probably due to the fact that computer speakers have become such a low-end commodity that vendors can't convince anyone to "upgrade" to DRM-enabled models.
        • The fact that you can download mp3s from amazon.com is probably due to the fact that computer speakers have become such a low-end commodity that vendors can't convince anyone to "upgrade" to DRM-enabled models.
          Wanna bet? When I build my "dream" computer 3-1/2 years ago, I got an Audigy 2 sound card. It appears that the digital audio outputs are disabled if you are trying to play some restricted hi-def audio files (not MP3, though). So, if you went high-end and run your computer to an amp with digital inputs, you simply cannot listen to some music. The sad thing is that the people most likely to care about hi-def audio are the ones most likely to switch to an all-digital setup. Yet another reason to stick to analog speakers.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            This should be moderated as +5 Interesting, not because of DRM-digital anecdote, but because somebody actually got Creative drivers to work!
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MightyYar (622222)
            As soon as you put the word "digital" into a sentence, the XXAA guys lose their shit. I want to know why they think that people care about quality loss? What gives them this impression? Is it the crappy 128Mbps MP3s that everyone is happy to listen to on their iPods? Do they really think that running through the analog port and then encoding is going to significantly degrade quality for these people?

            If you want to talk video, I know an awful lot of people who went to Blockbuster when all they had were well-
  • Alternative to DRM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maxrate (886773) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:18PM (#21903270)
    If distributors could invisibly/digitally watermark the video that gets legally downloaded with a user-id/serial number-that could make people think twice about distributing the video freely to others/thereby potentially eliminating the need for DRM. The video would be traceable to the original consumer. I guess it's possible a video file could be 'leaked' accidentally and it could cause a lot of trouble for the consumer/distributor. My guess is that anyone who is willing to pay for a download would likely NOT participate in redistributing the file - but I'm too naive and too much of an optimist at times maybe!

    I buy sheet music online - the site only allows you to print to a physical printer NOT a PDF recorder (it also prints my full name on the sheet music). I'm sure there is someone who is smart enough out there to bypass this, I've thought about it (for the technical challenge) but really I'm probably just to lazy to even try.

    • by Eugene (6671)
      just use a scanner to scan the printed sheet music back to the computer if you are technically challenged.
    • mfilemon (Score:4, Informative)

      by DamnStupidElf (649844) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:32PM (#21903464)
      mfilemon is a printer port driver for Windows 2000/XP (maybe Vista and 2003, ymmv), so the Windows Printer thinks it's an Applescript or generic HP laser printer but it actually just dumps postscript files in a directory of your choosing. You can probably rig up any number of other scenarios where a "real" printer just sends postscript output to a network port somewhere that you can capture, or just turn on print-to-file with a normal printer, depending on how smart the DRM on the application is.
    • they've already tried that, embedding certain customer info into the files- people didn't liek this very much apparently citing privacy concerns...
    • by roca (43122) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:06PM (#21903826) Homepage
      That doesn't work because watermarks are incredibly easy to get around. Simple signal processing techniques will eliminate most watermarks without noticeably affecting the output. In many cases you can just add your own watermark over the top and either destroy the existing watermark or no-one knows which one is the original watermark.

      Pretty much all watermarking research assumes that an attacker does not know how the watermarking technique works and does not intelligently attack the watermark. That assumption is hopelessly unrealistic. It's 100% security by obscurity.
      • by this great guy (922511) on Friday January 04, 2008 @03:28AM (#21906988)

        I remember reading 2-3 years ago research articles claiming that state-of-the-art image watermarking techniques were pretty robust against alterations and 100% undetectable even though their algorithms were known. Which makes sense, this is the same principle as in cryptography: the security of the mechanism should not rely on the secrecy of the algorithm itself.

        Now I understand that video watermarking techniques is an entirely different domain, but I am surprised by your comment... So are you talking about watermarking of images or videos ?

  • by Paul_Hindt (1129979) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:18PM (#21903274) Homepage
    This was one of those "features" of Vista that I heard about in the earlier days of the hype. There wasn't a clearly defined explanation of how they would indeed tie DRM to your HD monitor but I guess the results are starting to show. Someday maybe all of our hardware will be locked down so that if you don't buy content with appropriate DRM, it simply won't play. Hurray for freedom!
    • They're way ahead of you -- they're already to the phase when you *do* buy 'appropriate' DRM media that won't play.

      It's like throwing away money in the prettiest way possible.
  • Soon they will sue our eyes and ears.
    • by StefanJ (88986) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:30PM (#21903444) Homepage Journal
      Read the F'ing EULA my friend.

