back to article Apple TV owners lost legal movie playback this weekend

Unconcerned about the insidious impact of Digital Rights Management? You may want to think again when you hear about the many Apple TV owners who found they couldn't play legitimately acquired movies this weekend. There you are, you've paid for a film through iTunes. You own it. But you can't play it. Many Apple TV owners are …

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Silver badge
FAIL

And that dear friends is why

DRM is a totally impossible technology.

Unless content providers are prepared to pay punitively massive compensation payouts when their technology fails, so that they take their obligations seriously.

They would also need to undertake to provide the unlock key if the service is every withdrawn.

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xkcd

All I can say is: http://xkcd.com/488/

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Facepalm

"content you've purchased"?

"content you've purchased?" - content you PRETENDED to purchase more like. And paid full price for the pretence of it.

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Trollface

Indeed. The article falls down at: "you've paid for a film through iTunes. You own it." However, all that really happened is that you paid someone some money.

Their T&C says that they will let you see what you've bought if you do it the way that they want, when they want, with the people watching that they want, only in the room they want, and only using the equipment they want. If you try to do anything else, you are a Somali, robbing a ship in the ocean*, and they will knee-cap you with the DMCA.

Now you complain that you want to watch it using iTV, in your living room, with your family watching too, and at the weekend. That's not their problem; they didn't want you to watch it at the weekend; get over it!

In fact it's like insurance companies; they don't really want you to claim (watch the film); they just want your money.

*Pirate

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WTF?

Downvotes?

What, pray tell is your defence of DRM? Do enlighten us.

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Re: Downvotes

Indeed this is something I have noticed myself on here many times. cba making arational comment? Lets just downvote. Can we call them Downvote Fanbois? :)

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They don't work...

...to the benefit of the paying customer. They do work to the benefit of the seller.

They do inconvenience the buyer, they don't inconvenience the pirate.

They achieve nothing that benefits anyone who wants to pay for the product.

Personally I won't buy anything that has DRM, if I want it badly I will pirate it, if I don't I'll forgo it, if it didn't have DRM I would've bought it.

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It wasn't me but...

I understand why people push back against anti-DRM statements as it relates to Apple's FairPlay. The problem with bashing on it, is that it gives a great deal of freedom and yet, the content owners appear to be willing to accept it. Now that may make it the best of the worst, but as I see it, content owners are not about to open the flood gates DRM free any time soon. And digital distribution gives benefits and freedoms that physical media doesn't.

So, till Steve Jobs can write another Open Letter to the industry (tied to a deal he had already made with one of the majors) that convinces them to drop DRM entirely. I'll stick with iTunes and FairPlay.

And I might even down vote some comments that don't take these ideas into account and simply bash on DRM without thought.

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@Doug

So what you are saying is: You don't particularly get off on waterboarding, but you will support it's use on yourself and others as it sure beats genital electrocution.

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Facepalm

And people are surprised?

You own the item but don't own control over the item.

How could that possibly ever go wrong?

Maybe this will be a wake-up call for those who thought it never would or never could. On the other hand there seem to be plenty of suckers born every minute who do not read or cannot understand the small print - even when in 72-point bold - nor recognise the bleeding obvious when staring them in the face. It's however sometimes hard to feel any sympathy.

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The benefits out weigh the loss

I have to play devils advocate here. I purchase the rights to a Movie and under Apple's DRM I can legally watch it on my desktop, laptop, iPad, 2 iphones, and 3 ipods, in my house. Legally! Simultaneously! But wait it gets better!

My dad, mother inlaw, and brother (in another state), can all be watching it on their authorized computer or any iOS device sync'd to that computer. So that is 5 more AppleTV's, 3 more iPads, 4 more iPhones and 4 more ipod's.

By my count that is 27 devices that can all watch the same content licensed 1 time for $15-$20, played in 2 states, 4 cities and upto 27 different locations all at once all legally. DRM maybe less than perfect but you are fighting a losing battle against Apple's Fairplay DRM because it normally just gets out of your way. This is why the iTunes store has been so successful.

