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How have DVD restrictions affected your legal use?

By rebelcool in Media
Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 11:27:13 AM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

Has anyone else had a negative experience due to the copy-protection on DVDs? By this I mean a problem with legal usage of DVDs, resulting in costing you money, annoyance or time?

This Christmas I, like many others, received a DVD player (a Sony DVP-S560D, real nice..5.1 surround sound and all). I immediately went to connect it to my TV, but I noticed that the player did not have a coaxial output. Now, my TV is a few years old. Not ancient by any means, it's a nice 19" Magnavox. Its only input is a F-type coaxial jack. No S-video, or RCA a/v jacks. No superior home theatre, but it works fine for playing video games and watching movies. Staples of the college student.

Well, I thought to myself, that's alright. My VCR has RCA jacks and will output to the TV. No big deal and that's the way I would prefer to hook it up anyway. So I plug the DVD into my vcr and put on The Matrix. I begin watching it when I noticed the saturation of the screen go from normal, to obscenely (and unwatchably) high. Then it would fade back to normal. Every few seconds or so this would happen again, resulting in an unwatchable movie.

So I scratch my head in puzzlement. Was something wrong with my DVD player? Or was it my VCR? I'd never had any problems watching normal movies. So I go and I hook my DVD up to another vcr and try it again. Same problem. Hmmm. I thumbed through the manual, and I finally come across a small paragraph in troubleshooting under "Picture Noise".

"If the video signal from your DVD player has to go through your VCR to get to your TV, the copyprotection applied to some DVD porgrams could affect picture quality. If you still experience problems after checking your connections, please try connectiong your DVD player directly to your TV's S Video input, if your TV is equipped with this input."

Great. My TV doesn't have RCA a/v, much less S-Video. So the solution to this? I now have to go spend a minimum of $250 to buy a TV that has a/v inputs (I tried adapters from radio shack..a waste of $8.12). My VCR should act as an RF adapter, so purchasing another one wouldn't work either.

So the ridiculous copyprotection schemes fostered on me by the MPAA in order to protect itself of losing a few thousand dollars it can surely afford, will instead cost me the poor college student consumer $260+. This is ridiculous. Has anyone else had a negative experience regarding legal use of DVDs?


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How have DVD restrictions affected your legal use? | 80 comments (67 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
Damn you! (1.50 / 22) (#6)
by simmons75 on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 09:39:00 PM EST

Go buy an RF converter and start watching DVDs.

Stop posting this. There's no story here.
So there.

Isnt a vcr an rf-adapter? (3.00 / 2) (#7)
by rebelcool on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 09:41:44 PM EST

And as our friend below pointed out, you can't hook the dvd player up to it anyway because of the macrovision.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

RF Modulator (4.42 / 14) (#11)
by SbooX on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 10:19:25 PM EST

Its a nifty little gadget that radioshack sells for $29.99. It will take in your 3 RCA hookups from the dvd player and convert that into coaxial cable. Simple connectors will not work.

More than likely your local Radio Shack carries one, you just spoke to an idiot. I worked at Radio Shack last X-mas season and on Dec. 26 we must have sold about 40 of these things.

Note: the above is a repost of my comment from the earlier posting of this story.

I dont know why exactly but just hooking it through your vcr wont do the trick and you need an actual RF modulator. Go get one and try it out, if it doesnt work just return it, though I very certain it will work.


god is silly. MGL 272:36

That has worked for me on a Pioneer DV-525, so far (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by suky on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 03:04:12 AM EST

I have a Pioneer DV-525, and using the RF Modulator I purchased at the shack (under an assumed name, of course) has worked flawlessly with my generic coax-only TV. So far I have mostly anime DVDs, but Ghostbusters and The Jackal both have worked..

I've heard rumors that the DV-525 had macrovision turned off. I taped a DVD using the RF Modulator and my VCR, so maybe it's true.. or maybe Haunted Junction doesn't use macrovision. I suppose we'll never know. :)

[ Parent ]

picture quality with rf-modulator (none / 0) (#53)
by esonik on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 10:34:16 AM EST

How does the RF-modulator affect picture quality ?

[ Parent ]
AGC before Modulator in VCR... (none / 0) (#57)
by amishbill on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 03:44:37 PM EST

My guess is that the auto gain control circuit works on the incoming composite signal before it gets to the modulator. The external modulator lacks this 'feature.'

[ Parent ]
Playing DVD's on Linux (4.12 / 8) (#12)
by goonie on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 10:28:48 PM EST

The DVD consortium's actions have harmed me because I can't watch DVD's on Linux-using PC's, and because they have restricted me from watching US-region DVD's which I'm perfectly entitled to purchase and view (Region 1 DVD's are typically released months earlier than Australian region (4??) DVD's).

Anyway, if you want to try the open-source Linux DVD player you can go to the LiViD project website. The plaintiffs in the well-known court case also have a site that discusses many of these issues.

ummm (2.66 / 6) (#16)
by TheReverend on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 11:25:48 PM EST

Could you quickly tell me what right any of us have to watch anything? If you think IP law is bad, you can't at the same time say that you are having your rights trampled. Since both are invented by people who want something, your "rights" to watch DVD's are meaningless. There is no "natural law" about entertainment.

"Democratic voting is specifically about minority rights" --Infinitera
[ Parent ]

Rev makes a valid point... (3.66 / 3) (#27)
by 11223 on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 12:58:54 PM EST

From the perspective of the 18th and 19th centuries, Rev makes a very valid point, and anybody who has studied thought from that era knows very well that that comment didn't deserve a 1 rating. Natural law indeed makes no comment about entertainment.

