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DirecTV to Pursue Pirates 291

Trinity-Infinity writes "This story from CNNfn details DirecTV's & Hughes Electronics' plans to eliminate the piracy of their signals through a direct-mail campaign. Their source for creating their list of who to mail letters to? Searching bootlegging operations the feds have already busted. It is interesting that as many as 1 million people may be pirating, in comparison to DirecTV's 10 million paying customers." Ya know, I really want to pirate DirecTV, but not to get all the channels... just to get a damn FOX affiliate over my dish so I could use my DirecTivo for The Family Guy and That 70s Show. Is that to much to ask? I already pay for HBO and Sci-Fi channel. Anyway, there's definitely going to be a lot more cracking down on pirated dish stuff: they are getting crazy with the protective measures.
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DirecTV to Pursue Pirates

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  • You CAN get local network affiliates on DirecTV now. Although I think they should be free, I believe they are $2.99/month. A lot cheaper than a pirated card...

  • it is MY SIGNAL to do with AS I PLEASE. This precedent has been to court and stood up in 3 states that I know of. This is the gist of an FCC ruling in the 70's, sorry no real details. I am quit sure the sat. companies disagree but until they can figure out how to get past my cut-out, they can't even burn my HU card out, much less find my address. Maybe they should contact the BSA, and work with them for a more Threatening and Sinister campaign designed to produce results.
  • jerks (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:29PM (#4609)
    last time they shut people down during WWF pay-per-view match. what could be worse than that? haven't they done enough?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:29PM (#4610)
    DirecTV is an American company. Recently, DirecTV tried to sue a Canadian supplier of programmer for their smart cards used to pirate these signals. The CRTC got involved, and they determined that there are no legal grounds, claiming that DirecTV shoudn't be in Canada in the first place, so they have no legal basis on the lawsuit. So my question is, will DirecTV be targetting Canadian residence?
    • In México Direct TV is really cheap. I pay about 10 dollars for the montly service. You can also choose to pay a yearly fee including Payperview. Since payperview is no popular in mexico. What I did was buy a receiver in mexico then I brought it to usa. I use the address of my grandma who lives in mexico. I also left money for her to pay the bill. There is also another company called Sky TV wich is more popular, and carries more Mexican chanels.
    • I've looked and looked into this, as I do my own DirectTV pirating. To my knowledge, Direct TV can do nothing to canadians who get thier service (besides of course, starting a canadian wing of their company to provide canada with DTV legally.) And I have yet to hear any Canadian being busted for burning just American cards.
      On the other hand, the sat. feed is intended for Americans only, and if we can pick it up, I wonder if this is some sort of violation of a CRTC law, because does DTV not OWN that feed?
    • Even if they try, precedence has already been established in the Quebec Superior Court that DirecTV's signal is "public domain".

      DirecTV signal is public domain in Canada [legal-rights.org]

      "On Tuesday, May 29, 2001 The Honourable Judge Mr. Pierre Tessier of the Québec Superior Court dismissed the Crowns appeal in the case of Al Gregory who was acquitted by Mr. Justice Sanfacon of the Quebec Provincial Court last year under section 9 (1) C of the RC Act. Mr. Justice Pierre Tessier completely understood the issues in this appeal and stated very clearly that as DirecTV® are not a "lawful Distributor" in Canada and should not be broadcasting here, that Signal was in the "PUBLIC DOMAIN"".
  • "nobody" pays (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:50PM (#5991)
    Almost everybody I know who watches TV has
    some kind of cracked system for it. My problem
    with this is that *I* can't make myself pay
    for something that I know is widely available for free, so I basically do without TV.

    If the situation were that everybody really and
    truly paid, instead of the "H-Card/PC" situation
    I see everywhere, I might be able to justify

    This is one case where widespread "piracy" has caused me to evaluate a service as not being worth paying for! (If all my neighbors get the
    service for free and take it for granted, I do
    not wish to be a chump and pay for it.)

    If I paid for satellite tv, I would definitely become the only person I know, and I know plenty,
    who pays.

    • Re:"nobody" pays (Score:2, Insightful)

      by grapeape ( 137008 )
      That is the most pathetic statement regarding piracy that i have ever read. I guess you dont work for a living either since seeing all those folks in the welfare line makes it too difficult to justify working when all those people are getting it for free....
      • Au contraire. I do work for a living and I pay so that welfare office can exist.

