Short Bits: Broadcast Flag

Flag issues?
  I’d like to write a
nice article about the Broadcast Flag and what it is and isn’t.  Only problem, there is no good source of
factual information at all on the web. 
The Wikipedia
doesn’t cite a single source [citation needed] about the technical
aspect or implementation.  In fact, that
1000+ word entry only cited five sources, all of which are related to the votes
and riders in the Senate.

My basic understanding of the Broadcast Flag (or most
current concept) is that it does not limit recording.  The idea is to protect recordings.  Thus, the recent problems with Vista Media
Center and NBC are more likely a bug in Media Center rather than NBC truly enabling
the “Broadcast Flag.”  However, it would be
great if there was a recent (respectable) source that actually has information
on the true implementation of the Broadcast Flag.

21 thoughts on “Short Bits: Broadcast Flag

  1. I ran into this problem. Tried to record Season 2 of American Gladiators. Media center said it could not record and changed the recording from the HD channel to the SD equivalent. Needless to say i was pissed!

  2. EFF is not a good source of any information. There job is to provide false or highly overstated information. Doing so does almost nothing to help the cause and much more to hurt it.

  3. I think the broadcast flag can restrict any number of rights (record, share, etc). I know HBO uses it to lock recordings to a single machine. I’ve heard it can prevent recordings outright as well (obviously NBC has proven this).

  4. Chris,

    I find it kinda amusing that you bash the EFF which actively protects bloggers like you and the rights of many online folks.

  5. Yeah, EFF and most other non-profit advocacy groups do nothing but
    hurt the causes they think they are fighting for.  Sure, they do some
    good things but their main reason for existing is basically to spread
    FUD, and the EFF is great at that.

    I can’t even count how
    many times people like Cory Doctorow have put their foot in their
    mouths trying to stand-up for what they believe in and protect us by
    not understanding the root issues or technology behind the issues.

    I’m just not a fan of organizations like that.  Some might think they
    are great, and that’s fine.  I, personally, would never consider the
    EFF a great source of information (for rights related issues

  6. The broadcast flag is dead, hardware manfacturers are not required to enforce it, the problems most VMC (and TiVo) owners are having are on cable channels, and alrough it’s fun to blame it on a broadcast flag, it isn’t affecting broadcast TV(over-the-air).

  7. That’s true, but the problem is this was an issue with ATSC. While hardware doesn’t have to support it (and thus likely doesn’t), doesn’t mean software can’t. After all, software just grabs the bitstream from the card, so it could analysis the flag.

  8. I’ve been having significant problems recording programs. Today “Meet the Press” did not record (NBC) and I am also unable to record Gray’s Anatomy on ABC. I have a “play by the rules” VMC Cable card system which was expensive, and I’m angry that I am not able to perform many of the time-shifting, fair use functions. I’m not looking to pirate anything.

    I would appreciate a not-overly-technical discussion of what is going on here.

    Thanks, Kirk Klemme

  9. It’s a bug that’s been a “feature” since 2005 then. HBO has periodically caused similar problems.

  10. Disregard my post. It had been waiting for submit for the past several days and apparently has been covered. Still, I believe the handlng to be the same as CGMS-A. Meaning that you can set bits to not record, as much as you can to limited recording.

  11. Chris,

    Microsoft voluntarily decided to include copy prevention methods in Media Center. They were not legally required to, yet they still included them.

    Put that in your article as well.

  12. I am very disappointed that Chris has not addressed what is going on with the cablecard tuners and people being unable to record TV. It is not clear to me if this is a broadcast flag issue or not. (I’m sure you are aware of the threads on The Green Button struggling with this.)

    Chris, you’re our lifeline. Please help.

    Is it a coincidence that on May 18, Microsoft came out with a statement supporting broadcast flags? The problem is more widespread than a couple shows on NBC.

    Thanks, Kirk Klemme

  13. Apparently, Chris knows where his bread is buttered, and can not portray Microsoft in a negative aspect on his site. Without Microsoft and their Media Center product, the relevance of this site would be minimal.

  14. Right Alex, because everything I post here is positive from Microsoft perspective. If that’s what you think, I can tell you haven’t been reading long. 🙂

    The real reason I’ve yet to say much is because a) I think I said in this post I’m not educated enough on BF b) I just got back from driving 1200+ miles across Texas, c) Finished a semester at school, and d) I have a job outside of this blog now.

  15. I appreciate all the concern about broadcast flags, DRM etc.

    However, I believe that none of this has anything to do with the widespread problem that cablecard users are having. I think it is coincidence with the flag issue.

    If Chris can shed any light on what is going on with the cablecard tuners, it would be most appreciated. I’m going to try to call ATI today, but I’m not optimistic that they will be helpful.

    Here’s the link to the thread that all the cablecard users are posting to:

    thanks…like I said, the message people are receiving is that recording is prohibited by the content provider (NBC, ABC, TNTHD, HDNet); I think it’s a problem with the tuner, but no one seems to know.

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