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Encyclopedia > Pirate decryption

Pirate decryption most often refers to the reception of compromised Pay TV or pay radio signals without authorisation from the original broadcaster. The term "pirate" in this case is used in the sense of copyright infringement and has little or nothing to do with clandestine transmitting stations or with sea piracy. If a band starts singing "This is Radio Clash from pirate satellite, orbiting your living room, cashing in the bill of rights..." they're most likely referring to a quite different concept, that of pirate radio which involved the operation of a small broadcast radio station without lawfully obtaining a licence to transmit. Pay television, or pay-TV, usually refers to subscription-based television services, usually provided by both analogue and digital cable and satellite, but also increasingly by digital terrestrial methods. ... A pirate is: Pirate may refer to someone who saves up money, or sometimes the shore, without a commission from a sovereign nation Someone who commits copyright infringement, including pirate decryption, computer piracy and in particular, software piracy. ... Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of copyrighted material in a manner that violates one of the copyright owners exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it. ... A pirate digging…perhaps to bury treasure, perhaps a grave. ... The term pirate radio lacks a specific universal interpretation. ... A radio station is a sound broadcasting service. ...

Contents


History

The concept of pay TV is almost as old as TV itself and involves a broadcaster deliberately transmitting signals in a non-standard, scrambled or encrypted format in order to charge viewers a sizeable subscription fee for the use of a special decoder needed to receive the scrambled broadcast signal. The subscription business model is a business model that has long been used by magazines and record clubs, but the application of this model is spreading. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ...


Early pay TV broadcasts in countries such as the United States used standard over-the-air transmitters; many restrictions applied as anti-siphoning laws were enacted to prevent broadcasters of scrambled signals from engaging in activities to harm the development of standard free-to-air commercial broadcasting. Scrambled signals were limited to large communities which already had a certain minimum number of unencrypted broadcast stations, relegated to certain frequencies. Restrictions were placed on access of pay TV broadcasters to content such as recent feature films in order to give free TV broadcasters a chance to air these programmes before they were siphoned away by pay channels. Anti-Siphoning laws are designed to prevent pay-TV broadcasters (pay-per-view or premium channels for example) from buying monoply rights to televise important and cultural significant events before free-to-air television (commercial supported television, such as NBC, ABC, CBS in the United States) has a chance to... Free-to-air is a phrase used to describe television and radio broadcasts which are available without subscription and without decryption (pay-TV). ...


Under these conditions, the pay TV concept was very slow to become commercially viable; most television and radio broadcasts remained in-the-clear and were funded by commercial advertising, individual and corporate donations to educational broadcasters, direct funding by governments or (in the UK for the BBC) license fees charged to the owners of receiving apparatus. Generally speaking, advertising is the promotion of goods, services, companies and ideas, usually by an identified sponsor. ... Note: broadcasting is also the old term for hand sowing. ... Corporate logo of the British Broadcasting Corporation The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is the national public service broadcaster of the United Kingdom (see British television). ...


Pay TV only began to become common after the widespread installation of cable television systems in the 1970s and 1980s; early premium channels were most often movie broadcasters such as the US-based Home Box Office and Cinemax, both currently owned by Time Warner. Signals were obtained for distribution by cable companies using C-band satellite dish antennas of up to ten feet in diameter; the first satellite signals were originally unencrypted as extremely few individual end-users could afford the large and expensive satellite receiving apparatus. Coaxial cable is often used to transmit cable television into the house Cable television or Community Antenna Television (CATV) (often shortened to cable) is a system of providing television, FM radio programming and other services to consumers via radio frequency si sdfsdfBold textsdfsItalic textddd Bold textgnals transmitted directly to people... HBO (Home Box Office) is a premium cable television network. ... Cinemax is a cable television network that provides movies, special features, erotica programming for adults, and other services to consumers via subscriptions. ... Time Warner Inc. ...


As satellite dishes became smaller and more affordable, most satellite signal providers adopted various forms of encryption in order to limit reception to certain groups (such as hotels, cable companies, or paid subscribers) or to specific political regions. Some free-to-air satellite content remains, but many of the channels still in the clear are ethnic channels, local over-the-air TV stations, religious programming, backfeeds of network programming destined to local TV stations or signals uplinked from mobile satellite trucks to provide live news and sports coverage. In cryptography, encryption is the process of obscuring information to make it unreadable without special knowledge. ... A satellite is any object that orbits another object (which is known as its primary). ...


