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Judge Slams FCC's 'Broadcast Flag'
FCC 'crossed the line', 'not TV salesmen'
by kapil 10:21AM Wednesday Feb 23 2005
The FCC's 2003 "broadcast flag" (see Wikipedia definition) rule was criticized by an appellate Judge this week, who informed the commission their anti-piracy plan "crossed the line", and that "Selling televisions is not what the FCC is in the business of." (BBC) The FCC plan was to embed all digital TV content with a code that would only be readable by FCC sanctioned hardware, in an effort to limit the volume of on-line film & TV trading and speed up digital TV adoption. DVR's and other gear are supposed to be "Broadcast Flag-compliant" by July 1.

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xyar
Premium
join:2001-06-21
Portland, OR

Good!

Glad SOMEBODY in the government is finally challenging the FCC on something!

Ryan
--
One geek to rule them all!

SSX4life
Hello World
Premium
join:2004-02-13
kudos:3

2 recommendations

power hungry are we eh FCC???

Is it just me, or the more and more technological our society becomes, the more big buisness tries to "lock down" and controll everything we do? The big buisness needs to wake the F***** up and see that

#1. the mass public has a demand for this media

and

#2. the mass public does not want you to tell us how, when, where, and what to watch!

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JPCass

join:2001-01-23
Denver, CO

Re: power hungry are we eh FCC???

said by SSX4life:

#2. the mass public does not want you to tell us how, when, where, and what to watch!
The "mass" - such as it may be - of technically savvy citizens might be one thing. But various recent gauges of public opinion would seem to suggest that the "mass public" is perfect happy with what the current administration is doing, or at least blissfully ignorant of the details and implications. Just in the last week or two, there were news reports that something like three-quarters of high school students thought that the government should play more of a role in restraining public media.
kylephoto760

join:2002-02-08
Escondido, CA

Re: power hungry are we eh FCC???

I'm a journalism major. We heard that in our college newsroom and damn near sh*t ourselves.

Thaler
Premium
join:2004-02-02
Los Angeles, CA
kudos:3
said by SSX4life:

#2. the mass public does not want you to tell us how, when, where, and what to watch!
Seig Heil! You WILL take our perspective on the world and LIKE it, damnit!

True enough, we don't like being told the how, when, where, and whats to media viewing, but it seems to be increasingly pervalent. News comes pre-spun, the decline of TV shows packaged as "quality" television, etc., about 98% of what's on the tube is pure crap now.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any let up in sight. Now we have direct propaganda plants within the news media outlets, "reality TV" taking over any show that has a plot, there is now so very little substance to bother watching much anymore.

Maybe we do like to be told what to watch?

Combat Chuck
Too Many Cannibals
Premium
join:2001-11-29
Verona, PA

Re: power hungry are we eh FCC???

said by Thaler:

Maybe we do like to be told what to watch?
No, what you see is a direct result of media companies not wanting to take a risk combined with the ease of gathering information about what people like.

Someone comes up with one innovative thing (Survivor season 1) and everyone jumps on the bandwagon (Survivor season 14273, and Fornication Island: extreme soap box derby nannies edition featuring Ozzie Osbourn). It's always been like this except the efficiency of data exchange now makes it so that all media outlets know what bandwagon to get on before we're all sick of the fad.
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Thaler
Premium
join:2004-02-02
Los Angeles, CA
kudos:3

Re: power hungry are we eh FCC???

said by Combat Chuck:

No, what you see is a direct result of media companies not wanting to take a risk combined with the ease of gathering information about what people like.

Someone comes up with one innovative thing (Survivor season 1) and everyone jumps on the bandwagon (Survivor season 14273, and Fornication Island: extreme soap box derby nannies edition featuring Ozzie Osbourn). It's always been like this except the efficiency of data exchange now makes it so that all media outlets know what bandwagon to get on before we're all sick of the fad.
Well, if information gathering is so easy within the media companies, then why the hell are we stuck on reality TV/rehash/garble crap? The fad came and went, but its stench is seemingly lingered on for what seems like forever. Please, someone tell me who the hell still watches this garbage?

The bandwagon is broke, burning in a pile off in a ditch away from the road, yet we still seem to want to take it for a ride. If this is their idea of "media intelligence", then it's amazing that TV ever became a popular device in the first place.