        Are you such a socialist that you can't understand why I won't subscribe to directTV or
        whatever until they fix their business model?

        It is as if you are accusing me of pirating. I am NOT pirating, nor am I supporting the directTV system that seems to encourage it.

        The dish folks benefit from their idiom being saturated into the marketplace. How popular would they seem if only paying subscribers had the service? I think their marketability will suffer greatly if they ever truly stop the piracy. Hard crypto with true accountability between the subscriber and the service provider would do the trick, but do the broadcasters have the balls to really black out that many boxes? I think they allow the piracy to continue because it supports the advertising metrics, and the half-measures they take against it do nothing except focus attention on the broadcasters' victim status.

        Because I don't like the business model the broadcasters use AT ALL, I don't support it.
        You summarize my opinion as "pathetic" but you seem to have missed the point -- I do without TV.
        That seems to be unamerican or something.

        I repeat my pathetic observation: In my experience, FAR more than one out of ten satellite TV users are getting their service for free. If you went around telling people you're thinking of paying for it, you'd receive a lot of blank stares, as if it's such a foreign concept as to be beyond reason!

        Unless THAT changes, I can't even support the system, not as a subscriber nor as an investor.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have a question, coming from a typical EU sat TV experience:

    Back at home, all I had to do was to buy a sat receiver, an 80cm dish, a small motor and the 'converter' (whatever that was called, which goes into the dish's focus point), and I was able to get hundreds [funet.fi] of channels [cnn.com]:

    • High quality stuff, like German-Austrian-Swiss 3sat [3sat.de]
    • programs in all kind of languages, from Finnish to Turkish (not that I speak those, but between English, German, French, Italian and Spanish, I had some choice of multi-lingual programming :-P)
    • best of all: I did not have to subscribe to any service, no monthly fee etc.

    I don't want to start a flame-war: I just want a similar service here in the USA while I am here. How can I get it?

    Or is it so that, in a similar fashion as for cellphones in the USA, I have to pay even for things which are (or should be) paid for already by someone else?

    thanks for any detailed help.

    PS: what I mean with the cellphone comparison is:

    • I don't see why I should pay for TV movies interrupted by many commercials: I either pay by watching the commercials, or I don't want to see them inbetween movies. Not both.
    • Likewise, I don't want to pay for someone else's phone calls: if someone wants to call my phone, I don't see why I should be paying for it (as if I were asked to pay for incoming calls on my home phone, d'oh)

    PPS: I don't want to mess with sat dishes larger than 1m for that, nor to spend more than $300 total for the whole rig (as I'd do in EU).

  • I'd do it too (Score:3, Insightful)

    by quartz ( 64169 ) <shadowman@mylaptop.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:30PM (#6092) Homepage
    I'd pirate Directv too, but I don't have a ship and I can't sail. And I don't have a TV. No really, this "pirate" business is starting to get on my nerves. Why the hell they're calling US pirates? They're the ones who rip us off with high rates, crappy content, bad customer support and questionable service...
    • The rates can't be too high and the content can't be too crappy... because otherwise 10 million people wouldn't pay for it. There's always land-line cable. I don't know about you, but I don't (voluntarily) pay for things I don't like.
      • Please do explain then why even more people used Win95.

        Seriously, many subscribers don't have a real choice. Of the people I know that use DirecTV, they do so because they either can't get cable where they live, or get AOL/TW cable. They could always just not watch TV, I guess, but I think that's a a seditous act.

      • There's always land-line cable

        Yes, there is always land-line cable. And it's a steal, due to the intense competition of all 19 of my local cable companies! This is not to mention the 16 companies providing me with satellite-based TV service. I change my provider every other week, based on their the rates and promotions they're offering. Ain't competition grand?

    • Overheard on the New England coast

      Direct TV: Avast ye scurvy channel surfer.. Stand an deliver , your money or your life

      Victim: Sorry, I was looking for DirecTv customer service..

      Direct Tv: And Ye have found it, ya miserable land-lubber! Now .. would you be interested in upgrading your service or will ya be spendin' the night in Davy Jonse' locker?

      Victim: Screw this, I'm going back to cable.