      And if you don't stop fast-forwarding through those Axe commercials we're going to deactivate your reproductive module.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by freedom_india (780002)
        Why the hell you want to FFW Axe commercials???
        They are the last of the good commercials after the Bud ads...
        Hell i had a friend who believed in the AXE commercial (The elevator advt) that he "quietly" mentioned in the elevator he was wearing AXE.
        We forced the elevator to stop and all 3 of us males got down leaving him to ride the elevator with the gals....(all 4 of them laughing).

        You shd have seen his face the whole day...

        I bet he stopped being buying Axe after that...
  • Do not buy from Netflix. If they are this stupid, then simply quit buying from them. More importantly, let them know why. Once that happens enough, they will quit doing this. Until then, the MPAA (who is really behind this) will continue to do this.
    • I would suggest that Netflix isn't the "stupid" ones here.
    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:37PM (#21903532)
      Okay, I won't buy from Netflix, especially since they don't "sell" digital downloads. What they do offer is an online-viewing service that's included "free" (currently) with their standard by-mail service. A service which, I might add, happens to work beautifully if you're running XP. It looks like this guy's problems stem from the fact that he's running Vista and has decided to change his hardware (even if it is only the monitor). We were given plenty of warning that Vista would do this, so we shouldn't be surprised when it happens.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tshak (173364)
        A service which, I might add, happens to work beautifully if you're running XP. It looks like this guy's problems stem from the fact that he's running Vista and has decided to change his hardware (even if it is only the monitor). We were given plenty of warning that Vista would do this, so we shouldn't be surprised when it happens.


        The service works fine on Vista too (I use it all the time). This issue seems to lie HD display with an HDCP [wikipedia.org] interface that requires DRM. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong,
  • DRM sucks (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:19PM (#21903284)
    This perhaps doesn't directly address the problem mentioned, but this is what I do. I only bother with Netflix DRM because I get it "free" anyway with my subscription.

    Anyway, using a script I wrote, I parse the HTML saved from Firefox (pretending to be IE7) and download the highest bandwidth version of a movie. I then cringe and for the only time each month boot Windows and using Mirakagi, FreeUse4Win, WMP and unDRM the file. Then I can play in perpetuity in Linux/MythTV.

    The size of the files is normally 1-2GB. Yes, that's less than DVD quality, but pretty acceptable in most cases. You can fetch the keys for 9 hours of movies per month (for the basic subscription), but they round up, so if you do it carefully and get keys for 8.5 hours of movies, you can make the last one a 3 hour epic - about 5-7 movies total.

    This is all based upon information I got from here: http://forum.rorta.net/showthread.php?t=1134&page=6 [rorta.net] (link to last page)

    Kaffeine didn't play the resulting WMVs very well. mplayer and VLC do a better job.

  • Here's an idea. Don't use Netflix. Just pretend they went bankrupt and no longer exist. Seriously, fuck em!

    Onto the next media provider please...

  • by Bryansix (761547) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:33PM (#21903480) Homepage
    Did Soulskill make any attempt to verify this story before allowing it to be posted? I really don't things are as they appear. For one it sounds like a Microsoft problem not a Netflix problem.
    • by osssmkatz (734824) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:46PM (#21903620) Journal
      A Microsoft problem? No. The feature is implemented correctly. If the monitor does not have the authorization chip that the new drivers in Vista are set to check for (thus closing the analog hole), the DRM will not play. Because VGA is older, the content will play on that. It's a feature of Windows Media, that might be fixed if Microsoft does not implement the monitor check in Silverlight which they are switching to. Since they want to support Macs, and Apple isn't that stupid, hopefully they won't be able to.

      --Sam
  • webserver? (Score:4, Funny)

    by commodoresloat (172735) * on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:36PM (#21903508)
    Looks like the webserver had some non-netflix content on it and its DRM got revoked.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:43PM (#21903584)
    I don't see why all the antipathy against Netflix exists - it's not even Netflix that is distributing the files he would lose, just that the streaming player will not work because of a corruption in the DRM database.

    Blame Windows for not having a better handle on backing up that data, sure. Blame UnBox for selling such crippled media - OK then. But Netflix has no other choices because content providers will not accept other solutions. They aren't even storing anything locally, just streaming.

  • by deadmongrel (621467) * <karthik@poobal.net> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:43PM (#21903592) Homepage
    you should have known when you bought DRM tainted video. There is no perpetual access to the data you paid for.In the short term DRM might look harmless but its going to be a pain in the neck for people who actually pay for using it.
    Solution: Use your wallet to prove your point. Buy used cds and dvds if you must. Stay away from HDDVD and blueray disks/players. Buy mp3 audio from amazon.com and stop buying DRM stuff.
    • by dpilot (134227) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:07PM (#21904414) Homepage Journal
      It strikes me that we sit here on /. and say, "Nyah, nyah, no DRM, icky-ick," and in passing realize that we're not in the target market, and any so-called boycotts we attempt to do will be meaningless.

