AfterDawn: Tech news

Set-top box hackers sentenced to prison

Written by Matti Vähäkainu (Google+) @ 15 May 2008 9:38 User comments (32)

Set-top box hackers sentenced to prison The pay-television companies have been actively searching and investigating websites that spread the word of set-top box modding. One of the sites, modshack.co.uk, was detected to illegally instruct how to bypass the set-top boxes' security settings. The two Brits responsible for the site were taken to court in 2006 for breaking the Copyright and Designs Act. Modshack.co.uk gathered nearly 27 000 pounds worth of donations from its users.
Carl Morgan Davison and Mark Taylor helped people via their website to bypass the security settings and therefore get a free access to digital pay-TV broadcasts from Virgin Media and BSkyB. The companies complained to North Wales Police about the service in the summer of 2005. Soon after the investigation began and resulted to a raid and eventually to legal action.

The court sentenced the two men to what Malcolm Davies, Virgin Media’s head of fraud security calls a "serious warning to others" -- a total of 15 months in prison. Carl Morgan Davison alias "Hairy Monster" was sentenced to 10 months and Mark Taylor alias "Novice Angle" to 5 months imprisonment.

"We want to drive a clear message home to those involved in this fraudulent activity – whether they are suppliers or customer – anyone modifying set-top-boxes or receiving their channels in this way is acting illegally and committing a serious offence," said Davies.

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32 user comments

115.5.2008 9:53

im sure nobrainer is about to inform us of how the evil companies are going after innocent people.

215.5.2008 10:45

they should leave these individuals and websites alone about this.
modding is probably the only thing the owner of one of those boxes can do to get their money's worth.
i would certainly be pissed if i bought a tivo box for US$300 to replace my vcr with something digital,
and only found out afterwards that there is no way for me to record shows without monthly service fees.

they should be going after tivo and dvr service companies, because there is no excuse for that.

i'd like anyone to give me one legitamate reason why you shouldn't be able to program a dvr
in the same way we've always programmed vcr's, besides the obvious: media companies don't like digital recordings.

315.5.2008 11:24

lol, wow. there's a difference in taping/tivo-ing something and getting it for free. so you're telling me theres no difference in taping a $50 boxing event that you ordered on payperview to watch it later and modding your box so that you can view it for free? get real. I have modded systems as well but I am also not blind enough to think that with modded systems you can't break the law. To try to say anything else is just plain ludacris.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 May 2008 @ 11:25

415.5.2008 11:37
goodswipe
Inactive

Originally posted by snowlock:
they should leave these individuals and websites alone about this.
modding is probably the only thing the owner of one of those boxes can do to get their money's worth.
i would certainly be pissed if i bought a tivo box for US$300 to replace my vcr with something digital,
and only found out afterwards that there is no way for me to record shows without monthly service fees.

they should be going after tivo and dvr service companies, because there is no excuse for that.

i'd like anyone to give me one legitamate reason why you shouldn't be able to program a dvr
in the same way we've always programmed vcr's, besides the obvious: media companies don't like digital recordings.
I think you missed the whole point of this article. They weren't modding them so that they could record shows, they modded them so that they could get FREE pay-per-view.

515.5.2008 11:42

Quote:
Originally posted by snowlock:
they should leave these individuals and websites alone about this.
modding is probably the only thing the owner of one of those boxes can do to get their money's worth.

i would certainly be pissed if i bought a tivo box for US$300 to replace my vcr with something digital,
and only found out afterwards that there is no way for me to record shows without monthly service fees.

they should be going after tivo and dvr service companies, because there is no excuse for that.

i'd like anyone to give me one legitamate reason why you shouldn't be able to program a dvr
in the same way we've always programmed vcr's, besides the obvious: media companies don't like digital recordings.
I think you missed the whole point of this article. They weren't modding them so that they could record shows, they modded them so that they could get FREE pay-per-view.
i understood the article, hence the bolded line above.
just had something to say about the dvr thing in general.

now the first time i saw a site with mod instructions, i thought that's what they were for.
if there was a way to simply program a tivo box to record shows that i told it to, it might be worth it.
turns out they were instructions for something like this, so we kept the vcr running.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 May 2008 @ 11:45

615.5.2008 12:55
susieqbbb
Inactive

What a crock.