      Direct Tv: Threaten me will ya! We'll se whos laughing when you get a Black Spot on yer bill this month!

      Victim: 'Click' tone.......................

  • All 100,000 people whose information was found during those raids, should ALL fight it in court.

    If DirecTV is stupid enough to sue/prosecute ALL 100,000 people, then they deserve to be run into bankruptcy by all those legal feesx100,000.

    Moreover, there aren't enough courts and there aren't enough jail cells to hold a sudden influx of 100,000 people.

    This will also cause a TREMENDOUS uproar among the American public.

    More likely, DirecTV will decide to pick a few random users, and go after them. Squash one pirate and make an example of him/her, and scare everyone else into compliance.
  • ha our triple-super-duper-protection device will foil you!!!

    Oh yeah, the Z34Vfds3 shreds your protection HAR HAR HAR!!!

    ahh-haa!! quadruple-super-dee-duper protection device 4943jffj$, try to stop this!!!!!

    Oh jeez, it took 25 minutes for my pet chimpanzee to figure out a work-arround with his model: sld2383D slide ruler....but my parrot had to help him, so I guess you made progress

    hmmmm, let's get them arrested. HAHAHA.

    Jeez, you got two of us, out of 3 million....good job.

    now repeat from the beginning accept change the letter/numbers of the devices arround and add a few dee-dupers.....Piracy will continue no matter what, accept it and concentrate on making your products better, nothing has worked yet and nothing ever will.
  • PC (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dsmey ( 193342 )
    One guy I know pirates this service by putting a cheap PC inbetween their satellite and their DirectTV receiver, thus eliminating the "shutdown" signal they occasionally send out to cancel the pirates' signal. When the PC locks up due to the signal, all you have to do is reboot the PC. I don't know how it works, but it does.
    • Re:PC (Score:2, Informative)

      by mistered ( 28404 )
      It's called emulation. Basically, there's a microcontroller in the smartcard that receives control messages from the satellite receiver set-top, and acts on those messages to enable or disable channels that you have access to. This microcontroller can be remotely reprogrammed, which is how DirecTV disables pirated cards (by reprogramming it with useless code).

      What you do with an emulation setup is get an old PC, and emulate the operation of the microcontroller (an 8051) in the PC. That way, if the code gets reprogrammed, you don't have a useless card, just a PC to reboot.

      There's some background information on emulation [canadahu.com] at canadahu.com.

      There's also a DirecTV emulator for linux called Pitou, as mentioned previously on Slashdot. [slashdot.org] That one's pretty neat, since it's based on an existing 8052 simulator called ucsim, and it allows you to use a descrambling card across TCP/IP. Pitou's home page [sourceforge.net] is on sourceforge.

  • Choices (Score:2, Interesting)

    I think the reason why so many people pirate tv is because there are no choices. You have to buy this package or another package, you can't get the 4 tv stations you want. I've been switching back and forth from cable to dish because of better prices for each. I myself don't pirate, but to many people it is probably very tempting. Like in order to get the 4 stations i wanted (TechTV, TLC, Discovery, and MTV2) i had to buy the package of 50 stations from dish. I probably never watched any of those for more than 30 minutes. The reason i got the dish was because at the time i bought it, they said after one year you could pick 10 stations and only pay for those. Well after a year of using the service, i called up and it's no longer avalible. If people could pick the stations they want, i think the number of pirates would go way down.
  • by Chakat ( 320875 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:35PM (#15522) Homepage
    Ya know, I really want to pirate DirecTV, but not to get all the channels... just to get a damn FOX affiliate over my dish so I could use my DirecTivo for The Family Guy and That 70s Show. Is that to much to ask?
    There's actually a pretty simple way around this dilemma, Taco. Get a relative/friend/willing slashdotter/etc who lives out in the middle of nowhere to let you use their address for the bills. You're then considered out of range of local broadcasters and they'll let you have your local channels. After that, you can get all the Family Guy and That 70's Show you can TiVO
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Isn't this what everybody's been asking for? We've asked companies to stop copy protecting their "intellectual property" at the cost of convenience to ordinary consumers, and go after actual pirates instead, and it looks like this is what they doing.
  • Cable (Score:4, Interesting)

    by telbij ( 465356 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:50PM (#21530)
    Heh, the other day a cable sales guy came to our house and was like "We know you're stealing cable, would you like to subscribe now at reduced rates?"

