Can Cable Company Block All Digital Channels?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by ldudek, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. ldudek

    ldudek New Member

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    Now that we've had that short time out to enjoy the very interesting comments of both MichaelK and from bicker, I have gotten a response from one of my Senators.

    I would reprint the whole thing but the point is about half way through I realized that this was a canned letter for people who are saying anything about cable companies that appear negative. It did not address the issue I wrote to him about at all, just about competition not being available in cable companies and how he tried to push legislation through last year but it did not get through the Senate, blah blah blah.

    No response from my Congressman or the other Senator, both of which I believe are Republicans. And that's not a knock on Republicans. But at lest I can take the canned letter and tell him look, I recognize a canned letter when I see one and you did not address anything I talked about at all.

    My feeling is that there just isn't enough people at this time or maybe anytime to get anything changed on this. I wonder how many people wrote a letter to Congress? Probably not many.

    Maybe I'll start a poll. My bet is we will see even from TiVo people either apathy or simply unwillingness to do anything.
     
  2. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    I think you're right, and hit the nail on the head. I mentioned this in another thread (somewhere) yesterday: Regulation is as regulation does. Reasonable people can disagree about how to interpret practically any regulation, and surely that is the case for the ones that apply in this case, and so the best indication of what is actually the law is reflected in what is actually happening (at any given time). That method for determining actuality isn't 100%, but it is more reliable than any other means of determining the actuality.

    Well, you'll get arguments from people about how to gauge apathy. The truth is that you need to have just one choice for your poll ("Do you care?") Then take the number of yes-votes and then divide by the total number of TiVo owners (not the number of voters, because apathetic voters don't vote, and not just the number of TCF members, because not being a member of TCF is a form of TiVo-apathy). I bet you'll get an infinitesimally small number for percentage-concerned.
     
  3. TexasGrillChef

    TexasGrillChef New Member

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    As Sad as it is... MOST who complain the most... are the ones LEAST willing to get up off their A** and do anything about it. All they want to do is whine & moan about it, but not do anything about it.

    The reason you got the very same letter I did from my congressman... is that it is NOT a pressing issue with them. Why? Because they AREN'T getting 10 or more letters aday complaining about the issue.

    Yes, there are over 5 million TiVo's out there being used. If you count the rest of the DVR's there are well over 10 million. The truth is only about 5% (If even that much) of TiVo users even come to "TiVoCommunity" or even realize what is going on with CableCards, & Copy Protection.

    Right now... for the major consumer market their issue CURRENTLY is the UPGRADE to HD that is being pushed on them coming February 17th, 2009.

    The last thing they want to think about is issues with DVR's/Cablecards/Copy protection. Although they should.

    I just laugh though... Like I said before those that COMPLAIN the most about our government USUALLY are the ones LEAST likely to do something about it. (Write a letter, or even VOTE).

    The truth is... our government is just like the major networks. If the "Ratings" aren't there. They will "Cancel" your show.

    If the RATINGS aren't their for a "Bill" you want passed/introduces. They won't float it. The more phone calls/letters they get about subject the more likely they are to do something about it.


    ldudek, & to all the others that took the time to call, write, or email their Congressmen/Senators. THANK YOU.

    Even though you got a form letter back... Every letter does help.

    TGC
     
  4. TexasGrillChef

    TexasGrillChef New Member

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    Exactly one of the points I was trying to make, that you did such a good job of describing.

    There are about 5 million Tivo owners (S1, S2 of all varieties, HD, S3)

    Don't know how many TCF members there are. Probably 2,500? 5000?

    Most I have seen vote in ANY poll was 250 total voters.

    So I agree. Those that don't vote... ARE in fact apathetic to the issue being voted on.

    I woudln't go so far to say as any TiVo owner that isn't a member of a TCF is apathetic. Some just are "Uneducated" as to their being a TCF. Although most I do agree are apathetic to some degree.


    And that my freinds... is the MAIN reason "Content providers" at ALL levels manage to get the power to be able to introduce "Copy protection" and stop alot of technology. Not all of it, but alot of it.

    TGC
     
  5. acvthree

    acvthree Active Member

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    I think we need a new Tivo menu choice.

    "Press here to send email to your Senator/Congressman".

    It would be based on the zip code. It could be called TivoPolitician. Hmmm. the search and select method of writing might be a little tough. Maybe it should pass you to a swivel search for form letters and you could just incude your name.

    :)

    Al
     
  6. ldudek

    ldudek New Member

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    To be fair, upon further review:

    Thank you for sharing your ideas for legislation that would alter cable industry practices relating to the copying and transferring of digital material.

    Your suggestions are compelling and I will share them with my legislative aide that handles telecommunications issues.


    This is how the letter started out, so someone was smart enough to at least acknowledge I was talking about something a bit different. But then:

    At the root of many issues involving unsatisfactory cable service is the need for increased competition in the marketplace.

