when did times change

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Astaroth, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. Astaroth

    Astaroth
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    When did multiregion/region free become OK? (or has it?)

    A few years ago I worked for a store who sold DVD players as a bit of a side line but they were all region 2 locked. A number of people asked us for region free versions and we were always told that we had to say that 'the law' was that a box had to be locked to region 2 but they may find reading issue #32 of some DVD mag interesting (needless to say the mag had a remote hack for the player)

    Has things changed that the DVD player manufactures can now make multiregion players? are other companies just adding the hacks as they arent licenced to the technology which limits the player makers? When did it take off rather than just being a hush hush pasttime?
     
  2. LV426

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    Nothing has changed, and what you were told to say was never strictly true. There isn't any law in this respect.

    Manufacturers have an agreement with the software owners and the owners of the DVD trademark, that their equipment will conform to certain standards, and those standards include region coding.

    There is nothing illegal in the sale of multi-region equipment, nor in the distribution of methods to make equipment multiregion. The chinese don't participate in these agreements anyway so the "unbranded" players often come region free out of the box.

    In Australia and/or New Zealand, I think law has been established that regional coding is anti-competitive and therefore illegal. Consequently, all manufacturers who wish to market in this area have to make multi-region players.

    Software is a different matter. It is illegal to sell, in the UK, uncertified material. And it is a breach of copyright to sell software out of territory.
     
  3. Antpink

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    for instance, here in South East Asia you couldn't sell a region restricted player - although this is region 3, the DVD titles are brought in from Region 1 and 2 to satisfy the demands of the populace, so we can quite often see stuff on DVD as it is released in cinemas. As far as I can tell, all the manufacturers sell multi-region as standard - of the three I have bought in 4 years they have all worked seamlessly, as lifted from original manufacturer packaging. I guess this is why you can always find a "hack" for the current players, as the components are same the world over, and it just requires a reflashing of the operating software to get to the MR capability. I would presume the manufacturers still show face to some informal agreement by supplying region specific initially, but what I cannot understand is why the resellers charge additional money for what must be a five minute task?
     
  4. KraGorn

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    But that's surely when the illegality comes in, surely the production of machines capable of being made multi-region is in breach of the various licenses a manufacturer needs to use customer-control mechanisms like CSS .. albeit this is a civil rather than criminal issue.

    I'm sure that HD players' licenses will be watertight when it comes to this issue, I don't expect to see multi-region HD players around in any country ... and I'm sure the Aussie wil get this imposed on them in the next 'free trade' agreement with America just like they've had a DMCA-a-like foistered on them this time round.
     
  5. nsherin

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    Antpink - I found the same when I lived in HK. I remember the first DVD player we bought - a Sony was already supplied as multiregion. Interestingly, the HMV stores out there used to sell DVDs from all different regions. In the UK, you generally end up paying a bit extra (about £20 or so) for those that cannot be modified using a remote hack. PC DVD drives can often be modified with a firmware update. And with a bit of Googling, there are plenty of tools available on the web to help you create dupes of DVDs without any region encoding!

    I cannot understand the region coding concept - surely by 'restricting' releases, you are going to encourage piracy, as people obviously want to try and get hold of films as soon as they are released!
     
  6. KraGorn

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    The region coding system was introduced at a time when most films came out on DVD in America first, often many months (even years) before other parts of the worl, they also often had far better extras etc. It's sole intent was to protect the middle-men, the regional locensees and distributors.

    Clearly the staggered releases thing has become pretty much a non-issue now as most movies come out pretty much at the same time, give or take a few weeks. However, the local distribution protection still applies and HD DVDs WILL be region coded, AACS will see it to it and enforcement of the non-MR part of the license will be heavily enforced from day one .. the MPAA have learned many lessons from the breaking of CSS and the lax enforcement of the DVDCCA's (or whatever the acronym is) licenses.

    Intel is introducing 'trusted computing' technology which'll make it very, very hard to install hacked firmware, as well as other hardware hacks such as SDI mods .. and forget at all about being able to rip HD material to an HTPC to play.
     
