Category — HD-DVD/Blu-ray
A hacker known as Arnezami has gone a giant step further than Muslix64 in hacking AACS. Arnezami has discovered and published the cryptographic key (known as the "processing key") that can be used to circumvent AACS copy restrictions on any Blu-ray or HD-DVD movie (the "one key to rule them all" ). He did so by using an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive and studying all changes (comparing hex-dumps) to a key part of memory during startup of the movie King Kong.
Previously, Muslix64 had discovered the "volume keys" for individual HD-DVD movies (and subsequently Blu-ray titles) which, when used with his BackupHDDVD software, allowed technically adept users to decrypt and copy individual HD titles protected by AACS. Since then, volume keys for more than 100 HD titles have circulated on the Internet. The processing key discovered by Arnezami can, until revoked, be used to easily determine the volume key needed to decrypt and copy any HD title.
It appears that the latest entry into the DRM arms-race, BackupHDDVD, along with the Volume Unique Keys in memory found by Doom9 forum member Musilix64, is able to isolate private keys within AACS protected HD-DVD disks needed to crack them. The cracked HD-DVD movies have made their way to torrent sites and are now circulating the globe. Some minor playback glitches have been reported, however.
Dale's Comment: I want to be clear about something. I do not endorse piracy nor the use of BitTorrent to circulate pirated copies of HD-DVD content.
I do, however, believe the DMCA unfairly criminalizes the behavior of honest consumers wishing to exercise their "fair use" rights to make copies of and/or format shift copies of content purchased by the consumer for the consumer's own personal use. The DMCA and the WIPO Copyright Treaty unfairly take away rights that U.S. consumers have under the fair use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. It is therefore understandable why consumers would choose to use software such as BackupHDDVD to exercise the rights the U.S. Copyright regime otherwise affords them. In my opinion it is copy-protection mechanisms such as AACS put in place by the content industry to penalize the activities of honest consumers that leads to massive piracy by the same consumers through BitTorrent and other P2P networks. As I've said here for years, treat honest consumers fairly and they'll purchase your products in record numbers. Treat them like criminals and they'll rebel.
Warner Home Video made a surprising announcement at CES. Starting in the 3rd quarter of 2007 it will exclusively release its HD titles on a hybrid, multi-layer, HD-DVD and Blu-ray disk dubbed "Total Hi Def". HD-DVD formatted content will be on one side and Blu-ray formatted content will be on the other. Regardless of the HD player a consumer purchases, these disks would be playable.
In an effort to put the format wars behind (and increase sales), Warner has committed to licensing the Total Hi Def technology to any other TV/movie studio for free. Not surprisingly, fellow Time Warner properties, New Line Studios and HBO, have said they will also use the Total Hi Def format. Major retailers including Best Buy, Circuit City, and Amazon.com have announced they will support this format and make Total Hi Def DVDs available through these retail channels. No word yet from Walmart.
Dale's Comment: This is an interesting development in the high-def wars (which I personally believe HD-DVD is winning). Consumers don't want to be left in a loosing Betamax-like camp. Universal exclusively supports the HD-DVD standard. Fox, Disney and Sony, of course, exclusively support Blu-ray. Other studios support both. If Warner is licensing this this technology for free, it is possible that these studios, with the exception of Sony, could eventually support this hybrid disk approach. That said, the per-unit manufacturing costs will be higher than producing disks with one format or the other because the process requires the purchase of dual manufacturing equipment to support both formats.
Reports are coming in fast and furious that the AACS DRM system used by both HD-DVD and Blu-ray players has been cracked by someone with the codename muslix64. I had reported earlier on a possible brute-force print-screen method of cracking HD-DVD.
This new method seems to rely on a compromised HD-DVD player whereby muslix64 was first able to access the unique decryption keys for particular HD-DVDs. Then using those keys and his java-based BackupHDDVD program, muslix64 was able to implement the AACS decryption protocol as outlined at aacsla.com (the official AACS website) and play it back using standard HD-DVD play-back software (in this case PowerDVD 6.5 HD-DVD).
Muslix64 says the tool works on his XBOX 360 external HD DVD player, but that the software would not be limited to just one specific player.
[January 1, 2007 Update: Paul Thurott mentioned on one of his late 06 or early 07 Windows Weekly podcasts that Vista has disabled the "print screen" function when HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies are played at full resolution within Vista - thus removing this hack possibility from Vista-based PCs. But, this is hardly a solution. All it takes is for one person using an XP-based PC to hack an HD title in this way and it will be circulating the globe within minutes through BitTorrent and other P2P technologies.]
- Arnezami Hacks HD-DVD/Blu-ray – Discovers the One "Processing Key" to Rule them All (February 14, 2006)
- BackupHDDVD & Doom9 Forum Create End-to-End HD-DVD Crack (January 13, 2007)
- HD-DVD & Blu-ray Cracked? (December 28, 2006)
- HD-DVD and Blu-Ray Reportedly Successfully Hacked via PrintScreen (August 2, 2006)
The leading German newspaper Der Spiegel claims to have information on an unofficial agreement struck between the movie studios, Sony, Microsoft and others which will see HDCP, and the Image Constraint Token (ICT), being consigned to the scrap heap for at least four years. This move would mean that all movie content produced until 2010 at the earliest, and possibly as far as 2012, will not carry the ICT – a security feature which restricts/down-rez’s high-definition playback only to equipment with HDMI ports and HDCP encryption.
Dale’s Comment: This is a remarkable development if true. I have been participating in online forums for years where this has been a major subject of contention for early HDTV adopters. With the constant delays of HD-DVD and Blu-ray and the many competing HD standards appearing on the horizon, this may spell the demise of HD down-rezzing and the ICT. Recently, Professor Ed Felton suggested that HDCP is Eminently Crackable. All this said, since main-stream press has not yet picked this up, I question its veracity. But, its fun speculation in the meantime.
Update: October 15 2006: Save for one or two titles, the first couple hundred Blu-Ray and HD-DVD releases have been released without HDCP/ICT activated.
- HDCP is Eminently Crackable Says Professor Ed Felton (April 17, 2006)
- Windows Vista Proofed against Video Piracy (August 31, 2005)
An agreement has been reached on an interim license for the AACS copy-protection system both formats will use, removing one of the final obstacles that had been standing in the way of a launch.