CableCARD vs "copy once" -- why only WMC? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 59 Old 01-24-2014, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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I'd really like to build my own "whole house DVR" solution that leverages CableCARD.  However, from what I understand this is only possible with WMC and MS based extenders.  Is this true?  No other "server" component is capable of capturing and recording "copy once" programming and allowing you to play it on any other device?  Why?

 

Looking at TiVo's site it seems possible using their Roamio DVR along with their "minis" but that solution is nearly as much, if not more, than buying the same setup form the cable providers.  And, of course, the cable providers seem to be able to do it (Ex: Time Warner's SignatureHome and WOW's UltraTV).  

 

What is preventing XBMC, MythTV, Plex, etc from working like WMC?  Is it some licencing/DRM issue that can't be purchase with XBMC, MythTV or Plex?

 

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Confused Noob....

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post #2 of 59 Old 01-24-2014, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlbj6142 View Post

What is preventing XBMC, MythTV, Plex, etc from working like WMC?  Is it some licencing/DRM issue that can't be purchase with XBMC, MythTV or Plex?


$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

You need a Cablelabs (the industry's tech standards arm) approved DRM. Microsoft created one. I think there are a few others (did Real Networks create one?).

The point is that these companies poured a ton of money into getting these things developed and certified. The programs/projects you referenced are all freeware (except Plex, but they aren't in the live tv game at all).
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post #3 of 59 Old 01-24-2014, 11:24 AM
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I think i read somewhere that the licensing costs are something like $30,000. Not sure if that was referencing PlayReady from Microsoft or CableLabs certification.
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post #4 of 59 Old 01-24-2014, 11:27 AM
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This is where I was hoping we would see something new at CES. I was thinking:

1) network attached cablecard tuner
2) network attached storage (for live tv buffer and DVR)
3) clients - built into smart tvs, Roku, Windows, iOS, etc

This concept exists in the custom integrator market, but nothing in the general consumer space.

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post #5 of 59 Old 01-24-2014, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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That's what I thought.  I figured it was just a certification/licensing thing.  Frankly $30K isn't all that much.  I would think someone like Plex might be able to get kickstarter type investment started that could cover that fee.  Though I wonder if there is a per device per fee as well?  Maybe even a per device per year fee?

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post #6 of 59 Old 01-24-2014, 12:32 PM
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http://www.cablelabs.com/specs/certification/

all kinds of fees on there

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post #7 of 59 Old 01-24-2014, 12:46 PM
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Ouch. Thanks for the link pittsoccer. That's very pricey (when you consider recertifying as well).
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post #8 of 59 Old 01-24-2014, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

http://www.cablelabs.com/specs/certification/

all kinds of fees on there

But I don't see anything there that lists how much it would cost for certifying a new "Play Ready" software. This is all various hardware fees which does nothing to move us away from WMC DRM.

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post #9 of 59 Old 01-24-2014, 12:50 PM
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I was just using it to illustrate the idea that dealing with Cablelabs looks like an expensive and cumbersome process

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post #10 of 59 Old 01-24-2014, 12:58 PM
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Expensive on the Microsoft front as well: http://www.microsoft.com/playready/licensing/
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post #11 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 05:37 PM
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The only thing the software would have to license is PlayReady but they would also need license Dolby/MPEG2 for playback (they would be able to rely on third party decoders because it would break the protected playback chain). There are no CableLabs certifications required for software, only for the tuners. The tuners are then authorized to release the copy protected video stream to the software if it is emcapsulated using one of three CableLabs authorized DRM schemes:

  1. DCTP-IP
  2. Windows Media DRM 10 or newer (which includes PlayReady)
  3. Helix DRM (Real Media) : Nobody uses this.


DTCP-IP, as the acronym implies, is a transmission only DRM. It cannot be used to for persistent storage (recordings). For that, the DTCP-IP spec requires that copy protection be handed off to another DRM scheme authorized by the DTLA. See http://www.dtcp.com/approvedtechnologies.aspx

One of those approved DRM schemes is Windows Media DRM 10 or newer (which includes PlayReady). So you can either license DTCP-IP + PlayReady (this is where the $30K price comes from... $15K each) or license just PlayReady because you don't need DTCP-IP for interfacing with an OCUR/DRT if you already have PlayReady).
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post #12 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 06:32 PM
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Problem with all this is that there is no business model i.e., make a profit after payroll, expenses, etc., for an ISV to make and support a WMC replacement app---one that integrates TV guide, DVR and all that stuff, and plays copy protected Cable TV.