  7. Steve.J.Davies

    Steve.J.Davies
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    Region coding is about market control - nothing else. It is heavily tied into the follow-on revenue streams generated after theatre release. (TV rights, major deals with the rental outfits) - there was good article about this in Variety a couplayears ago, not sure if its available on the web.
    As the revenue streams from films is now understood a lot better (DVD sales have saved many flops and turned losers into winners) the industry is changing its model to account for it. These changes are inevitable. I remember the first VHS film I bought - seventytwo quid. But that was at the start of the sell through market and the studios were scared that tapes would hurt cinema revenue - and thus hurt profits - so they priced high to hold back the tide. The horse and cart have now changed places - the big bucks come after the theatrical release, and the industry knows this.
    Chopping the world into domains is ultimately not a winning proposition (as the Spanish and Portugese found out). And the net has kinda spoiled that idea somewhat...
    As an IT bod I have to jump in and say the encryption does not protect against copying (and hence piracy). Encyption protects privacy - no more no less.
    The story of DCSS and it being there to stop piracy was the fundamental weakness of the case - and is why Jon is free - but had to remain unspoken
    by the prosecution as it was their best 'cover'.
    Having said that a lot of effort has gone into HDCP and the control of the display technology end to end.
    Will it stop the serious organised pirates - no way, they will copy platters and sell them on. The real end to end coverage will come when the suppliers can deny you the ability to play the material you have bought under their own (arbitrary) conditions. This is what DCMA is about. (its also the reason you should not use Microsft Media Centre on any internet attached pc - Win XP is huge intrusion into your privacy). End to end control is also why sky insist on that phone connection...
    The technology genie will leak out of the bottle like it always does - its just a case of how long and can the vendors hold back the tide long enough to cash in. When their control starts to waver lo and behold there will be new 'format wars'.
    Then add in the whole microsoft 'tv tax', vendors trying to sell music and restrict its playback to just one device... its a big numbers game being played.
    I do not advocate piracy and illegal copying/selling. However I will be dam*ed if I am going to keep on buying the same films time after time. Especially as the technology is now so good that I can upscale a dvd to hi-def equivalent quality.
    As I do not advocate piracy I am also very aware that all the major record labels have been convicted of price fixing all across the world - and that is piracy as well isn't it.

    Here is a good question - why did the the US film industry spring up in Califormia ? most quoted answer is that is due to good consistent weather being condusive to filming. Rubbish. It was started by pirates who went to the other side of the country to escape patents being enforced on the east coast.

    We are the consumers - i.e. the source of profits. Vendors like us fat dumb and happy. Failing that then controlled, tagged and audited will do...better yet if we have all six attributes.
    Every vendor would love to be able to charge oligiopolistic prices.
    Global economy ? don't make me laugh. Thats a one way street and the traffic is all one way - head-on against the consumer.
    <:soapbox_off='1'>
    sorry 'bout the rant - not OT though. the real issues are economic models, market creation and control, and profits. Not HDCP, blu-ray or hi-def etc. The latter are just the tools being used to achieve the former.

    'Caveat emptor' - its been around a long time, and for good reason.
     
  8. Travis Bickle

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    terrific post, Steve. spot on.

    I too remember paying £65 (I think) for a vhs - though I seem to recall that that was before "sell through". Wasn't "sell-through" the term for selling "cheap" and lots?

    these downloaders and rippers have NO idea!
     
  9. KraGorn

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    I'm sure as an 'IT bod' you know well the history of DeCSS and how it was a cock-up by a CSS licensee that allowed a spotty 15-year-old to crack it.

    Also as an 'IT bod' you'll be well aware of AACS and the technology being deployed to implement and enforce it. You'll be well aware of the HDMI revocation list and what that means.

    As for saying encryption doesn't stop copying, try doing a COPY Z:\ D:\ and watch the copy not work .. that has absolutely nothing to do with the disk format, ENTIRELY to do with encryption since Windows can't figure out the file system.

    Yes, there'll be a limited amount of professional piracy no doubt, but Joe User with his HTPC won't be able to. Those who have this blind faith that this technology will be broken overnight and the world of HD will be the same as that of SD are in for a rude awakening.
     
  10. Steve.J.Davies

    Steve.J.Davies
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    Kragorn,
    You illustrate my points on the atempts to establish end-to-end control perfectly.
    But don't base your ideas about copying some encrypted date being difficult on Windows as being typical, or even relevant. Windows is not needed - and the Beast is one of the players trying to dominate the market. (look up the Tv Tax debacle when some internal mails of theirs got out into the wild).
    Windows has nothing to do with copying platters. Your illustration of a failing copy is entirely to do with Windows and nothing to do with encryption.

    Yes, clear text key (poor implementation) allowed Jon to bust CSS. Lazy implementation (the human factor) always the easy way to break ciphers.

