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Microsoft Encryption Media Security Television Your Rights Online

Windows Media Center Restricts Cable TV 448

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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  • Old news???? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maddog Batty ( 112434 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:48AM (#19206365) Homepage
    First google link: Published Monday, October 31, 2005 6:41 PM by astebner

    Second google link: Posted February 14th, 2006

    Third google link: Last Review : August 17, 2006

    Fourth google link: Friday, January 28, 2005 1:00 AM PST

    Fifth google link: June 2nd, 2006

    You get the idea....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:11AM (#19206463) []

    Cockup rather than conspiracy?
  • by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:12AM (#19206475)
    I wouldn't take the summary at face value for this one - IIRC, there are some driver issues that cause this flag to pop up when it's really not supposed to. More info, including Microsoft's mostly-official response, at: x []
  • old news (Score:5, Informative)

    by confused one ( 671304 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:49AM (#19206675)
    If you read on like the poster suggested (and obviously the poster himself didn't read the articles) you'd find out that
    1. This is an old problem
    2. This was a driver issue that only affected people who had changed hardware components.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:05AM (#19206739) Journal
    In the article about renaming DRM, I asked the question of what the HBO guy thought user could do with DRM'd content that they couldn't do with the same content if it were not DRM'd. Now I know the answer; they can go outside and get some fresh air without the TV. Obviously, HBO are just thinking of everyone's health this summer.
  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:18AM (#19206801)
    You see, the problem here is all Microsoft. After years of naming their patches: "Service Pack", "Critical Update", "Security Update", "Huge Update", "Gigantic Update","Mother-of-All Update", they decided to name this update "Update Rollup". Clearly it confused the consumer with what was consistent naming, and he/she probably didn't download it much less install it. :P
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:38AM (#19206907) Homepage
    Why invite Microsoft into your living room when you can set up MythTV?

    Please tell me where I can buy cablecard ready tuner cards for MythTV. Comcast here has new boxes that DELETE the firewire port, it's not even an option. Therefore recording is limited to Standard Def only.

    Until someone hacks and then cracks cablecard, or get's off their butts and get s the hdmi or dvi capture cards working MythTV is not an option for recording CableTV HDTV.

    if you want to record from Cable and get any of the channels to record that are not encrypted, you have to have microsoft.
  • Re:Try myself (Score:2, Informative)

    by cloudkiller ( 877302 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:05AM (#19207035) Homepage Journal
    I'm running a Win XP PC at home with a hauppage PVR150 in it but instead of running the windows crap for watching TV, I just use gbpvr [] and I have not had a problem with DRM yet.
  • I could be wrong but having that firewire port available may be an FCC requirement - if they aren't living up to it you may be able to force them to provide this functionality. Hopefully others who know the rules on this can better speak to this.

    As for CableCard - good luck. This little device was supposed to help us to get away from STBs. Unfortunatly you cannot just buy one and plug it in. Oh no, it must be plugged in and "activated" by the head end using a crypto handshake after the installer ensures that the box it's plugged into is "certified". So first you must figure out how to get your paws on one and then you must figure out a way to activate it. This isn't so unlike the old cards for activating SAT service I'd imagine except that it's possible these guys have learned from that experience - they appear to be using a 2-way handshake at the very least. Done right you might never see a working hacked cablecard under Myth. Nice huh?

    Personally I see two HUGE problems with MythTV. The biggest is of course cablecard, eventually STBs will go away and we'll be left with these or some other nasty competitor (supposedly one exists, I've heard little about it however). You can bet that no one will ever "bless" Myth working with cablecard unless maybe they provide a closed source binary blob driver that no one finds pallatable and violates who knows what licenses. The second issue I see with Myth is the PITA factor. Myth tries to support so many damned pieces of weirdo' hardware that it's a hassle to setup and strango' things just happen. There have been some "standard" platform suggestions made in the past for Myth but no one seems to really follow them and support remains splintered. It would be nice if someone could take a page out of the TIVO, Apple, and XBMC playbook and choose a seriously solid set of hardware and then refine the hell out of the support. The aTV box could be such a thing maybe although 720P max rez would turn people off and everyone seems to be working on making the Apple software better - the platform is cheap at least. If this were to happen you'd end up with something that "just works" like XBMC only far more powerful - more like TIVO. Good luck with that, even Knoppmyth is a hassle but it was the closest thing to an Easy button I've tried for Myth yet. LinuxMCE sounds like a good idea but it's early yet and again not built for a standard platform.

    I still use a hacked DTIVO despite it's not being HD and XBMC on an old XBOX because nothing I've tried has been so good I had to have it - including MCE. Too bad the S3 TIVO cannot do extraction or I'd have one and bite the bullet on cablecard. The 360 is going to be getting the ability to record and playback IPTV streams it looks like, when that happens I'm sure it will be DRM hell but maybe it will "just work". MythTV sure didn't seem to :-(
  • by samkass ( 174571 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:28AM (#19207209) Homepage Journal
    Comcast here has new boxes that DELETE the firewire port, it's not even an option.

