View Full Version : The "Sky" thing

John Grieve
06-08-2003, 04:40 PM
I have been trying to discover the exact laws that relate to the use of a certain piece of software with a PC and TVCard of the right model to decode and display Sky UHF channels on said PC for free.

All who say "it's illegal" forget that some of us actually want to know how and why it is illegal.

Now, with digital signals most overseas countries have laws stating that merely "recieving" the signal (which of course requires certain types of hardware) through illegal hardware makes the whole decoding thing illegal right from the start. However this obviously cannot apply to recieving the local sky UHF signal as every TV and video in the country can and does recieve the scrambled signal.

So the next point at which laws against decoding must apply to it being illegal to decode any encrypted signals without permission of the broadcaster? If thats it can somebody point me to the relevant law making it illegal to decrypt an encrypted signal without permission. And if this is the case are the americans running echelon in this country breaking the law when they monitor all communications in NZ (some of which is no doubt encrypted)?

Or is it something to do with intent to defraud in some way if the above is not the relevant law? This of course would mean that as soon as you launch the software required to decode the signal you have broken the law as your "intent" is to defraud sky?

So all you quasi legal techo geeks? Why and under what specific laws is it illegal to decode the sky UHF signal without paying sky a fee? Of course all you lawyers would know so give. :D

If this is all to much for PF1 take it down.

06-08-2003, 05:45 PM
hmmmm,and how would this infer onto wireless networks?.....such as in a case where someone used a laptop to pick up and decifer the encyted transmissions.....

06-08-2003, 06:52 PM
Agreed, as far as I know you are correct, in that the law does not ban you from receiving any signal. It is against the law to divulge any information that you may have received, that was not meant for you to any "third" person. The illegal part for the Sky decoding is copyright. The copyright holder has the right to encode and decode the signal using their method, and passes on the right to Sky. They then allow subscribers to have the decoding equipment.
I think this is correct. Any other lawyers out there, apart from this old "bush lawyer"?

Murray P
06-08-2003, 07:20 PM
Its a service provided to those that pay for it. Just like bypassing your electricity, gas or water meter (for those that have them) or tapping directly into the ph system yor not entitled to it if you haven't paid for it and been connected by the authorised entity. How its carried, pipe, wire or ether, is irrelevant. Its not something that has fallen in your lap, so to speak, while wandering around the CBD with a WIFI enabled laptop, you have to actively capture the specific signal then decypt the specific signal.

I think there is an Act specifically relating to Echelon and other security communications.

HTH Murray P

06-08-2003, 08:50 PM
Try the "Crimes Act" and the sections relating to theft.

If I see a rich old lady resting on a park bench and her purse full of wads of cash on the bench next to her and I just go and help myself because I can, it's still theft. It's not mine to take.

The same applies to services - if someone supplies a service at cost and you decide to intentionally (or even unintentionally) tap into that service and make use of the service for nothing, you are essentially thieving from the company that provides that service.

It's theft.


John Grieve
06-08-2003, 09:45 PM
I wondered about applying copyright in some way but I do not see it as relevant to this and heres why.

Sky will have signed a copyright deal with each program provider allowing a certain number of broadcasts and probably stating that Sky undertakes to protect the program providers copyrights. Skys contract with its users probably has a clause dealing with copying broadcast programs for later viewing (probably not allowed or limited in some fashion) and hooking others to your decoder outside the residence the decoder is installed which partially has copyright implications. However someone decoding the signal without skys permission has signed no contract with sky so where would any copyright signed between Sky and the program provider apply? Does merely watching copyrighted material infer acceptence of any copyright requirements exclusive from any other entitity involved in presenting the copyright material to you?

What I actually think is that only the decoding program itself being illegal covers all the bases but it does not appear that this type of program is actually illegal. So we go back to the same question. What exactly is illegal? Is using such a program illegal in and of itself? Again I can find no evidence of such a law.

Maybe the signal itself has protection seperate from its content and you are straight out not allowed to decode the signal but again I can find nothing resembling law that covers the sky signal on UHF or any signal in UHF.

Does just broadcasting a scrambled signal have some inherent protection from those who would decode it like a property right or something? They send out the signal willy nilly to all and sundry so something must be protecting it by law surely?

As to theft again I can find no specific law related to Sky UHF signals and their protection. Nobody is taking anything. The signal is there so nobody is stealing that. Its only theft if the Sky UHF encrypted signal is specifically protected or encrypted signals have specific protection. This does not appear to be the case at all however.