    But the (cash) genie will come out - the only question is how long you can keep it in the bottle - (with a rider about 'coverage').
    Will not get drawn into long winded debates about encyption - the standard texts from Schneier, Coppersmith et al cover it.
    I just suggest that people look at what is going on the market place from the perpective of the driving forces and strategy behind it - not the publicity, spin, nor (heaven forbid) the magazines.

    I am not advocating piracy - organised nor individual.
    I should be able to buy a film/piece of music and play it on any device I have in the house though. Not just the ones those nice vendor people tell me I can use - after they have (over)charged me for the priviledge.


    Steve

    p.s. Did someone say there was free market ? - check the price lists !

    'Business is war', and as a consumer you are on the battlefield wether you like it or not. Each of us must conduct ourselves on the battlefield as we see fit. We have no group battle plan - unlike the vendors who do have clear objectives, a clear strategy, and have announce their tactical measures.
     
  11. KraGorn

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    Don't think my experience of knowledge is limited only to Windows :)

    My example of COPY was simply to disprove the notion that encryption doesn't protect data, no O/S in the world can copy a CSS-protected DVD without first breaking the encryption if the data is to be freely used. Bit-copiers of course have been around for a long time, but these are proving incresasingly unable to deal with newer CD copy protection schemes, try copying a StarForce 4 game for example .. and in any case, the vast majority of DVD piracy is not done by people using sophisticated equipment but banks upon banks of DVD burners, and DVD burners are incapable of writing the CSS encryption keys to the media so unless CSS is removed the resultant copy is useless. The world of HD will certainly be no less secure.

    Encryption prevents copying, QED. :)

    Ask yourself why you can't go down to your local Sunday morning car boot sale and buy pirated DVD-As .. and don't suggest it's because there's no market and so the pirates haven't bothered. DVD-A remains unbroken not through lack of trying, and that is child's play to AACS according to those in the same field as Schneier who have offered an opinion.

    I've read 3 of Schneier's books. I also read what's written by those developing current CE devices and what they're saying about the moves behind the scenes by those with the power to lock-down future devices ... such as the pressure right now on CE DVD player manufacturers to make SDI modding impossible by closing the MPEG-decoder 'hole'.

    As for what you think you should be able to do, I probably don't disagree .. however the MPAA do because they recently initiated a law-suit againt the maker of a $25000 DVD jukebox because it allowed the owner to rip DVDs on to it, even though this device itself was very, very secure and couldn't be used to re-master material.

    The license for HDMI is such that if a manufacturer put in a 'secret menu' which allowed disabling of the HDCP on the output that company will be sued out of existence. Moreover, the HDMI keys used by that device will be added to the revocation list meaning future source material will refuse to play through it .. this will be enforced by the DVD player and while there is a small possibility that a small number of players from a manufacturer silly enough to try selling devices that didn't enforce the revocation list they wouldn't last long .. DMCA-like laws are being enacted everywhere which makes it an offense to even sell such kit, let alone make it.

    The application of TCPA techniques by Intel and others to the area of HDMI and AACS will severely hamper attempts to brute force decryption and use of logic analysers etc. to discover a tap-point to the unencrypted data within the circuitry of source players .. there'll be no HD-SDI capable of transferring decoded, unencrypted video stream as there is in the SD world (until that stops in the next few months from what Jim at Lumagen indicated recently).

    IMHO the 'genie' analogy is not applicable here. With SD it was, the entire edifice came down when CSS was broken, when AACS gets broken (as I'm sure it will) the system in place will begin to heal itself, not perfectly that's true, but sufficiently to severely curtail 'coverage' to the point that the existence of the break will be of passing, academic interest and make not a blind bit of difference to Joe User's control by the content providers.
     
  12. superkully

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    Steve, why do you say "...(as the Spanish and Portugese found out)..."?

    I've often wondered why many DVDs don't have a Spanich language or subtitle option, perhaps you can shed some light..

    cheers
     
  13. Steve.J.Davies

    Steve.J.Davies
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    treaty of Torsilidas (sp ?). late 1400s (1474 ? ? ? - ish) . Spanish and Portugese (the in place maritime powers) got a map of the known world and drew lines on it for who 'owned' which bit i.e who would explout which parts. IIRC they started with a papal bull and moved to a treaty a few years later - a typical method of the period.
    Nowadays Microsoft has replaced the Pope as the first step.
    Just need a modern replacement phrase for 'Papal Bull'...
     
