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Subject: Re: Keeping secrets secret (broadcast TV)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Isaac Wingfield)
Date: Thu, 30 October 1997 11:19 AM EST
Richard Karlsson <email@example.com> wrote in article
> > Hello
> > I can't really figure out why it is so hard for satellite TV
> > broadcasters to keep people from viewing their programs without
> > paying.
> > If I have understood the Eurocrypt standard correctly it is based on
> > the DES algorithm. I assume the secret key (inside the smart card)
> > takes quite long to recover if all you can do is observe the input
> > and output streams to/from the card. Then all the broadcaster would
> > have to do is replace the keys (cards) every time the secret key is
> > reveald (not very often).
> > Now obviously it is possible to recover the key by using a flaw in the
> > electronics of the card which lets you dump the contents of the card
> > (i.e. the key). I would expect the manufacturer of the cards to refine
> > the electronics and then replace the cards with more secure ones with
> > a new secret key inside. But there seems to be a catch since there is
> > such a large market for pirate cards and codes.
> > What am I missing? How come the broadcasters can't keep the keys
> > secret?
It's simple economics; we're not talking about state secrets here. Theft of
this sort, while real theft, prevents no legitimate viewer from getting
what he paid for. Broadcasters expect a certain amount of "leakage". For a
two million viewer system, I would suspect that a couple of tens of
thousands of pirates is just getting annoying.
Replacing a couple of million smart cards is not cheap. What a broadcaster
needs to decide, is when the number of pirate viewers rises to the point
where their revenue stream is impacted more than they would like. Note
that, similar to software theft, nowhere near the total number of pirates
would subscribe if that were the only way to watch the programming; only
potential *real* subscribers represent *real* lost revenue.
One of the most curious aspects of this to me, is the evident willingness
of so many people to pay more for a pirate card than they would for a
year's subscription to what they are "stealing", even when the potential
lifetime of the card may be less than a year. Perhaps the "pirate card"
business is really run by the broadcasters themselves, as a way of getting
money from people who would never subscribe otherwise 8^}.
Interestingly, one of the ways the b'caster can decide how large the
population of pirates is, is to note the number of complaints they receive
when they apply "countermeasures", or just have system problems. Seems that
many pirates are so unclueful that they call the broadcaster just like the
paying customers when things go wrong. Keeping tabs on this tells them when
it's time to change the cards. Makes it interesting for the pirate card
purveyors too, when a few thousand irate customers start pounding on the
door all at once...
Subject: BBC NEW CHANNELS ON TP56 ASTRA 1D
From: Tony McDaid <Mcdaid@dircon.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 01 November 1997 05:39 AM EST
well tonight is a good night for satellite TV the first free to air
from the BBC and FLEXTECH launch tonight on ASTRA on Trasponder 56
11.818Ghz H pol....with UK STYLE, UK HORIZONS and UK ARENA....
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