Bypassing Macrovision protected content with a consumer electronics device?

I was recently reading this CoolTools article in NetworkWorld where Keith Shaw was explaining some of the gadgets he found at CES. One of the things that caught my eye was his explantion of the Streaming Networks iRecord Personal Media Recorder.

What caught my eye was his explanation that this device would allow you to “connect a DVD player…and press the record button…[to] instantly record the video’s content onto your video iPod.” Appaerently you can do the same thing with a PSP or any USB storage device. This is interesting to me because most DVD players, at least those sold in the US, output an analog copy protection system (Macrovision) when playing back digital content protected by a digital copy protection system (CSS). While such analog protection is easily removed by devices designed to do so and can be ignored by digital recording software most digital recording software and hardware manufacturers have been pressured (perhaps with legal threats, I don’t know) into detecting such copy protection on analog inputs and refusing to record. Either there was some misinformation in the NetworkWorld article or the iRecord was ignoring this protection.

I needed to look into this further so I checked out the Streaming Networks page for the iRecord. This page also blatently talks about recording DVDs though the analog inputs on the device. After some further poking around on the site all I could come up with was an FAQ entry explaining this is legal to do (good thing Fair Use still works to avoid analog copy protection, too bad the same can’t be said of digital transcoding thanks to the DMCA…)

The next stop was a CNet review which stated emphatically that “it can record protected DVDs” this seems to put the issue to bed. My only question now is how they avoided having to enforce the Macrovision protection when everyone else does. One potential answers lies in an older cached copy of the CNet review which states “In accordance to the terms, you won’t be able to get this [Macrovision protected] video off of your USB device (iPod, PSP) as you can with other recorded content.” This no longer appears in the current version of the article. Perhaps the information was incorrect and the Macrovision protection is ignored, but perhaps this just isn’t being talked about.

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