Ding Dong the Flag is Dead!!

Discussion in 'Windows Media Center' started by rcme, May 6, 2005.

  1. rcme

    rcme Guest

    rcme, May 6, 2005
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  2. YIPPEE!!!
    Cari \(MS-MVP\), May 6, 2005
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  3. Cool! Now if we can just convince Microsoft to quit supporting it in the
    next version of MCE...

    Dana Cline - MVP
    Dana Cline - MVP, May 6, 2005
  4. If the broadcasters like HBO can just remove the flag, that might be enough!
    Cari \(MS-MVP\), May 7, 2005
  5. rcme

    Bob [MVP] Guest

    As I quoted from in another thread, HBO does not consider
    itself a "broadcaster". I doubt that HBO will remove the
    flag. The ball is now in Microsoft's court, IMHO.

    C'mon Microsoft... Do the right thing! :)

    Microsoft MVP
    Windows XP Media Center Edition
    Bob [MVP], May 7, 2005
  6. Michael Earls, May 7, 2005
  7. rcme

    Chris H. Guest

    It isn't Microsoft doing the encryption (flag) of the broadcasts. It is the
    companies which are using it. If the flag doesn't exist, there's no
    reaction in MCE just like other channels. If it continues to exist,
    Microsoft doing anything won't change the broadcast encryption.
    Chris H.
    Microsoft Windows MVP/Tablet PC
    Tablet Creations - http://nicecreations.us/
    Associate Expert
    Expert Zone - www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/expertzone
    Chris H., May 7, 2005
  8. rcme

    Bob [MVP] Guest

    Are you sure about that? As I understand it, HBO sets the
    broadcast flag, but it is MCE that encrypts the DVR-MS file
    so that it can only be played back using Media Center on the
    same PC that recorded it.

    If MCE was patched to simply ignore the broadcast flag,
    the "protected content" recordings would not be encrypted.

    Microsoft MVP
    Windows XP Media Center Edition
    Bob [MVP], May 9, 2005
  9. rcme

    Chris H. Guest

    Chris H., May 9, 2005
  10. HBO employs CGMS-A, which is distinct from the broadcast flag (CGMS-A is
    NTSC/PAL only and is employed for premium/subscription TV content including
    video on demand, the broadcast flag is for ATSC); the recent broadcast flag
    ruling has no impact on CGMS-A.

    The FAQ Chris linked to provides a good overview of HBO's usage of CGMS-A
    Todd Bowra [MSFT], May 10, 2005
  11. rcme

    Bob [MVP] Guest

    Thanks for the explaining that distinction, Todd. Could you
    please explain why Microsoft (MCE) encrypts the content from
    HBO? Is Microsoft legally *required* to do so? Or are they
    simply honoring HBO's wishes? Thanks.

    Microsoft MVP
    Windows XP Media Center Edition
    Bob [MVP], May 10, 2005
  12. Is there a law that says DVRs must follow the CGMS-A? While it may be a
    different protocol, it sounds like the effect is the same. Is there anything
    forcing Microsoft to limit playback of HBO?

    Dana Cline - MVP
    Dana Cline - MVP, May 10, 2005
  13. I cannot speak to/interpret legal requirements as I'm not a lawyer, but as a
    general answer - Microsoft's implementation of copy protection technology in
    Media Center is designed to comply with FCC regulations and
    content/technology licensing terms mandated by content providers.

    Although CGMS-A may similar to the broadcast flag, it is very much
    different - the former is employed solely on premium subscription/video on
    demand content while the latter would have impacted over the air broadcast
    content. In the case of subscription/VOD content, the content provider may
    impose licensing requirements on the content and you as a consumer may
    decide whether or not these requirements are acceptable to you and therefore
    whether you want to pay for that content.
    Todd Bowra [MSFT], May 10, 2005
  14. Please see my response to Dana's post.
    Todd Bowra [MSFT], May 10, 2005
  15. Minor correction to the second paragraph:
    Todd Bowra [MSFT], May 10, 2005
  16. rcme

    rcme Guest

    Lots of great info Todd...

    To make sure I understand, let me restate.

    1) CGMS-A is encryption technology used by HBO to protect content
    distributed over cable. The cable company "box" (aka cablecard?) decrypts the
    CGMS-A content and makes the output available via s-video, etc for output to
    the television. Since MCE doesn't directly support cablecard, MCE can only
    get the already decrypted HBO channel signal from the cable "box", which is
    input to MCE via s-video, etc. (MCE looks like a television to the cable
    "box"). In this case, MCE does no decryption of the HBO content, since it is
    already decrypted by the cable "box". At this point, MCE is free to do
    "whatever it wants" with the channel content coming from the cable "box"
    (record, output to TV, etc.), the same as it would with any other channel
    content coming from the cable "box", or coming directly off the cable (if
    there is no cable "box"). The drawback here is that MCE is getting analog
    content, not digital content.

    2) The Broadcast Flag is something that MCE currently supports to "enforce
    policy" for the already decrypted HBO content (or any other content that has
    been broadcast flagged) it is receiving from the cable "box", or from the
    cable itself if there is no cable "box". The "policy" defining "what to do
    based on the presence of the Broadcast Flag" is self imposed by MCE (as far
    as I know, there are no laws requiring MCE to take any specific and
    definitive actions based on the presence of the broadcast flag). As I
    understand, the "policy" that MCE currently chose is to only allow playback
    of recorded "broadcast flagged" content on the same device it was recorded
    on. I am not sure what all MCE does in this case to prevent the playback on
    other devices (MCE proprietary encryption?).

    Is this correct?
    rcme, May 11, 2005
  17. Not exactly...

    CGMS-A - conditional access content (encrypted digital content) is received
    by the cable set top box; the cable set top box decrypts this content,
    decodes the video (conversion from digital --> analog) and embeds the CGMS-A
    bits in the analog video it outputs via s-video (or composite, or coax).
    These bits signal the copy policy (copy freely, copy once, copy never, copy
    no more) to the receiving device, which is Media Center in this case. If
    the bits specify limits on copying, that's exactly what happens.

    Broadcast flag - the broadcast flag is not supported by existing PC ATSC
    tuners, meaning Media Center has no knowledge of it (and therefore takes no
    unique action based upon the presence or absence of the flag).

    As an aside - Media Center solely follows regulations/guidelines and content
    licensing requirements established by the FCC/content owners; it does not
    invent special/unique policies. If you have concerns regarding content
    protection policies, they are best directed at the content
    owners/broadcasters and your Congressional representatives.
    Todd Bowra [MSFT], May 11, 2005
  18. rcme

    Chris H. Guest

    Chris H., May 11, 2005
  19. What it sounds like you're saying is that Microsoft is not required BY LAW
    to recognize the conditional access content. However, they do so to please
    the content providers even though they're not required to. Yet, the content
    providers are not Microsoft's customers...we are. So Microsoft is not acting
    in their customer's interest but rather in the interest of the content
    providers, since Microsoft doesn't license the content.


    Dana Cline - MVP

    Dana Cline - MVP, May 12, 2005
  20. rcme

    Nigel Barker Guest

    You misunderstand what you are entitled to do under copyright "fair use".
    Timeshifting for watching later is "fair use". Archiving a movie to DVD is not
    one good reason would be that if you archive it then you will never buy it thus
    copyright holders see themselves losing money. You have paid HBO to view the
    movie not to keep a copy of it.

    The fact that decades of VHS taping did not abide by "fair use" doesn't stop the
    copyright holders wanting to assert their rights.
    Nigel Barker, May 12, 2005
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