Just my view

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FAIL

"By my count that is 27 devices that can all watch the same content"

Unless of course those 27 devices were used to watch something this weekend.

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@ Doug Petrosky 1

As opposed to spending, say, your $15-$20 on a DVD and playing it on ANY DVD player, loaning it to your brother, watching it at a friend's house and then putting it on a bookshelf where it can sit for TWENTY YEARS without being an unrecognised filetype or failing upon contacting an unknown licencing server. I'll see your 2 states, 4 cities and 27 machines and raise you "with you, anywhere".

[and this isn't counting the (dubious?) ability to rip a DVD that you *own* into an XviD to drop onto a mobile phone or the like, without the necessity of being tied to a specific platform]

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Get serious

Short of the as you said dubious ability to RIP a DVD. (and it becomes completely un dubious once you start sharing it with others) what you describe is the ability to transfer this single use from one person to another. What I'm talking about is all 27 of those devices anywhere in the world playing that content legally at the same time. So I send the file to my brother and I never lost access to it.

As for formats 20 years from now? The odds that a future device will not support the INDUSTRY STANDARD. H.264 format of iTunes is highly unlikely. MP3 has survived longer than that and will still be going strong decades into the future. Although it is true that iTunes could fail and we could loose access to that content, past failures of other companies have shown that normally purchasers are compensated.

NOTE!! I did purchase a few shows in the early days of iTunes that were 320x240 and now those shows have been upgraded to 640x480 (for free). There is no guarantee this will happen again but it is possible at a future date that for FREE or for a nominal fee my 480p videos will be upgraded to 720p or 1080p, something that will NEVER happen with physical media copies.

At least that is how I see things.

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I'll give a partial point for that

Actually reports appear to be centered around AppleTV only. Computers, iPods, iPhones, and iPads appear to have not been affected.

Really the only major negative to fairplay is that it only runs on Windows, Mac and iOS. This is not a problem because I like the iOS, but it would be nice if Apple would make and Android app to play this content.

My point is that Fairplay in some ways allows for better sharing of licensed material than current copy-write and ULA's on optical media. Thus why it has been so hard to get people riled up against Apple and iTunes.

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Ripping a DVD is not dubious it is merely format shifting. The sooner the studios come around to the fact I want the shareability of DVD with the playability of a digital file the better. I will not purchase multiple copies and I will not be suckered into renting which is what "buying" a DRMed copy is.

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@ Mark 65

I would agree with you. However it stands as "dubious" because we are the peons that pony up the cash, while they are the studios and distributors that can influence how laws are interpreted.

I habitually rip my DVDs. Firstly, because more recent attempts at Macrovision screw up my old telly (so ripping allows this garbage to be stripped out - a rather self-defeating protection method if you ask me) and secondly because my eeePC has a slot in the side...for an SD card, not a spinny disc. Oh, and thirdly I can get like half a dozen movies on a 4Gb card and it won't adversely affect power consumption unlike a DVD-ROM in use.

And, why not? I *bought* the DVD. I purchased the right to dangle their product in front of my eyeballs. The exact method I use is none of their goddamned business. Netbook? Phone? Real telly? It is to *my* convenience.

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@ Doug Petrosky 1

"(and it becomes completely un dubious once you start sharing it with others)" - I was wondering if you would make this association. You know, not everybody who rips their DVDs has the urge to splatter the data to the nearest fileshare site.

"What I'm talking about is all 27 of those devices anywhere in the world playing that content legally at the same time." - mmm, exactly how likely is this to happen in reality?

"The odds that a future device will not support the INDUSTRY STANDARD" - I wonder how well my (Android) phone would cope with an MPEG2 stream (say, a VOB file). I wonder how your Apple phone would cope with a VOB file?

"MP3 has survived longer than that and will still be going strong decades into the future." - mostly due to the mountain of MP3 compatible media players, and their associated data. Perhaps sometime soon the world will make the transition to AAC (which offers better quality results for the same bitrate), but it won't be just yet as suport is still patchy, especially on little personal players.

