copy protection

Should I copy protect my eBook?

Episode 1407

Mike from Woodland Hills, CA
EBook

Mike has written an ebook and he wants to know if he should copy protect it. He's going to be giving it away for students to see if they like it. The LA Sparks want him to copy protect it. Leo says he's not a fan of DRM because it simply doesn't work. He needs to figure out a way for a limited amount of students to be able to access his book as part of a 'beta test.' Leo says he'll need to have an authentication server to verify it. Lock Lizard is one option that uses an open source DRM scheme.

What should I look for in a DVD player?

Episode 1403

Jason from Chino, CA
Samsung Blu-ray player

Jason is looking for a good DVD player, but he's worried that his DVD player will be locked to the wrong region. Leo says that region coding was designed to prevent movies from being copied and shared around the world before the movies were released. The trend now is that movies get released worldwide now, so region coding is going to be gradually going away. He'll just have to be sure he doesn't get a used DVD player from another region. He won't want a PAL player in the US, for instance. He'll want NTSC. Or, he should make sure to get a multi region DVD player.

How can I backup programs from my DVR?

Episode 1402

Chris from Burbank, CA
DVR

Chris has a DVR with a lot of programs on it. Can he back them up before he changes companies? Leo says no. The programming is heavily encrypted because of copy protection. The only real way he can do it is by exploiting the analog hole. If his DVR has an analog connection, he can put a VCR in between the DVR and the TV connection. But he'll be recording in real time and it won't be in HD.

Why can't I play Blu-rays?

Episode 1367

John from Fallbrook, CA
Blu-ray

John has a home theater made by Samsung, and he's having issue playing Blu-rays. Leo says it's possible that copy protection is causing it to not be able to play because his player isn't connected to the internet. If it's not connected to the internet, it assumes the Blu-ray's key has been revoked, even when it hasn't been.

John should change out his cable for his Blu-ray player. That could be causing it. A dead or faulty cable can cause the HDCP copy protection issues as well.

How can I play old music I bought from Walmart online?

Episode 1352

George from Houston, TX
Piracy Music CD

George bought some music from Walmart, but he can't play them anymore because the copy protection servers have been shut down. Leo says that this is the reason not to buy copy protected music. These are unplayable sadly, but there may be a way to strip out the DRM. George should Google "strip WMA DRM" or "Strip WMA copy protection." It may seem like he bought the music, but if he looks at the terms of service, he technically rented it.

Why won't my phone play music I downloaded from SoundCloud?

Episode 1331

Greg from Valley Center, CA
SoundCloud for Android

Greg is running into issues with music he has downloaded via SoundCloud. He gets errors now that say "invalid file." Leo says those are MP3s, so the Samsung Galaxy S7 should play them just fine. It could be an issue with how the file is saved by the app. SoundCloud enables you to stream in SoundCloud, but not play it with an MP3 player. That may mean a bad download, or saving to a format that his player doesn't recognize, or it may even be copy protection.

Why can't my Blu-ray player play my DVDs?

Episode 1327

Joselyn from Orange County, CA
UBD-K8500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player

Joselyn has a Samsung Blu-ray player and it won't play a Blu-ray that she bought. David says that it may need to have its firmware updated. Hollywood is so afraid of piracy that they constantly change the encoding of the copy protection, so consumers have to keep updating the firmware in order to play it. She can just go to Settings > Firmware update.

Why can't I burn my songs to CD?

Dave from Long Beach, CA

Episode 1303

Dave has a lot of songs that had been downloaded from Napster a long time ago, and all of the cuts have been put on a disc at least once. After doing some rearranging, when he tries to burn certain cuts to a disc, he gets a warning message that says he can't rip or burn them because he doesn't have a license. These songs were all paid for, though. The files were on a data disc, and some of the songs are WMA and some are MP3. If he were to make an audio CD, all the songs would be converted into a special format that could be played back in regular CD players.

Can I test the signal strength of an HDMI connection?

Episode 1286

Jay from Providence, NC
Monoprice HDMI signal tester

Jay wants to test his HDMI signal strength because he can't use his Mac with his TV. Monoprice has an HDMI tester. Leo thinks it's more likely a cable compatibility issue, though. He'll need to have the most recent HDMI spec and if his Mac is too old, that could be the issue. Apple doesn't want to really support copy protection issues.