  14. Steve.J.Davies

    Steve.J.Davies
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    Sorry, but this is false.

    Can't help but wonder how Bletchley broke the Enigma code without copies of the messages.

    Here is the answer in encrypted form. Because its encypted you can't cut and paste it of course.
    124983 49314 218796 544648 335497 323544


    Encyption does not prevent copying - it can help detect when data has been modified.which is great for banks and governments but is not applicable to the case where duplication is the aim. Its about the keys as you (kind of) say. Mathematical correctness is of no use in the face of a failure of semantics. (As in the case of PKI).

    Encryption exists because interception (and duplication) cannot be prevented.
    Its just data and copying data is easy. its the famous equation showing the relationship between data and information that you have to remember. Its the (crucial) other two terms that HDCP is all about.

    Steve
     
  15. KraGorn

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    You seem intent on missing my point .. a copy is worthless unless it can be used, a perfect copy of a CSS protected DVD is fine, but as I pointed out the vast majority of pirating uses decrypted copies because their burners can't burn CSS keys on to the media even though their DVD readers can extract them.

    Thus encryption DOES prevent copying because it's the CSS protection that stops Joe Pirate in darket Bangkok (or Bournemouth for that matter) from using his DVD duplicator to crank them out by the hundreds .. if CSS weren't broken they'd not be in business.

    I have agreed that there'll be a small scale pirating industry but I'm not actually bothered about that, the issue this thread started with is region coding. That's enforced by having the media encrypted and in theory only decryptable by a player allowed to decrypt that particular region's software. My point is that multi-region HD DVD players won't be available due to the enforcement of the license for AACS .. and the underpinning of that is that AACS protected media won't be rippable due to its' encryption, hence no back-street duplicating industry .. or consumers being able to buy any region's products and play them on just one machine.

    Maybe they'll find a way to prevent cross-region sales like they tried before, given the US government's pro-big media stance and their [the US government's] use of 'free trade' treaties to force others to change their laws to suit I can foresee even that could become possible.

    Time will tell.
     
  16. Steve.J.Davies

    Steve.J.Davies
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    Kragorn,
    We are agreeing.
    I just think the end to end chain is easier to break for the real pirates for whom megabucks are at stake. There are always ways around the hardware and software - if they are uncrackable then a wetware solution may be used.
    I agree that penetration of compliant devices is better this time around - hollywood's entire history is predominantly knee jerks and mistakes. But this time they have help from some big corporations - well not help, they are owned by big corporations.
    Now you know why the likes of Sony bought into the risky world of Hollywood. Its nothing at all to do with people going to the cinema...it do do with you and me and other that attend these fora.

    E.g the latest SAMSUNG 945 bypassing HDCP when m/r hacked. that was fixed after pressure on Samsung from Japan and the USA 'to get it fixed'.
    Did that pressure come directly from government ? the public ? ?

    Jo Splo at home ill find it hard - for a while.
    I gotta say at least they are shaping up better than the early days of VHS when it was suggested that buying blank tapes would be made illegal - puleeezze !


    Steve
     
  17. loz

    loz
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    Let me toss in some comments

    1. What is the easiest way get into a bank vault? The highly sophisticated technology in hollywood heist capers? Or simply to kidnap the bank manager, or cut him in on the deal?
    Point being, you need to protect the entire production chain, not just the distribution of the end deliverable. I.e. before it even makes it's way to a DVD, there's lots of other points in the chain for the determined criminal pirate to exploit. Very cost effective to bung young Johny who works in the studio a few quid for a copy of the master. It might be urban myth but I was told by someone "in authority" that one musician earned more once by selling a master directly to the pirates than he expected to get in royalties from his music co - because the blood suckers left him with a very small percentage.

    2. Sky have demonstrated a very secure rights management system. Try finding someone who has pirated a sky viewing card, or ripped unencrypted data off a sky+ box.
    point being, News Corp are significant content producers, and could no doubt introduce very secure rights management for DVDs if they wished based on similar technology. A DVD player integrated into your Sky box? Not as daft an idea as it seems.
     
  18. Steve.J.Davies

    Steve.J.Davies
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    Nice to see someone getting the flip side of what 'convergence' means.

    Its all about the protocols not the data.
    Just like the pre 1999 drives (RPC-1 ? ?) are still useful to have there may be current kit that will be handy in the HD(cp) world.

    Steve
     

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