"past failures of other companies have shown that normally purchasers are compensated." - hehe, dream on. You will be compensated once everybody higher up in the pecking order has stripped the carcass clean. In other words, in the real world, it's the creditors and shareholders that see something back and it's people like us that get a kick in the balls.

"I did purchase a few shows [...] that were 320x240" - you *paid* for 240p?!? I can't comment on the 640x480 as you may live in an NTSC region. If I was going to pay for content in that manner, I would demand 720x576 anamorphic (i.e. like any decent PAL DVD).

"it is possible at a future date that for FREE or for a nominal fee my 480p videos will be upgraded to 720p or 1080p, something that will NEVER happen with physical media copies." - it is equally possible that it will not. As for never upgrading a physical disc, I have seen some decent quality DVDs upscaled to 720p and it looked pretty good. But then, being in a PAL region, we start with 576 lines so it's only 144 to interpolate. Things might not look so good upscaled to 1080p (but then I see a fair few artefacts in Bluray pictures playing at the local supermarket, so maybe an upscaled DVD wouldn't be so icky after all). Of course, if you start with only 480 lines, you're losing before you've even begun...

"At least that is how I see things." - à chacun son goût.

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DRM

If you are chained to the ore, why do you think you shouldn't go down with the ship?

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DJV
Headmaster

What?

Oh, you mean "oar". I was trying to figure out what was relevant about being chained to a rock (or even "chaned to a roc").

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Headmaster

Apple's version of concrete boots?

Good point. Anyone chained to a chunk of metal-bearing rock should expect to hit the bottom a long time before the ship has even finished sinking.

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Thank you

For one of the funner corrections of my spelling.

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Mushroom

Give up on DRM and just sell your products! You'll make MORE money.

This is indicative of the futility of Digital Rights management. Everytime DRM software gets changed or updated, it breaks the rest of the system, pissing off paying customers.

I just purchased Star Wars Complete Saga on BluRay and my Samsung BD-5300 BluRay player can no longer read the disks so I have an $86 set of disks that cannot be returned since i opened them to play them and a BluRay player that is rendered "unfit for the intended purpose" by DRM.

No firmware upgrade appears to be in the offing yet according to Samsung. Apparently Samsung, LucasFilms and Fox are more concerned about losing profits to "pirates" than the paying customers they already have.

I do not download media, I purchase it. But count me out on purchasing media any longer until this problem gets resolved.

Exactly how much does it cost for hardware manufacturers to repeatedly create or repair firmware? Bocoup buck methinks...How about the cost to create DRM in the first place, even more money wasted!

I'm not even talking about Allshare/DLNA stupidity just DRM. If you spent half the money wasted on DRM on keeping your customers happy, you might sell more product.

In fact, I will now go out of my way to avoid buying any new BluRay media until there is ONE, SINGLE, UNIVERSAL DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT PLATFORM THAT CAN BE ADEQUATELY TESTED BY ALL HARDWARE MANUFACTURERS WELL BEFORE THE MOVIES ARE RELEASED.

So much for MY "Consumer Sentiment". Frikkin MORONS! Nuclear Icon for my opinion of DRM junkies.

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Anonymous Coward

PS3 ?

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Err, yes you can !

>> I just purchased Star Wars Complete Saga on BluRay and my Samsung BD-5300 BluRay player can no longer read the disks so I have an $86 set of disks that cannot be returned since i opened them to play them and a BluRay player that is rendered "unfit for the intended purpose" by DRM.

Well if the disks are faulty then you CAN return them (I assume you are in the UK ?). Any statement that you can't return them because you've opened them is in conflict with your legal rights and therefore null and void. If they are sold as BlueRay discs, and won't play in your BlueRay player, then one or both is not fit for purpose and your rights under the Sales of Goods Act and Sales of Goods and Services Act come to your rescue.