    More companies should offer this kind of piracy discount, I think it'd be a great sell :)
  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @01:35PM (#21564) Homepage
    There are two main methods used for gaining "illegal" DTV access:

    1. Cracked H card.
    2. Emulator system.

    A cracked H card is just that - back in the beginning of DTV, the smart cards used for access had an "H" designation or some such (am I showing my ignorance of the subject yet?) - these cards, when inserted into a legal DTV system, get programmed based on data in the video stream and data from the phone line. Due to various reasons, certain ones of these cards were never programmed, and as hacking them became more widespread, some were held back as blanks (as it was seen that they would soon be valuable). For the hacking scene, these "virgin" H-cards could be programmed to allow for all channels - so, buy or program a virgin card, pop it in, and get all the channels, for nothing.

    Hughes et al. knew this, and developed ways to "destroy" these cards (ie, reprogram them - including the last "famous" Super Bowl hack of this past year) remotely. Sometimes the cards could be reprogrammed. But there is something about a "virgin" H card still - and they are tough or impossible to find cheap.

    Now, there are emulators - but not a lot of people use them. Basically, an emulator is a piece of software running on a DOS PC (the software is well known - runs in DOS). Two serial ports are required on the PC - one is hooked up to a smart card reading device - and the other goes to a special "smart card" (actually, a custom PCB shaped like a smart card with pads and traces etched to put the pads in the same spots as an H card, and the traces come out to the edge to be hooked to the serial interface circuit, which is hooked to the serial port). Now, in the smart card reader is inserted the H card.

    But what does this "emulator" software do? I have heard everything from it acting as some kind of "digital" filter - so that it doesn't all certain writes to occur (to blow away the H card functions), to that it does actual emulation of everything, and that the card handles the encryption, to other things as well...

    This is a DMCA related issue - is the encryption being "cracked"? Or is the PC emulator system simply being used as a "go between" - and the smart card does the decryption?

    Like I said - I am ignorant of most of this stuff (though no doubt I obviously know enough that with a little work I could set up a cracked system - problem is getting that damn H card) - does anyone know the answers to my questions?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The cards themselves provide 3 functions.
      1 is a uniq identifier and bank of "tiers" or switches that the reciever can check against to see if it's ok for it to show you any given channel. DTV regularly sends a "tier update" targeted to your card's uniq ID, telling it to disable any range of channels you're not subscribed to.
      2 The card tracks Pay Per View usage and stores that information in memory for periodic uploading via the phone connection.
      3 The card provides decryption keys to the reciever so it can actually decode the MPEG video stream. The card and card interface doesn't have the bandwidth or processing power to do it itself. From watching the numbers roll by on my emulator, it appears that the system uses some kind of changing key encryption algorythm based on hardware in the cards themselves.

      The first method for card manipulation is simply to rewrite the software and memory on the card. i.e. the card just authorizes everything and don't track PPV usage. This is known as a 3M (all for one and one for all!) Decryption keys are still coming off the card as usual. Because DTV can test and write to the cards directly through the reciever this is prone to ECMs. DTV can and has "blown fuses" in hacked cards and rendered them inoperable. (looped..)

      The emulation method involves putting an emulator board in yor reciever's card slot. You connect this card to a PC via a serial port, then connect the PC to the card itself in a special card reader/writer (programmer) via the other serial port. The PC runs software that emulates a smart card and answers all authorization requests from the reciever. Because the encryption scheme is based on that card's hardware the emulation software passes through any encryption information to the card itself to get the correct key responses. Because DTV cannot write to the cards directly, this keeps the cards safe from being damaged by an ECM.

      DTV has been ECMing for as long as there have been hacked cards out there, but now that so many people have begun using emulators, those ECMs are not effective countermeasures against many people. The newest generation of cards has again, been broken, and many still just hack the cards directly.

      PS. Yes I DO use the tools to get all the channels, but I also subscribe to thier service. I pay them every month. I wonder if I'll get a letter...

      • I read something interesting the other day, someone was monkeying with altering the voltage supplies to the card slot. By lowering the voltage he was able to prevent the sat box from writing to the card, effectively ECM-proofing it. Neat. Why didn't I think of that? But surely the card must need to take some updates on occasion...