Combat Chuck
Too Many Cannibals
Premium
join:2001-11-29
Verona, PA

Re: power hungry are we eh FCC???

said by Thaler:

The bandwagon is broke, burning in a pile off in a ditch away from the road, yet we still seem to want to take it for a ride. If this is their idea of "media intelligence", then it's amazing that TV ever became a popular device in the first place.
Because no one wants to take a leap and and innovate another type of show. Theres no where else to jump to except into the void; they'd rather stick to a genre that everyone's tired of but will watch if they have to then take the risk of trying something new.

It makes more sense once you realize that most people will watch a mediocre show rather than turning off the TV.
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Thaler
Premium
join:2004-02-02
Los Angeles, CA
kudos:3

Re: power hungry are we eh FCC???

said by Combat Chuck:

It makes more sense once you realize that most people will watch a mediocre show rather than turning off the TV.
Exactly why I'm glad to own a new TiVo. I don't care what crap they put out, I'm still going to watch the slimming spectrum of "good" shows out there, nomatter what butt-crack-of-dawn hour you put it at, and watch it when I want to.

Chiyo
Save Me Konata-Chan
Premium
join:2003-02-20
Charlotte, NC
kudos:1

yay

WOOOO Thank god I agree with the two posters above me on everything they say. But I bet some form of retaliation from the FCC will happen.
B
Premium,MVM
join:2000-10-28

Huzzah! A Welcome Break of Reason!


Someone get some security guards for this appellate judge, quick.

Even more welcome than the possible delay of the insidious broadcast flag, the "not selling televisions" bit says EVERYTHING we need to hear about Michael Powell and friends!

I am so happy to hear this. I am equally sad to know this is far from the end, and that (lobbying) money continues to talk.

-- B
--
In a realm outside causality and function

bmbarnes

join:2003-08-10
Derwood, MD

And the people....

...with MythTV and other home-grown PVR/DVR technologies said, amen.:)

bmbarnes

join:2003-08-10
Derwood, MD

But I must add, it could all be for naught.

Washington Post story (reg. req.) states:
"But it was unclear whether the judges would strike down the FCC's 2003 rule, since doubts were also raised about whether the American Library Association and other opponents had legal standing to challenge the rule in court."
(emphasis mine)
Plldwnyrpnts

join:2003-04-19
Chicago, IL

Re: But I must add, it could all be for naught.

Logic would dictate that the manufacturers, whom would be required to install this special chip, would have to file a suit/complaint, if the consumer can not.

SRFireside

join:2001-01-19
Houston, TX

Not out of the woods yet

No ruling has been made. This is just the criticisms of an appellate judge. I remember reading an article on this yesterday. If I recall correctly another appellate judge seemed pretty supportive of the FCC's plan. Lets just hope cooler heads prevail like in the DMCA ruling.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Words welcome but this wasn't a ruling

The words of the judge questioning the FCC rule on the broadcast flag were encouraging, but before everybody gets overly happy, read the news item on the issue: »news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4290315.stm
The judge didn't make a ruling and it hasn't even been decided if the consumer groups even have standing to challenge the rule in court. It could be months before a decision is handed down and until then manufacturers will be building devices that implement the law.

So, the broadcast flag is far from dead.
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Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

Re: Words welcome but this wasn't a ruling

course anyone with older equipment will keep using it. the FCC cant force people to upgrade with any laws unless they pay for the new hardware.
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drakkkar

join:2003-02-07
Houston, TX

Re: Words welcome but this wasn't a ruling

said by Kearnstd:

course anyone with older equipment will keep using it. the FCC cant force people to upgrade with any laws unless they pay for the new hardware.
Sure they can, they can just mandate that all broadcasts must be encoded in a new method, and require decoders to have all the features in them that they want.

Corrupt regimes all over the world try and limit the types of media their citizens can access. They limit what parts of the internet can be accessed. States like Iraq outlawed satellite dishes so its citizens could not get programming that was not approved. Requiring this type of flag is certainly a step in that direction.
--
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mlundin

join:2001-03-27
Lawrence, KS

The FCC and their secret code...