      But there is another side to it...

      This guy is an early-adopter, and he's just been screwed. The next tier of customers frequently don't jump until they've gotten a warm fuzzy feeling from the early adopters. This guy's friends and acquaintances aren't going to get that feeling, and hold off a bit longer.

      Originally one of the scary things about DRM was that most of it was going to be turned off - at first. My sinister presumption was that that would let the early adopters have their day - and make their recommendations. By the time they started turning the DRM on they would hopefully have significant market penetration, and assuming they were careful with their staging of turning it on, they'd likely get away with it.

      If this is any sign, that plan hasn't come to pass.

      This is Good News.
  • by CritterNYC (190163) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:48PM (#21903646) Homepage
    This is a bug that only affects Windows Vista (defective DRM is prevalent). Upgrading to Windows XP will solve the problem.
  • by jon287 (977520) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @07:52PM (#21903694)
    Chickens! Why it seems they've come home to roost!

    I always said that as soon as customers started loosing legally purchased media and having real difficulties with brand new hardware that the days or DRM would be over. Could that day be here already?! Happy 2008 all.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:06PM (#21903828) Journal
    In order to access the Watch Now service, I had to give Microsoft's DRM sniffing program access to all of the files on my hard drive. If the software found any non-Netflix video files, it would revoke my rights to the content and invalidate the DRM.

    It will destroy your paid-for content if you have other content from another vendor? Sounds like an antitrust violation AND consumer fraud.

    I'd bring this up with the FTC.

    And I'd sue Netflix in small claims for everything you've paid so far. B-)

    = = = =

    Imagine if fifty, just fifty, people a day did that. They might think it's a movement. And that's what it is. The Alice's Restaurant Anti-DRM-masaccree movement. And you can join just by singing it, the next time it comes around on the guitar... B-)
  • by MrKaos (858439) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:08PM (#21903854) Journal
    It used to be the three R's of running windows;

    Reboot the machine

    Reload the application

    Reinstall the Operating system

    Now we can add

    Revert to a previous version

    Vista has given me a whole new view of windows, Oh and it looks like the site is past it's quota. Slashdot strikes again.

  • article text (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:09PM (#21903860)
    Even though I'm an HDTV fanatic, it wasn't until this past weekend, that I finally made the jump to an HD monitor. While I don't have HDTV tuners on my Media Center, I do have an HD camcorder and it was important for me to be able to edit my high resolution videos.

    After doing a little bit of research, I decided to pick up a SyncMasterTM 226BW from Samsung. Between the new monitor and my ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT video card, the resolution looks absolutely stunning. Even my home movies look fantastic in HDTV. I really couldn't have been happier with the upgrade.

    Unfortunately, Hollywood isn't quite as thrilled about my new HD Media Dream Machine and they've decided to punish me by revoking my Watch Now privileges from Netflix.

    I first found out about the problem on New Year's Eve, when I went to log into my account. When I tried to launch a streaming movie, I was greeted with an error message asking me to "reset" my DRM. Luckily, Netflix's help page on the topic included a link to a DRM reset utility, but when I went to install the program, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this warning.

    [img]

    The minute I saw"this will potentially remove playback licenses from your computer, including those from companies other than Netflix or Microsoft" I knew better than to hit continue. Before nuking my entire digital library, I decided to call Netflix's technical support, to see if I could get to the bottom of my C00D11B1 error message.

    When I called them they confirmed my worst fears. In order to access the Watch Now service, I had to give Microsoft's DRM sniffing program access to all of the files on my hard drive. If the software found any non-Netflix video files, it would revoke my rights to the content and invalidate the DRM. This means that I would lose all the movies that I've purchased from Amazon's Unbox, just to troubleshoot the issue.

    Technically, there is a way to back up the licenses before doing a DRM reset, but it's a pretty complex process, even by my standards. When I asked Netflix for more details, they referred me to Amazon for assistance.

    Perhaps even worse than having to choose between having access to Netflix or giving up my Unbox movies was the realization that my real problems were actually tied to the shiny new monitor that I've already grown fond of.

    Netflix's software allows them to look at the video card, cables and the monitor that you are using and when they checked mine out, it was apparently a little too high def to pass their DRM filters.

    Because my computer allows me to send an unrestricted HDTV feed to my monitor, Hollywood has decided to revoke my ability to stream 480 resolution video files from Netflix. In order to fix my problem, Netflix recommended that I downgrade to a lower res VGA setup.