    FCC mandate Title 47, Chapter 1, Subchapter C, Part 76, Subpart K requires that all cable operators that have not received an explicit exemption from the FCC offer any customer who requests it a high-definition cable box with an operational firewire port.

    It's actually the law that there has to be an HD box option that includes Firewire.
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:36AM (#19207265)
    Firewire ports *are* a requirement.... But displaying encrypted video out them isn't. If you get a box with a Firewire port, you're probably only going to get OTA content out of it.

  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:48AM (#19207375)
    If you think this is paranoid ranting, well, so did people who thought habeus corpus would never be removed.

    It hasn't been. The Military Commissions Act specifically and explicitly does not apply to US citizens, and doesn't even apply to the José Padilla example.

    The Military Commissions Act properly handles terrorism against the United States as a military and national security issue, not a domestic civil or criminal matter (to treat it as such is ridiculous). This necessarily means that someone has to make a determination about who is or isn't an enemy combatant. If this means you fantasize about a scenario in which anyone could be declared and enemy combatant, and simply because that person doesn't have immediate recourse on demand through civilian courts it automatically means that habeas corpus has been removed, be my guest. But it is by no means as clear cut as you believe it is. The United States and the entire mechanics of the system supporting MCA, the legislators who crafted it, and everyone else involved has no interest or intent for MCA to apply to US citizens, and the law itself specifically says that.

    Even Human Rights Watch, which is strongly opposed to MCA, still properly concludes that MCA does NOT apply to US citizens, or even legal or permanent resident aliens within the United States. MCA only applies to "aliens with no immigration status who are captured and held outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States", period. All arguments that it could "really" still be applied to US citizens, when the law itself was written to prohibit just that, simply because anyone held under MCA provisions does not have immediate recourse in civilian courts (which would turn the very purpose of MCA on its head), removes all of the value of the intent and meaning of language - language carefully chosen in MCA such that it does NOT apply to US citizens or persons within the United States with a valid immigration status.

    I suppose you're also one of the folks who believes the Insurrection Act updates (post-Katrina) are really a secret attempt to make declaring martial law easier, when it's just as easy (or hard) as it's ever been under the 200-year old law.

    The internet (for which we have the military and the military-industrial complex in large part to thank) will not be "reined in". News and media will not be restricted in the ways you imagine. Commercial copyrighted entertainment content will be. (Also, uh, have we forgotten about printed media? Or are you thinking "yeah, but the internet allows people to organize against the government faster, man? Ok, and uh, yeah, that is the exact kind of content that will NEVER be restricted by DRM, right?)

    Of course DRM is about control. It's all about control. But it is, in fact, like it or not, also about protecting commercial content and squeezing as much money out of consumers as possible, protecting every possible moneymaking avenue for such content now and as far into the future as possible. With that I have no dispute. It IS also to extend copyright provisions, and sanctions, into the digital realm, no matter how wrongheaded and ultimately futile attempt it may be.

    Ironically, if you are anti-DRM, you should understand that DRM's Achilles' Heel is that will ALWAYS be able to be defeated, and thus, no one is going to "rein in" anything.
  • Re:Try myself (Score:5, Informative)

    by RareButSeriousSideEf ( 968810 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:01AM (#19207471) Homepage Journal
    This is due to Windows Media Center being about the only PVR software to obey CGMS-A signals, which come through your cable box via the analog S-Video output. []

    Best ways I've found to avoid these problems:
    1) Turn OFF Windows Update, and/or use a disk imaging system to make sure you can roll back any unwelcome changes like this;
    2) Use different software for recording cable content (MediaPortal, or the scheduling app that comes with most tuner cards, etc.)
    3) Don't pay for HBO; get those shows through alternative providers that have higher-quality, DRM-free, digital copies
  • Re:Try myself (Score:3, Informative)

    by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7.cornell@edu> on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:26AM (#19207769) Homepage
    Not quite true. You can easily buy tuners for unencrypted digital cable.

    But that's for channels that wouldn't have been affected by this change anyway. A CableCARD-capable tuner (which can tune encrypted channels) is a whole different story. As you have said, you can't buy those except with a CableLabs-certified PC.
  • by jeffeb3 ( 1036434 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:32AM (#19207831)
    For a minute, I thought you were talking about BeyondTV/BeyondTV link...
    "- Do you have a Web interface for your schedule, program listings, videos, ecc..?" yes.
    "- Does it cut commercials?" yes
    "- Can it rip DVDs?" yes, but it costs extra, I just use nero
    "- Can it rip music CD?" hmmm no, but I only have the TV extension, not the full fledged media player.
    "- Can it play DivX?" yep and encode it too.
    "- Can it play HD Quicktime trailers?" yep.
    "- Can it use DVB-T, DVB-S, analog and cable at the same time?" dunno, prolly not, but I only have use for cable right now.
    "- Can you attach another frontend to it (one for your living room and one for your bed room)?" BeyondTV link is $30 per license.
    "- Can you transcode your recordings from MPEG2 to something else?" yes, quite effectively.
    "- Can you grab channel listings using xmltv?" not sure which interface it uses to get them, but it doesn't matter so long as they are there.
    "- Can you edit the videos using your remote?" no.
    "How much did you pay for it?" I got it free with a firefly remote, but the package normally costs less than $100.