There's no way that those geniuses over at the FCC are going to be able to keep their little code secret for long. Once some kid in Norway breaks it and publishes it on the internet, we'll all be right back where we are with the current DVD protection...copying media like it's going out of style. Let 'em try, the dumb bastards.

Jeremy341
Bye
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join:2000-01-06
localhost

Re: The FCC and their secret code...

said by mlundin:

There's no way that those geniuses over at the FCC are going to be able to keep their little code secret for long.
You're quite the genius yourself! You have no idea what you're talking about...
mlundin

join:2001-03-27
Lawrence, KS

Re: The FCC and their secret code...

said by Jeremy341:

You're quite the genius yourself! You have no idea what you're talking about...
Actually, I am. However, since you think I'm so ignorant, enlighten me (and everyone else) oh great one.

DaveDude
No Fear

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New Jersey
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Re: The FCC and their secret code...

said by mlundin:

said by Jeremy341:

You're quite the genius yourself! You have no idea what you're talking about...
Actually, I am. However, since you think I'm so ignorant, enlighten me (and everyone else) oh great one.
I agree with mlundin, i give it a few weeks, then someone will be able to disabled it. Maybe a felt tip marker? (joking, for all the serious people)
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SRFireside

join:2001-01-19
Houston, TX

Re: The FCC and their secret code...

It's going to depend on how the "flag" is implemented. If it's software encoded then yeah there will be a crack soon after its release. If it's tied to hardware, like all new DVD recorders must have X chip (or whatever) to track the flag, then you won't see an easy crack. More like a booming black market for "flag-free" products.

Jeremy341
Bye
Premium
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localhost
said by mlundin:

said by Jeremy341:

You're quite the genius yourself! You have no idea what you're talking about...
Actually, I am. However, since you think I'm so ignorant, enlighten me (and everyone else) oh great one.
The FCC isn't creating any "code" here that needs to be cracked. This isn't like DVD CSS encryption or anything.

Doctor Four
My other vehicle is a TARDIS
Premium
join:2000-09-05
Dallas, TX
Despite what others may say to the contrary, you have a
point there. No form of copy protection has lasted any
degree of time. They've all been broken, sometimes
trivially (magic markers, shift key, etc.), while at
other times it takes some knowhow. The Broadcast Flag
will be no exception. The media cartels are still unable
to get it into their thick (but empty) skulls that DRM of
any kind is a colossal failure: if it can be heard or seen,
it can be copied.
--
"Kayura or Badamon, whichever you are, you should know that I will never give up this battle. By the will of the Ancient, I shall succeed!" - Shuten (Anubis) from the Ronin Warriors.To RIAA/MPAA - You can sue but you can't catch everyone!

Qumahlin
Never Enough Time
Premium,MVM
join:2001-10-05
united state

Re: The FCC and their secret code...

said by Doctor Four:

Despite what others may say to the contrary, you have a
point there. No form of copy protection has lasted any
degree of time. They've all been broken, sometimes
trivially (magic markers, shift key, etc.), while at
other times it takes some knowhow. The Broadcast Flag
will be no exception. The media cartels are still unable
to get it into their thick (but empty) skulls that DRM of
any kind is a colossal failure: if it can be heard or seen,
it can be copied.
True, if this was a copy protection software routine...but its not...It's hardware coupled with software, which means in order to crack the broadcast flag your going to have to MODIFY THE HARDWARE either physically, or by modifying the devices Firmware/BIOS

This isn't a copy protection that people can copy the content to their computer and then attempt to crack it, this is a way of stopping your device from ever recording or streaming the data to any other devices but itself.

For example, lets say you have a Motorola DCT6214 and have the firewire hooked to your computer to download your saved programs from the DVR and stream TV.

Well when you goto watch a show with the Broadcast Flag set what would happen is your DVR WILL NOT WORK, the box will NOT record the show to the DVR. At the same time that the box refuses to record to the DVR it will also DISABLE the firewire ports on the box, that way the channel will no longer be streaming to your computer.
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SRFireside

join:2001-01-19
Houston, TX

Re: The FCC and their secret code...

The End result is still the same. There WILL be a crack for it and it WILL proliferate. Whether it be websites with instructions on how to disable the DRM hardware yourself or black-market and aftermarket "hacked" systems being for sale the hardware DRM will end up just like the others.