    As part of their agreement with Hollywood, Netflix uses a program called COPP (Certified Output Protection Protocal). COPP is made by Microsoft and the protocol restricts how you are able to transfer digital files off of your PC. When I ran COPP to identify the error on my machine, it gave me an ominous warning that "the exclusive semaphere is owned by another process."

    My Netflix technician told me that he had never heard of this particular error and thought that it was unique to my setup. When I consulted Microsoft, they suggested that I consult the creator of the program. Since Microsoft wrote the COPP software, I wasn't sure who to turn to after that.

    The irony in all of this, is that the DRM that Hollywood is so much in love with, is really only harming their paying customers. When you do a DRM reset, it's not your pirated files that get revoked, it's the ones that you already paid for that are at risk. I'm not allowed to watch low res Netflix files, even though I have the capability to download high def torrents? How does this even make sense? It's as if the studios want their digital strategies to fail.

    While I understand the need for the studios to protect their content, I believe that these measures g
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by figleaf (672550)
      Very weird. I have a Samsung SyncMaster 226BW monitor (which I recently upgraded to from a Dell monitor which finally conked out after 5 years of service), have the same graphics card -- ATI 2600 & I run Vista!
      Yet I had no trouble with Netflix service before or after upgrading.

      The reason I brought the Samsung monitor is because it supports HDCP and I wanted no trouble playing Blu-ray disks. Its a great monitor but for front-on viewing.
      Unfortunately angular view is very better. I wish I had brought some
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drawfour (791912)
      So, to summarzie:

      He tried to play some NetFlix "Watch Now" content. It didn't want to play back, probably due to some issue with the DRM licensing scheme, which might have tied his montor and video card to the playback license. When looking for help, NetFlix just redirected him to run the COPP tool.

      What he really needs to do is to delete the NetFlix license and get a new one that maps to his new hardware. Instead of giving him a tool to remove only the NetFlix license, NetFlix took the low road and r
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LilMikey (615759)
        I think the part you missed is that in the future he can download a higher resolution torrent and never have to worry about backing up anything or getting a new license from who-knows-who thus, the high road is more trouble for consumers than the low road.
  • by Kris_J (10111) * on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:00PM (#21904356) Journal
    Here's a quicky timeline of a work DRM experience:
    • Organisation acquires vendor's DRM-protected video disc, gets temporary license to try it out.
    • Staff member sits on it 'cause she's busy, temp license runs out.
    • Second temp license requested, IT manager attempts to get videos playing. Any attempt on the laptop he's current using results in a crash.
    • IT manager puts it aside long enough for the second temp license to expire, then hands it to me.
    • I don't know any of the above as I try to get it working. Ironically, since I'm on a Vista PC all the Media Player DRM works perfectly, but the license isn't current.
    • Call vendor to try and get license sorted out, they refuse to help saying we've already had plenty of time to try it.
    • I explain DRM to the involved staff here.
    • We contact the vendor to say that since we've never been able to get it working, we don't want it.
    • Vendor panics at missed sale, gives us third trial license.
    • We get videos playing, finally, on a laptop that can be used for presentations.
    • We buy product (sigh).
    I should find out if it's still working or if it's fallen over in the few months since I last saw it.
  • by Thirdsin (1046626) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:49PM (#21905766)
    Bad situation, definitely...
    And before I say this and everyone mods me for flamebait, i'm just echoing what I think is right...

    STOP BUYING DRM PROTECTED MEDIA. Problem solved. Read a book, peruse Slashdot, talk to your wife... i dunno, but giving the hollywood pigs their chow will not bring about any change.
    mod away, sry.
  • Good (Score:4, Informative)

    by saladpuncher (633633) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:37AM (#21906102) Homepage
    Dear makers of DRM: please keep this up! Please, please, please keep making it harder for consumers to view your stuff. I've got an idea! How about a program that deletes all mp3s and (why the hell not) installs a root kit. I still don't think that goes far enough. You might want to kill all avi file usage too. Of course this only hurts the low tech pirates. You might want to limit streaming to ANY device that hasn't been registered. How about if I decide to take a game to a friend's house to show him how awesome it is? Fuck that! He hasn't paid a license so brick his machine. Pop a new HD-DVD/Blue Ray/ETC into a car stereo? Better make that thing call home before he can hear it. Also maybe make him swipe a card, enter a password and give a retinal scan too. Make him jump through hoops! Hoops that are on FIRE! Maybe then people will dump this tired crap and move to a standard that works for everyone.
  • Drm. (Score:4, Funny)

    by changa (197280) on Friday January 04, 2008 @11:13AM (#21910050) Homepage

    Strange game... only winning move is not to play.

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