DRM

Can I get my old programs off my DVR?

TiVo BOLT VOX

Episode 1514

Eric from Orange County, CA

Eric cut the cable and wants to know if he can get programs off his old TiVo. Leo says in the first generation TiVos, he would be able to. But copy protection has locked down and encrypted that data. TIVO to Go was an option, but it was a very poor solution. There is one way to do it still, and that's the analog hole. Eric can connect his TIVO using the analog component jacks (red, white and yellow), but it will be standard definition.

Can I get recorded TV programs off my TIVO?

TiVo BOLT VOX

Episode 1470

Michael from Kansas City, MO

Michael wants to know if he can get the programs off his TIVO. Leo says it was possible with the Series 1 TIVO. But now the data is encrypted, so it's almost impossible to decrypt it and copy it off. TiVo does have a feature called TIVO to Go, but the only way he could really do it is to exploit the analog hole. That will lower the quality a bit, but he can use the analog connections that would go to his TV and connect them to a recorder. Then he could play the content back and record it in real time. It can be complicated though, because of HDCP.

Why doesn't my Echo work in Canada?

Amazon Echo

Episode 1467

Ken from Vancouver, Canada

Ken is in Canada and bought a US Amazon Echo through his sister, but most of the functions won't work with Canada's Amazon website. Leo says that features like Audible have different rights according to each country and it may be that they don't support those features due to copyright restrictions. Ken tried using a US Amazon account and everything worked. But even then, he may not be able to stream music or videos depending on the rights. Using the US site is a good workaround, though.

Can I splice a cable to make it longer?

Logitech Extension Cable

Episode 1446

Greg from Pasadena, CA

Greg has a Logitech video conference system and he wants to know if he can make an extension cable based on the PS2 cable. He made one, but it says "USB device not recognized." Logitech's extension is too short and expensive. Leo says there's probably some circuitry bonded into the cable that it's looking for. He may want to try splicing in additional cable in the original. He'll be destroying it, but it may work. He may also need to deal with DRM Copy Protection. But if the circuitry is on either end and he's splicing in more cable in the middle, he may be good to go.

Can I listen to an iBook audio book on another platform?

Apple iBooks

Episode 1423

David from Anaheim, CA

David wants to know if he can listen to an audio book with his iPhone as well as his Android phone. Leo says he should, unless Apple does something different to them when buying them off iTunes. But if the audio book is from Apple's iBook Store, it's copy protected with the ePub format. He would need to strip it in order to play it on another platform. There are programs and plugins that do that, but they tend to be fly by night. TunesKit has one called iBook Copy for Mac. It has a free trial.

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

Piracy Music CD

Episode 1352

George from Houston, TX

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?

SoundCloud for Android

Episode 1331

Greg from Valley Center, CA

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?

UBD-K8500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player

Episode 1327

Joselyn from Orange County, CA

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 didn't my Roku work with a projector?

Roku 4

Episode 1297

Rick from Pleasant Hill, CA

Rick is a member of a user group called the Diablo Valley User Group and they had a shootout between Roku and Apple TV. When he plugged in the Roku 4, though, he got no signal. Could it have been a DRM issue? He's heard that running an HDMI cable through a splitter will strip out the DRM. Leo says it depends on the splitter. Usually sold from China, they can have that advantage, but they can't say so because they'll be blocked.

AppleTV has HDCP, and Rick said it works. So it's probably not a DRM issue. It's more likely an HDMI handshaking issue. It could even be a bad cable.