HD-DVD copy protection cracked

Written by Brett Thomas

December 28, 2006 // 3:06 p.m.

Tags: #aacs #hd-dvd #mpaa

Awww, someone thought of a Christmas present just for me! Well, not really, but I like to take pride in the world's efforts to remind the MPAA and RIAA exactly how stupid copy protection truly is and why it doesn't work. Apparently, we can add a new protection scheme to that "utterly broken" list - someone has cracked the AACS encryption algorithms on HD-DVDs.

For those of you who haven't bothered to care about the latest anti-consumer measures, AACS stands for "Advanced Access Content System." The system is designed around two keys - a title key and a player key. The discs are designed with several player keys on them in a hash with the title keys, providing an encryption algorithm. If a player has the right player key and the disc has the right title key, the movie will play.

Of course, the untold beauty of this (as far as the movie companies are concerned) is that companies who don't pay up their technology licenses year after year can have their players excluded from future titles - thus shafting the consumer.

The new technology, called BackupHDDVD, was posted on the Doom9 forums by a cracker named muslix64. The small, unobtrusive program is a command-line program written in Java, and strips the AACS right off of the *.EVO files. It does so by use of a title key which you feed into it (composed from a serial number physically programmed into the disc among other things) - the program comes bundled with a few for the most popular movies, and more will be added later.

Like DeCSS, BackupHDDVD works by trying to exploit weak player keys. When it finds a match, it can take the title key you provide and decrypt the movie, thus allowing you to make a copy of it that will play in any HD DVD player. Though there aren't exactly HD DVD burners out right now, it would work for any type of MCE box.

The boys over at Engadget are giving the tool a go and posting their results, so we'll try to keep you updated with it. So far, it appears the encryption itself doesn't actually alter that many bytes in each file...curious. In the meantime, if you want to check out the YouTube! video, we've included it below.

Have you got a thought on the fall of AACS? Tell us in our forums.

Merry Christmas, MPAA!

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