There must be some applicable law surely? All I am after here is specific law not generalisation.

Murray P
06-08-2003, 11:14 PM
I usume the signal will be protected by ownership rights and what ever law covers the radio spectrum. Organisations purchase, lease or rent radio spectrum. They can broadcast to all ensundry, eg, a radio/tv station or they can lease segments of it to users, eg, radio telephone, or they can sell it to subscribers, eg, Sky, Sky's intention is clear, they sell a service.

They are probably covered by a number of laws, fraud, theft, pecuniary gain of some sort if you on sell it, we need a commercial lawyer to nail it down. If they caught you they might throw copyright at you as well but, I don't believe that is the main issue as its their content/product to do as they see fit with.

Maybe a test case would give you the clearest answer you seek, could be fun :D.

Cheer Murray P

Terry Porritt
06-08-2003, 11:24 PM
I know this isnt answering the question, but it is very interesting that in Canada very many people have or did have "ahem" decoders for watching US programs.
Apparently that is not illegal, as the programs originate from another country which has no jurisdiction over Canada.

John Grieve
06-08-2003, 11:54 PM
Thats the odd thing is it not. Practically everybody (including me) assumes that decoding the sky UHF signal is illegal. That implies that a "test" case has occured and it is in fact established law. I have done a fair bit of research so far here and overseas and while digital signals are widely dealt with clearly in much the same way worldwide the UHF decoding seems to vary widely as to how law is applied.

Now lets get something clear. I have seen this happen and know that it is possible but I am not using it. While I am not averse to doing it I am happy to follow the law if it exists. However in my pursuit of clarification of the law we all happily accept as existing things get unclear. My searchs of govt websites do not directly bring up anything relating to a TV signal that is encrypted being decrypted directly. Ownership of the signal does not seem to cover things as the owned signal is broadcast everywhere without any attempt to control who gets it. I have not turned up any specific laws related to Sky about this either (like some sort of govt mandated protection from the evildoers).

Searching for law relating to the use of TV signal decryption programs does not turn up much. So the software appears to be legal.

And Terry thats a very interesting story :D I wonder how many Aussie stations we could pull off the local sats :D shouldn't be any problem getting the right decoders in ho ho ho I am sure theres some shared law to cover it though! Anyone know? :D

Murray P
07-08-2003, 12:16 AM
I watched the AB's vs Bok 95 World Cup final, in a sports bar in Hawaii, and the owner of the bar had no right to the signal he was intercepting.

It seemed to be a standing jok at the bar that he could get you just about any sport (or any program for that matter) being broadcast in the the world. He had a whole heap of gear and gadgets, dishes, aerials and remotes for pointing the dishes, controlling the gadgets and of course the TVs. Needless to say we were very impressed when he managed to get a decent signal with about 2 minutes to go before kick off. We weren't so impressed by the result though, as the Yanks would say, we were pissed.

I've also heard of a little thingy you spike into the cable before the decoder to unscramble/confuse the cable TV type decoder. But I haven't seen one or heard of them being used in NZ.

Cheers Murray P

John Grieve
07-08-2003, 02:43 PM
Right one last dig.

It would appear it is not illegal to watch a cracked sky UHF signal.

Overseas where there is protection of the signal it is in either the Radiocommunications law or Telecommunicatiopns law and the protection specifies exactly that decoding an encrypted signal for pay tv services is illegal. Hours of careful searching of said laws here comes up with.....nothing.

There are no laws against the type of software used to crack the signal.

The only option appears to be fraud BUT you only commit fraud when you actually steal something. You would only be stealing something if you had "intent" to pay for it. If you have no "intent" to pay for it then you have not stolen anything at all as sky loses nothing when you never intended to subscribe anyway. For it to be theft in this situation there needs to be a specific law stating it is illegal to decode encrypted TV signals which does not appear to be the case.

This is my final attempt to find out the law under which you could be charged, so as long as you all do not answer this irritating little thread will wend its way to the back page and we can all rest easy in our lack of knowledge.

I mean, have any of you not wondered why sky has not dealt with this. Is it because they came to the same conclusion as me that technically there is no law saying it is illegal to decode skys UHF signal?

Curious George
07-08-2003, 03:35 PM
Hi, I'm trying to find the details of what you want to know.
A guy called Jeremy B from chch posted it on his site about a year ago,
much upset and media coverage; and a flurry of downloading later it was removed.
The point is, there was some legal argument which ment he had to remove it, or face legal consequence.
when I find it I will post, but if you search to,we may find it.

