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Old 09-26-2013, 01:13 PM   #1
voranis
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 6
TWC Copy-Protecting OTA Channels

Hi,

I live in Raleigh, NC and Time Warner Cable seems to have copy protection turned on at times for a channel that is available OTA. I record Jimmy Kimmel Live, Nightline, and Katie from 11:33 p.m. to 2:05 a.m. from our local ABC affiliate, WTVD HD, from the cable box. OTA it is 11.1, but from the Time Warner Cable box it is 1111. I can record these programs OK, but when Katie ends, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire comes on, and my Pioneer DVR pauses recording, saying the show is copy-protected. Fortunately I am not interested in that show anyway, it's just that I catch the first few minutes of it at the end of recording the earlier shows. I am not even trying to record the HDMI output, since my Pioneer DVR does not support it; I am recording the output of the cable box to my Pioneer DVR using composite cables, and yet I am seeing copy protection issues with two OTA channels.

I do not currently use Tivo but I thought this would be the best place to ask about this because Tivo users will certainly have the most experience with copy protection. I read somewhere that copy protection (or maybe it is CCI?) is not allowed on OTA stations, even if those stations are rebroadcast on cable.

The same thing happens when our local MeTV affiliate, OTA 50.2 (Time Warner Cable 151) airs The Dick Van Dyke Show. Suddenly the copy protection (or CCI, or whatever it is) is turned on. This only happens when I try to record from the cable box. If I use my Magnavox recorder which has a digital tuner and can tune the channels directly, it does not have a problem with copy protection.

Still, my understanding is that the cable companies are not allowed to restrict copying on programs that air on channels that are available OTA, even when they are rebroadcast on cable. Note that this only happens when I try to record from the Cisco cable boxes. For some reason there is no copy protection on the Scientific Atlanta cable boxes, even though Cisco took over Scientific Atlanta. I am guessing it is because the Scientific Atlanta boxes are older and maybe don't have the firmware needed to support copy protection? Since the copy protection does not occur when using my Magnavox DVR's digital tuner, and it does not occur with the Scientific Atlanta cable boxes, it appears to only be an issue for the Cisco cable boxes, and right now it is only for a few programs on the ABC affiliate channel and the MeTV affiliate channel, but I am worried this is going to expand.

Can I file a complaint against Time Warner Cable with the FCC, and if so, how do I do that? There is no point in complaining to TWC--I could not even get them to fix issues I had with my cable signal in the past. My complaints about that went nowhere and I kept calling until a supervisor told me it would be better if I hired an electrician to fix the signal problem. If they are non-responsive to signal problem reports, they certainly are not going to be responsive to my complaints about the copy protection on the OTA channels.

Thanks,

Robbie
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Old 09-26-2013, 09:17 PM   #2
mattack
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: sunnyvale
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At least one of the cable companies *IS* trying to get a waiver to protect even the cable versions of OTA channels. I don't remember which cable company it is, nor if it's been approved yet. I do vaguely remember it seemed like it was likely to be approved.. I suggest still complaining to the FCC.

HOWEVER, you also aren't necessarily running into the exact same thing.

You're running into copy protection on the composite outputs, which is effectively (or maybe exactly) Macrovision. For a LONG time, I have been recording things from my various Tivos to my XS32 (hard drive/DVD recorder)... Nowadays mostly to watch things faster than realtime with sound(*).

ANYWAY.. Fairly often, shows DO hit copy protection that way, that ARE NOT copy protected on the Tivo, and I can still download them to a computer. In other words, they are NOT necessarily linked. (Video podcasts are one thing you CAN'T transfer, but can record to another recorder.) But another thing that hits copy protection often is movie clips within another TV show.

(*) Nowadays, I'm doing it more and more via transfer to computer then to iPad and watch with VLC, which supports faster than realtime playback. This SOUNDS like a lot of steps, and I wish the Tivo app directly supported it, but it really isn't that bad. It's better than watching in realtime. I do it for e.g. reality shows, where I watch the actual 'performances' at 1x (mostly, unless it's a song I don't like), and watch the rest at 2x or as fast as I can actually comprehend it..
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:00 AM   #3
voranis
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Interesting. I would've thought they wouldn't have bothered with copy protection on the composite outputs. I hear DirecTV doesn't have any copy protection on the composite outputs from its HD boxes. Unfortunately I only have DirecTV SD because I was told there are too many trees in my neighborhood to get a good line of sight to the DirecTV HD satellite. So I got digital cable so I could at least record current shows on the broadcast networks in the correct aspect ratio. Since my Pioneer DVR is analog, it can only record the output of HD shows from the composite cable from the cable box in letterbox format, which I am OK with because at least I am getting the full picture instead of some center-cut version.

But I see what you are saying about Macrovision. Rather than the entire channel being copy protected, what I am running into is certain shows having Macrovision. So far, on channels from the Cisco cable box that are available OTA, I have only run into two: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and The Dick Van Dyke Show. But I do know how carefully the rights to The Dick Van Dyke Show have been guarded--for years the DVD sets were way too expensive until I finally got the whole series on DVD on sale from Amazon.

It seems to me I did have a problem recording a show that had movie clips in it once, as well.

The only reason I still use my Pioneer DVRs is because I move a LOT of recordings to DVD which doesn't seem as practical with TivoToGo, unless the performance has improved since I last looked into it. I can move a 2-hour show to DVD in 10 minutes on the Pioneer DVR.

My Pioneer DVR supports playing titles at 1X speed with sound--I never have used it because I can't assimilate the data that fast. :-)

If I am only running into Macrovision issues with specific shows on channels from the Cisco cable box that are available OTA, is this something I can complain to the FCC about?

Robbie
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