However, contemporary libertarian thought holds property rights to be paramount, so they consider the right to do what you want with your property a natural right.

As for me, the whole thing is evil and strangely Huxleyan. I've a bone to pick with entertainment in general.

The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

The Right to Watch Movies (3.33 / 3) (#35)
by hc on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 03:07:38 PM EST

Although we do not have the right to watch anything by law, the DVDCCA should not be granted a monopoly on players nor should they be guaranteed that you will only watch what they want you to watch. The fact that they try to attain these things is understandble. The fact that these practices are now protected by law is ludicrous.

[ Parent ]
"Rights" (3.00 / 3) (#43)
by Robert Hutchinson on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 04:10:49 PM EST

Could you quickly tell me what right any of us have to watch anything? If you think IP law is bad, you can't at the same time say that you are having your rights trampled. Since both are invented by people who want something, your "rights" to watch DVD's are meaningless. There is no "natural law" about entertainment.
Could you quickly tell me what right any of us have to say anything? If you think speech law is bad, you can't at the same time say that you are having your rights trampled (pardon the extended pun) ...

Laws are invented. Rights are realized.

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]
content ownership (3.66 / 3) (#52)
by vmarks on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 02:42:02 AM EST

Property rights are paramount.
I own a DVD player. I own a dvd. I should be able to play the content on the player in any way I please.

If the player isn't manufactured to allow that, I should be able to buy one that is manufactured to my satisfaction (not a right, but a rule of the marketplace) or be able to pursue altering my player to my satisfaction ( a right, to be sure.)

[ Parent ]
just an idea (4.00 / 2) (#54)
by esonik on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 10:37:34 AM EST

Maybe he has the right to watch his DVDs because he paid for it ?

[ Parent ]
Replying to all.... (2.75 / 4) (#55)
by TheReverend on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 10:44:34 AM EST

I own a DVD player. I own a dvd. I should be able to play the content on the player in any way I please.

You're right, you can use that player in any way you please. If it doesn't work though don't complain. They made something a certain way. That's what you bought. They didn't wink when they sold it to you (well, they might have, but I suspect that was for different reasons ;)

Laws are invented. Rights are realized.

Rights are invented as well. Without this rather convenient language we have, this would all be moot. You probably "feel" that things are right and wrong. But nope. They aren't.

the DVDCCA should not be granted a monopoly on players nor should they be guaranteed that you will only watch what they want you to watch.

Why shouldn't they? They invented it didn't they? They create the movies don't they? We aren't talking about some life-saving drug, or wheat or milk, but DVD movies. Let them have all the Monopoly they want. Let the market decide if it doesn't like it. And from what I can see, the market likes it just fine.

"Democratic voting is specifically about minority rights" --Infinitera
[ Parent ]

Laissez-fairly (4.00 / 1) (#65)
by Robert Hutchinson on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 09:48:48 AM EST

You're right, you can use that player in any way you please. If it doesn't work though don't complain. They made something a certain way.
Because if they hadn't made it that way, they would've been committing a crime. There was no law that said Divx wouldn't work. No law that said Betamax would go the way of the dodo. That was competition. This is the threat of prosecution.
You probably "feel" that things are right and wrong. But nope. They aren't.
You probably "think" this is a meaningful philosophy. But nope. It isn't. All that is required is a general understanding of, and respect for, humanity. I hope that doesn't set the bar too high.

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]
No Linux, No DVDs (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by SEWilco on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 10:33:47 PM EST

I haven't bought any DVD objects because I can't use them on Linux. Most of my screens are fed from Linux, and if I got a DVD disc I want to be able to use it in my family room, my home office, or my laptop. So I've been affected by not being able to spend money on any DVD devices...maybe that's why I just bought myself two more computers. [Yes, I could buy an expensive DVD interface card for Linux, but that forces me to use their proprietary remote control and it won't work in my laptop]

[ Parent ]
Macrovision. (4.33 / 18) (#14)
by Inoshiro on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 10:35:08 PM EST

What you're seeing is Macrovision. On 'classical' VHS tapes, this was alternating blocks of pure white and darkest black which caused the tuner on any 'modern' VCR to colour correct. In the attempt, it fails miserably.

Now, since DVDs are encoded as digital pictures with no extra analog bits, you'd think that Macrovision (which fucks fair use) would go away. Not so. They add an artificial Macrovision device to the outputs of your DVD player (kinda like the artificial region encoding, since the digital format of the DVDs makes the old PAL/NTSC problems also disapear). Good DVD players will let you switch this off, same for region encoding.

I know there are ways to filter out Macrovision from the signal, I'm not sure how. I have a similar problem since I just moved, and the only TV we have is a borrowed combo model. Since it uses a VCR tuner, I get nasty Macrovision blurring when I try to watch any 'boxed' movies on my VCR through it.

To the MPAA: Fuck you for trampling my rights and including artificial devices (which I pay for in the cost of the machine) which stiffle my fair use, in an attempt to get even more money from me.

[ イノシロ ]
Macrovision fucks up some TV-type devices as well (4.20 / 5) (#15)
by fluffy grue on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 10:58:16 PM EST

I have an LCD projector (cobbled together from spare parts off eBay). The LCD part of it has automatic gain control on the display. Which means that Macrovision causes my display to intermittently fade in and out. So I bought a macrovision filter (my Sony DVD player is one of the hardest in the world to modify, and the modchip is $80 and nobody sells it as standalone - they will only modify it for you, because of the extreme difficulty), and that only causes worse problems - on s-video, the chroma and luma channels are phaseshifted from each other so the colors are quite a bit to the right from the brightnesses, and on composite the image is fuzzy and the top and bottom few lines are all fubared.