Please post if you have one.
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post #13 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 06:46 PM
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It isn't necessarily the cost that prevents PVR software such as MythTV from accessing copy-once channels: it would be easy to start a crowdsourcing campaign to generate the funds required for licensing. The barrier is the concept of copy-once channels themselves. MythTV is free software, which means that its source code is available to anyone who wants it, and anyone who knows programming can make changes to the software.

DRM is inherently opposed to the open-source model, because it relies on the end user not knowing how the software works, so that the copy protection can't be broken and can effectively cripple the operation of the software. If MythTV contained code to support copy-once channels, you could simply download the source code, modify it to ignore the copy protection, and then you could compile a new version of MythTV that would let you copy your formerly protected shows as much as you wanted, thus completely defeating the DRM. If MythTV did this, it would be in violation of the DMCA, and the project would get shut down from the legal battle which would ensue.

The only way MythTV could support copy-once recordings would be by becoming a closed-source program, which is impossible, because it is licensed under the GPL. Somebody would have to write an entirely new program from scratch, and most closed-source PVR software packages don't generate enough interest for their authors to consider pursuing support for copy-once programs (or CableCards at all).
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post #14 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

It isn't necessarily the cost that prevents PVR software such as MythTV from accessing copy-once channels: it would be easy to start a crowdsourcing campaign to generate the funds required for licensing. The barrier is the concept of copy-once channels themselves. MythTV is free software, which means that its source code is available to anyone who wants it, and anyone who knows programming can make changes to the software.

DRM is inherently opposed to the open-source model, because it relies on the end user not knowing how the software works, so that the copy protection can't be broken and can effectively cripple the operation of the software. If MythTV contained code to support copy-once channels, you could simply download the source code, modify it to ignore the copy protection, and then you could compile a new version of MythTV that would let you copy your formerly protected shows as much as you wanted, thus completely defeating the DRM. If MythTV did this, it would be in violation of the DMCA, and the project would get shut down from the legal battle which would ensue.

The only way MythTV could support copy-once recordings would be by becoming a closed-source program, which is impossible, because it is licensed under the GPL. Somebody would have to write an entirely new program from scratch, and most closed-source PVR software packages don't generate enough interest for their authors to consider pursuing support for copy-once programs (or CableCards at all).

Then go do it and report back.
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post #15 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
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DRM is inherently opposed to the open-source model, because it relies on the end user not knowing how the software works, so that the copy protection can't be broken and can effectively cripple the operation of the software.

A program like TrueCrypt is no less secure being open source. Knowing how the software works doesn't help you break the encryption, if the encryption is any good.

Quote:
If MythTV contained code to support copy-once channels, you could simply download the source code, modify it to ignore the copy protection, and then you could compile a new version of MythTV that would let you copy your formerly protected shows as much as you wanted, thus completely defeating the DRM. If MythTV did this, it would be in violation of the DMCA, and the project would get shut down from the legal battle which would ensue.

If it were that simple, someone would've hacked WMC by now.
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post #16 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 07:02 PM
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the demand is definitely there - the infinitv, prime, and Hauppauge unit all seem to sell well.

but if you look at the most popular htpc software its all freeware - xbmc, mpc hc, makemkv, handbrake. I just don't think people are willing to pay for it upfront.

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post #17 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

the demand is definitely there - the infinitv, prime, and Hauppauge unit all seem to sell well.

but if you look at the most popular htpc software its all freeware - xbmc, mpc hc, makemkv, handbrake. I just don't think people are willing to pay for it upfront.

Lots of people pay for JRiver Media Center. Its very popular. Why is it that JRiver Inc. does not support copy protected TV?
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post #18 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 07:33 PM
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I guess "lots" is relative. im sure they've looked into it and said that for what it would cost vs what they could recoup that it wasn't worth it. look at sage - they even released a well regarded piece of hardware (tne HD300) but they couldn't get the software.

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post #19 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 08:03 PM
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Open source software would never be able to support it because playback has to support a protected media path including all decoders and renderers. With an open source software, someone with just a little knowledge could simply modify the decoder output to dump a DRM free copy to disk. Using TrueCrypt for comparison is a bad example because with TrueCrypt, the end user supplies their own key... not exactly the case with PlayReady.

It would have to be a closed source package that would support it and there are only 4 that I can think of that exist right now that would be able to implement it:

JRiver (paid software)
ArcSoft TotalMedia (OEM software... This is a TV viewing and recording app, not to be confused with TotalMedia Theater)
NextPVR (free but closed source)
SichboPVR (free but closed source)

The problem with the free softwares is that PlayReady requires a $5K up front fee to start development, $10K when you are ready to release your software, then another $10K for each major release (3.x -> 4.x). There is also the fact that you have to submit your application for compliance testing and a $2K fee for each additional submission should it fail the compliance tests. Then you also consider the per instance licensing fees for Dolby and MPEG (because they would need their own closed source decoders)... well, you get the picture. They would need to have the free version and a purchased version that supported Copy Once content.

I had looked into creating a "black-box" type application that could be used by various softwares like NextPVR, MediaPortal and others but there is a clause in the PlayReady License Agreement that makes that idea a non starter.
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post #20 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

Open source software would never be able to support it because playback has to support a protected media path including all decoders and renderers. With an open source software, someone with just a little knowledge could simply modify the decoder output to dump a DRM free copy to disk. Using TrueCrypt for comparison is a bad example because with TrueCrypt, the end user supplies their own key... not exactly the case with PlayReady.

It would have to be a closed source package that would support it and there are only 4 that I can think of that exist right now that would be able to implement it:

JRiver (paid software)
ArcSoft TotalMedia (OEM software... This is a TV viewing and recording app, not to be confused with TotalMedia Theater)
NextPVR (free but closed source)
SichboPVR (free but closed source)

The problem with the free softwares is that PlayReady requires a $5K up front fee to start development, $10K when you are ready to release your software, then another $10K for each major release (3.x -> 4.x). There is also the fact that you have to submit your application for compliance testing and a $2K fee for each additional submission should it fail the compliance tests. Then you also consider the per instance licensing fees for Dolby and MPEG (because they would need their own closed source decoders)... well, you get the picture. They would need to have the free version and a purchased version that supported Copy Once content.

I had looked into creating a "black-box" type application that could be used by various softwares like NextPVR, MediaPortal and others but there is a clause in the PlayReady License Agreement that makes that idea a non starter.

What would you estimate the cost would be for the player software vendors to support customer issues that that arise on all the cable systems that implement copy protected tv?
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post #21 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 08:31 PM
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That would take a better mind than mine (or at least one geared differently than mine) to give you an estimate on that. I would imagine that it would be pretty significant though and end up costing much more than the licensing fees.
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post #22 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 08:39 PM
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In other words, 'Have $$ x 100--will Implement'
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post #23 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 08:41 PM
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I will say that I've been in talks with three different companies over the last couple of years about licensing one of the PVR packages and adding copy once support it but unfortunately, I've not made any head way on it. I've seriously considered doing it on my own but I'm just not sure the demand is there. Yes there is a lot of talk about it (especially here on AVS) but how much of that would translate to actual sales? Even the petition to add MCX support to the Xbox One has less than 5000 "signatures" and a lot of those are the same person "signing" 3 times using different browsers.

I did think about starting an Indiegogo campaign but I haven't decided yet.
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post #24 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 10:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t-c View Post

Then go do it and report back.

You can't start a campaign to generate funds to add copy-once support to PVR software that doesn't exist. You need a viable program whose developers want and can acquire the licenses before you can consider collecting the funds for them to do so.
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If it were that simple, someone would've hacked WMC by now.

WMC isn't open source, but I would suspect that at least one device or piece of software that supports copy-once recordings has been hacked in such a way, since episodes from protected channels get leaked just as rapidly as those from unprotected channels.
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post #25 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
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WMC isn't open source, but I would suspect that at least one device or piece of software that supports copy-once recordings has been hacked in such a way, since episodes from protected channels get leaked just as rapidly as those from unprotected channels.

I'm well aware WMC isn't open source. However, people have hacked parts of it to implement things like My Channel Logos, which is what I was getting at. In general, you don't need to be able to recompile to inject code into a process and examine its data. As for leaks of protected content, they could have been recorded using that Hauppauge thing that exploits the analog hole and dumps an unprotected stream to a file. I'm not aware that Playready has been broken; that would be rather big news, and people would be doing it to allow things like the commercial strippers to work on protected content. I've never heard anyone talk about doing this. That said, I don't have even a basic understanding of the protected path and what's actually done within the PC WRT protected content, and I would be interested to hear what WMC does. My understanding is that the stream from my HD HomeRun Prime is encrypted, and displays must support HDCP to display it, so what is WMC doing in the middle of it all?
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post #26 of 59 Old 02-02-2014, 11:58 PM
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Capturing protected channels with a Hauppauge card would require the files to be tagged as AHDTV under Scene rules, which they never are. Only TS sources may be tagged as HDTV, which all releases are. I have read rumours that it's possible to install TiVo cracks to make them ignore copy-once channels, which is perhaps a more likely way for accessing that content. Either route violates the DMCA, so such measures don't qualify as legal "solutions" to the DRM problem.
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post #27 of 59 Old 02-03-2014, 12:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

You can't start a campaign to generate funds to add copy-once support to PVR software that doesn't exist. You need a viable program whose developers want and can acquire the licenses before you can consider collecting the funds for them to do so.
I'm well aware of that.

(Actually, you could start a campaign like that but it wouldn't generate any funds and rightfully so.)
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post #28 of 59 Old 02-03-2014, 01:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

Capturing protected channels with a Hauppauge card would require the files to be tagged as AHDTV under Scene rules, which they never are. Only TS sources may be tagged as HDTV, which all releases are. I have read rumours that it's possible to install TiVo cracks to make them ignore copy-once channels, which is perhaps a more likely way for accessing that content. Either route violates the DMCA, so such measures don't qualify as legal "solutions" to the DRM problem.

My understanding is that cable boxes continue to output everything over component, and the Hauppauge HD-PVR records it as H264 without any protection to a file. That could explain the thing you brought up if WMC users are the source of the pirated material you mentioned. The Hauppauge device would be a way to do it, and as I said, I don't believe Playready has been broken, so I don't believe the source is CableCard recordings made by WMC.

We were talking about WMC, Playready, and your notion that open source cannot ever implement protected content because the availability of the source code makes the DRM easily defeatable. I explained that's not true for programs like TrueCrypt, for having its source code doesn't help you crack its encryption. That's sort of the hallmark of a decent scheme, and I would guess it applies to Playready, which AFAIK, has not been broken. Now, if you have a live system, my understanding is that it may be possible to recover Truecrypt keys and later hack that one system. I have not heard anything like that is possible for Playready, which makes me wonder what exactly WMC does as the middleman between the CableCard tuner and the HDCP-equipped output device.

In summary, my impression is that being open source is not necessarily the issue, and it could be the expense of dealing with CableLabs that keeps software like XBMC from supporting CableCard. Whatever the case, if having the source code would open all the secrets as you believe, then it is likely someone would have figured out how to do it to WMC without the source code.
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post #29 of 59 Old 02-03-2014, 05:55 AM
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I don't think licensing PlayReady is what we would want. That means you still rely on Microsoft to use PlayReady and to make sure it is up to date. The best solution to break free of the MS WMC ties are for another company to create and certify a version of PlayReady.

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post #30 of 59 Old 02-03-2014, 06:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

Capturing protected channels with a Hauppauge card would require the files to be tagged as AHDTV under Scene rules, which they never are. Only TS sources may be tagged as HDTV, which all releases are. I have read rumours that it's possible to install TiVo cracks to make them ignore copy-once channels, which is perhaps a more likely way for accessing that content. Either route violates the DMCA, so such measures don't qualify as legal "solutions" to the DRM problem.

What are scene rules?

Just because a show is transmitted via cable here in the US doesn't mean it can't be transmitted OTA in another country.

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Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
Restore the initial MLL on a 2009 Panasonic plasma
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