    " /me am happy to spend some more hours to set it up, but then have an open, extensible, hackable, complete product, and not a crippled software."
    I find a nice medium in the pay for something, get everything category. I used MCE for a year or so, got frustrated with something, and tried MythTV on several computers, but I could never get everything to work correctly, or even enough to get video on screen. I bought a firefly remote that came with BeyondTV and I am amazed. It takes me just as long to install XP/BeyondTV as it does MCE, and there is a lot more functionality, and it played the videos I already had recorded from MCE. My GF loves it too, like a lot.

    Whatever you're using, if it doesn't have commercial skip, get something else. it's my favorite feature of beyondTV.
  • Re:Try myself (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheSciBoy ( 1050166 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:44AM (#19207967)

    I think maybe we're looking at different definitions of cable. Cable in Sweden means, among other things, ComHem, for which there is a couple of digital decoders available. One called FloppyDTV which is internal (PCI-card) and one called FireDTV which is a firewire external box. Only the latter works with encrypted sources, for some reason, and I believe that currently these cards/boxes only support Windows MCE, though the company that makes them (Digital-Everywhere) says that they are willing to share knowledge with any developer that wishes to produce drivers for GNU/Linux.

    I don't know, but I'm assuming you're in the states, which may be the reason why you don't know about these boxes, the maker is an Austrian company. Maybe they're not available in the US, I don't know, or, as I said first in my post, we're talking about different things.

    As far as I know there are three kinds of digital TV, DV-T for terrestrial, DV-S for sattelite and DV-C for cable. The boxes/cards above are both DV-C (available in DV-T).

  • by Phoobarnvaz ( 1030274 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:50AM (#19209385)
    "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.'

    This has been a "feature" of Media Center for quite a long time. Discovered this with programming from the satellite that I pay the bill for every month.

    On the other hand...for those who do not want to go thru the hassles of MythTV & can download & use a free replacement for Media Center. The program is called GB-PVR. No issues with the BS restrictions of Media Center & other commercial software...since it is developed outside the US. Will run on Windows 2000+ and have not run into a flagging issue in the two years I have run it. Not only can download & install user supported plugins to do anything Media Center would even think of doing.

    Unlike Media Center...GB-PVR will record in MPEG-2 format & not the proprietary BS that Microsoft uses. This means you don't need a dvr software converter & the files are usable with any software which can read & use the MPEG-2 format.

    NOTE: I am not the programmer of this software & am not paid to advertise it. Just been using it successfully for at least the past 2 years. With this don't need to spend the extra $$$ for commercial & crippled "feature-laiden" PVR software like Media Center.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:30PM (#19209813)
    Run BeyondTV ( on top of Windows XP. That's what I do -- it's even controlling my DirecTV satellite. I have it fed through a WinTV PVR-500, and everything is very slick.

    No punches to the gut involved.
  • Re:Try myself (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @01:38PM (#19210593)
    am not 100% certain, but I think the problem is directly related to the DRM subsystem that is installed with Windows Media player 11.

    Well, you might be 100% certain, but you happen to be wrong. WMP11 has nothing to do with this issue.

    The Content blockage is NOT specifically by design and happens more often than not because of bad signals from some cable companies marking content as locked, especially via composite output via their digital cable boxes (strangely, especially companies like Charter that use a BSD based OS on their boxes).

    If you have an internal or external USB tuner or CableCard and don't have an external cable box, you shouldn't see this issue.

    I love how one user has a problem, does a few searches and then writes an article about it without any real knowledge of the problem.

    To my understanding the content block flag is only supposed to be used on VOD or special events to prevent recording of the event, not to prevent watching it.

    If people look back, there were similar issues with Windows Media Center 2005 that MS finally had to address to fix the bad signaling from Cable companies. Once again it appears Cable companies are still messing up the signal and everyone is out to torch MS. Which is very ironic as Vista is the only OS with native CableCard support, but then again, these issues don't affect CableCard.

    However there is a growing following that believes a few Cable providers are doing this on purpose to get extra $$ from users and force them to rent a DVR from the company.

    My theater has two tuners, runs Vista Media Center and AMC and HBO are neither restricted for viewing or recording, however the protection bit is set on a few of the HBO shows that prevents me from dropping the recording into Movie Maker. (And there is a hack to bypass that even.) Also prior to Vista, you couldn't edit any recorded MS-PVR content with Movie Maker, and now you can easily.

    Bottom line is these people are having signalling issues, generating the blockage. And NO this has nothing to do with WMP11 DRM or Vista DRM as the myth would like to believe. Do yourself a favor go look up the problem and you will see that Windows Media Center 2005 had similar issues, and it did not have WMP11, nor the isolated process protection like Vista does.
  • sounds like someone needs an Apple TV.

    yes, you're right Apple's TV thingy doesn't put DRM onto shows it records... BECAUSE IT CAN'T RECORD.


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