The worst part is that macrovision does absolutely NO good in stopping piracy (the pirates just do a bit-for-bit copy or use a VCR which doesn't have the automatic gain correction 'feature' which makes Macrovision work), but it does plenty to fuck things up for normal people. Oh, and the Macrovision is even applied to the fucking component video outputs! Since when do people try to copy a tape off of component video?!
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Automatic Gain Control (4.50 / 4) (#23)
by techt on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 05:50:00 AM EST

If you isolate the AGC circuitry of the LCD, you should be able to bypass it with a variable resistor or a rheostat. On the other hand, if the AGC uses a RC circuit, if you change it to a longer constant, you it should make the picture more stable. Either one should solve the interference from the "copy protection".

Problem is, this may be illegal to do now under the DMCA.

Proud member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation!
Are You? http://www.eff.org/support/joineff.html
[ Parent ]
Aiee (2.00 / 1) (#24)
by fluffy grue on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 11:51:52 AM EST

I was considering doing that, but that means hacking on the circuitry of the LCD panel. I'm not willing to do that. :)

And what the MPAA doesn't know doesn't hurt me...
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

BTW... (OT) (none / 0) (#31)
by cr0sh on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 02:12:05 PM EST

When you meant you cobbled the LCD projector from spare parts off of Ebay - what did you mean by that?

[ Parent ]
Fun stuff (none / 0) (#49)
by fluffy grue on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 06:41:09 PM EST

An old Proxima Ovation 820 LCD panel which was missing its power supply, a hacked up AT power supply, some office supply store's demo unit of an overhead projector, and a couple of extra fans for cooling the bulb in the projector a bit better. The only real cobbling came about in doing the power supply and cooling fan. :)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Just wanted to know your approach... (none / 0) (#56)
by cr0sh on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 11:44:05 AM EST

I currently have an old Fujix projector that I am needing repaired (half of the LCD has "snow") - no great resolution, but OK for TV watching, and it was cheap ($250). Anyhow, I wanted to know how you went about building yours - I have seen plans on building a TV projector using an old slide projector, an LCD pocket TV screen, and plenty of active cooling - and so I wanted to know if you did this, or something else.

[ Parent ]
Not hard at all (none / 0) (#61)
by fluffy grue on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 08:29:47 PM EST

This LCD panel was designed to be put on an overhead projector. QED. The only non-obvious part was making the power supply cable (to convert the AT power supply to the Proxima's 5-pin DIN connector), and this just required pestering Proxima tech support until they gave me a usable pinout. It's got 640x480 resolution and is pretty bright. I also have an old Fujix projector (probably the same one as yours) which has horrible resolution (320x200-ish) which I use in case of emergencies. :) I also have a pocket LCD TV, which I had originally bought with the intention of making a projector actually, but I decided just to go the easy projector panel route.

I also have another LCD projector on its way (an nView Luminator). If it's better than the Proxima one (I'm not sure if it works), I'm going to sell the overhead projector getup to my younger brother.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Some day... (none / 0) (#68)
by cr0sh on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 02:54:46 PM EST

I hope to get a real projector - when I can cough up the $5000 needed for a good one. Until then, it's cheesy methods all the way (I have given thought to a 3 tube crt projector, but it seems like on Ebay they go cheap, but are so far away from me that it cost $400 to ship the thing)...

[ Parent ]
Combining responses (none / 0) (#70)
by fluffy grue on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 03:41:48 PM EST

Yeah, the Fujix is okay for TV and good enough for N64, though for newer consoles such as the Dreamcast its resolution is just plain too low. It's also not very bright, though a simple hack which does increase the brightness a signifigant amount (as well as reduce the amount of leaked light everywhere else) is to cover the back of the bulb's reflector with tin foil.

The new projector I ordered on eBay cost $250, which is incidentally quite a bit cheaper than the Fujix cost me (that one was $300, and there was no shipping since I happened to live in the same city as the guy who was selling it at the time) and is about the same as the panel+overhead cost together. The guy selling it had a bunch more and runs a salvage store with lots of that sort of stuff, but I wouldn't recommend him as he's proven to be a complete idiot (hence why I'm not even dignifying him with a link, aside from me also being lazy).

In all honesty, though, 640x480 is enough resolution for DVD playback (technically DVDs are 720x480 but the difference there is pretty minimal, all in all), and you can now get a lot of projectors capable of that for pretty cheap, what with all the over-funded corporations buying the best 1280x1024 projectors they can find and practically discarding their old 640x480 ones.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Also... (none / 0) (#69)
by cr0sh on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 02:56:47 PM EST

Yeah - that sounds like the same projector. I am going to attempt to get mine fixed. I had bought it for mainly video watching and game play (perhaps), and I couldn't beat the price. I figured if I didn't get it, I would kick myself later.

[ Parent ]
the mere fact you posted this is illegal by DMCA.. (2.75 / 4) (#25)
by rebelcool on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 11:56:58 AM EST

New MPAA slogan: Who needs free speech and Fair Use when we can make money off hapless consumers?

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Well (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by Inoshiro on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 05:19:22 PM EST

I dub tapes using the AV jacks between two VCRs. Either the playing VCR scrubs the image properly, or the receiving one doesn't correct (not sure which), but the AV jack <--> AV jack connection allows for near perfect copying (less stereo, since I have no 'records in stereo' VCRs).

