copy protection

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.

Why can't I use my new Apple TV?

Episode 1279

Otto from Oceanside, CA
Apple TV

Otto bought a 4th generation Apple TV, but when he launched Hulu, he doesn't get to watch the content because it blacks out. This also happens on HBO and Netflix. When he plugs in the older Apple TV, it works just fine. Leo says it could be an issue with the HDMI cable or even the port not supporting the new Apple TV. Leo also says it may be a copy protection issue through HDCP with his TV and the premium copy protected content. The TV may be misinterpreting the signal as well since Otto is using multiple HDMI inputs.

Why does my Roku give me copy protection warnings?

Curtis from Virginia

Episode 1246

Curtis has been watching Leo on Roku and lately he's been getting HDCP errors for unauthorized access. Leo says that's just nuts. There's no reason why that's on there. But it's also problematic because everything needs to be HDCP compliant. It's clearly a spurious message because Leo's podcasts aren't copy protected. He can power it off and unplug the Roku, then plug it back in. But it's clear that something is confused.

How can I record the videos on my DVR?

Elliot from Boston, MA

Episode 1235

Elliot wants to know how he can get his DVR programs. Is there a box for it? Scott says that Hollywood is against getting the digital bits off a DVR because of piracy concerns. So really, the best solution is to exploit the analog hole, if there's analog connections. But this means he may not be able to get the HD signal. It'll either disable the output or downgrade to SD. Scott says it's silly, people are not going to sell copies on a blanket in their front yard, they just want a backup copy of the videos they record. But that's the way it is now.