Let's not forget hardware protection schemes of the past have also been circumvented. The cassette tape record tabs come to mind as one example.

Dmoralize

join:2004-12-17
Nazareth, PA

1 recommendation

Annoying

The FCC gets more annoying every day... I'm sick of how they pretend to have authority over everything we do and say. And even more annoying is that everyone seems to think they really do have this magical authority.

I'd tell them to Fuck Off, but there's probably a 10 second delay on my post so they can edit it out.

DaveDude
No Fear

join:1999-09-01
New Jersey
kudos:1
Reviews:
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limiting makes less viewers

I still dont understand why there want to do this. Dont they want people to see advertistments, and watch there programming? The broadcast flag is just dumb. So i record something and cant watch it, well then i guess i will stop watching that channel.
--
I dont support the **aa!
Galvage

join:2004-02-11
Taconite, MN

Re: limiting makes less viewers

Government corrupt gee its not like we didn't know that about the following agencies for the last 10 years.

DEA-- is the worst offender of them all
FBI-- not to bad recently and I've known some good people go to this agency so I'll reserve comments till later
CIA-- is really good at hiding thier tracks
FCC-- finally someone is putting the brakes on them.

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: limiting makes less viewers

You forgot to mention the ATF. If any agency made the case for getting its funding cut, this would be it.
--
Hey Fast Eddie... you're next!

deadmeat
Premium
join:2003-03-21
Sonoma, CA
said by DaveDude:

I still dont understand why there want to do this. Dont they want people to see advertistments, and watch there programming? The broadcast flag is just dumb. So i record something and cant watch it, well then i guess i will stop watching that channel.
They want you to purchase the DVD collection of the show

Niarlan
Excelsior
Premium
join:2002-11-09
Manville, NJ

Got to love the Judges comments though

The judge sure had some fun with blasting them though.

The FCC's lawyer, Jacob M. Lewis, acknowledged the agency never had exercised such ancillary power but maintained it was permitted by Congress since lawmakers didn't explicitly outlaw it.

"Ancillary does not mean you get to rule the world," Edwards said. He said the FCC "crossed the line" beyond its authority approved by Congress. "You've gone too far," he said. "Are washing machines next?"
Better get that new washer before July 1 ladies....

Nia
pace306

join:2002-11-15
Brooklyn, NY

washing machines ....

Under the DMCA - as of July 1 - only name brand soap powder allowed - no 99 cent/no frills stuff - you're taking money out of the mouths of the people working at Procter and Gamble ! lol

zoom3148
Superman
Premium
join:2001-04-30
Yermo, CA

Re: washing machines ....

Oh whoopee dooo......... I know You were being sarcastic. Generic soap will always be there, So I'm not worried one bit.
--
»mysite.verizon.net/zoom314/
adash

join:2004-06-30
Tucson, AZ

thank you BBC

There was a time when the UK was even more big brother oriented than the US. Not now glad to see fair use issues are not worth mentioning in any US news media busy serving the intrests of the corperate masters.

"The broadcast flag bears about as much relation to the FCC's mandate as dishwashers"
Wendy Seltzer, EFF great quote

truedalife

join:2003-01-10
Brooklyn, MD

No ones cracked 5C yet.

They are getting better with this encryption protection thing. 5C encryption protection method began after the DMCA passing. 5C was created by 5 companies, hence the name 5C.

Comcast started in the Baltimore, MD area last summer, protecting all the digital channels with 5C protection. The analog channels in areas that do not have a digital simulcast on a digital box are not protected thru the digital box.

From what I read, the flags can not be used on the local broadcast channels. It's the public air waves, fair use thing. The high end boxes like the DVR and HD boxes have the ability to receive broadcaster flags but do not receive any at this time.

I think there is a misunderstanding here. The Broadcaster flags are going to be for PVR or DVR type devices only.

The consumer groups, from what I read, were complaining to the FCC that the move to digital television and encoding the content so it could not be copied to any devices digitally, was limiting the consumers right to fair usage.

The consumer groups argued over control of the use of the content in the consumers home. One argument I read said, "consumers should still be allowed to record there favorite show and watch it later in there home. Just like millions have done for years with a VCR. As long as they don't sell or distribute the copy-written content." The fair use thing again!