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
my tv also has no a/v inputs (3.88 / 9) (#20)
by Justinfinity on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 01:07:11 AM EST

it's only a cheesy 13" model for my dorm (although i'm not in school for the time being). i lucked out though. either my DVD player (Panasonic RV-30) doesn't really have a Macrovision turned on (although this doesn't seem to be an option anywhere), or my VCR (an equally cheap GE 4-head HIi-Fi model) doesn't do the gain control. Macrovision recorded movies, U-571 for example, run fine for me.

on the other hand, it's region-locked to region 1. as of yet, i don't own any DVDs from other than region 1. but i've been doing some research, and since my model is fairly new, there aren't any mods for it yet. perhaps the RV-20 and -40 mods will work, since the RV-30 is just an RV-20 with "Cinema Mode" (increases the saturation of the entire screen to brighten it and make it look like a theater projection) and a seperate bass channel to be used with conventional stereo speakers.

as Inoshiro said, Fuck you MPAA. Stop ripping off the world with your stupid, ineffective "anti-piracy" bullshit

Probably the VCR (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by fluffy grue on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 12:00:04 PM EST

Macrovision isn't an option - it's a compulsory 'feature' in DVD players. Crappy VCRs are actually better for this stuff because they don't have automatic gain control.

The region-locking is also a compulsory 'feature'. So far that hasn't really affected me, though, since the only time a movie I wanted has come out in another region before region 1, it came out in region 1 a couple months later anyway. (It was 'Run Lola Run' FYI.) I do feel sorry for people in other regions who don't get every release, though; fortunately, in those regions (i.e. 2-6), the pre-modified region-free DVD player market is alive and well. From what I've seen, it's easier to get a region-free DVD player in Hong Kong than a region 3 (China) one. Though asking whether a player is 'region-free' vs. 'region 3' is rather difficult, for obvious linguistic reasons. I had this conversation with a clerk in a hi-fi store in Hong Kong:

"So this player is region-free?"

"Yeah, it's region fhree."

"Wait, did you say three or free?"

"What?" (He then gave me a 'stupid American' glare)

"What I mean is, can this play DVDs from any region, or is it locked into region three?"

"It is region fhree."

I still don't know what region it was for. :)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Executive summary & simple solution (4.08 / 12) (#22)
by Greyjack on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 04:26:55 AM EST

Yes, your VCR is a souped up RF modulator, just with Macrovision protection to keep you from making tapes of your movies and giving 'em to your friends. Why they don't just hose up the picture on the tape when you record, I don't know; they go ahead and bork up anything that merely passes through the machine.

The $30 RF switch you can get from Radio Shack will take both your VCR (coax) and your DVD player (RCA plugs) as inputs; it defaults to your VCR, and cuts over to the DVD player automatically when you turn it on.

Annoying as hell that you gotta spend the extra $30, but it works and you forget about it once it's hooked up. And it's cheaper than a new TV.

And yes, this pissed me off too when I bought my DVD player a couple years back :)

(Yes, reposted from previous version o' story)

Here is my philosophy: Everything changes (the word "everything" has just changed as the word "change" has: it now means "no change") --Ron Padgett

less stupid VCRs (none / 0) (#34)
by marrq on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 02:56:55 PM EST

I had a Go-video VCR (the kind that are great for dubbing VHS tapes), and while it would correctly play DVD's, if I tried to record, it would still display correctly on the TV, the tape was just slightly better than garbage.
/dev/md0: ***** FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED *****
[ Parent ]
Forced commercials... (4.16 / 6) (#28)
by Mr. Flibble on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 01:21:59 PM EST

There is a lovely set of DVD's out by the CBC here in Canada called "CANADA A Peoples History" the episodes are very well made, and were aired on national television. The DVD however, *FORCES* you to watch a Sunlife commercial every time you insert the DVD. There is no ability to fast forward, or otherwise skip the commercial. Browsing around the DVD we accidentially got back to the very beginning of the DVD and were forced to watch the commercial again. If only we could load DeCSS into the Hitachi player so that we could fast forward through the commercials...

Come on, try to hack my 31337 firewall!

Re: Forced commercials... (none / 0) (#50)
by Rahoule on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 10:15:00 PM EST

There is a set of DVDs by the CBC here in Canada called CANADA: A Peoples History. ...The DVD however, *FORCES* you to watch a Sunlife commercial every time you insert the DVD.

Leave it up to the CBC. This is yet another reason for them to be privatized. A private, profit-driven company wouldn't treat its customers like that. I was thinking of buying those DVDs. Now I'm not so sure...

Try inserting the DVD into your player and pressing "TITLE" or "MENU" and see if that skips to the menu. If not, play the disc, then press "STOP", then "TITLE" or "MENU" and see if that works.

I don't like the CSS and Macrovision, but I can understand why they are necessary. I seriously disagree with the regioning, but I can just barely understand why it might be necessary -- still, they should not have it. But, the ability to disable fast-forwarding and other navigation? There is no justification for that at all. That's just bullying the consumer.

I've heard reports of some Disney titles with 10 minutes of trailers at the beginning that cannot be fast-forwarded thru. Can anyone substantiate these rumours?

[ Parent ]
Fix. (none / 0) (#66)
by siobibble on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 12:47:25 PM EST

On most DVD players when you pop it in, find the configuration menu. On mine, it's simply pressing "Stop then Menu." In the config menu, there should be "Title Menu" (they're referring to the DVD title) and click on that and you should get into the title menu on default. This is on a Pioneer DVD btw.

[ Parent ]
Don't worry about a new TV... (4.11 / 9) (#29)
by bsdave on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 01:37:03 PM EST

I don't know about over there in America, but in Australia you can walk down to the local markets (read: sleazy warehouse full of pirated crap) and get your DVD player modified while you wait.