Specialty channels and premium movie channels are most often encrypted; in most countries, broadcasts consisting of explicit pornography must always be encrypted to prevent reception by those who wish not to be exposed to this sort of "adult content". Pornography (from Greek πορνογραφία pornographia — literally writing about or drawings of harlots) (also informally referred to as porn, porno, and more recently, pr0n) is the representation of the human body or human sexual behaviour with the goal of sexual arousal, similar to, but (according to some) distinct from, erotica. ...


Technical issues

Initial attempts to encrypt broadcast signals were based on analogue techniques of questionable security, the most common being one or a combination of techniques such as:

  • weakening or attenuating specific portions of the video signal, typically those required to maintain synchronisation
  • inverting video signals so that white becomes black (and vice-versa)
  • adding an interfering signal at one specific frequency which could be simply filtered out at a suitably-equipped receiver
  • moving the audio portion of the signal to some other frequency or sending it in a non-standard format

These systems were designed to provide decoders to cable operators at low cost; a serious tradeoff was made in security. Some analogue decoders were addressable so that cable companies could turn channels on or off remotely, but this only gave the cable companies control of their own descramblers — valuable if needed to deactivate a stolen cable company decoder but useless against hardware designed by signal pirates. Synchronization is coordination with respect to time. ...


The first encryption methods used for big-dish satellite systems used a hybrid approach; analogue video and digital encrypted audio. This approach was somewhat more secure, but not completely free of problems due to piracy of video signals. In biology, hybrid has three meanings. ...


Direct broadcast satellites and digital cable services, because of their digital format, are free to use more robust security measures such as the Data Encryption Standard (DES) or the RSA and IDEA digital encryption standards. When first introduced, digital DBS broadcasts were touted as being secure enough to put an end to piracy once and for all. Digital cable is a term for a type of cable digital television that delivers more channels than possible with analog cable by using digital video compression. ... General Designer(s) IBM First published 1975 (January 1977 as the standard) Derived from Lucifer (cipher) Cipher(s) based on this design Triple DES, G-DES, DES-X, LOKI89, ICE Algorithm detail Block size(s) 64 bits Key size(s) 56 bits Structure Feistel network Number of rounds 16 Best... In cryptography, RSA is an algorithm for public-key encryption. ... IDEA may refer to: Electronic Directory of the European Institutions IDEA League Improvement and Development Agency Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance Integrated Data Environments Australia Intelligent Database Environment for Advanced Applications IntelliJ IDEA - a Java IDE Interactive Database for Energy-efficient Architecture International Data... The TLA DBS may stand for: Direct broadcast satellite Deep brain stimulation DBS Bank, a major local bank in Singapore DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, a subsidiary of DBS Bank Diocesan Boys School, Hong Kong Den Beste Sykkel - a Norwegian bike manufacturer This page concerning a three-letter acronym or...


The enthusiasm was short-lived. In theory the system was an ideal solution, but some corners had been cut in the initial implementations. The first US DirecTV "F" cards contained no encryption chip. Next, designers of the first cards for one British system had started with a solid encryption algorithm, then had to implement it partially due to lack of processor resources on the smartcards. The DirecTV "F" card was replaced with the "H" card, which contained an application-specific integrated circuit to handle decryption. Unfortunately, due to similarities between the "H" and other existing cards, it became apparent that while the signal could not be received without the card and its ASIC, the card itself was vulnerable to tampering by reprogramming it to add channel tiers or additional programming, opening TV channels to the prying eyes of the pirates. A smartcard or smart card is a tiny secure cryptoprocessor embedded within a credit card-sized or smaller (like the GSM SIM) card. ... An ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) is an integrated circuit (IC) customised for a particular use, rather than intended for general-purpose use. ... The acronym ASIC, depending on context, may stand for: Application-specific integrated circuit ASIC programming language Australian Securities and Investments Commission This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...


Two more card swaps would be necessary before the piracy headaches at DirecTV would finally go away; a number of other providers are also in the middle of swapping out all of their subscribers' smartcards due to compromised encryption methods. In cryptography, encryption is the process of obscuring information to make it unreadable without special knowledge. ...