Between them, they state that it is an implied term of any contract between a consumer and business that the goods are as described, fit for purpose, and reasonably durable. If a BR player won't play a BR disc then one or both is "not fit for purpose" - though your difficulty is determining which if you don't have another player to try the discs in. Of course, if you ask at the time of disk purchase if it will play in "<model X> BR player" then they will say yes - if they don't then the "fit for purpose stated at the time of purchase" bit kicks in and it's the disk retailers problem even if the incompatibility os the fault of the player.

But if your player plays other disks, then you can infer that it's the discs and return them to the retailer. IMO it is ones duty to do so - unless people stand up and pass the cost and inconvenience back up the chain then there isn't any disincentive for the vendors to keep heaping up the midden. If they find it's costing them hard cash then they may, just, start to think again.

What would be ideal would be for enough people to take discs back that a major chain (such as ASDA or Tesco) threatened to drop the output from a manufacturer on the grounds that the returns were too high. That is what it will take for anything to change. One can but dream !

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I'd guess that if they paid $86 they're not in the UK (not quite the 51st state yet)

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Linux

First thing I did with mine...

... was to jailbreak them :-) Bliss.

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Anonymous Coward

Own?

"You own it."

That would be the first mistake, by the customer. You do not, in fact, own it, as should be obvious after this outage.

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, no!

"There you are, you've paid for a film through iTunes. You own it."

Sorry no. You have obtained a license to be able to play it any time you wish, you do not own it. At least with a DVD you could claim you owned the physical transport medium but not the movie.

Personally I bought two Apple TV box and immediately rooted them, installed XBMC and I use them purely to play media off my home NAS boxes. ATV2's are great little media boxes.

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Anonymous Coward

"any time you wish"

Apparently not

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"Sorry no. You have obtained a license to be able to play it any time you wish"

Like at the weekend, perhaps, when despite purchasing a license to be able to play it any time you wish, you weren't able to play it.

There may be a crossover argument that, as you own the medium on which the film is stored then you do own the stored film, but you can't watch it without a combination of the license (as purchased) and the DRM servers (as should be available at all times so you *can* play it any time you wish).

Personally I haven't bought any Apple TV boxes, let alone immediately or eventually rooting any or indeed installing XBMC. Consequently I have none of them to be used purely to play downloaded DRM-removed copies of movies off my home NAS boxes.

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Pirate

Never rented a scratched DVD?

No problem, we'll give you a free rental and refund your money. This is an easy problem to fix, it's just a little embarrassing.

And even if you bought a dvd, you only own the media. You've licensed the content.

Personally I would rarely watch a film more than once if I had to pay for it. I don't really understand the compulsion to purchase DVDs.

Having said that, with all the torrents out there and broken DVD & BR encryption, why would you bother DRMing your service? More trouble than its worth surely. I guess Apple is trying to balance on the fence between keeping dumb studios happy and keeping customers happy. Sometimes you fall off the fence. Really, if you are going to infringe, there are easier ways than Apple TV.

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*Smug glow*

Yep - my server stayed up throughout, with all my DVDs and BluRays on it. On, and my XBMC AppleTV sailed on through as well...

Enough of that, though. It's an impossible situation. If you give free access to media, far fewer people would actually buy it, so less would be made (and then only in "safe" genres where they reckoned they could sell it easily). If you restrict access to media, you end up in a position like this where your DRM cluster drops out and your customers are angry. (Or the company supplying the media sinks and takes their DRM and all access to the media with them.)

I don't honestly see how this can be fairly resolved. So in the meantime I'm happy buying plastic discs.

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Pint

Well...

I watched movies all weekend. I reached up to my shelf, grabbed the DVD I wanted and tossed it in the machine. I have e-copies as well, but they are on my QNAP Home NAS server, not in the cloud.

Apple TV and the rest sell you something, then they hold onto it and control when you can see it (or not). I prefer the content in my control. They don't, but I do...