Curious George
07-08-2003, 03:39 PM

his problem was probably that he was seling the cards, not especially decoding the signal?

07-08-2003, 04:08 PM
That link doesnt apear to work.

And all computer shops sell the cards that can do it,any tv card based on the btxx8(or something close to that,cant remember the exact chipset name)is able to pickup the sky signel,then its a case of using the freely available free software to decode the signel.

The guy who caused all the uproar i believe simply published instuctions on how to do it,which was unnessacery anyway as the people who made the software run an excellent forum and boasting about it on a nz hosted site was only ever going to bring unwanted attention....or maybe he was after attention.

John Grieve
07-08-2003, 04:34 PM
I bought this up because my personal feelings dictate I understand exactly why a thing I want to do is illegal. For instance I would love to drive a car at 200mph down the southern motorway but by a law I can see in the law books that applies to everybody equally I am not allowed to so I do not.

Somebody showed me (not on my PC hence I cannot do it at the moment) how it was done as I am a naturally curious person and I love my PC's and want to know how they do things and at the same time I increased my personal wealth of knowledge. In researching all the facts I discovered what you point out, that some people have been forced to remove information from the web related to this because doing this was "illegal".

And I feel I have every right and in fact an obligation to myself to find out what law makes it illegal. I am not a lawyer so searched through various methods using relevant keywords for any laws relating to this specific situation. I also extensively researched US, British and Aussie law related to it.

So after all that which has taken several days I still cannot pin down the exact laws that make decoding a sky UHF signal illegal so I thought wheres the best forum in NZ to ask about this with a vast range of members with a wide knowledge base and an unabiding wish to know the facts and here I am :D Sorry :D

07-08-2003, 05:26 PM
Probably the easiest example to give would be the phone line. With the right know-how you could tap into a phone line (perhaps even a cellular network, to bring this example closer to UHF signals) and make calls using that system without paying the right fees. You aren't physically taking something, however a service (the phone service & the UHF tv service) is still regarded as something that can be sold etc. (same with electricity, which might be even easier to tap in to than a phone signal), therefore if you gain access to it without paying for it, it would be considered as theft. Otherwise there'd be no legal issues with my avoiding the power meter and tapping straight into the power line running past my house, as I'm not physically taking anything :)


John Grieve
07-08-2003, 05:40 PM
Mike you actually reinforce my point. Now I am sure with a bit of a search I will turn up specific laws that exist as words on paper to do with both Power and Cellular networks. Otherwise there would be no law to enforce and you would be allowed to use both without paying. Will you accept that proposition?

So where and what laws are governing sky UHF decoding?

If you want I will search out links to laws about power and cellular to prove myself...........or you could accept that laws against taking power and cellular do actually exist.

07-08-2003, 07:15 PM
i'm not a lawyer so i'm gonna pretend to think i know the answers
however John your analysis is flawed, you say you've been searching the net for specific examples. Why do you think a specific example has to exist for something to be illegal.
The NZ law system does not run on a system whereby something must be explicityly written for it to be illegal.

By decoding the signal, you would be stealing property which doesn't belong to you, if you then used that property to make a financial gain that would be fraud and on it goes.

Its not a case that there is nothing explicitly written about it therefore it must be ok, it's a case of applying the general principals of society (of which we base our laws upon.)

If you want it any simplier, "it's stealing" stealing is illegal.

Murray P
07-08-2003, 07:28 PM
John the following excert is from this link (http://www.med.govt.nz/pbt/broadcas/digitaltv/submissions/digitaltv-submissions-01.html). Its not exactly what your after but, it shows there is discussion along the line of the topic, by the powers that be.

[clor=blue]Repeal Section 88

TVNZ says that the provisions of sections 88 and 166 of the Copyright Act are contrary to the Berne Convention, and at odds with basic equity. TVNZ notes that the FCC has recommended to the United States Congress that a similar provision in US law should be repealed. The World Intellectual Property Organisation is also considering the matter in a draft treaty on the rights of broadcasting organisations. Expanding the provision to satellite would only make matters worse.

SPADA, the TBC, CanWest and Triangle Television agree with repeal, the last two adding that any rights to carry any channel should be subject to commercial negotiation with programme rights holder.
Technology Convergence Important - Open for Wider Discussion

NZOA says that copyright issues should be addressed in a wider forum, since it affects television, radio, Internet and other new technologies as they emerge and penetrate.
Widen Section 88

Sky believes that section 88 should be amended to allow retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts by satellite, if broadcasters choose to do so. This would require far less regulatory supervision than an open access regime. Such an amendment would facilitate the transition to digital television.
Exclude Education from Copyright

The Auckland University of Technology requests that educational institutions are excluded from paying copyright if the purpose is for education.[/color]

Another cut and past re scanning and decoding:

Is it illegal to own a Scanner in New Zeland?