A number of key vulnerabilities exist even with digital encryption:

  • The same code is used for millions of subscribed receivers to decrypt the signal, yet it must remain completely secret. If the code has been compromised by anyone anywhere, computers and Internet can be used to make crucial details very public in a very short amount of time. Internet sites may be located offshore in countries where local laws permit the information and software to be distributed openly; some of the more notorious freeware distributed to pirates ranges from NagraEdit (a programme intended to edit the information stored on Swiss-designed Kudelski NagraVision 1 smartcards) to firmware which may be used to reprogramme some free-to-air set-top boxes or desktop PC's equipped with DVB tuner cards to permit them to decode encrypted broadcasts.
  • The secrecy of any code is only as trustworthy as the people designing the system; if any of them were to divulge any of the key design secrets, every card with the compromised decryption algorithm may need to be replaced for security to be restored. In some cases, outside personnel (such as those employed by lawyers in the NDS vs. DirecTV intellectual property lawsuit over the P4 card design) may obtain access to key and very sensitive information, increasing the risk of the information being leaked for potential use by pirates.
  • If less secure encryption is used due to processor limitations on the smartcards, the system is vulnerable to cryptographic attack using distributed processing. While most secure Internet and online banking transactions require 128-bit encryption, 56-bit codes are not uncommon in video encryption. A cryptographic attack against a 56-bit DES code would still be prohibitively time-consuming on a single processor. A distributed approach in which many users each run software to scan just a portion of the possible combinations, then upload results to one or more central points on a network such as the Internet, may provide information of value to pirates who wish to break security.
  • The resources available for reverse engineering increase significantly if a direct competitor with smartcard manufacturing knowledge were to attempt to maliciously compromise the system. Integrated circuits may be vulnerable to microprobing or analysis under an electron microscope once acid or chemical means have been used to expose the bare silicon circuitry. One lawsuit has already been launched by Canal+ (France), dropped as the result of the one-thousand million Euro deal to sell TelePiu (Italy), then continued by Echostar (USA). The suit alleged that a competitor had maliciously used reverse engineering to obtain the computer programs contained within various pay-TV smartcards (including Seca and Nagra cards) and allowed the results had been posted to Internet sites such as the notorious but now defunct DR7.com.
  • The signals moving between the smartcard and the receiver can be easily intercepted and analyzed. They can be vulnerable to a "glitch" by which the incoming power and clock signals are disrupted for a short and carefully-timed length of time (such as a millionth of a second) in order to cause the processor to skip an instruction. In many cases, hardware designed to exploit this weakness was sold to pirates for use in tampering with cards for the US-based DirecTV system.
  • In some cases, buffer overflow exploits have been used to gain access to otherwise locked cards in order to reprogramme them.
  • A scheme to monitor the exact instantaneous power consumption of smartcards as they make their computations also provides clues as to what type of computations are being performed.

In some cases, fraudulent cloning has been used to assign identical serial numbers to multiple receivers or cards; subscribe (or unsubscribe) one receiver and the same programming changes appear on all of the others. Various techniques have also been used to provide write protection for memory on the smartcards or receivers to make deactivation or sabotage of tampered cards by signal providers more difficult. The tower of a personal computer. ... Computer software (or simply software) refers to one or more computer programs and data held in the storage of a computer for some purpose. ... Free-to-air is a phrase used to describe television and radio broadcasts which are available without subscription and without decryption (pay-TV). ... DVB, short for Digital Video Broadcasting, is a suite of internationally accepted, open standards for digital television maintained by the DVB Project, an industry consortium with more than 300 members, and published by a Joint Technical Committee (JTC) of European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC... Flowcharts are often used to represent algorithms. ... Intellectual property or IP refers to a legal entitlement which sometimes attaches to the expressed form of an idea, or to some other intangible subject matter. ... A lawsuit is a civil action brought before a court in order to recover a right, obtain damages for an injury, obtain an injunction to prevent an injury, or obtain a declaratory judgment to prevent future legal disputes. ... This article or section should include material from Distributed programming This article or section should include material from Distributed system Distributed computing is the process of aggregating the power of several computing entities to collaboratively run a single computational task in a transparent and coherent way, so that they appear... General Designer(s) IBM First published 1975 (January 1977 as the standard) Derived from Lucifer (cipher) Cipher(s) based on this design Triple DES, G-DES, DES-X, LOKI89, ICE Algorithm detail Block size(s) 64 bits Key size(s) 56 bits Structure Feistel network Number of rounds 16 Best... Security is being free from danger. ... Reverse engineering (RE) is the process of taking something (a device, an electrical component, a software program, etc. ... A smart card, or integrated circuit(s) card (ICC), is defined as any integrated circuitry embedded into a flat, plastic body. ... An integrated circuit (IC) is a thin chip consisting of at least two interconnected semiconductor devices, mainly transistors, as well as passive components like resistors. ... DirecTV is a direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service that transmits digital satellite television and audio to households in the United States and the rest of the Americas. ... In computer programming, a buffer overflow is an anomalous condition where a program somehow writes data beyond the allocated end of a buffer in memory. ... Write protection, (also known as record protection) is a mechanism that prevents erasure of valuable data by the accidental recording or storing of new data. ...