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Anonymous Coward

Timestamp

in my case my shiny new (3rd) Apple TV2 was unable to get a timestamp from somewhere at apple in order to validate the apple user id/login when the box tried to login to verify the DRM. My video file wasn't even DRM'd, as it was user generated content, it was however on the home iMac - with household sharing enabled - but this new ATV2 wasn't able to get credentials to attach to my home mini-cloud due to non availability of time services. (there was no option to set the time local!)

Just my luck that the ATV arrived fresh from apple refurb in the states (£54!) to be installed whilst the cloud was a bit vaporous....

still a decent bit of kit and worth every (US) penny and rootable to xbmc should the cloud get too annoying

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@ Dan Paul

Curious. My Samsung HT-BD1255 (bluray + 5.1 sound system) plays the new Star Wars blurays just fine (watched "Revenge of the Sith" last night). The box is over a year old, and I haven't seen a firmware upgrade for it. But, I don't have its ethernet connection hooked up - I've only done that a couple times to check for upgrades. It has played every bluray I've given it. The Star Wars disks do take quite a while to start up, however.

If Samsung has been using different hardware codes for different model players (which would be reasonable, IMHO), then perhaps your particular model (or even your specific unit?) has been specifically disabled for some reason. My limited understanding of bluray DRM says that is possible.

If either your model or your unit has been disabled, then you may not be able to play *any* new bluray disks, as they will all list it as disabled. Keep checking for a firmware upgrade.

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Bronze badge

BD Player and Discs bought in USA (still not fit for purpose)

Chris, Go ahead, make me jealous. I finally get these discs and want to play them in theater quality surround ( two Polk 70 series, two Polk 30 series, two Polk 10 inch powered subwoofers Yamaha 867 and no neighbors) and I can only play the first disc. the rest won't play.

My BD-5300 was purchased at Christmas last year and the Star Wars bought same day of release at Wal-Mart (thus the $86). Player firmware was upgraded on Sept 16th 2011 via a Samsung Wireless dongle. I live in the US for the record.

Unfortunately, here in the USA "if you open it, you bought it, you keep it" is the rule with media. I do not have a region code issue with the BluRay player or discs to my knowledge. I did a hard reset and I have played other BluRay discs.

Startup or loading time is not the issue, the error message says that the player does not recognize the disc format. The worst disc for that problem used to be Avatar but that played first time out of the box.

I do have a surround sound receiver hooked up via HDMI 1.4A but I really hope that Fox/Lucas Films DRM is not preventing me from playing a movie because I choose to have a high end surround sound system.

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This is why DRM should be ILLEGAL.

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Seriously! I mean really?

Well Apple's DRM system worked perfectly over the weekend at my home, so I'm guessing this is not as wide spread of a problem as you all might think . The web is not perfect, but even the worst reports sound like a loss of access for a day, maybe two for only some people. I wasn't about to go back to snail mail when this happened to Gmail, or Yahoo, and I'm not about to move back to physical disks because of this.

It is not like if you scratch, or loose a disk you can just have it right back the next day. But with iTunes....presto! Unobtrusive DRM is what needs to be in place at this time, to secure content deals.

What is your better alternative.

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Anonymous Coward

I think DRM stands for

Don't Rent Movies

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Anonymous Coward

k.i.s.s

Everything is "unobtrusive" as long as its system works.

We don't need backups, unless we lose the laptop, or the hdd crashes.

Question is: since it's an elaborate system with many components - is it failsoft?

DRM, by its nature, is a technology based on distrust (or a trust chain, same difference). Therefore it will always err on the side of distrusting you. It was made to protect the media moguls wallets and ease their paranoia.

Renting/"buying" stuff on itunes may be easy, but (imho) hardly a good idea if you want to keep the content.

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Trollface

Funny!!!!

Haaaa!!! hahaaha!! aaaahhahaha!! sorry, I found it funny, apple .. couldn't happen to anyone nicer :)

Apple and it's DRM,locked down,our format,our hardware,our everything = yet more mither for the apple squad and it's followers :)

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