        (you need to safe the rewriteable memory in the sat box too, that can be fried by ECM as well.)
    • The H card contains some hardware that decrypts keys. The problem is, while it's decrypting keys, DirectTV can send signals to reprogram the card.

      The emulator emulates the card itself and only sends on the actual key requests. Any writes are done in the emulated card in the PC.

      It's interesting, but the people that really get into this aren't into TV as much as the challenge. It's kind of like one of the last REAL brain challenges left.

      If DTV was smart, they'd just start hiring the best crackers (at any price, really) and have them start searching for methods to stop pirating.
  • by westfirst ( 222247 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:57PM (#22083)
    Peter Wayner, the author of Free for All , Disappearing Cryptography and other nerd books is selling a short book or long article [flyzone.com]on the war between DirecTV and the hackers. All you need to do it send cash with paypal.

    Of course I wonder if the article will be pirated too. :-0

  • The pirates spend enough time/money on pirating signals, why doesn't DirecTV just make a deal where you can buy your dish system for $2000 - $3000, put that money in an escrow account to pay the monthly fees, and then allow the escrow holders to watch everything?

  • DirecTV were pursuing "Ahoy, matey!" pirates. I'd pay to watch that over the 500-some channels of rubbish they now offer.
  • I personally wonder where they get these stats...Big software companies always attribute their losses to piracy, what's to stop them from saying "We had 30% less profit this month, our software sucks, but that can't be it, must be piracy" No one's there to stop them from saying that or proving them wrong. Couldn't DirecTV pull a similar stunt in an attempt to explain 1M customers leaving or falling 1M customers short of their expectations(or at least bloat their piracy numbers a bit)?
  • If owning hardware to freely intercept DirectTV signals is considered privacy, then only pirates will have hardware to freely intercept DirectTV signals.
  • But how... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by baptiste ( 256004 ) <.mike. .at. .baptiste.us.> on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:26PM (#23657) Homepage Journal
    will DirectTV get probable cause for searches? It'll be interesting to see if judges grant the warrants based on product sales, etc. Especially when cops raid legitimate places using the cards (for what I have NO idea :) ) So DirectTV has some addresses, but is that enough to grant a warrant - what if the person just bought a non DirectTV hack product from teh same company - it could get messy.
    • Re:But how... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nanojath ( 265940 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:52PM (#12724) Homepage Journal
      If they had probable cause they wouldn't be doing the mailing campaign; they would just bring the hammer down.

      There's no reason to believe this is any different from the BSA mailings featured a while ago: They're fishing. No crime in sending a nasty letter, no legal fees or protracted court battle. I suspect the direct mail piece will essentially say: we know you're up to something, ya no-good dirty pirate, but if you go ahead and subscribe to our service right away we won't bother to investigate you...

      If, as the article suggests, they've had patchy success prosecuting the big middlemen operations, how the hell likely are they to succeed in running down the a million diffuse and unfederated end-users? Far as I know class action suits only go one way, and this ain't it, meaning they'd have to prosecute each user individually, and what are they likely to get? A back bill for a few years' service at best? Tell me it could come even close to covering the staggering legal fees.

      They're just beating the bushes, hoping to scare some people into subscribing. Note that in the final analysis, they don't gain anything if a pirate simply gives up on stealing the signal. They either need to get retroactive compensation or get them to sign up.

      Take a look at the stock graph in the article: that's your whole story. Just trying to prop up sagging revenue. The real question is... just how did they get those lists of names? If they were part of a separate case, under what jurisdiction were those names released to DirecTeeVee?

      • ...they'd have to prosecute each user individually, and what are they likely to get? A back bill for a few years' service at best?

        Their goal would probably be to get a few "casual pirates" thrown in the slammer for a few years, as a message to the rest.
  • by inquis ( 143542 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:52PM (#25762)

    the DSS satellites beam the digital signal to practically every square foot of land in the united states of america. last time i checked, it has never been illegal to intercept a signal that is being delivered to your property.

    so what exactly is being stolen here?? let's see, they broadcast a signal at me that i did not ask for. i intercept the signal and do what i will with it. if you pay some company, they will furnish you with equipment which makes it easier to use the signal (that is being beamed at you, with or without your consent).

    does this "crackdown" seem ludicrious to anyone else? how do you steal what you are being beamed for free?