Systems based on removable smartcards do facilitate the implementation of renewable security, where compromised systems can be repaired by sending new and redesigned cards to legitimate subscribers, but they also make the task of replacing smartcards with tampered cards or inserting devices between card and receiver easier for pirates. In some European systems, the conditional access module (CAM) which serves as a standardised interface between smartcard and DVB receiver has also been targeted for tampering or replaced by third-party hardware. A Conditional Access Module (CAM) is an electronic device, usually incorporating a slot for a smart card, which gives a DVB television or set-top box with the appropriate hardware the facility to decrypt scrambled programmes. ... DVB, short for Digital Video Broadcasting, is a suite of internationally accepted, open standards for digital television maintained by the DVB Project, an industry consortium with more than 300 members, and published by a Joint Technical Committee (JTC) of European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC...


Improvements in hardware and system design can be used to significantly reduce the risks of any encryption system being compromised, but many systems once thought secure have been proven vulnerable to sufficiently sophisticated and malicious attackers.


Two-way communication has also been used by designers of proprietary digital cable TV equipment in order to make tampering more difficult or easier to detect. A scheme involving the use of a high-pass filter on the line to prevent two-way communication has been widely promoted by some unscrupulous individuals as a means of disabling communication of billing information for pay-per-view programming but this device is effectively worthless as a cable operator remains free to unsubscribe a digital set-top box if two-way communication has been lost. A high-pass filter passes high frequencies fairly well, but attenuates low frequencies. ... Pay-per-view is the name given to a system by which television viewers can call and order events to be seen on TV and pay for the private telecast of that event to their homes later. ...


Terminology and Definitions

Much of the terminology used on Internet discussion sites to describe the various devices, programs and techniques used in dealing with video piracy is strange, non-standard, specific to one system or (in some cases) based on the inadvertent misuse of existing computer terms to substantially modify their meaning. A drawing of the everyday computer. ...


ISO7816 smartcard terminology

  • ATR is the answer-to-reset data from an ISO7816-compliant smartcard. A card reader would provide power, clock and reset signals to a smartcard, along with a bidirectional serial data interface to permit communication. On reset, the card would send a standard block of serial data (nominally at 9600 bit/s) to identify the card type and indicate the desired bitrate for further communication. The frequency of clock to be supplied may vary from one system or card type to another as it appears not to have been specified in the ISO standard.
  • A smartcard reader is a device which accepts serial data from a computer and converts it into an ISO7816-compliant form in order to permit communication with the card. The simplest of these devices was the Phoenix interface which passed data to the card with little additional translation; more sophisticated readers are often used in systems where the personal computer itself is to be secured using smartcard systems.
  • AVR and Atmega are trade names for a series of general-purpose 8-bit microcontroller chips manufactured by Atmel Corporation. The terms have been misused widely to refer to blank smartcards or various other hardware devices which were built around these processors. The widely-available European funcard series of blank generic ISO7816 smartcards were based upon the Atmel processor series; there was also a PIC card based on the Microchip Corporation PIC series of processors.
  • Emulation refers to something slightly different in ISO7816 than in other computer design applications; it is the connection of a personal computer in place of a smartcard using an ISO 7816-compatible "season interface" for test or development purposes. The PC is programmed to simulate the entire instruction set of the smartcard's CPU to allow smartcard code to be developed more readily. As some encryption systems require an application-specific IC (ASIC) on the card to perform decryption, a pirate would also use a card which had been "auxed" (reprogrammed to pass received computer data directly to the application-specific decryption chip) in order to employ such an emulation system.
  • A looped smartcard is one where defective or malicious programme code written to non-volatile memory causes the smartcard's CPU to enter an endless loop on power-up or reset, rendering the card unusable. In many cases, not even the ISO 7816 ATR message would be sent. Unloopers were smartcard repair stations intended to cause the card to skip one or more instructions by applying a "glitch" in some form to the power or clock signal in the hope of allowing the CPU to exit from the endless loop.
  • Bootloaders were hardware which used a similar "glitch" to break a card out of an endless loop on power-up each time the card was used; these did not provide any smartcard reprogramming ability. These could permit DirecTV "H" cards (now no longer in use) to operate despite the permanent damage done by malicious code during the "Black Sunday" attack of 2001. These devices are currently believed to be obsolete.