I hate to tell you you are pissed because people modded there boxes but yet in canada people mod there boxes and steal satelite everyday and you don't go after them this is what i call bull no one should have the right to tell us how to use are boxes it is ours not theres

715.5.2008 13:42

The box is in your house.
If they don't like people modding them, they should move control outside your home.
Either that, or start paying you rent for putting their advertising machine in your home.

815.5.2008 13:46

Originally posted by goodswipe:

I think you missed the whole point of this article. They weren't modding them so that they could record shows, they modded them so that they could get FREE pay-per-view.
That's what I'm saying. Where did all the others get DVR and Tivo from?
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 May 2008 @ 13:47

915.5.2008 13:54

Quote:
Originally posted by goodswipe:

I think you missed the whole point of this article. They weren't modding them so that they could record shows, they modded them so that they could get FREE pay-per-view.
That's what I'm saying. Where did all the others get DVR and Tivo from?
If you read these news articles long enough you will begin to notice a trend of naive people making obsurd analogies that relate to nothing about the topic at hand.

1015.5.2008 14:32
goodswipe
Inactive

Originally posted by mspurloc:
The box is in your house.
If they don't like people modding them, they should move control outside your home.
Either that, or start paying you rent for putting their advertising machine in your home.
I don't know where you're from or how you're cable or satellite company works, but here in Texas that set-top box sitting on top of your tv or entertainment system isn't yours. You are just renting it, you don't actually own it. So when people go hacking these things up, what do they expect to happen?

People are paying to have these things in their homes, so they can't actually put them outside. It' called convenience and it doesn't come without a price.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 May 2008 @ 14:33

1115.5.2008 15:07
nobrainer
Inactive

Originally posted by grkblood:
im sure nobrainer is about to inform us of how the evil companies are going after innocent people.
they were telling ppl how to steal the pay per view service, how is this an evil corporation, they were protecting their service where as DRM on goods already purchased that we supposedly own, but not allowed to even move to another device that WE own, is another topic!

i don't believe that IP crime penalties actually fit the crimes as there is no physical loss or harm to the person/s

copywrite and patents are simply a way to thwart & destroy our evolution as a species but greed and profit out way the good to man and humans are a selfish race. utopia is a dream & money is the barrier.


This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 May 2008 @ 15:16

1215.5.2008 15:37

well said!
no-one deserves to be imprisoned for sharing knowledge.
EAT THE RICH!

1315.5.2008 15:54

Originally posted by DRokKer:
well said!
no-one deserves to be imprisoned for sharing knowledge.
EAT THE RICH!
If you're referring to what nobrainer said I'm pretty sure he wasnt condoning theft.

On that note I agree with what you said about patent holding us back but without them we might as well live in a communist society. After all, patents are what drives work ethic. Do you honestly think that a majority of the population would care about innovation if there wasnt room for self profit? I don't think you do though as you admit money rules the world.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 May 2008 @ 15:57

1415.5.2008 16:01
nobrainer
Inactive

Originally posted by grkblood :

If you're referring to what nobrainer said I'm pretty sure he wasnt condoning theft.

On that note I agree with what you said about patent holding us back but without them we might as well live in a communist society. After all, patents are what drives work ethic. Do you honestly think that a majority of the population would care about innovation if there wasnt room for self profit? I don't think you do though as you admit money rules the world.
completely agree, but we should work for the good of man and not profit but this is where the greed part needs to be stamped out, patents/copywrite should only last for 10 to 20 years maximum and not the length it does as its destroying our culture and advancement as a race.

the open source community proves this!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 May 2008 @ 16:04

1515.5.2008 16:04
goodswipe
Inactive

Originally posted by nobrainer:

completely agree, but we should work for the good of man and not profit but this is where the greed part needs to be stamped out, patents/copywrite should only last for 10 to 20 years maximum and not the length it does as its destroying our culture and advancement as a race.

the open source community proves this!
Patents don't last forever. If they did, we wouldn't have generic drugs.