    • ...last time i checked, it has never been illegal to intercept a signal that is being delivered to your property.

      Then you've been out of the loop for 15 years! Thanks to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, it is very much illegal for you to receive a signal 'not intended for your receipt'. This law was ramrodded by the cellular phone industry so that radio enthusiasts with scanners wouldn't be able to listen to your wife ask you to buy bread and milk on the way home.

      • IANAL, but I remember a precedent being set where someone using a C-band dish was sued by HBO for illegally descrambling their signal and the judge stated that if HBO didn't want this person to descramble the signal they should not deliver it to his property.

        Anyone else remember this?

        Also, if I recall correctly, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 says you're not allowed to receive a signal not intended for your receipt if you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Since DirecTV is blanket-beaming this to essentially the entire hemisphere, there's no expectation of privacy.
    • If it is an encrypted signal (it is) then wouldn't the DMCA cover this?

  • just to get a damn FOX affiliate over my dish so I could use my DirecTivo for The Family Guy and That 70s Show. Is that to much to ask? I already pay for HBO and Sci-Fi channel.

    I get FOX via DirecTV, Taco. Get the local channels pack that includes your local affiliate.

    As much as Slashdot advocates free speech and free reception of products (among other things), the unauthorized reception and decryption of a DirecTV signal is illegal...
  • by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @01:06PM (#26020)
    http://www.hackhu.com [hackhu.com] is gone. Actually, even their goodbye message is gone now. They said they were folding because of the threat of DirecTV hounding them into the ground. It was *the* source for great information on the DirecTV war.

    I can see DirecTV 'going through the motions' trying to scare subscribers. I can also see them actually prosecuting a handful of little people just to put up a good front. But I really don't see them nailing the end user. Just scaring the bejezus out of most of them into, 'Gee. Should I subscribe to this site that has the latest emulator code? DirecTV might get my subscription information and go after me!'
  • I seem to remember from the past /. story ( DirecTV's Secret War On Hackers [slashdot.org]) that sateliette broadcasters had no legal recourse against pirates, on the principle that they are beaming their signals on private property, and the people who live there can do whatever they want to with those signals. It would be the content providers' responsibility to keep the signals off non-customers' lawns.

    Though I suppose the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions do apply to doctored smart cards. Sigh.

    • This has always been nonsense. They have had legal recourse under US federal communications law for many years. It has nothing to do with DMCA.
    • No kidding. We were all very impressed at the way they gave the pirate problem to the engineers and not to the lawyers. Apparently, The Powers That Be at DirecTV have decided that lots of nastygrams and junk mail will be more effective. Sigh....

      Actually, I don't think the DMCA can even apply to this. Nobody is copying the signal, it's being broadcast onto my property whether I like it or not. What they've got going here is a content scrambling system. This, at least, is the logical way to look at it. Given Adobe's recent despicable (and successful) behavior, doing anything with their product that the company didn't certify apparently qualifies as "copy protection circumvention".

      I for one don't understand how they can even think they have a legal backing here. It'd be like charging me with illegal surveillance for listening to my two neighbors yell at each other across my backyard.

      • But as someone kindly pointed out, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 apparently makes it illegal to 'receive a signal not intended for your receipt'. Did it not occur to our fine upstanding legislators (snicker) that such a law would be extremely unenforcable? Imagine making it illegal to own an un-government-licensed radio receiver. No way would they be able to track down everyone tuned in. All you can do is go after the people who sell them, and still most of them will slip through your grasp.
  • Eh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geomcbay ( 263540 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:38PM (#29973)
    Ya know, I really want to pirate DirecTV, but not to get all the channels... just to get a damn FOX affiliate over my dish so I could use my DirecTivo for The Family Guy and That 70s Show. Is that to much to ask?

    Is paying DirecTV for usage of their system too much to ask? Nobody really needs all those channels. People generally only get DirecTV for a couple of channels they wouldn't otherwise be able to get in their area. If DirecTV can offer these programs you want to watch in a better way than you can see them now, why not just pay for the service?