The Italian-French based aircraft manufacturer Avions de Transport Régional (ATR) was formed in 1981, from the consortium formed by the Aérospatiale of France and Aeritalia, now Alenia Aeronautica, of Italy companies. ... A microcontroller is a computer-on-a-chip used to control electronic devices. ... Atmel Corporation is a manufacturer of semiconductors, founded in 1984. ... A Microchip is, properly, an integrated circuit. ... This article is about emulation in computer science. ... A drawing of the everyday computer. ... A smartcard or smart card is a tiny secure cryptoprocessor embedded within a credit card-sized or smaller (like the GSM SIM) card. ... Intel 80486DX2 microprocessor in a ceramic PGA package A central processing unit (CPU), or sometimes simply processor, is the component in a digital computer that interprets and executes instructions and data contained in software. ... The acronym ASIC, depending on context, may stand for: Application-specific integrated circuit ASIC programming language Australian Securities and Investments Commission This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Intel 80486DX2 microprocessor in a ceramic PGA package A central processing unit (CPU), or sometimes simply processor, is the component in a digital computer that interprets and executes instructions and data contained in software. ... An infinite loop is a sequence of instructions in a computer program which loops endlessly. ... A smartcard or smart card is a tiny secure cryptoprocessor embedded within a credit card-sized or smaller (like the GSM SIM) card. ...

Receiver (IRD) and microprocessor terminology

  • DVB is an international standard for digital video broadcasting used by virtually all European broadcasters; some North American providers use incompatible proprietary standards such as DSS (DirecTV) or DigiCipher (Motorola) which predate the DVB standardisation effort. The packet size, tables and control information transmitted by proprietary systems require proprietary non-DVB receivers, even though the video itself nominally in some form will often still adhere to the MPEG-2 image compression standard defined by the Moving Picture Experts Group.
  • An IRD is an integrated receiver-decoder, in other words a complete digital satellite TV or radio receiver; "decoder" in this context refers not to decryption but to the decompression and conversion of MPEG video into displayable format.
  • FTA is often used to refer to receivers and equipment which contain no decryption hardware, built with the intention of being able to receive unencrypted free-to-air broadcasts; more properly FTA refers to the unencrypted broadcasts themselves.
  • A CAM or conditional access module is defined by the DVB standard as an interface between a standardised DVB common interface receiver and one or more proprietary smartcards for signal decryption. It is not the smartcard itself. The standard format of this module follows PCMCIA specifications; some receivers bypass the requirement for a separate module by providing embedded CAM functionality in the receiver to communicate with specific proprietary smartcards such as Nagravision, Conax, Irdeto, Viaccess, Betacrypt. In the North American market, most "package receivers" sold by signal providers provide embedded CAM operation; terminology is therefore often misused to misidentify the smartcard as a CAM.
  • JTAG is a standard test interface defined by the Joint Test Action Group and supported on many late-model digital receivers for factory test purposes. Operating using a six-wire interface and a personal computer, the JTAG interface was originally intended to provide a means to test and debug embedded hardware and software. In the satellite TV world, JTAG is most often used to obtain read-write access to nonvolatile memory within a digital receiver; initially programs such as Wall and JKeys were used to read box keys from receivers with embedded CAM's but JTAG has since proven its legitimate worth to satellite TV fans as a repair tool to fix receivers where the firmware (in flash memory) has been corrupted.
  • The Sombrero de Patel is another device used to obtain direct memory access to a receiver without physically removing memory chips from the board to place them in sockets or read them with a specialised device programmer. The device consists of a standard PLCC integrated circuit socket which has been turned upside-down in order to be placed directly over a microprocessor already permanently soldered to a printed circuit board in a receiver; the socket makes electrical contact with all pins of the microprocessor and is interfaced to one or more microcontrollers which use direct memory access to pause the receiver's microprocessor and read or write directly to the memory. The term sombrero is used for this hack as the novel use of an inverted IC socket somewhat resembles a hat being placed upon the main processor.