ACCC (A government branch dedicated to giving consumers better rights) is sueing the MPAA for DVD zone restrictions.

As a side-note to a report on the ACCC vs MPAA story one of the local free-to-air television stations pointed out that modifying your DVD player was a good way to avoid DVD zone restrictions this Christmas.

Australia kicks ass. :)

Keep on Suing (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by westfirst on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 04:17:50 PM EST

The zone restrictions are pretty stupid. They want to charge next to nothing in China and more in the West. I don't know why they aren't subjected to dumping laws and tariffs.

[ Parent ]
Actually. (3.50 / 2) (#48)
by static on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 06:13:47 PM EST

Most proper HiFi shops will sell you a modded player, too, although it's extra and they try to tell you they shouldn't be doing it.


[ Parent ]

Play does not mean what you think it means (4.00 / 6) (#30)
by Jagged on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 02:09:19 PM EST

After using my player at someone else's house for a while, I have misplaced my remote. This didn't seem to be too much of a problem since the player has Play, Stop, Pause, Back, & Forward on its front. All I will need, right?

Well I went and rented Scary Movie and put it in my player. When I pushed Play just after loading the DVD, the original theatrical trailer played. No problem there. At the menu screen I pushed Play again and nothing happened. Only Stop, Eject, & Power would work from the front of the player while in the menu. Hitting Stop then Play would start the trailer again and send me towards the menu trap again.

What a waste of a rental because someone decided that you need to use the menu to watch the movie. There was even a choice on the menu to play the movie, but since I didn't have access to any cursor or enter buttons I was locked out.

I want to be able to watch a DVD while I standing on my head and singing the latest N'Sync song because I want to, not because some group of Hollywood execs say I have to.

Don't buy an RF converter. (4.41 / 17) (#32)
by cr0sh on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 02:22:32 PM EST

Take the damn thing back, and get your (or whomever's) money back. Make it a point to tell the salesdroid, the manager, and any sheeple standing by why you are doing this, why it is wrong, and why it it destroying yours and everyone else's fair-use rights. Tell them by stocking such a device, that they are aiding and abetting this erosion, and have thus lost a sale. Alude to possibly shopping "elsewhere". Further notify them that you will be sending a letter of similar wording to the manufacturer.

If all of us did this, instead of caving in for cheap entertainment, perhaps we might gain these fair-use rights back, and throw off the (largely self-imposed) shackles of corporate servitude.

This is the best solution. (4.50 / 4) (#44)
by westfirst on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 04:16:20 PM EST

You wanted something that played DVDs. You hooked it up in the best way your technology allowed. Yet it didn't work. Take it back. If enough people do this, the restocking fees will make them think twice.

[ Parent ]
Macrovision (3.66 / 6) (#33)
by bigelephant on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 02:29:20 PM EST

I have an apex DVD player (the one w/o the menu, but it can be hacked). None of my TVs have RCA jacks. All of my VCRs are affected by macrovision. I know that purchasing an RF modulator would cure the problem, but then I have to screw around and switch cables every time I want to use a DVD. I could also buy a stabilizer, which removes macrovision (so I can copy DVD movies to VHS), but these cost about $50. And I could hack the Apex to disable macrovision and, optionally, zoning -- I'd just need to spend a few bucks on a new EPROM, because I have access to a programmer. Right now, I just watch movies on the WinTV card. It's not a very good solution, but it works. However, the protection is incredibly annoying and I will probably disable it somehow anyway. I don't understand why these asswipes even put it in there, because those who want to copy tapes/dvds can disable macrovision easily and cheaply (for them), but consumers have to suffer because of it.

How do you get a stabilizer? (none / 0) (#63)
by adlr on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 11:00:21 PM EST

I am interested in getting a stabelizer b/c my matrox g400 detectes the macrovision signal in just about every video i give it, including home movies i attempt to record.

The idea is i want to edit some home movies, however i can't digitize them b/c they contain "copy protection."

so how do you get a stabilizer?

[ Parent ]
do a search for one (none / 0) (#67)
by rebelcool on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 02:37:01 PM EST

or look in the back of Popular Science..there is an entire page dedicated to cable descramblers and people selling stabilizers. Try ebay too.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Class action? (3.60 / 10) (#37)
by rebelcool on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 03:31:27 PM EST

From the sounds of it, the MPAA has seriously pissed alot of us off. Just imagine the frustration of all the people who bought DVD players this xmas and don't get here on kuro5hin, or have usenet groups to help them solve problems.

Manufacturer websites typically dont have the "cheap"solution to the problem (buy an rf-modulator, which indeed did work, at the cost of $32.16). I e-mailed sony, which i have not yet heard from. And I wouldnt be surprised if they say "what? no a/v? well then let me redirect you to our TV section!". I bet 9/10ths of all people this xmas go out and buy a brand new tv..most likely from the same electronics firm that built the player.

This smells bad. Planned obsolence should be a crime. And how dare the MPAA take away my *right* to make a copy of this video for my personal use. That is illegal as hell. I bet if enough of us organized, we could form a class action lawsuit against the MPAA. The public should be aware of what's going on. Call your tv station, write your newspaper, write your congressman. It's time to stand up against this evil organization that wants to eliminate our rights to protect their profits.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

DMCA (3.66 / 3) (#39)
by Matrix on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 04:00:28 PM EST

Doesn't the DMCA directly or indirectly make all of the above legal? After all, it effectively abolishes fair use through allowing virtually unlimited "copy and access protection".

