Will The MPAA Now Lobby For A Ban On The Print Screen Button?

from the analog-hacking dept

It’s a truism of DRM that any copy-protection scheme can be defeated some way or another. Some methods are elegant examples of reverse engineering, while others may involve the use of brute force. As an example of the latter, a German magazine has discovered that new HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs can be copied simply by pushing the ‘print screen’ button over and over again to take a high-resolution screen grab of every single frame.
Obviously, this would really tire one’s fingers… though, of course, as with any basic repetitive process, it won’t be long until the process is automated. Of course this technique (and others, like filming a movie inside the theater) will be completely useless if the entertainment industry ever forces us all to be fitted with DRM helmets.

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Comments on “Will The MPAA Now Lobby For A Ban On The Print Screen Button?”

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TiredFingers says:

Can't I stop yet?

I’m curious as to what os and media player they’re using. Here’s something fun, open a video file in windows (i use vlc but it works with winamp or wmp and I’m sure any other) then hit print screen, next open paint (works with photoshop and i’m sure any other graphics program) and paste what’s in the clipboard there… you now have a picture file with an odd view window of sorts… a bitmap with a playing video in it… try moving the window around now… if it’s not over the program playing the file you’ll get black, you can even see it in half the screen etc… now, i’m not sure if this works with all media type players… and if you were to find one the process could be very easily automated (sendmessage api routine) anyone have more info on the specifics in the story?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Can't I stop yet?

Its because most of the time video playback is done using overlay. Since the overlay is in its own spot in memory and then ‘overlayed’ onto the screen, print screen wont work. Think of it like a sticker on a window – the sticker isn’t really on your backyard, but rather on the materail in which you view your back yard.

I belive, in Windows, if you turned the ‘video acceleration’ slider bar all the down (in media player) overlay is disabled and you should be able to get a screen shot.

Starky says:

Re: Can't I stop yet?

It says in the article that they used the WinDVD, by Intervideo, that came with their computers.

Also, if you paste the Screenshot into Adobe Photoshop (I used 6.0, it might not work in other versions), it works just fine. And in my MSPaint, for some reason, the video isn’t playing anymore. It used to, but now the screenshots are just that: Screenshots. Note: I used Windows Media Player 10 (“Version:

andrew says:

Re: uhm

If I could pay $15 or $20 a month to be able to download good quality movies with AC3 audio, I would never download a movie from bit torrent again.

I don’t like driving to blockbuster and worry about returns, or waiting days to receive something in the mail. Why is sooo hard to embrase the concept of download movies and make money on it, instead of spending tons of money trying to fight it…? Stupid MPAA…

TiredFingers says:

so it’s the video overlay? i see… this can usually be disabled in your video card’s configuration… usually video card settings override program settings so I’d guess this would work. The only question is: why do the video overly apis get copied into a picture file format? this leaves open many issues involving “hostile” pictures… i wouldn’t want to have a bitmap that could invoke some of the more unfriendly (if in the wrong hands) api routines

TiredFingers says:

I’ve tried it using Photoshop and I get the same thing… an image of the playing movie, but the pasted picture has to be over the media player window. The whole video overlay idea mentioned above by anon coward makes sense (with some scary implications) so I’d guess if it doesn’t do it for you anymore it’s because you’re not using video overlay anymore.

PFUNK says:

Print screen

It will be a sad day when the MPAA will dictate for whatever reason, my tools on the keyboard. As a techie it makes me want to create a program to just capture and save the video, audio etc. just to be a bastard.

It would be much easier to simply write code to “intercept” the the output before it gets to the screen/speaker.

Greg says:

Low tech copying

Anything that can be sensed by our eyes and ears can be copied. Screen scraping and microphones can easily get a decent copy of any media playable through a computer, although not perfect.

Judging by the popularity of movies copied by filiming in the theatre, many people care more about ‘free’ than about ‘perfect’, so there’s still a major problem even if they come up with bulletproof DRM.