DVB, short for Digital Video Broadcasting, is a suite of internationally accepted, open standards for digital television maintained by the DVB Project, an industry consortium with more than 300 members, and published by a Joint Technical Committee (JTC) of European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC... The Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) is a United States Federal Government standard for digital signatures. ... DigiCipher 2, or simply DCII, is the name of the digital signal compression standard used on many communications satellite television and audio signals. ... MPEG-2 (1994) is the designation for a group of coding standards for digital audio and video, agreed upon by MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group), and published as the ISO/IEC 13818 international standard. ... IRD may refer to the following: integrated receiver/decoder Inland Revenue Department, the taxation service for the New Zealand Government. ... Free-to-air is a phrase used to describe television and radio broadcasts which are available without subscription and without decryption (pay-TV). ... Free-to-air is a phrase used to describe television and radio broadcasts which are available without subscription and without decryption (pay-TV). ... A cam is a projecting part of a rotating wheel or shaft that strikes a lever at one or more points on its circular path. ... DVB, short for Digital Video Broadcasting, is a suite of internationally accepted, open standards for digital television maintained by the DVB Project, an industry consortium with more than 300 members, and published by a Joint Technical Committee (JTC) of European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC... The PCMCIA is the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, an industry trade association that creates standards for notebook computer peripheral devices. ... // Nagravision Nagravision is a company which develops conditional access control for Cable and Satellite TV systems. ... Conax is a crypting system for digital television. ... Irdeto Access is a provider of content protection technologies for digital video and IP networks. ... Viaccess is an encrypting system for Digital television developed by France Télécom, it is used by TPS. There are three versions in use today, Viaccess PC2. ... JTAG, an initialism for Joint Test Action Group, is the usual name used for the IEEE 1149. ... Direct memory access (DMA) allows certain hardware subsystems within a computer to access system memory for reading and/or writing independently of the CPU. Many hardware systems use DMA including disk drive controllers, graphics cards, network cards, and sound cards. ... Optical Microscope image of an integrated circuit showing defects in the aluminium layer deposition. ... A socket generally designates a cavity or region used for fitting and connecting some specific device. ... Microprocessors, including an Intel 80486DX2 and an Intel 80386 A microprocessor (abbreviated as µP or uP) is a computer electronic component made from miniaturized transistors on a single semiconductor integrated circuit (IC) (aka microchip or just chip). ... Close-up photo of one side of a motherboard PCB, showing conductive traces, vias and solder points for through-hole components on the opposite side. ... A contact is part of the active component of an electric switch. ... There are many different styles of hats A hat is an item of clothing which is worn on the head – a kind of headgear. ...

Political issues

In some countries such as Canada and many Caribbean nations, the black market in satellite TV piracy is closely tied to the gray market activity of using direct broadcast satellite signals to watch broadcasts intended for one country in some other, adjacent country. Many smaller countries have no domestic DBS operations and therefore few or no legal restrictions on the use of decoders which capture foreign signals. ... The black market is the sector of economic activity involving illegal economic dealings, typically the buying and selling of merchandise illegally. ... The grey market (in U.S. spelling, gray market) refers to the flow of goods through distribution channels other than those authorized by the manufacturer or producer. ...


The refusal of most providers to knowingly issue subscriptions outside their home country leads to a situation where pirate decryption is perceived as being one of the only ways to obtain certain programming. If there is no domestic provider for a channel, a grey market (subscribed using another address) or black market (pirate) system is prerequisite to receive many specific ethnic, sport or premium movie services.


Pirate or grey-market reception also provides viewers a means to bypass local blackout restrictions on sporting events and to access hard-core pornography from places such as the Bible Belt where some content is not otherwise available. A sport consists of a physical activity or skill carried out with a recreational purpose: for competition, for self-enjoyment, to attain excellence, for the development of a skill, or some combination of these. ... Pornography (from Greek πορνογραφια pornographia — literally writing about or drawings of harlots) is the representation of the human body or human sexual behaviour with the goal of sexual arousal, similar to, but (according to some) distinct from, erotica. ... The approximate extent of the Bible Belt, indicated in red A Bible Belt is an area in which Evangelical Protestant Christianity is a pervasive or dominant part of the culture. ...


The grey market for US satellite receivers in Canada at one point was estimated to serve as many as several hundred thousand English-speaking Canadian households. Canadian authorities, acting under pressure from cable companies and domestic broadcasters, have made many attempts to prevent Canadians from subscribing to US direct-broadcast services such as News Corporation's DirecTV and Echostar's Dish Network.


While litigation has gone as far as the Supreme Court of Canada, no judicial ruling has yet been made on whether such restrictions violate the safeguards of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which are intended to protect freedom of expression and prevent linguistic or ethnic discrimination. Domestic satellite and cable providers have adopted a strategy of judicial delay in which their legal counsel will file an endless series of otherwise-useless motions before the courts to ensure that the proponents of the grey-market systems run out of money before the "Charter Challenge" issue is decided. The Supreme Court Building in Ottawa The Supreme Court of Canada (French: Cour suprême du Canada) is Canadas highest court and is located in the capital city of Ottawa. ... The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a constitutionally entrenched bill of rights which forms part of the Constitution Act, 1982, added to the Constitution of Canada in 1982. ... Freedom of speech is the right to freely say what one pleases, as well as the related right to hear what others have stated. ... Broadly conceived, linguistics is the study of human language, and a linguist is someone who engages in this study. ... Categories: Move to Wiktionary | Stub | Persecution ...


In most cases, broadcasters will require a domestic billing address before issuing a subscription; post boxes and commercial mail receiving agencies are often used by grey-market subscribers to foreign providers to circumvent this restriction.