    IMO Its really damaging to the Geek community to have people who want to pirate DirecTV yelling in chorus with the people who think the DMCA is evil and corporations are trying to strip us of fair use, etc. Just paints us as an unruly mob that wants everything for free.

    And, before anyone posts the 'well they broadcast their signal onto my property' defense, I don't buy into that and never will. The fact that these same people would be outraged if they were videotaped and/or voice recorded if they walked by my property (despite the fact that they are reflecting light and broadcasting sound waves onto my property) just makes it more ridiculous.

    • Taco said:
      Ya know, I really want to pirate DirecTV, but not to get all the channels... just to get a damn FOX affiliate over my dish so I could use my DirecTivo for The Family Guy and That 70s Show. Is that to much to ask?

      Then geomcbay said:
      Is paying DirecTV for usage of their system too much to ask?

      I don't know, is growing a sense of humor too much to ask?

      He's joking, people! Is it really that hard to tell?
    • Is paying DirecTV for usage of their system too much to ask? Nobody really needs all those channels. People generally only get DirecTV for a couple of channels they wouldn't otherwise be able to get in their area. If DirecTV can offer these programs you want to watch in a better way than you can see them now, why not just pay for the service?
      Why couldn't they charge for DirectTV like you pay for a pizza? A set number of channels/toppings you get to pick and choose for a set price, with extra charges for extra channels/toppings.
    • Due to really annoying federal regulations DTV cannot legally offer a lot of people the channels they would like to get.

      Taco can't legally get Fox, no matter how much he pays. Still the signal for many Fox stations are transmitted to his receiver, but it just won't show them. Pretty frustrating situation.

      I'm in the same position regarding WB and UPN. If I could I would pirate the signal and continue to pay my $40/month...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:32PM (#30451)
    If direct TV would just offer channels on an individual basis at a reasonable cost less people would pirate it. There are only about 20 channels I ever watch but to get them all I have to get the Super Duper Bazzillion Channels pack. Why can't they just offer the channels I want. Also for things like the Tour De France I would have gladly paid for Outdoor Life Network for 3 weeks to have that event but to get that I needed to buy 50+ extra channels. Not worth it in my opinion. Any thoughts on why they can't sell "per channel?"
    • As mentioned, the reason is revenue sharing... I believe however, that channels would be forced to put on better programming if companies such as DirecTV, cable company, DishNet, etc. offered channels a la cart ... if they can't put decent programming on that people want to watch... the channel will go away... and what is left behind is decent programming people are willing to watch. Not to mention on top of paying for cable or satellite service we have to watch commercials as well. DirecTV service was better when it was seperated into USSB (movies) and DirecTV (network channels, etc.) I've given up watching network channels (channels with commercials) ... I'm willing to pay for channels without interruption and with the article yesterday about Tivo I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one... however we're getting stuck with packages that have'em and companies working to force commercials down our throats with no workaround.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because not enough people would pay for Outdoor Life Network, or other channels with smaller targets. It's a form of Revenue Sharing, the people paying for ESPN are helping support 24 hour Lawn & Gardening.
    • Why they can't (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mordac ( 1009 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @01:38PM (#8749)
      I know this since working for their competitor a few years ago.

      They don't control the channels they offer as much as who they buy the channels from. Say they setup a deal with Disney, Disney now says you must require everyone of get ESPN and Disney Channel or no Disney at all. The same with Viacom channels (or whoever owns them now.)

      Dishnetwork had a deal called dish pix, $10 10 channels. BUT you couldn't get MTV, Vh1, and a lot of others since their required bundling didn't allow them to be a low tier package. But you could get other "lesser" niche based channels. But those started disappearing as they were being bought out by bigger companies and being tied to other channels.

      Discovery was the best at not having requirements, but they may have changed now (with about 20 channels in their lineup)

      It all comes down to the provider; DirecTV, DISH Network, and Time Warner are locked down to the channels they offer with others.

      They are even restricted by the providers competitors. So if the mid package has A&E, A&E's competitor must be in that package as well.

      Now if you go and get yourself a BUD (big ugly dish) you may be able to find a provider who sells more channels ala carte, but they usually have a fee for changing your schedule. They make their money off of fee's and have more options that way.