Is it illegal to listen to Cell Phones?

No it is not illegal listen to anything in New Zealand, but acting on the information, which could be just recording it on cassette tape is illegal. The Regulations are interpreted by Scanner listeners usually in a way that suits what them best with no consideration of any regulations or at least pretend not to understand them!.
My advice is only share frequencies to those you know and keep the rest to yourself.

Sounds a bit dodgy to me but, again along the same line but not quite there yet.

Now that you have me going too, maybe a division of labour is called for, any suggestion re searches to avoid repeats?

Cheers Murray P

John Grieve
07-08-2003, 07:39 PM
What general principles? Are you talking morals? Whose moral imperatives are the accepted ones? Islam or Christianity or rich peoples or Labour or National or the Greens?

You appear to be saying there are laws that are not on the law books. How does that work? You make up anything then prosecute somebody? For the law to be broken there must be an actual law surely?

It is not illegal to break a law that does not exist. Will somebody please just specify the law which would be used as the reason someone would appear in court.

Or are there laws which are not actually laws in some way in that they do not appear in our legal documents outlining what is and is not legal? Are moral imperatives law?

If Sky charged somebody they would have to show to the courts a law that covers what they are charging the person with. What law? Isn't that simple?

I accept it may be illegal and would not dispute it BUT is it actually illegal?

John Grieve
07-08-2003, 07:53 PM
Heres the words I have used in search engines so far.

law, sky, signal decoding protection, encryption, television, pay tv, decryption, signal, broadcasting, radiocommunications, telecommunications, conditional access system, cracking, hacking, protect encryption, government, tv, nz, new zealand, videocrypt and also the names of the TVCard and the software to do the cracking (which I will not name as we still are not sure what the legal situation is). I used various combos of those words in sentences etc.

07-08-2003, 09:05 PM
> Heres the words I have used in search engines so
> far.
> law, sky, signal decoding protection, encryption,
> television, pay tv, decryption, signal, broadcasting,
> radiocommunications, telecommunications, conditional
> access system, cracking, hacking, protect encryption,
> government, tv, nz, new zealand, videocrypt and also
> the names of the TVCard and the software to do the
> cracking (which I will not name as we still are not
> sure what the legal situation is). I used various
> combos of those words in sentences etc.

Once again your looking for specific cases, this only happens in the courts, the courts are only part of the legal system.

Let me put it in a scenario for you. Would it be ok if i tampered your locks to get into your house so that i could eat your food?

No it wouldn't because its against the law, do you know the specific law that prohibits this? probably not.
The same goes for sky
you are tampering with there property (the frequency they transmitt on) so you can watch the images (eat the food)


your previous post in regards to my comments shows your ignorance.
It happened with your telecom discussion and its happening here again. surprise surprise.

John Grieve
07-08-2003, 09:12 PM
I could however find the exact law prohibiting you from entering my house and eating my food unlike the law about decoding the sky UHF signal......or have you found it?

John Grieve
07-08-2003, 09:36 PM
Its good you bringing up the Telecom thing as I always wanted to finalise it. Basically my argument was if for several years I had data sertvice on my phone of a consistent quality then I should be able to rely on the fact that the "Quality of service" would not degrade beyond that level for any reason. Like I had the best possible phoneline based data link and why would it get worse and how could Telecom justify it getting worse (went to pretty consistent 28.8k from a rock solid 99% of the time 53.3k which was more than sufficient for online gaming, which by the way I have not done since the "atrocity" happened). So I thought at least I had some leverage.

However Telecoms attitude went "We do not garantee any minimum data rate at all on your line" and "we find no problem with your upgraded phone line" in that the phone worked perfectly and the only thing Telecom actually garantees is the phone works without any sort of problem. In other words "piss off we don't care and we have no legal responsibility in this at all" and thats how it is to this day. I connect with my carefully bought and expensive modem at 28.8k 90% of the time and 31.2k the rest in the middle of Auckland the biggest glossiest city in NZ. Thanks Telecom (and they appear to have raised my phoneline charge on the last bill too!! :D ). They tell us the customer they love us and are here for us and then thats what they do to me.

They are dead right I have no real recourse. They have every right to lower the rate at which my modem connects with their equipment...me and you and you and you and you all have the same rights in this particular situation....none whatsoever.

08-08-2003, 09:24 AM
> I could however find the exact law prohibiting you
> from entering my house and eating my food unlike the
> law about decoding the sky UHF signal......or have
> you found it?

BUT the law won't specifically say you can't tamper with locks and steal food. It'll say breaking and entering and stealing is wrong. In this case you're breaking and entering (the decoding of the signal) and stealing the Sky signal, and that's wrong. Law in NZ doesn't come down to specifics, it's very broad and it's up to the courts to define it if necessary. But they usually won't move the line to say one thing is stealing, one thing isn't. In this case they'd more than likely say it's stealing. That's how the law and the courts work in NZ.


08-08-2003, 11:48 AM
thanks Mike for backing me up, however I don't think John is listening.

John if you really want to know, i suggest you contact your lawyer.

John Grieve
08-08-2003, 11:59 AM
Believe it or not I have asked 3 lawyers to find out. None of them specialise in broadcasting/communications law though and could not off the top of their heads tell me. All 3 have promised to find out within a couple of weeks as all 3 have no idea how the law might be worked in this case. If and when I get a real answer from all 3 that matches I intend to let everybody know.

I was a real piece of work when I was young. I appeared in court on a wide variety of charges and in every case in court it went Mr Grieve under section XXX Subsection XXX Clause XXX you are charged with blah blah blah

So thats what I want to know.

And just as a little aside I was actually charged with stealing electricity once ($1.86c worth believe it or not) and there was a "under section blah blah read out in the court. It was in my student days in Dunedin so starving student etc etc.

08-08-2003, 12:05 PM
Hiya Terry, the same thing is done here too. There are numerous satellites (?) that broadcast free to air TV programs from other countries and these have 'footprints' that cover NZ, not intentionally of course, but some do.

There is a website, Auzzie I think dont know the URL now, but it provide's details for Aust/NZ coverage, from memory think there were about 35 odd stations available here. The problem is that a larger dish antenna is almost always required.

08-08-2003, 12:33 PM
Try the Copyright Act. (here (http://www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj/paclawmat/New_Zealand_legislation/NZ_Copyright.html))

One possibility, in that this act (it may have beed superceded but the principles will apply) would give copyright status to the entire broadcast, and subscribing would entitle you to a licence to view.

It enshrines the Broadcasting Corporation but a little clause also covers any private company broadcasting in the same manner.

Murray P
08-08-2003, 04:40 PM
It says there GF, as interpreted by, that the breach takes place on the reception of the broadcast which suggests receiving the signal with a receiver is a breach of copyright ie, capturing the signal to decode is not legal. However it also says you can copy said signal for private use, can you alter it though (decode)?.

Might be best to stay safe and stick to the 50 year term at which copyright ceases in NZ.

Cheers Murray P

Billy T
08-08-2003, 06:26 PM
Well guys, my understanding of the Copyright Act and copyright in general is that it applies to the public performance of copyright material or the copying and subsequent sale of copyright information in the form of printed, film or data media.

This obviously covers the copying of computer programs for sale, and Section 80 of the Act allows the copying of computer programs for backup purposes, which in principle should put an end to the arguments about it being illegal to make copies of your own data disks.

However, Section 80 has a qualifying subsection (3) which states that subsection (1) [which says it is not a breach of copyright to copy your own disks for backup purposes] only applies if it is not "contrary to an express direction by or on behalf of the owner of the copyright in the computer program given to the lawful user of the original copy not later than the time when the lawful user of the original copy acquired that original copy." Loosely translated, this means that you can't copy them after all.

I found nothing in the Act that would make it illegal to intercept an encrypted program broadcast (as Murray has said) or even to decode it, and nor did I expect to as the key purpose of copyright is to prevent the exploitation of original works for money, i.e. public performances for which others pay money to the infringer without paying the author his due.

I think that legal support (if any) for control of this situation must lie outside of the Copyright Act in some other legislation related to the interception of private communications between supplier and subscriber, or perhaps even copyright control over the decoding algorithms used, though the public performance element would again be missing.

At the moment I tend to think that the act of receiving and decoding may possibly be lawful, and any actions taken against suppliers of decoder software is probably Iceberg and Titanic stuff. He who has the most to lose will give way, regardless of his rights, as to defend those rights might involve an unacceptable cost.

A similar situation probably applies to the Linux/Unix Code argument and also the patenting of mouse clicks for internet commerce (like, how stupid and petty can you get?) on the basis that the little men will pay up because they can't afford to defend their rights.


Billy 8-{)
[b][pre]I think I will apply for a patent on the
use of the letter E on computer keyboards (for
some novel and totally ludicrous pupose), then
everybody in the world will have to either
pay me for the right to use E's or keep massive
data logs of all "E" usage to protect themselves
against lawsuits funded entirely by the early
adopters who paid up on demand. ;\ :D

Murray P
08-08-2003, 07:35 PM
Most of us seem to be thinking along the same lines with variations on the theme. I guess thats one reason why lawyers can make a good living out of interpreting (& clouding) the various laws, acts and statutes, pining down a common consensus, even among judges is not easy.

Under section 15 of the Copyright Act restrictions are imposed under the act "is done by the reception of the broadcast" referring specificaly to television, it doesn't mention encryption but thats not relevent, reception of the broadcast is (somebody tried to get out of paying their TV licence not so long ago, was this what they used as a defence. Whatever, it didn't work in court). As Billy says reception for private use is okay and yet a further section Part VIII, Provisions, Television Broadcasts seems to override the reception breach in section 15 or broadcast to subscribers of a diffusion service and yet more in section 19 (one thing leads to another, I should have just read the whole thing from start to finish then gone back to the sections of interest). So, whats a diffusion service?

Messy! The alternatives are looking more attractive, at the mo. How does patents on the set top boxes and as mentioned algorithms sound. As said ealrlier scanners are not illegal in NZ its what you do with the material once its received.

Cheers None The Wiser

09-08-2003, 05:39 PM
How about you just stick with Juice TV, which is now free to air on the UHF range [of frequencies].

I've always wondered, and am going to ask, is it as easy as how I guess it is to circumvent your power meter?

Would it be as easy as taking the power line before it goes into your meter and diverting that to the power that comes out of the meter (adding necessary modulators, etc), and then your meter would not really be much use to the meter readers?

If it is that simple (in description, not act), why do they not change the system?

Just like tapping into a phoneline, it can't be too hard to install a cable splitter while someone is away from their house (say, a neighbour), and run a cable underground through to your house and hook it up to a phone?

Heck, you could make inter-flat "intercom" in student flats and prank each other... circumventing Telecom knowing that you're doing that?

Or how about shoving a wireless network access point in to a broadband network somewhere.

Simple in words, complicated in reality, but all the same, should there not be more protection?

Billy T
10-08-2003, 05:29 AM

You are referring to the 1962 Copyright act which has long been superseded by the 1994 Act. Television broadcasting was in its infancy in 1962, and the 1994 Act relegates it to the appropriate position in the scheme of things, i.e. the public performance or sale for gain principles apply. The Section 15 you refer to no longer exists.

On that basis, comments by any other poster made after reference to the "Vanuatu' sourced Act linked by GF should be reconsidered in the light of the later legislation.

The current Act plus amendments can be found Here (http://www.legislation.govt.nz/libraries/contents/om_isapi.dll?clientID=1288269672&hitsperheading=on&infobase=pal_statutes.nfo&record={85E4}&softpage=DOC)

The debate is interesting, and I remain of the view that Copyright is not the issue.


Billy 8-{)
[pre][b]I'd be asleep at this hour if it wasn't
for noisy neighbours who don't know when
to stop partying!

10-08-2003, 11:24 AM
Overall, if there is no law that specifically bars using software to decode an encrypted television signal in New Zealand, it's down to common sense and ethics.

Do you honestly think it is fair to decode a signal which countless other individuals pay for? I certainly don't, because it counts as theft of a service. And while you can argue that a service is not a product you buy, in reality, you pay for the usage of the service, and it is counted as a product. Subscribing to a magazine could be seen in a similar issue, though completely different context.

Oh, and Sky does actually hold rights on the programs they broadcast - if you deliberately (and please don't say "but I can claim ignorance") decode the signal, know what you are doing, and know that you are using a service you have not paid for, you are stealing from Sky. Otherwise you can probably claim ignorance, but it appears everyone who has participated in these threads on Sky knows full well what they are trying to find out. I'd be careful about further posts, because if Sky were to find out someone was trying to find out if there is a law banning fraudulent decoding of their signals, they wouldn't be too happy, and could claim you were on a hunt to find ways to circumvent the encryption.

John Grieve
10-08-2003, 12:23 PM
This deals with what we are digging into here but for the Euro market, however it is obvious to all that this type of law is much the same all over the world. Its also about digital not UHF but is still relevant as far as I can see.


There has also been some government attention to protecting the contents of copy protected DVDs and CDs by making tools to bypass protection illegal maybe (not law yet).

Patent law may be able to be twisted to cover the signal itself as well but it's not a strong case as it would interfere with other legalities around patents.

Personally I think the copyright attack is not possible in todays legal system in NZ.

John Grieve
10-08-2003, 12:39 PM
Sky can be as unhappy as they want. I have carefully avoided discussing the facts as to how its done and have carefully NOT named anything.

We the public have every right to discuss the law in public.

Billy T
10-08-2003, 02:27 PM
I can't quite fathom your true position on this one agent, or the ethical foundation for your arguments.

Your previous post re bypassing power meters, stealing telephone access from neighbours (I think they would notice if you were talking on their line) or hijacking somebody's wireless connection was so off the wall that I simply couldn't take you seriously. And nor, so it seems, did anybody else, yet now you are looking for the moral high ground on the decoding of encrypted television signals.

I think you need to establish your position a little more carefully then show some consistency, as John Grieve has taken pains to do for example. I also agree with his open discussion without providing "how to" information or links to such sites. IMHO we are free to discuss this as much as we like, regardless of the views of the broadcasters.

I guess the basis in law for challenging this practice will be set by overseas precedent but our current copyright and patent laws are unlikely to apply, at least in their present form, though the latter might possibly be used if the algorithms were unique to that signal and were patented.

I read the posted link to the UK/Europe hacking scene which appears to be no more recent than 1996/97 and the legal action revolved around the pirating of decoder cards and technology. Their laws seem to have been rewritten specifically to cover their market as well and there is no direct equivalent here.

Just out of interest though, what encryption system is used by Sky NZ? I assume that it will be a variant on the UK/European Sky system as they are hardly likely to have produced decoders specifically for NZ.


Billy |-{)
[pre][b]Yes I did finally get a little sleep thanks,
but nowhere near enough. :)

10-08-2003, 05:47 PM
Can you not pick out that I was criticising how easy in principle it is to circumvent paying for services?

While there may not be any specific law in NZ about this, the copyrights of the programs which could be accessed do extend beyond the country they were produced in.

I stand on my point; it comes down to common sense and ethical and/or moral issues if there is no law. If your head is "screwed on properly", and you think, you will know that decoding a Sky UHF signal without a decoder from Sky is stealing from them, as you aren't paying them for use of the service.

John Grieve
10-08-2003, 06:00 PM
Sky uses one of the videocrypt variants.

Billy T
10-08-2003, 10:12 PM
Fair enough agent, but you were sending mixed messages and that is always a risky business when taking the moral high ground.

Incidentally, it is not as easy as you might think to circumvent paying for services. Energy company computers will pick up any significant reduction in power consumption, so that rules out bypassing meters, though some do try, including those who install spa pools or electric heating for swimming pools and power them off the input to the meter. There is no change in their power consumption but they still get caught.

To steal use of a telephone line is even harder, but rorting airtime on a prepaid cellphone might be possible.

Viewing TV without a licence required an Act of Parliament to make it illegal, but the Government was the owner of the service. I don't know where privately owned broadcasters stand.

And finally, copyright is about unauthorised copying, transmission or sale for financial gain. Nobody gets prosecuted for reading copyright material, watching copyright movies or other video media or listening to copyright music, regardless of the country of origin.

IMO it is where the copy they are using came from that seems to matter most and the sound recording industry has got closest to success with Napster etc but that took the laws and courts of another country to achieve.

I don't think that decoding Sky transmissions would classify as theft though I'm not qualified to justify that opinion, and I guess that is what this thread is all about.


Billy 8-{) :|

Murray P
10-08-2003, 10:27 PM
:8} :8} :8} Thanks for setting that right Billy, I was a little curious as to why we were still tinkering with a 62 ver when technology and provider models had moved some way from what they were then, moot.

I'll have a wander through the 1994 one and catch up on the thread.

Cheers Murray P

10-08-2003, 11:49 PM
Howdy John,

While this is not specific to your question, it may be of interest, especially as the courts will often use existing laws to cover unusual crimes ;)

The site I visited was the Law Commission (http://www.lawcom.govt.nz) and specific details have been extracted from the proposed amendments relating to misuse of computers R54.