The situation in the US itself differs as it is complicated by the legal question of subscriber access to distant local TV stations. Satellite providers are severely limited in their ability to offer subscriptions to distant locals due to the risk of further lawsuits by local affiliates of the same network in the subscribers home designated market area. California stations have sued satellite providers who distributed New York signals nationally, as the distant stations would have an unfair advantage by broadcasting the same programming three hours earlier. A designated market area is a group of counties in the United States that are covered by a specific television station. ...


There is also a small "reverse gray market" for Canadian signals, transmitted with a footprint which sends full-strength DBS signals to many if not all of the contiguous 48 US states. The question of signal substitution, by which Canadian cable and satellite providers tamper with foreign or distant broadcasts on their systems by substituting the signal of a local or domestic channel carrying the same programme, is rendered more complex by the existence of a reverse grey market. Signal substitution had already been the cause of strong diplomatic protests by the United States, which considers the practice to constitute theft of advertising revenue. A U.S. state is any one of the 50 states which have membership of the federation known as the United States of America (USA or U.S.). The separate state governments and the U.S. federal government share sovereignty. ...


The lack of domestic competition for premium movie channels in Canada is one factor encouraging grey-market reception; language is another key issue as most Spanish-language programming in North America is on the US system and most French-language programming is on the Canadian system. A larger selection of sports and ethnic programming is also available to grey-market subscribers. World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America North America is a continent in the northern hemisphere bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by the North Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Caribbean Sea, and on the west by the...


It could be said that the 1000-channel universe is a reality in North America, but only for the signal pirates as many legal and geographic restrictions are placed on the ability to subscribe to many if not most of the physically-available channels.


Other countries such as Iran, Afghanistan during Taliban rule and Iraq during the Saddam Hussein régime, have attempted to prohibit their citizens from receiving any satellite broadcasts from foreign sources; reception of news services such as Qatar-based Al Jazeera are the target of restrictive legislation in some nations. Flag flown by the Taliban. ... Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti, (Arabic: صدام حسين عبد المجيد التكريتي), born April 28, 1937 , was President of Iraq from 1979 until his removal and capture after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. ... Al Jazeera logo Al Jazeera (الجزيرة), meaning The Island or The (Arabian) Peninsula (whence also Algiers) is an Arabic television channel based in Qatar. ...


The situation in Europe differs somewhat, due to the much greater linguistic diversity in that region and due to the use of standardised DVB (digital video broadcasting) receivers capable of receiving multiple providers and free-to-air signals. North American providers normally lock their subscribers into "package receivers" unable to tune outside their one package; often the receivers are sold at artificially low prices and the subscription cost for programming is increased in order to favour new subscribers over existing ones. Providers are also notorious for using sales tactics such as bundling, in which to obtain one desired channel a subscriber must purchase a block of anywhere from several to more than a hundred other channels at substantial cost. A satellite composite image of Europe Europe is the worlds second-smallest continent in terms of area, covering around 10,790,000 km² (4,170,000 sq mi) or 2. ... DVB, short for Digital Video Broadcasting, is a suite of internationally accepted, open standards for digital television maintained by the DVB Project, an industry consortium with more than 300 members, and published by a Joint Technical Committee (JTC) of European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC... Bundling can mean more than one thing. ...


Fighting piracy

A number of strategies have been used by providers to control or prevent the widespread pirate decryption of their signals.


One approach has been to take legal action against dealers who sell equipment which may be of use to satellite pirates; in some cases the objective has been to obtain lists of clients in order to take or threaten to take costly legal action against end-users. Providers have created departments with names like the "office of signal integrity" or the "end-users group" to pursue alleged pirate viewers.


As some equipment (such as a computer interface to communicate with standard ISO7816 smartcards) is useful for other purposes, this approach has drawn strong opposition from groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation. There have also been US counter-suits alleging that the legal tactics used by some DBS providers to demand large amounts of money from end-users may themselves appear unlawful or border on extortion. The EFF uses the blue ribbon as symbolism for their Free Speech defense. ...


Much of the equipment is perfectly lawful to own; in these cases, only the misuse of the equipment to pirate signals is prohibited. This makes provider attempts at legal harassment of would-be pirates awkward at best, a serious problem for providers which is growing due to the Internet distribution of third-party software to reprogramme some otherwise legitimate free-to-air DVB receivers to decrypt pay TV broadcasts with no extra hardware.


US-based Internet sites containing information about the compromised encryption schemes have also been targeted by lawyers, often with the objective of costing the defendants enough in legal fees that they have to shut down or move their sites to offshore or foreign Internet hosts. In cryptography, encryption is the process of obscuring information to make it unreadable without special knowledge. ...