      PPV is actually becoming the preferred solutions for long events. You can sign up to watch a week long cricket match already. I'd think in another couple years you'll probably pick and choose events. But the price will probably be higher (like $20 for the entire Tour.)
      • My father has a setup through Dish Network where he pays something like $199/year for 10 channels from a pick of the top 50 channel package. He can add additional channels for about $2 per month. AFAIK, there are no bundeling restrictions.
    • Who really cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ratteau ( 183242 )

      I can understand the "just the channels I want" argument, but it has been addressed elsewhere. If the time comes when it is available, you will probably have to pay a premium for them because you are breaking up a package offered by the studios to the broadcasting companies. (see other posts above for more).

      Overall, though, comperable packages are still cheaper than cable (about $10/month cheaper here). Most times, you can get a deal for a free dish and receiver in exchange for a year contract. I have had DirecTV for 2 years now and I must say that I am extremely satisfied with their service and pricing. Time Warner Cable (as most cable companies), treats their customers as a commodity. They think that they are the only game in town. They didnt ask me why I was discontinuing my service, but it sure didnt stop them from calling me once a month for the next year; and they still send me snailmail.

      In order for DirecTV/UBS/etc to be able to break the cable monopoly, they need to be supported. Personally, I dont think very highly of people pirating DirecTV because it really does harm them in more ways than just their revenue stream. Once their user base reaches a number that the camble companies are unable to ignore, you will start to see competition in the market. Until then, DirecTV is still cheaper, more reliable, and has more package options.

    • Why can't they just offer the channels I want.
      event but to get that I needed to buy 50+ extra channels. Not worth it in my opinion.

      You just want 20 channels not 500?
      Ok, that will be $50.00 per month.
      DirectTV's costs are not deliniated on a "per channel" basis. They have very high fixed costs ie. satellites. The marginal costs of adding the other 480 channels you your "favorite 20" is negligble. this idea that the cost of 20 channels should be "20/500 x monthly cost" shows an extreme naivete in the way business works.
      Same false logic that if record companies sold music by the song than that hit single you like would only cost 1/10 x $15.00 == $1.50. Weell, no average "hit group" only produces 1 hit single per year. I doubt your $1.50 mp3 download would support music creation effort behind that years worth of work.
  • Several people voice the opinion that since the DTV signal is broadcast onto their property, they should have the right to do whatever they please with it. And I do have some sympathy with that position.

    But as far as I can see, if that were to be the law, I can't see how a satellite TV system could possibly be viable. Those satellites cost billions to put up and run, and with no revenue stream that would simply not happen.

    Or do I miss something?

    • If hacking was legal, there wouldn't be "no revenue stream." Today, hacking DTV is illegal, but it easy to do for technical people. Still, 90% of their subscribers DON'T hack.

      Even if hacking was legal, the sat company would be free to make it a pain in the ass, and most people would just pay anyway.
  • by canning ( 228134 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @01:15PM (#33092) Homepage
    As many as 100,000 names and addresses were collected from searches of alleged bootleg equipment operations

    O.K. we have search and arrest warrents for a Mr. S. Clause, I.P. Freely, Phil McKraken, and George Washington. We're still waiting on the ones for Clark Kent and M. Monroe. Let's roll.

    Ha ha, what chumps. Why don't they just go door to door and ask people if they're stealing Direct TV's signal?

    Agent: "Sorry to bother you sir but I'm Agent Thompson from the FBI, are you stealing a Direct T.V. signal?"
    Man at Door: "No."
    Agent: "Fair enough, thanks for your time."

  • Let me get this straight... M0r0n goes and visit this underground shop that sells pirated DirecTV cards and give them his real name and address?

    Sorry, but he deserves to get busted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @12:34PM (#34614)
    So this old haggard man of the sea walks into a bar, sits down, and orders a drink. Now, this wouldn't be worth note normally, but he has a steering wheel hanging out of his fly. Not wanting to be rude to a new customer, the bartender says nothing of it and gives him his drinks.

    This man starts to become a good customer, so finally, the bartender asks him, "I've really aprecaited your business this past week, but what's with the wheel hanging out of your fly?"

    So the man says, "Aye there matey, It's driving me nuts!"

  • So...they're combatting piracy by using junk mail.

    What happens with pirates who have opted out of junk mail? Get off scott-free?

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian