Podcasting Part III of “The Internet Heist”

In which the cartel gives itself a veto over your family life.

Cory Doctorow
5 min readFeb 21, 2022


The MPAA’s ‘You Wouldn’t Steal a Car’ graphic; ‘a Car’ has been replaced with ‘the Future.’

This week on my podcast, I read the final part of “The Internet Heist,” my Medium series on the copyright wars’ early days, when the entertainment and tech giants tried to leverage the digital TV transition into a veto over every part of our lives.


In Part I, I described the bizarre Broadcast Flag project, where Hollywood studios and Intel colluded with a corrupt congressman (later Phrma’s top lobbyist) to ban any digital product unless it had DRM and blocked free/open source software:


In Part II, I recount the failure of the Broadcast Flag (killed by a unanimous Second Circuit decision), and how the studios pivoted to “plugging the Analog Hole”: mandatory kill-switches for recorders to block recording of copyrighted works:


This week’s installment describes the global efforts by the studios to seize the future by creating a bizarre DRM system for the DVB digital TV standard (called CPCM), which is used in most of the world (but not the US/Canada, Mexico, or South Korea).

The centerpiece of CPCM was the “Authorized Domain,” a euphemism for “a family.” The creators of CPCM wanted to develop a DRM that would let you share videos within your household, but not with the world. But of course, that meant that they had to define what a real family was and then turn that definition into a technical standard.

The group — an almost all-male, all-white group of wealthy executives from some of the largest corporations on Earth — had some very weird ideas about what a “family” looked like. For example, they spent a lot of time figuring out how to support an Authorized Domain that included seat-back videos in a luxury SUV and a PVR in an overseas vacation home. But when I asked if they could support, say, a family whose parents lived in the Philippines, with one kid working construction in Qatar, another nursing in San Francisco, and a third as home help in…



Cory Doctorow

Writer, blogger, activist. Blog: https://pluralistic.net; Mailing list: https://pluralistic.net/plura-list; Mastodon: @pluralistic@mamot.fr