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

the dmca is unconstitutional. (4.25 / 4) (#42)
by rebelcool on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 04:05:40 PM EST

I cant wait for it to be challenged in the supreme court, most likely by the 2600.com case. The DMCA basically says that no matter what, I cannot not TELL you how to circumvent copyright. Not only is it illegal to circumvent copyright, but its illegal to tell you HOW.

So we can describe murders in mystery novels, but god forbid i tell you how to copy a dvd!

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

As much as it might suck... (2.05 / 17) (#38)
by DeadBaby on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 03:38:20 PM EST

You can get DVD players that do RF out. Remember, this whole problem was started by pirates. They're the ones we should be balmming and not Sony or Thosiba.

I commonly see hundreds of warez-ed movies being sold. Just think of that next time you que up another stolen mp3 file. We're really doing this to ourselfs.

(I'm just as guilty, if not more so, than everyone else so I'm not trying to point fingers)
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
then the mpaa should go after them (3.00 / 4) (#40)
by rebelcool on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 04:00:45 PM EST

and not hurt the individual consumer. Go after the pirates in china who make thousands of cheap copies. Don't make the average consumer be punished for the acts of the few.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Point of Diminishing Returns (4.75 / 4) (#41)
by icer on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 04:03:12 PM EST

Pirates did not start the problem at all! The problem stems from manufacturers wanting absolute control over their customers!

At what point do we as customers get rights?

We should be able to exercise our right to dub a DVD to video tape for our own use! We should not be forced to endure ridiculous and overzealous copy-prevention methods. It's not about ripping MP3's or movies for the VAST MAJORITY! I have a growing collection of DVD's (It's far bigger than my CD collection - I'm not into music). I buy movies. I'm not a pirate. But if I want to copy "The Gladiator" to tape, to watch it in a friends dorm, I should be able to exercise that right!

Do you really think the majority of those buying ripped DVD's would by the original to begin with? Even if that argument is moot, rest of my response if quite legitimate. As much as I like DVD's, the annoyances that I have to put up with almost outweigh DVD's benefits.

[ Parent ]
Macrovision and pirates (none / 0) (#80)
by RiscTaker on Fri Jan 05, 2001 at 03:13:38 AM EST

You can get DVD players that do RF out. Remember, this whole problem was started by pirates. They're the ones we should be balmming and not Sony or Thosiba.
Could you explain what exactly Macrovision does to stop pirates?

Things are only impossible until they are not.
[ Parent ]

MacroVision screwed up 2 Christmas get-togethers (4.00 / 6) (#47)
by amishbill on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 06:07:30 PM EST

Screwed up Christmas # 1:

I was setting up a friend's new DVD player the day after Christmas. They have a nice big Sony TV and a quite decent Sony DVD player. No problems thought I....

The TV only has the standard CATV F connector. Not a problem. I'll feed the audio to the stereo and the video to the Sony VCR. The sound came up properly. Actually, the sound was stunning. The picture was fairly good too. I didn't expect much from the video. After all, it WAS being pumped through an RF converter in the VCR. Then the screen went blue. Then the picture came back. Then it went blue. Then the picture came back. I think you get the pattern, right? After breaking down and looking through the manual, I found the problem. They say S-Video to TV, Yes. AV to TV, Yes. Compnent video to TV, Yes. AV through VCR to TV, NO. They don't even have the decency to say why, just NO.

Worthless piece-o-crap Macrovision.

Now my friends need to buy a new TV. (at least $300-$400 to match the rest of their system) This is NOT what people who stretched their budget to get a DVD player needed to hear.

Screwed up Christmas # 2:

I asked for a cheap DVD player for Christmas. Dad obliged, but decided to 'upgrade' me to a quality Pioneer unit. The TV available where this player will be located only has the F connector input. To 'enable' my player to function as a player (instead of a doorstop) with what I have, I've had to order over $100 worth of stabilizers and color-correction equipment.

My Friends and I Thank YOU, MPAA

The place with the best prices (so far) for this equipment has them back-ordered for at least two more weeks. Do you think this backorder status has anything to do with a Christmas glut of new DVD players that people couldn't use???? !!!!!!

I will not recommend any particular vendor, and since the product is backordered from the cheapest vendor I found, cannot offer a hands-on opinion.... but.... go to Yahoo and do a search for (and the quotes are important) "sima scc". :)

On a slightly more positive note, the stabilization box will let me balance the colors AND let me dub to VHS for legitimate, fair-use purposes... ;-)

How my freedom was abused by the MPAA (4.33 / 6) (#51)
by vmarks on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 02:34:02 AM EST

As a consumer, I have the duty to beware.

I also shouldn't have to bend over when making purchases.

I live in two zones, zone 1 in North America, and zone 2 in Israel. I am currently back in the states after a two year stint in Israel. I own discs of both zones. I bought them completely legitimately, and should be able to play them back on my player.

While in Israel (zone 2) I played discs on a computer with a sigma designs board and software that allowed the zone change to take place.

While in America, I have a set top box (oritron dvd100, can't seem to hack the thing. anyone who has one, please help!) According to the DVD forum and MPAA, I should have to buy two players and two copies of the disc.

Nevermind that I own the discs, and I own the players, it's illegal for me to attempt to circumvent anything on the disc or in the player to allow me to play my legitimately obtained content.

Thankfully, my TiVO passes the macrovision signal through without paying any attention to it.

A follow up to this story (4.00 / 2) (#58)
by rebelcool on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 04:29:57 PM EST

I e-mailed Sony the following:

"When hooking up my dvd player to my vcr, using RCA jacks, when played the colors on the screen constantly fade in and out. My tv only has a coaxial plug so i cannot directly plug my dvd player into it. What do I do to get rid of the annoying fadeout?"

Sony's reply:

"Thank you for contacting SONY. If you connect a DVD through the VCR you will get distortion due to the Macrovision copy protection. Since it is not possible to record onto VHS from the DVD, it is suggested that you not run your signal through the VCR. Thank you for the opportunity to be of assistance."

Gee, thanks Sony! I sure feel as though my question was answered!

Thank you all here on kuro5hin for your replies, as the RF modulator did solve my problem. My true sympathy goes out to those who DON'T have that kind of assistance and most likely went out and purchased a new TV.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

What do you think Sony wants? (none / 0) (#60)
by marrq on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 08:14:14 PM EST

Thank you all here on kuro5hin for your replies, as the RF modulator did solve my problem. My true sympathy goes out to those who DON'T have that kind of assistance and most likely went out and purchased a new TV.

Would that be a new Sony TV? Suddenly the worthless answer makes a bit more sense. But then again, it could be some idiot just parroting an "answer" from the script trying to his their quota.

/dev/md0: ***** FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED *****
[ Parent ]

heh.. (none / 0) (#64)
by rebelcool on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 01:58:49 AM EST

i raised that question earlier. sounds very shady to me. I'm disappointed in sony, i really like their products.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

My Panasonic works great (3.00 / 2) (#59)
by manuka on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 04:51:49 PM EST

I have a Panasonic 5-disc carousel unit that I ran through the VCR for the longest time until my TV died and I got a new one. before the panasonic, I had an RCA unit that went fine, but only through an RCA VCR. That unit is now going through a Magnavox VCR, and the picture is all screwed to hell.

The Panasonic also has the distinct advantage of actually PLAYING the movie when it's sitting at the menu and you press the PLAY button on the front of the unit.

It will also play VCDs and audio CDs, but won't play CD-R's

Model is DVD-C220.

CSS failing (2.50 / 2) (#62)
by cmg on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 10:14:49 PM EST

On several discs, different players seem to have problems with the CSS key exchange portion of playing. My father's vaio has problems with my blade runner disc but the same disc works in every other player I have. Here at my house, my princess monoake (sp?) works fine after another disc has been played but refuses to play after the unit is powered on with the disc in the drive. I blame lots of these annoying problems on the unecessarily complex designs CSS has forced designers to use.

copy-protection: not (3.50 / 2) (#71)
by rsmith on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 04:12:58 PM EST

I wish we could all name this beast for what it really is. The whole CSS and zone thing is at best a revenue protection scheme from the MPAA.

As soon as suitable DVD recorders are available, it will be proven that the CSS scheme is not copy protection. AFAIK, the only reason that it works now is because the disc-zone that contains the copy protection information is pre-written on DVD-R's that you can buy now, but I bet that will change as soon as recorders that can make full-length copies are available.


Unfettered DVD recorders are not coming. (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by Harlequin on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 06:03:59 AM EST

Yes, CSS was never designed to prevent piracy. But I think you're optimistic to suggest that domestic DVD recorders will show this - what recorders?

Years ago, we were told to accept DVDs and that recorders would be availible in about a year. Since then, the MPAA seems to have gotten real cold feet over the idea of consumers being able to record DVDs, and I don't think DVD recorders are going to be unaffected by this.

As a taste of the future, are you aware of CPRM? People are hard at work developing hard disks that will prevent consumers moving or copying data as they desire. "Wouldn't that completely screw up a device when its whole purpose is to move or copy data?" you ask. Well, yes, but such concerns are trivial next to the almightly dollar. According to some, you've got until summer before HDD production incorporates the standard.

(It's The Register's big "scoop" story at the moment, so here are some links :-)

"Stealth plan puts copy protection into every hard drive"

"Everything you ever wanted to know about CPRM, but ZDNet wouldn't tell you..."

So, the bottom line is that there is big money riding on making sure copy control goes into EVERYTHING, and DVD recorders are going to be worst - if they ever even make production. (Anyone heard of any developements in producing VCR-style domestic DVD recorders? I haven't heard a whisper for years. It worries me.)

For starters, you can forget about using them to record movies off TV - digital TV standards already have the blocks in place. (You might have to right to record movies off TV, but you don't a right to be able to buy gear that can actually do it). You won't be able to make dubs of anything that you can record off TV, and while you can currently get your DVD player "chipped" for $20 to make it zoneless, I think it's safe to assume that the hardware-bypass of a consumer appliance will become increasingly expensive or as good as impossible.

And while some people might have the esoteric knowledge to free their systems, the vast majority won't. Perhaps the courts will be useful for a change, who knows.

On a more "conspiracy theory" note, I think it's pretty obvious that Hollywood would actually prefer consumer to not be able to create their own content - something could become an increasingly annoying competitor in an age where people must pay-per-view, yet digital distribution would allow "rogue" productions to reach large audiences for free.

Hmmm, regarding the whole copy control thing, what do you call a conspiracy theory that is pretty much knowledge rather than theory? (Other than just "a conspiracy" I mean :-)
The Infomation Cartel?

[ Parent ]
When was that TV Manufactured? (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by evro on Sun Dec 31, 2000 at 04:10:59 AM EST

I had a 13 inch sony that was purchased like 6 or 7 years ago, and that even had RCA inputs. THe crummy Mitsubishi we have now also has RCA inputs. And the next tv we get will hopefully have S-video to support even-better video quality from our new DVD player... Toshiba SD-1600.

I heard there was a DVD player that didn't have macrovision... if you're in really dire straits I guess you can hunt that down. Other than that, I don't know what to say; I haven't had any experiences like that with DVD. The closest I've had was not having S-video on my TV when I tried playing a dvd from my computer to my tv screen (stupid gf2 only has s-video out), but that was a problem with the video card and not the dvd itself.
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"
most tv's dont have them. (none / 0) (#75)
by rebelcool on Mon Jan 01, 2001 at 03:09:07 PM EST

its about 5 years old. Most TV's today (that is, smaller ones) do not have any jacks other than antenna, unless you're willing to pay $200+

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Macrovision and all (4.66 / 3) (#74)
by Abumarie on Sun Dec 31, 2000 at 11:48:30 PM EST

Macrovision works by attempting to fake out the agc circuits in the vcr. By bursting levels on scan lines that one would not normally see, it drives the vcr to decrease the gain on the entire scan, thus yielding the visually unaceptable results on the copy. If, however, the deck does not have an agc, macrovision fails. Most "consumer" decks do have it, but some of the oldest decks do not. Professional decks also frequently omit or allow overide of the agc. Several countermeasures are possible for those who wish to make legal archival copies of dvd (or analog tape) material that they own. The most elegant is a video processor made by sima that is available at www.videoguys.com for about $100. It strips macrovision and allows color, gain, tint, etc. processing in the copy. A stripped down processor that removes the macrovision is available at the same place for $50. In the "hacker class" there are also some circuit diagrams of macrovision removal circuits running around on the web. E.g. this effort.

Quite frankly, I feel that macrovision is like any other lock. It keeps honest folks out. If you want to make the copy, its easy to rip it, etc. etc. Even a moderate pc like a 333 puntium has more than enough power to be used as a software playback. A software DVD player is $50 or less these days and a low end ide dvd drive is also of that range. If you don't want to bother with the software playback, a Hollywood board is of the order of $30. All of these will play files ripped by something like smartripper. At 4 gigs per DVD, a 80 gig Maxtor holds 20 full DVDs for a net storage price of roughly $10 per DVD. Flask them to MPEG-4 and obviously its much less per DVD. As I say, locks only keep honest people out and make it very annoying when you lose your keys.

Having sex is heriditary. If your parents didn't have it, chances are good you won't either.

yes (2.00 / 1) (#76)
by madslacker on Mon Jan 01, 2001 at 10:32:55 PM EST

we have a divx (not my idea), i got The Matrix dvd for christmas (the VCR ate my cassette). it will not play. i am very sad. it is very evil. i can play scarce few of the newer dvd's. to not go out of ones way to make your DVD's compatible w/ various other players is one thing, to go out of ones way to make them incompatible is another thing entirely. i've grown to greatly dislike dvd's. the not_being_able_to_fastforward thing is also extremely aggravating. i managed to get the thing to play on my linux box, but it was a pain in the neck that i should not have had to suffer, and inferior in quite a few ways. btw, i will never buy another dvd again. at least, nothing save a used one. not giving the Evil People another dime. </whining>

Zone issue (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by Harlequin on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 06:44:50 AM EST

They'll only bother to produce a DVD for each zone if it's a big release. Half the stuff I want on DVD doesn't pull the sales needed to be produced for the rest of the world - yet the justifaction crap about it being for the common good "protecting the stage-by-stage cinema release" simply does not apply to decade-old movies. It's rubbish.

New Zealand considers the zones an illegal trade barrier, and the World Trade Organisation might just earn itself less criticism if it stopped overturning environmental legislation whenever it hurts some corporation's profit margin, and took up a similar position on this trade barrier.

Oh but I forget - the WTO only has the authority to regulate governments, not corporations. (strange then that it only seems to act on behalf of corporations...) Hmm, I can see why it has so many critics, But I digress.

These movies and music are now more than commercial property - they are the culture and heritage of our nations. (As embarressing as that may sometimes be :) As such, I resent being denied access to them on spurious grounds motivated by greed and paranoia, when we have already paid for them (multiple times in fact - at the cinema, at the shop, at the cable company). Just how many times must we re-pay? As many as they can damn well force us too. While the right to my culture might not be greater than their right to make a living, I think it is greater than their (non-existant) right to unlimited profiteering via dirty, expoitative distribution methods backed up by tax-funded law enforcement.

As for Kaplin claiming that anyone who wants to access these materials can simply go back to the old technology and use that instead, has he got his head in the sand, or has it not occurred to hium that DVD-only releases are a Hollywood wet dream?

Zoning Restriction Hell (3.00 / 1) (#79)
by wirefarm on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 12:05:51 PM EST

When I lived in the US, I had a DVD player and a handful of discs. No problem.
Problem one: Before I moved to Japan, I had to sell the DVD player, (since the electricity is different,) and the discs became useless due to region coding.
Problem two: When I lived in the US, I often watched foreign movies, often Japanese, with English subtitles, other times european. Guess what? If I buy foreign dvds here in Japan, the subtitles are only Japanese. The Japanese movies usually only have Japanese subtitles available.
In some cases, they must have intentionally stripped out the English subtitles, as even the packaging is the same.
If I wanted to buy 'The Matrix' from Amazon, I think it would be about $20 - The price in Japan? $50.
If I wanted to buy The Seven Samurai' from Amazon, (with english subtitles) I think it would also be about $20 - The price in Japan? Well, you can't buy it at all.
Apparently multi-region decks are available and legal, but they cost twice as much.
The solution? Keep a DVD drive set to region 1 in my PC, rip the DVD, strip the Macrovision and send it out over the video-out port on my PC to the VCR, so I don't have to have my PC on (With its 3 noisy fans) while I watch the movie. Wow. great solution - I'm back to VHS.
Yes, I'm bitter.
Jim in Tokyo

How have DVD restrictions affected your legal use? | 80 comments (67 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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