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As many of you know, many pay TV TV DVRs and other set top boxes are far behind in terms of technology and recording capabilities. In addition to the reduced feature set, there is a cost of anywhere between $10-$20 a month in rental costs just to bring the TV signal to your television. If you have 3 TVs in the house, like I do, then you can be looking at around $40 a month in rental fees.
About three years ago, I got sick of paying for these rental boxes and decided to build my own system. Not to save money per se, but to increase the capabilities of my cable TV system. When I say cable TV system, I am talking about services from companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Any system that allows you to rent a cable card is supported.
First off, let me point out that there are very little cost savings in the first two years when it comes to building your own system.
At the moment, Comcast is part of the entertainment industry's six strikes initiative, but the cable giant and NBC owner is cooking up its own additional twist to the program. Under six strikes, each of the industry's major participating ISPs
takes slightly different approaches to piracy, ranging from warnings and temporary browsing restrictions until the user acknowledged they've read "educational" material, in Verizon's case -- throttling user connections for a limited time
A few weeks ago Microsoft surprisingly but thankfully backtracked on a lot of the heavy-handed DRM
they had planned for the Xbox One, including tight restrictions on game sales and loans, and a complete ban on game rentals. Now a small group of gamers want Microsoft to backtrack on their backtrack.
Microsoft appears to have backed away from their rather absurd and draconian DRM policies
for their upcoming Xbox One console. According to a blog post
by the company, the company will be backing away from the console's previous "online check in every 24 hours" requirement, as well as lifting many of the restrictions on used games.
Last weekend's "Game of Thrones" series finale set piracy records, with the program being downloaded by more than a million people in one day. According to Torrent Freak
, the show set BitTorrent records specifically, with some 170,000 people sharing one copy of the show simultaneously. The massive, unprecedented piracy comes as HBO continues to refuse to make their streaming platform HBO Go
available to users without a traditional cable connection. The show is expected to surpass 5 million BitTorrent downloads over the next week, with most of those downloaders coming from Australia, followed by the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Sony's Playstation 4 press announcement at E3 last night was in stark contrast to Microsoft's recent announcement that their Xbox One would come layered with all manner of DRM
to tightly control the sale of games, while (for now) banning outright the rental of them. Microsoft also annoyed users by announcing the Xbox One needed to check in online at least once a day -- or even entirely offline titles simply won't function.
Microsoft has released more details on the DRM embedded in the Xbox One
to stop piracy, and the reality is almost-but-not-quite as bad as most of the worrisome leaks predicted. According to Microsoft, the new Xbox One is a revolution in cloud computing, TV watching and gaming, but the changes will all come at a very steep price tag for consumers (in more than just the literal sense).
The almost-respectfully-sounding Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property (read: the entertainment industry) has come up with a new 84 page report
(pdf) that has a few curious recommendations for Congress. Among them is the request by the industry that they be allowed to use malware, trojans, and other countermeasures against pirates.
Microsoft has apparently fired the Microsoft employee who used Twitter to mock consumer concerns about upcoming DRM for the new Xbox. Several leaks
have suggested that the next Xbox will require a constantly-functioning broadband connection as a DRM and used-game sales countermeasure, though Microsoft has yet to officially comment.
The last few months have seen several leaks
that suggest the next Xbox will require an "always on" broadband connection as a way to counter both piracy and used game sales. Microsoft isn't commenting, but the news -- if true -- is angering a lot of possible customers with they botched launches of Diablo 3 and SimCity (both requiring always-on connections) freshly in mind.
Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Google; there have been no limit of companies eager to disrupt the pay TV ecosystem, though every one of them have run face first into licensing restrictions imposed by a pay TV sector that very much doesn't want to be disrupted. That doesn't seem to stop the tech press from getting blindly bubbly and enthusiastic every time another company says they're going to try. story continues..
While the oft-criticized Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to bypass DRM, when the law was based back in 1998 a provision allowed the Librarian of Congress to grant certain exemptions. As Ars Technica
notes, the latest triennial review of DMCA exemptions
(pdf) again highlights how arbitrary and bizarre the DMCA can be.
Numerous groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Free Press have today made a Declaration of Internet Freedom
, taking a stand against any and all apparent attempts to throttle, filter or otherwise censor the Internet -- particularly without an open conversation among the Internet's most important stake holders (that would be you). This is just the beginning of a process aimed at starting an open and transparent discussion on how advocates, users, consumers and other interested organizations can work together to limit censorship, improve availability of low-cost connectivity, protect innovation, and protect user privacy.
Just like a new six strikes plan
set to go into effect here in the States later this year, the UK is still working on their own three strikes effort. According to a new draft proposal by UK regulator Ofcom
(required by the Digital Economy Act), UK ISPs will need to start sending warning letters to broadband subscribers starting by early 2014.
by KathrynV 01:01PM Saturday Apr 05 2008 story continues..
Say the phrase “Swedish BitTorrent” and people will automatically assume that you’re talking about The Pirate Bay. However, a new company in the country (called Headweb) is aiming
to take business away from the big giant by providing legal, DRM-free movie downloads.
Given that bands make the majority of their money from touring and merchandising, it's not too surprising to see many of them interested in using broadband to deliver their music directly to fans
. British rockers Radiohead tomorrow will release their new album In Rainbows
, and have e-mailed customers to note that the tracks will be in MP3 format and DRM free.
Users in our security forum
discuss how Sony's latest attempt at DRM prevents some DVDs from being played -- even on some Sony DVD players. Several new Sony DVDs come with the protection, which Wired News
suggests is a rehash of an old (and already compromised) DRM system named ARccOS. This blogger
was told by Sony that it's up to the end-user to upgrade the firmware on their DVD players.
chimes in on the DRM Panel at this week's Tech Policy Summit
. The panel was apparently stacked against consumers (and common sense), much like the FTC's recent broadband workshop
representing consumers at both events). Though scattered reports keep insisting that there's an anti-DRM sea change occurring, the same stale rhetoric seems to indicate otherwise (ex: DRM "opens up new business models"
). "Pretty much the entire industry has simply decided that DRM is the only way to make money -- even with repeated examples of why that's simply not true,"
notes Techdirt's Masnick.
Long before Sony's rootkit DRM there was Starforce, a stealth driver installing copy-protection scheme we discussed at length
after our users began to complain about it. Since then, some users have decided to Boycott
any games that use the controversial protection scheme. While writing about
the boycott yesterday, Boing Boing called the software "Anti-copying malware."
That apparently didn't sit well with the software's makers, who wrote Boing Boing to inform them they planned to sue the blog for harassment
, and had filed a complaint with the FBI. A Dennis Zhidkov, PR-manager for the company, writes the following:"Dear Sir, calling StarForce "Anti-copying malware" is a good enough cause to press charges and that is what our corporate lawyer is busy doing right now.
An interesting guide
to DRM in online music has been posted by the folks over at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. " In this brave new world of "authorized music services," law-abiding music fans often get less for their money than they did in the old world of CDs (or at least, the world before record companies started crippling CDs with DRM, too). Unfortunately, in an effort to attract customers, these music services try to obscure the restrictions they impose on you with clever marketing."
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