Quote:
Under recent changes in the laws, in the United States patents are now granted for a term of 20 years from the date of application (14 years for design patents). Different rules apply for patents covered by applications filed before June 8, 1995. Patents may be extended only by a special act of Congress (except for certain pharmaceutical patents).

After expiration of the term of the patent, the person holding the patent loses the right to exclude others from utilizing the invention, so that anyone can go ahead and make use of the invention without permission of the patent holder.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 May 2008 @ 16:05

1615.5.2008 16:59

@goodswipe

you'll have to excuse nobrainer. he's an anti-RIAA guy so he's probably confusing the life term of patents with the life term that music companies have control of their music. lol.

not a stab at nobrainer, I'm not a RIAA fan either but do I think that companies should be able to protect their assets in some form. I'm going to stop now because I don't want to thread jack. Excuse me...news jack.

1715.5.2008 17:46

Quote:
Originally posted by grkblood:
im sure nobrainer is about to inform us of how the evil companies are going after innocent people.
they were telling ppl how to steal the pay per view service, how is this an evil corporation, they were protecting their service where as DRM on goods already purchased that we supposedly own, but not allowed to even move to another device that WE own, is another topic!

Dude are you dense its the same thing! The companies use DRM to try and protect their programs, media etc from pirates. I'd hate to be a small computer program company starting up these days, you'd never get it off the ground regardless of how good your product is. DRM is simply a middle man that you use to validate your stupid rants as morally sound.

In short stop your nonsense ranting about DRM its not even like its that hard to get past or get rid of. Your time spent ranting about problems that you can't change would be better spent fixing them. And don't give me the if none of us say anything speech because ranting on a forum isn't going to get your point across to anybody who can actually make a difference.

And if you looked into things its not the riaa or the mpaa or whatever's fault its the way that the USA's laws are setup. By American law any publicly traded company MUST do ANYTHING it takes to increase profit regardless of whether it pissed a few people off or not. This is why people keep getting screwed by private insurance too because they're PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANIES so by not doing EVERYTHING it takes to make sure you DON'T get your insurance claim, they can and WILL be sued by their shareholders, and they'll win too. The laws are setup to get AS MUCH MONEY AS POSSIBLE or else the company will be liable.

1815.5.2008 18:55

@grkblood
i never said he was condoning theft!?
and your flippant remark about communism confuses me, have you ever really considered what a communist society is? before you quote china or the ussr. stop! they weren't ever anything but dictatorships pretending to be communists.
capitalism is the problem here! an artist creates art for the love of it and when happy with it longs to share it and get reactions to it. if they get to make a living from it everyone benefits. once it becomes a business it becomes jaded with greed!
pay per view is part of that crap, so i don't see it as theft, keeping art from the poor on the other hand IS intellectual theft!

1915.5.2008 19:16

go tell that to oscar de la hoya, floyd mayweather, bernard hopkins, the klitscko(spelling?) brothers, pacman, george st. pierre, chuck liddell, randy couture, bj penn, etc.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 May 2008 @ 19:17

2015.5.2008 20:53

OH
hah!

so i went off on a rant, big deal. surely thought they meant dvr.
i don't know much about how those work, so i assumed they decoded streams like a "cable box."
tend not to think about a set-top box when i think of cable, because we didn't have any until very recently.
satellite tv customers were the only ones who had to worry about those boxes.

i knew someone who had one of these "modded" boxes, and the satellite dish to go with it.
they had every single channel, pay-per-view and porn included, running 24/7.
i talked to the person who sold/installed it, and he said he charged $300 for the whole deal.
way better deal than tivo, i can tell you that much; i definitely agree with nobrainer about ip crimes.


edit: "everyone knows marx's vision of an egalitarian utopia is impossible!"

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 May 2008 @ 21:01

2115.5.2008 21:41

From canuckerz:

Quote:
Dude are you dense its the same thing! The companies use DRM to try and protect their programs, media etc from pirates. I'd hate to be a small computer program company starting up these days, you'd never get it off the ground regardless of how good your product is. DRM is simply a middle man that you use to validate your stupid rants as morally sound.

In short stop your nonsense ranting about DRM its not even like its that hard to get past or get rid of. Your time spent ranting about problems that you can't change would be better spent fixing them. And don't give me the if none of us say anything speech because ranting on a forum isn't going to get your point across to anybody who can actually make a difference.