So far as gaining access to electronic data is concerned, s 248 of the Crimes Act 1961 relates to impersonation and therefore covers part of the continuum involving access to electronic data.

Use of electronic data is currently dealt with by provisions relating to theft (s 220 Crimes Act 1961) although, as we pointed out in "Dishonestly Procuring Valuable Benefits" (NZLC R51 1998) there is a lacuna in the law in relation to theft of an intangible thing such as a chose in action. Section 218 of the Crimes Act 1961 deals with of electricity. Section 264 of the Crimes Act 1961 (with a restrictive definition of the term "document" contained in s 263 of the same Act) deals with forgery of documents. Finally, there are the general fraud provisions contained in s 229A of the Crimes Act 1961.

Fraudulent alteration or destruction may be covered by ss 231 and 266A of the Crimes Act 1961. The offence of willful damage under s 298 (4) of the Crimes Act 1961 may also be relevant.


Examples of unauthorised interception of electronic data include:
communication channel interuption and pass through - where the channel is physically breached and the attacker siphons off (or records) data and passses it back to the channel so that the data can continue to the original destination. The receiver would normally be unaware of this type of interception;

diverting a transmission via a duplicate channel - physically splitting the signal so that two or more copies are being transmitted simultaneously, one to the original destination and one to the attacker;


electromagnetic emanations - surreptiously gaining emanations via an induction coil, radio receiver or other device and translating them into usable forms.

11-08-2003, 12:00 AM
Sat there, John. I have read right through the 41 postings on this debate with interest, and yet so far the words : "intellectual property rights" have not appeared.
Just thought that you may like to drop them into your search engine to see what you come up with.
Keep me posted, as I would be interested in the results :D

John Grieve
11-08-2003, 12:48 AM
Every one of those comes close in some way without actually hitting the mark but they give a feel for how things might be done. It"s really a case of out of date law applied to something that could not be imagined when the law was passed.

I do however feel that while the "Dishonestly Procuring Valuable Benefits" idea looks good on the surface one must wonder if broadcasters could in fact prove to anyone viewing television is a "Valuable Benefit" to anyone :D :D And I would dare them to try :D

Billy T
11-08-2003, 10:38 AM
I guess the value of the benefit would be determined by the sum of money one willing consumer was prepared to pay to have their brain bled out through their backside.

Whatever the subscription is would be the perceived value of the loss, but of course that makes "illegal" decoding small beans and thus not really worthy of court action on an individual viewer basis. Suppliers of systems for decoding are a bigger target and represent much greater potential loss.

Where the operators or owners of the system get their clout is by serving papers on individuals by way of civil action.

If you do not defend yourself they will almost certainly win damages plus costs, and you can bet that costs will be on a client-solicitor basis, not on scale. By that I mean you pretty much pay the costs incurred in suing you rather than a small percentage. With top corporate Barristers charging sums in excess of $400 per hour, I am sure you get the picture.

Some years ago I was involved in a defence against a claim of copyright breach. The claim was malicious and entirely without foundation, but the company still spent nearly $40,000 on preparing its defence. That's around $65-70,000 in today's money.

The matter was settled in mediation with the claimants losing the argument (always a foregone conclusion, they went down like a squadron of burning spitfires) and were forced to pay some costs but nothing like what had been expended. However, it was cheaper to mediate and take that loss than to proceed to court, win a pyrric victory and lose even more money as the costs awarded would not have covered the extra expenditure.

The point of that little vignette is this: A big corporation can put a stop to even lawful actions by individuals or small companies by investing a small sum in filing legal action based on a "broad" interpretation of the applicable law. Fear of the costs or consequences of defending will usually cause the innocent victim to settle out of court, possible even at some cost. It is abuse of process but who said bullies had to play by the rules?

So, if anybody is decoding sky transmissions, provided they don't sing about it they will probably enjoy free access until such time as the technology changes and puts an end to their fun. They are undetectable and thus unstoppable.


Billy 8-{)

Murray P
11-08-2003, 07:25 PM
> I guess the value of the benefit would be determined
> by the sum of money one willing consumer was prepared
> to pay to have their brain bled out through their
> backside.
Rotflol, shyte in shyte out as the saying goes, it begs the question of intellectual property as posed by a previous poster. Could judicious use of a stopper preserve the IQ of society.

> Where the operators or owners of the system get their
> clout is by serving papers on individuals by way of
> civil action.
Shades of the SCO fiasco, trying to scare some money out of big and small alike although their goose is burnt I think.

Cheers Murray P