[mythtv-users] Non-OTA ATSC HD Capture

Michael T. Dean mtdean at thirdcontact.com
Thu Jul 29 16:06:30 EDT 2004

Brandon Beattie wrote:

>>There are a lot of posts (heated topic), but in total, they explain why 
>>you won't be able to capture cable/satellite HDTV now (not to mention 
>>why you won't even be able to capture OTA HDTV after July 1, 2005).  
>>Actually, you should be able to capture either--even after July 1, 
>>2005--but at a maximum quality of 480p.  Basically, you'll get 
>>DVD-quality TV instead of HDTV...
>Not true.  The July 1st date is for _Selling_
and _importing_ (so you can't even buy from overseas vendors)

> hardware that does not
>support HDCP protection.  You can capture HDTV and ignore the copy right
>bit all you want with current hardware.
Which is all explained in the links I gave.  I was just giving the 
"attention-grabbing headlines" to provide some motivation for reading 
through all the posts (because there was a lot to read, and just reading 
a few wouldn't give the whole story) so I wouldn't have to repeat it all.

>sure several HDCP boxes will get the sticker and will still be breakable
>and people will get to the content.  I'm not sure what the FCC will do
>if this happens.
Well, since the FCC learned from the DVDCCA fiasco that even "the 
world's best encryption algorithm" (DVDCCA's opinion, definitely not 
mine) is vulnerable to compromise, they have provided for the revocation 
of "substantially compromised" technological measures.  Therefore, if 
the political fallout of admitting that HDCP has been compromised is 
less damaging than Hollywood's "gloom and doom" prophecies of the end of 
movies/TV (or, put another way, if Hollywood pays the politicians enough 
to help them cover their embarrassment/rationalize acting against the 
best interests of their constituents--which seems to have worked with 
the broadcast flag itself), the FCC will revoke HDCP as an authorized 
technological measure.

IANAL, but my understanding of the final ruling ( 
http://www.eff.org/IP/Video/HDTV/Final_Rule_FCC-03-273A1.pdf ) is that, 
basically, someone will petition the FCC for the removal of some 
"approved technological measure" from "Table A" (Table A is the list of 
approved technological measures at the end of the broadcast flag 
regulations--which is meant to be easier to change than the regulations 
themselves).  They must explain the extent to which the technology has 
been compromised and demostrate that in its compromised form, it is less 
effective than other Table A technologies at protecting content.  The 
FCC will then make a determination whether to revoke the measure and 
then seek comment on the "appropriate standard for revocation."

"Once a content protection or recording technology has been revoked, we 
seek comment on the appropriate mechanism by which revocation should be 
effectuated. For example, should revoked content protection or recording 
technologies be eliminated on a going-forward basis, while preserving 
their functionality for existing devices? We also seek comment on 
whether there are technological or other means of revoking content 
protection or recording technologies while preserving the functionality 
of consumer electronics devices."

Which doesn't sound too bad...  Doesn't that mean if I buy a component 
that works and they later revoke a technology used by that component, 
they will "grandfather" it in so I don't have to buy a new component?  
No.  Even if they do grandfather existing technological measures, you'll 
most likely still have to buy new components.

The 5C technologies are the initial technologies which are expected to 
be approved for use with the broadcast flag, and includes HDCP.  Since 
the 5C technologies only perceive a system to be secure if every 
component of that system is 5C compliant, all future technologies added 
to Table A will probably act the same (refusing to be Table A compliant 
if non-compliant devices are detected).  Therefore, once the FCC revokes 
a technology, all new devices (post-revocation) will see the revoked 
technology as non-compliant with Table A requirements.  Therefore, once 
you buy a new component and plug it in to your existing system, the new 
component will act as a non-compliant device--because of your "insecure" 
grandfathered devices--which will cause your grandfathered devices to 
act as non-compliant devices--because of your "acting insecure" new 
device.  Catch 22.  Or, would that be Catch FCC 03-273?

So, each time a measure is revoked, you have two choices--1) never buy 
any new components or 2) buy all new components.  Remember, when I say 
all components, this means TV's, OTA/cable/satellite receivers, A/V 
receivers, recorders, network switches, and anything else that touches 
the digital data.  Therefore, "unplugging the grandfathered device" 
would mean you would probably need a pre-grandfathering TV to use with 
the grandfathered device and a post-grandfathering TV to use with the 
new device.  And, you would also have to duplicate all other devices you 
plan to use on your system.  In other words, two systems...  (Then 
three, then four...)

It's theoretically possible that someone will come up with a way to use 
software or firmware updates for providing the content protection to 
allow for updating the device as measures are revokes, but a device 
using non-hardware-based content protection, itself, would be 
significantly easier to compromise than devices using hardware 
implementations.  Therefore, it would be much more difficult for that 
device to achieve approval.  Also, since many of the electronic 
components within the device will probably use hardware-based 
protection, it would be very difficult to make the device continue to 
work after a revocation.  If the components of the device do not use 
hardware-based protection, the device would provide easy access to 
non-compliant components, which would allow people to build 
non-compliant devices, so the device would be unlikely to receive approval.

Of course, talking about compromise may be a moot point, anyway, as the 
DMCA makes it a federal felony offense to attempt to circumvent, own any 
technology to circumvent, or use any technology to circumvent any of 
these technologies.  So, the FCC would be doing the RIAA's work of suing 
the public.

Fortunately, I think once this happens a couple of times (or possibly 
even once)--and people have to go out and buy new components a couple of 
times--enough people will know just how wrong this legislation is to 
cause such a public outcry that even Orrin Hatch ( 
http://www.eff.org/IP/Apple_Complaint.php among others ), Fritz 
Hollings, Ted Stevens, Daniel Inouye, John Breaux, Graham Nelson, and 
Dianne Feinstein ( 
http://www.eff.org/IP/SSSCA_CBDTPA/20020321_s2048_cbdtpa_bill.pdf ) and 
other "we have a country full of theives" politicians to rethink the 
broadcast flag regulations.  Unfortunately, that means that those of us 
doing MythTV may not get HDTV until 2010 (if you're being optimistic) or 
2015 or beyond...

>But, this is why HDTV on a computer and with Myth may
>be limited to only those who bought the cards when they are/were still
And only to OTA HDTV channels.  Even if someone eventually gets QAM 
support working on the pcHDTV, the only channels satellite/cable 
operators would consider sending unencrypted are OTA channels, and most 
operators are choosing to encrypt even the OTA channels.  However, I 
agree with your point.  It's well worth buying a $200 pcHDTV card 
now--even if you don't have the high-def antenna and/or high-def TV.  
It's also worth reading up on these issues at the EFF ( 
http://www.eff.org/broadcastflag/ and http://www.eff.org/issues/drm/ and 
http://www.eff.org/issues/dmca and many more) and actually getting 
involved ( http://action.eff.org/ ).


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