    In the last Congress, legislation entitled the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act was introduced to deal with the virtual monopoly many cable companies have in the United States. COPE would have fostered competitive entry into the cable television market by streamlining the process by which new entrants obtain a franchise to offer service. The bill also would have expanded the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to set and enforce streamlined requirements. However, the Senate did not vote on this legislation before the end of session and the bill was not signed into law.


    That's where it headed into a form letter.

    And I'm still waiting on my other Senator and my Congressman. That is if they get back to me. Right now I might be interrupting their trip to the South France or something so maybe that's why it's taking a bit longer.:rolleyes:
     
  7. TexasGrillChef

    TexasGrillChef New Member

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    If I wrote a form letter & posted it hear for people to CUT-N-PASTE to an email to their Congressman/Senators. Would that be of any help?

    TGC
     
  8. TexasGrillChef

    TexasGrillChef New Member

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    Facts about writing your congressmen/senators.

    If you send a letter via snail mail, It CAN add up to 2 extra weeks to get to the respective office that you mailed it to. This delay is due to the fact that ALL mail is now scanned for "Dangerous" material such as bombs/Anthrax etc..

    Because of this MOST Congressmen/Senators prefer email. This can cut processing time down from an average fo 3 weeks to 1 to 2 weeks. One rule of thumb. DO NOT INCLUDE ANY ATTACHMENTS! This will "PUNT" your e-mail straight to the "Trash bin". If you have further information that is a file. provide a internet link to that file.

    Telephone calls are fast, you can even get a reply. However, the information they put down in the "LOG" file is the name of your issue. Not any suggestions that you have for improving the issue you called about. Example: If your calling about Bill HB23678. They will simply register that you are for or against that bill. They will take your name and address. Call is now over.

    So if you have specific ideas & thoughts about an issue. It is always best if you e-mail or write them. Calling is only good for immediate pressing issues & if they are going to vote on a bill the next day or in a few days from your phone call.

    One last note...

    VISITING YOUR CONGRESSMEN/SENATORs.

    All congressmen have 2 offices. One in Washington D.C. The other in their home state district.

    It IS possible to gain audiance with them. To do so call the office you wish to see them at. Keep in mind that their schedules will determine when you can see them at the office you wish to visit them at. Scheduling an appointment with them must be made at least 3 to 4 months in ADVANCE. Quicker interviews are possible if your issue is considered "URGENT" in nature.

    GROUPS of people on one issue have a better chance of obtaining the audiance of their congressmen/senators faster & easier.

    It has been a few years since I had an audiance in Texas with Senator Kay Baily Hutchinson.

    If you are IN Texas, Dallas area.. and would be interested in forming a GROUP to visit our Texas Congressman on this issue with the cablecards. I would be willing to help out.

    Hope that helps everyone... interested in contacting their Congress/Senate.

    More information can be found at:

    www.Senate.gov

    www.house.gov

    TGC
     
  9. HDTiVo

    HDTiVo Not so Senior Member

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    My suggestion, made previously in similar threads, is that several energetic interested Forum members get together to press this issue, and to try to enlist the group TiVo formed last summer to deal with issues in the cable industry to get involved, on the basis that this affects one of the key differentiating features of TiVo. I would suggest this be dealt with within the cable industry primarily, with secondary effort towards the FCC and Congress.

    Personally I am not energetic, though I am interested.
     
  10. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

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    I see a few misconceptions being bandied about here.

    The FCC regulations about how copy protection flags can be applied are based not on whether the content is transmitted in analog or digital form, but on the "business model" used to sell the content. The applicable regulation is Code of Federal Regulations Title 47, §76.1904:
    (The terms used in that--"pay television transmission", "non-premium subscription television", etc--are defined in CFR Title 47, §76.1902).

    In short, paragraph (a) says that the anything in the core basic tier must be marked "Copy Freely"; paragraph (b)(1)(i) says that "video-on-demand or pay-per-view transmissions" can be marked "Copy Never" and (b)(1)(ii) says that "pay television transmissions, non-premium subscription television, and free conditional access delivery transmissions" (basically everything other than core basic, PPV and VOD) can be marked "Copy One Generation". (When they say "VOD" here, they mean "Pay-Per-Viewing-Period VOD"--free VOD and subscription VOD were "undefined business models").

    Other regulations state that all rebroadcasts of local over-the-air transmissions must be in the core basic tier (CFR Title 47, §76.901(a)) and that nothing in the core basic tier can be encrypted or scrambled (CFR Title 47, §76.630(a)). On most cable systems today, the core basic tier primarily consists of content transmitted in analog form, plus rebroadcasts of local DTV, but even when the non-local stuff goes digital, they still won't be able to mark it "Copy One Generation". (While they're broadcasting the analog unprotected, any digital simulcast can be protected. Some cable providers are mapping core basic channels to their digital simulcast in CableCARDs and setting protections on the simulcast, so CableCARD recorders end up unable to record those channels even though the original analog versions can't be copy protected. If they're setting protections on the simulcasts, they shouldn't be mapping them in CableCARDs. Cox was doing this in San Diego, but I recently moved back to TWC territory and they're not).