But the networks and MPAA was complaining that broadcasting digital content without any protection from illegal coping would lead to high quality digital copies showing up on the internet. They also said that, "analog VCR's that use the analog loop-hole means of recording do not concern them. They are poor in quality, and degrade in duplication. But digital to digital coping is our number one concern. They are creating perfect copies and we will work hard to stop this and protect the copy-written content for our clients."

So 5 companies got together to create a protection scheme now know as 5C encryption protection. There is two parts to this process. The first is a media upgradeable control system to the 5C chipset and the other involves encrypted copy locks that are controllable via broadcasting flags.

What the broadcasting flag will allow the network to do is, flag the programming content with one of three tags. 1) Allow copying, 2) copy once, and 3) never copy.

How 5C works is like this, every digital device (HDTV, DVR or etc...) must register with the 5C first to get the permission to use the 5C chipset in there device. 5C protected content will not display without this chipset.

The company then is allowed to build a 5C compliance device. The 5C chipset is very advance and is always under the control from the 5C companies. If a licence is revoked, the 5C company can turn off the chip via the media.

How can they do this? Easy! Most digital broadcast are transmitted in the MPEG-TS format. Now a normal MPEG-TS stream doesn't carry any encoded encryption in it's stream and is very unprotected. The content doesn't have to be encrypted as long as the two devices are 5C approved.

The only 5C approved devices to date are HDTV to PVR or HDTV to DVCR type devices. An external hard drive unit has been approved by the 5C group, to be used with 5C approved DVR's. But, if a manufacturer loses there 5C licence, the 5C companies start embedding all future media content with a turn off code to the 5C chip on that device.

If you receive a digital television broadcast or play a DVD, that media may have a code embedded in that stream that the 5C chip will pick up during the viewing. This embedded code contains a updated list of unauthorized devices and gets stored on the 5C chip. Shutting off the 5C encryption part of the chip.

That's just one step in the 5C process for protecting content. Sony is one of the 5C companies, and there thinking was if a device is compromised (like a digital loop-hole hack), they would be able to turn off this rogue device through the content played thru it. Eventuality, you will play a DVD or something with the embedded code in it and your 5C device will be useless. It won't play any 5C protected content.

The second protection scheme happens between the two 5C compliant devices. For example a high def TV and a DVR. 5C protection would be used on all digital outputs and digital inputs of each device. There is an encryption scheme used but it's not encoded at the content medias origin.

It's done in real-time at the connected devices via the DVI port or the Firewire port. Encrypted keys are used in the handshaking process of the 5C connected devices. When two 5C devices are connected to each via a digital connection, they handshake each other and exchange encrypted keys.

These keys, once received by the 5C device is sent back to the transmitting 5C device acknowledging it was receive correctly. Then the content stream is allowed to past on from one device to the receiving device. The keys change every 15 seconds under the control of the transmitting device. The content is still unprotected (not encrypted from it's origin). The source content does however contain the broadcasters flags of copy, copy once, and never copy in the stream itself. The encrypted keys are created and exchanged in real-time and are embedded across different points in the packet stream.

The other misunderstanding in the article was that the FCC was planning to embed all digital TV content with a code that would only be readable by FCC sanctioned hardware.

This is true, but is not apart of the broadcasting flags at all. The flags only pertain to the copy, copy once and never copy part of the digital content.

What the FCC is proposing is digitally watermarking digital content, that with special equipment would tell them exactly the source the copy came from. If you have cable tv, your future set-top box will have a chip in it that would stamp the content periodically with a digital watermark. This watermark will have your cable providers name, set-top box MAC address (which is unique), time and date of the crime. This technology already exist in the George Lucas digital movie projectors.

Back to my subject title, a University Professor started a web site about a year ago, trying to crack the 5C encryption part. Using web site visitors PC connected together to help crunch numbers,(parallel processing networking) the professor was only able to piece together about 2 minutes of content. This was after weeks of crunching numbers to find valid keys. When the 5C companies found out, he was shut down and legal action followed. It turns out the DMCA protects the 5C encryption process on copy-written media. Who knew? and you could face legal action by just posting about any 5C cracking processes.

Either way, the professor was unable to crack the 5C process fully to date.