And if you looked into things its not the riaa or the mpaa or whatever's fault its the way that the USA's laws are setup. By American law any publicly traded company MUST do ANYTHING it takes to increase profit regardless of whether it pissed a few people off or not. This is why people keep getting screwed by private insurance too because they're PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANIES so by not doing EVERYTHING it takes to make sure you DON'T get your insurance claim, they can and WILL be sued by their shareholders, and they'll win too. The laws are setup to get AS MUCH MONEY AS POSSIBLE or else the company will be liable.
Best post in this thread. Was going to make a post directed at nobrainer but this sums up my thoughts pretty much.


2216.5.2008 2:41
nobrainer
Inactive

@ canuckerz & svtstang

if you two cant see the difference between hacking a pay for service so you get it for free and content you have purchased that you are not allowed to even move to an ipod because of DRM ..................

2316.5.2008 6:18

Originally posted by nobrainer:
@ canuckerz & svtstang

if you two cant see the difference between hacking a pay for service so you get it for free and content you have purchased that you are not allowed to even move to an ipod because of DRM ..................
They are because its the same issue. They're suing these people because they were stealing their media, and DRM put in place because people kept on stealing another companies media. You can't validate one as correct without validating the other, so either your for companies protecting their media or you're against it. Therefore if your with this company suing people because they were stealing pay-per view programming you must be with the companies who try and protect their products with DRM, anything else is hypocritical.

Do you honestly think companies want to go through the hassle of interlacing DRM though all their stuff? Its extra time they have to take that wastes their money but legally they have to have a response to people simply stealing their media or else they will be sued by their shareholders for not doing anything about it.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 16 May 2008 @ 6:19

2416.5.2008 10:33
goodswipe
Inactive

Originally posted by canuckerz:
Originally posted by nobrainer:
@ canuckerz & svtstang

if you two cant see the difference between hacking a pay for service so you get it for free and content you have purchased that you are not allowed to even move to an ipod because of DRM ..................
They are because its the same issue. They're suing these people because they were stealing their media, and DRM put in place because people kept on stealing another companies media. You can't validate one as correct without validating the other, so either your for companies protecting their media or you're against it. Therefore if your with this company suing people because they were stealing pay-per view programming you must be with the companies who try and protect their products with DRM, anything else is hypocritical.

Do you honestly think companies want to go through the hassle of interlacing DRM though all their stuff? Its extra time they have to take that wastes their money but legally they have to have a response to people simply stealing their media or else they will be sued by their shareholders for not doing anything about it.
Sorry, but I disagree with you here. These guys were stealing something that they never owned! What do you guys not get here? Me going and buying a Blu-ray movie and trying to by pass the DRM to make a legit backup is not the same as me stealing cable. What am I stealing here?

I paid for the Blu-ray movie so I should be able to do whatever I want with it. I didn't pay for "PAY-PER-VIEW" programming, so there for I should not be allowed to watch it. I'm sorry, I just don't agree that making a legit backup of a movie and stealing cable are the same thing.

Quote:
In the criminal law, theft (also known as stealing) is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's freely-given consent. As a term, it is used as shorthand for all major crimes against property, encompassing offences such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, mugging, trespassing, shoplifting, intrusion, fraud (theft by deception) and sometimes criminal conversion. In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonymous with larceny; in others, theft has replaced larceny.

Someone who carries out an act of or makes a career of theft is known as a thief.
I'm not making illegal copies of that Blu-ray movie I backed up last night.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 16 May 2008 @ 10:37

2516.5.2008 10:45

@ canuckerz & svtstang & nobrainer & goodswipe

While informative, your conversation is why we have so many lawyers these days...lol ;-)

2616.5.2008 11:02

listen, the point is DRM is a necessary nuisance. Stealing cable and bypassing DRM are two seperate things. One is straight out theft and one is fine in my book under certain conditions. Here, I'll break it down for everyone.

