[Jokes] First there was Windows XP Licensing...

Justin Mitchell arthur at sucs.org
Wed Nov 28 09:20:23 GMT 2001

In other news, Sony has announced a new Television Family License which
allows all members of a family or household (up to 5 individuals) to
watch the same television, without violating the Sony Home Electronics
License Agreement.

"Unauthorized television piracy has been a real problem for us.", says
Steve Smith, the newly-appointed Director of Licensing Compliance at
Sony. "Families would buy a single television, and then would sit
together and watch programs without any regard for our license
agreements. Sometimes they would even invite other people over to watch
programs, without even purchasing a Single-Use Event License. We
estimated that we lost over $500 billion in sales last year to this
problem. This [license activation] is just a way to recoup sales lost to

So how does the system work? When you first plug in your television, a
string of numbers representing the body shape of the person standing in
front of the TV is sent to Sony via the HumanaLicense(tm) dialup system.
At that point, another string of numbers is sent back allowing the
television to view broadcast stations. Without the code, the TV only
plays Sony promotional material over and over again. After initial
activation, the TV needs to be re-initialized whenever a different
person sits in front of it for more than 25 minutes. The TV can be
re-initialized up to four times, after which it needs to be returned to
Sony for repair.

Some TV enthusiasts are concerned: "How can Sony get away with this?"
says Rick Rayman, a self-described "videophile" who often invites
friends and family over to watch movies and sports programs on his
high-end setup. "I already paid them for the TV, why should it matter
what I do with it inside my home?"

However Sony executives dismiss these criticisms. Smith explains:
"That's exactly the attitude we're trying to fix: this weird hippy idea
that once you pay the money, somehow the item is 'yours' to do with as
you please. First, these pirates invite their wife into the room to
illegally watch TV together, next thing you know they're shoplifting
flat-screens from Wal-mart."

But already hackers have tried to break the system. A hacker group
calling themselves "Television Freedom Fighters" have discovered that
cutting one wire inside the television removes the protection system.
The group of six kindergarden students have been identified and are
being prosecuted under new anti-terrorism legislation. In addition,
because the information was released on the internet, Sony is recalling
the televisions and solving the problem by adding a second wire that
needs to be cut.

To help ease the transition to license-based TV viewing, Sony is
starting a new advertising campaign entitled "Compliance is Cool"
featuring an animated talking dog named Larry. Sony plans to extend the
system to other types of home electronics soon.

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