    As for "streaming instead of copying", how do you suggest that they do that? Anything received through the CableCARD in a secure fashion is subject to the restrictions of the DFAST licensing agreement. That licensing agreement spells out in detail exactly what methods can be used to output content received as protected with DFAST--if it doesn't say that you can output the content in the way that you want, you can't output it that way. There's nothing in those agreements stating that you can transfer protected content via any streaming protocol.
     
  11. HDTiVo

    HDTiVo Not so Senior Member

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    A personal example: Until recently my cable provider was mapping all simulcast channels to their analog versions. Recently, SCIFI was changed to its digital version. Now, since my cable co. flags (virtually) all digital channels, I can no longer MRV SCIFI shows.

    Are there similar regs with regard to SDV and oneway/CC devices which could be used in the SDV/dongle debate?
     
  12. moyekj

    moyekj Well-Known Member

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    Will be interesting to see if/when cable companies start deploying their own MRV solutions if they abide by these "copy once" flags or if they remove the restrictions or ignore them. Currently it seems they ignore 0x03 restrictions as some people have experienced here in some markets many/most digital channels were blanketed with 0x03 settings thus really screwing up Tivo recordings, yet the cable co. DVR happily allowed recordings from those channels to be stored longer than 90 mins.
     
  13. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

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    Unfortunately, the Sci Fi Channel is usually in an extended basic tier, making it "non-premium subscription television", so they had the right to apply copy protections to the analog channel. If you can't move something that you recorded from one of the core basic channels then there's a problem. When I was living in a Cox San Diego neighborhood, if I recorded something from the standard definition NBC channel I couldn't copy it off TiVo (generally not a problem, since if the program was on a local channel, I'd most probably have recorded the HD version of it, which was properly marked "Copy Freely").

    There are no FCC regulations regarding SDV. I can find no mention of it at all in FCC 03-225 the FCC "Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" that ordered the inclusion of rules implementing plug-and-play-DTV-over-cable into the regulations.
     
  14. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

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    Cable DVRs probably shouldn't ignore those restrictions when they're encoded in the MPEG streams, but what would really be a violation of licensing would be if one of the new model CableCARD-using boxes were to ignore them--that would be DFAST-protected content and ignoring those restrictions would be a violation of DFAST-licensing.
     
  15. TexasGrillChef

    TexasGrillChef New Member

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    MikeyTS...

    I knew what the FCC regulation was & how it is covered. That is why from the very beggining my answer to the ORIGINAL OP's question was YES, They can.

    From a legal standpoint though. The only way to get that law/regulation changed is to make an issue of it without Congress/Senate/FCC.

    I as I know others feel, it is time this law/regulation be changed.

    TGC
     
  16. CharlesH

    CharlesH Member

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    I thought that while cable companies were required to use cablecards in new equipment, they weren't required to have them certified by Cablelabs. Thus, they can have upstream capability without necessarily having OCAP. Cablelabs certification means that cable companies have to allow such devices to be used on their system, but they certainly allow the non-certified ones that they themselves lease.
     
  17. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

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    It's not certification by CableLabs that matters--it's being signatory to the DFAST licensing that comes along with placing CableCARDs in your device. I believe that OEMs are only required to have their CableCARD devices be certified by an external organization (which doesn't have to be CableLabs) once; after that, future products can be "self-certified". This is goofiness that leads to massive interoperability problems like those seen with HDMI.

    Central to the operation of CableCARDs is the copy protection system DFAST (Dynamic Feedback Arrangement Scrambling Technique)--if you implemented a CableCARD host interface, you had to use DFAST, and to use DFAST, you have to license it, and the license agreement says in excrutiating detail exactly how your device may handle content that was encrypted and protected via DFAST once it's been decrypted. If it says that you can't make a permanent recording of it and you do that, then you're breaking that license agreement.

    It doesn't help anyone to make the cable providers use CableCARDs if they don't have to comply with all of the restrictions and foibles thereof. The whole purpose of the requirement is to make the cable providers have to make the CableCARDs work for their own use in exactly the same way that 3rd party manufacturers need for it to work.
     
  18. HDTiVo

    HDTiVo Not so Senior Member

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    The thing is they still get advantages, like pre-installing/authorizing working cards at the home office in their own equipment. ;)

    You did a good job of digging up those regs which I had seen long ago probably when pointed to by someone like dt_dc. I was aware of the business model breakdown, and actually used it as a parallel argument for an approach to making cable honor one-way CC devices vis a vis SDV. I think its worth bringing into the SDV threads as a rational approach to how SDV should be handled, keeping things basically consistent across the board whenever reasonable.
     
  19. MiaNY

    MiaNY New Member

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    I spoke with someone at TWC's corporate offices in NYC about their restrictions on almost every channel. They admitted that they are more restrictive in larger cities (esp. with apartment buildings), to hamper those looking to illegally get cable. If they are only doing in in very limited areas, i would say those customers do have a class-action suit. Tivo says it has gotten complaints from NYC and LA, but i don't think it's enough to get them to act.
     

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