STEALING PAY-PER-VIEW = BAD
REMOVING DRM FROM PURCHASED SOFTWARE = GOOD
USING PIRATED SOFTWARE WITH DRM REMOVED = BAD

2716.5.2008 11:05
goodswipe
Inactive

Originally posted by grkblood:
listen, the point is DRM is a necessary nuisance. Stealing cable and bypassing DRM are two seperate things. One is straight out theft and one is fine in my book under certain conditions. Here, I'll break it down for everyone.

STEALING PAY-PER-VIEW = BAD
REMOVING DRM FROM PURCHASED SOFTWARE = GOOD
USING PIRATED SOFTWARE WITH DRM REMOVED = BAD
Exactly..

2816.5.2008 11:39

@goodswipe

What I meant was they deal with the same general issue which is media theft.

2916.5.2008 16:53

Quote:
Originally posted by mspurloc:
The box is in your house.
If they don't like people modding them, they should move control outside your home.
Either that, or start paying you rent for putting their advertising machine in your home.
I don't know where you're from or how you're cable or satellite company works, but here in Texas that set-top box sitting on top of your tv or entertainment system isn't yours. You are just renting it, you don't actually own it. So when people go hacking these things up, what do they expect to happen?


Its not the so called cable boxes from the company they hack , its a box from Germany thats set up to work the but in the uk few tweaks and you get everything free.
The mad part is you dont evven need a tv package you just need the brooad band from the company coming into your home the same signal comes in on the line.
Have a look on ebay for euro vox see how bad it is in uk.
People are paying to have these things in their homes, so they can't actually put them outside. It' called convenience and it doesn't come without a price.

3016.5.2008 16:54

Quote:
Originally posted by mspurloc:
The box is in your house.
If they don't like people modding them, they should move control outside your home.
Either that, or start paying you rent for putting their advertising machine in your home.
I don't know where you're from or how you're cable or satellite company works, but here in Texas that set-top box sitting on top of your tv or entertainment system isn't yours. You are just renting it, you don't actually own it. So when people go hacking these things up, what do they expect to happen?


Its not the so called cable boxes from the company they hack , its a box from Germany thats set up to work the but in the uk few tweaks and you get everything free.
The mad part is you dont evven need a tv package you just need the brooad band from the company coming into your home the same signal comes in on the line.
Have a look on ebay for euro vox see how bad it is in uk.
People are paying to have these things in their homes, so they can't actually put them outside. It' called convenience and it doesn't come without a price.

3116.5.2008 22:03

RE:Set-top box hackers sentenced to prison.
Some may fell sorry for the two of them. Is it right for someone to give info on how to hack let's say your A.T.M card ? Well one has to ask why are the box's on sale in the first place, I live in Dublin, Ireland and the police raided a warehouse and got 25000 box's,the crime was the box's were flashed to a SP here in Ireland, Now thats a CRIME.

328.6.2008 22:00

Quote:
......
The companies use DRM to TRY and protect their programs, media etc from pirates.....

you are lucky you used the empesized word, or was it intentional because you know that without that little three letter word you would have been lying through your teeth?

TRY as they might.... they have NEVER been successful in preventing hackers from copying their various media.... they have only been successful it criminalizing anyone who wants to protect their rights as the copyright law allowed (prior to being userped by the treaty that is)

copyright law allows you to have a back up copy of media you own but the DRM treaty made you acriminal if you tried (note you do not need to succede to be the criminal, the treaty criminalized the act of trying)

also, free speach allows you to say anything that isn't illegal of itself (main example, treason against your country or detrimental to the health of countries leader)... teaching someone something is not illegal. ..... even if practicing what was learned is illegal you can teach someone to do it, examples: picking a lock or even building a bomb, in this case, subverting locks, the treaty criminalizes talking about this instructional activity... thus the Hexadecimal number key being written on t-shirts... that was published and spread, not because it broke the protection, which it did, but it went viral because it broke the treaty

the guys in jail now WERE NOT CONVICTED OF converting any boxes they WERE NOT CONVICTED OF selling the parts to make the conversion, they WERE NOT CONVICTED OF charging any fee for this what they WERE CONVICTED OF: telling someone something that the cable and megamovie companies DO NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW

that sounds comunistic to me "YOU ONLY NEED TO KNOW WHAT I/WE WANT YOU TO KNOW"!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 08 Jun 2008 @ 22:19

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