In some cases, the serial numbers of unsubscribed smartcards have been blacklisted by providers, causing receivers to display error messages. An "hashing" approach of writing arbitrary data to every available location on the card and requiring that this data be present as part of the decryption algorithm has also been tried as a way of leaving less available free space for third-party code supplied by pirates. A blacklist is a list or register of people who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, or mobility. ...


Another approach has been to download malicious code to smartcards or receivers; these programmes are intended to detect tampered cards and maliciously damage the cards or corrupt the contents of non-volatile memories within the receiver. This particular Trojan horse attack is often used as an ECM (electronic countermeasure) by providers, especially in North America where cards and receivers are sold by the providers themselves and are easy targets for insertion of backdoors in their computer firmware. The most famous ECM incident was the Black Sunday attack launched against tampered DirecTV "H" cards just before the 2001 SuperBowl game and intended to destroy the cards by overwriting a non-erasable part of the cards internal memory in order to lock the processor into an endless loop. Non-Volatile Random Access Memory (NVRAM) is a computer memory chip which will not lose its information when the power is lost. ... 19th century etching of the Trojan Horse The Trojan Horse is part of the myth of the Trojan War, as told in the Latin epic poem The Aeneid of Virgil. ... Inspecting an F-16 electronic countermeasures pod Electronic countermeasures (ECM) are any sort of electrical or electronic device designed to spoof radar, sonar, or other detection systems. ... A backdoor in a computer system (or a cryptosystem, or even in an algorithm) is a method of bypassing normal authentication or obtaining remote access to a computer, while intended to remain hidden to casual inspection. ... A drawing of the everyday computer. ... In computing, firmware is software that is embedded in a hardware device. ... The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League, the pinnacle of American football. ... It has been suggested that Data storage device be merged into this article or section. ... An infinite loop is a sequence of instructions in a computer program which loops endlessly. ...


The results of a provider resorting to the use of malicious code are usually temporary at best, as knowledge of how to repair most damage tends to be distributed rapidly by hobbyists through various Internet forums. There is also a potential legal question involved (which has yet to be addressed) as the equipment is normally the property not of the provider but of the end user. Providers will often print on the smartcard itself that the card is the property of the signal provider, but at least one legal precedent indicates that marking "this is mine" on a card, putting it in a box with a receiver and then selling it can legally mean "this is not mine anymore". Malicious damage to receiver firmware puts providers on even shakier legal ground in the unlikely event that the matter were ever to be heard by the judiciary.


The only solution which has shown any degree of long-term success against tampered smartcards has been the use of digital renewable security; if the code has been broken and the contents of the smartcard's programming widely posted across the Internet, replacing every smartcard in every subscriber's receiver with one of different, uncompromised design will effectively put an end to a piracy problem. Providers tend to be slow to go this route due to cost (as many have millions of legitimate subscribers, each of which must be sent a new card) and due to concern that someone may eventually crack the code used in whatever new replacement card is used, causing the process to begin anew.


Premiere in Germany has replaced all of its smartcards with the Nagravision Aladin card; the US DirecTV system has replaced its three compromised card types ("F" had no encryption chip, "H" was vulnerable to being reprogrammed by pirates and "HU" were vulnerable to a "glitch" which could be used to make them skip an instruction). Both providers have been able to eliminate their problems with signal piracy by replacing the compromised smartcards after all other approaches had proved to provide at best limited results.


Many other providers, including the North American Dish Network/ExpressVu systems, are now also in the process of a smartcard swap to replace cards which were based on what is now a compromised encryption system.


External links

  • BBC - Canal+ TV firm sues over 1-bn 'piracy' loss
  • Murdoch caught up in corporate sabotage scandal
  • Echostar joins piracy fight
  • On long-lived public-key traitor tracing - first steps

  Results from FactBites:
 
Software security method and systems - Patent 4747139 (5554 words)
The decryption routines and a key sequence to be applied to the key generator are stored with the application software on the storage medium.
To decrypt the application software, the stored key sequence is applied to the key generator to obtain an output key sequence.
Ih order that the decrypted software cannot be readily taken from the operating computer system after a key had been generated, the encrypted software instructions may include multiple loaded segments such as overlayed routines which are independently encrypted.
decryption - Search Results - MSN Encarta (126 words)
Encryption, process of converting messages or data into a form that cannot be read without decrypting or deciphering it.
Pirate decryption most often refers to the reception of compromised pay TV or pay radio signals without authorization from the original broadcaster.
The term pirate in this case is used in the sense...
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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