I can see the research plan for RIAA/MPAA now: Come up with media that can only be ‘enjoyed’ through direct input into the brain.

Agonizing Fury says:

Re: Re:Re:Can't I stop yet?

For everyone that thinks that an API is being copied into a BMP File, you are morons. The BMP File format was around long before the DirectX API for overlays was even thought of. Here’s how overlay works, and why this happens. In order to reduce the processing power neccesary to draw a video (drawing thousands of pixels one at a time to the video card 24-30 times per second is actually quite taxing) Programs that support video overlay simply write the frame to memory and instruct the video card to draw that memoy location in a box at location x,y size x,y. The problem with this is if you open a window that only slightly covers that box the video card would either have to draw the movie over that window, or stop drawing it altoghether. This is because generally the video card has no clue about window order, just instructions about where to draw what. In order to solve this problem the program instructs the video card to only draw the video in a locations where the pixels are a specific color (usually very close to black, but not quite so that black lines in the window over the video won’t be displaying the video. so when you open that picture in paint (or whatever program you are using) with the movie still playing, the video card sees the color it is supposed to see and draws the video there (as long as the colored area is within the box specified). This can be done playing the video file in any program that supports overlays from the DirectX API.

TiredFingers says:

Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Can't I stop yet?

Then I guess I’m a moron because I didn’t google video overlays to find out exactly how they work like you did Agonizing Fury. I do find it fun however playing around with this in photoshop using r0g0b1 (the color my card or program [whichever assigns the color for the overlay] uses).

MrScott says:


There are several comments on a program like SnagIt. I, for one, use it quite frequently when I want to save a video from say….Google or YouTube. It’s a whole lot easier capturing video and audio through there than it is to find the file (that has already been downloaded to my computer in a file) in the cache and “save-as”.

So…let’s see here…if copying files (or making them) is illegal (by their terms), then let’s ban all cellphone cameras…and while we’re at it…let’s ban all VHS and 8MM and HI-DEF camcorders..oh..and let’s ban all cassette recorders too. Especially the CD and DVD players some of us have in our vehicles…let’s ban them all!! (Of course, I’m being sarcastic, so no flames please)

If it can be seen, it can be copied. If it can be heard, it can be copied. When are these big companies gonna get it??

This is a new age and time. People have changed, equipment has changed, audio/video has changed. If these big companies can’t keep up with the changing times, then I guess it’s time to move onto another type of business where they won’t WHINE about losing money. Keep up with the times!

You know, it reminds me of a saying I’ve heard for many, many years. “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch!”

Enough said.

Anonymous Coward says:

i just bought an hearing aid for my grandmother...

and it didn’t have DRM in it yet. imagine that. i was so please that i bought one for myself and put it in my safety deposit box in the bank for when i get old. by then, all hearing aids in the USA will be illegal unless they have DRM and as you walk down the street and hear music, MPAA will automatically debit your checking account by the appropriate amount through their WIFI connection to your hearing aid.

TiredFingers says:

in response to anon cowards post a couple above this, it’s specifically the rgb color that’s used on the player, you can tell this from using photoshop and selecting the color data with the eyedropper that’s there when the screen isn’t playing. It looks black but vlc (maybe all media players, i’m not sure if the color is specific for the player or the video card) uses the color r0g0b1… then just have fun drawing over the rest of the screen using this color and the video will show through on those areas where the pixel data is as such. any change in this color, even when the alpha remains 0, prevents the overlay from drawing there.

chris (profile) says:

DRM??? HA!

MrScott said: “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch!”

the problem is that the change in technology doesn’t benefit the big dogs. this change intechnology shifts power to the “little dogs” like you and me.

the future is about millions of little dogs, rather than just a few bigs dogs. this great news if you are a little dog, and pretty bad news if you are a big one.

the idea of content on our terms, where the consumer can dictate the price, the time, the quality, and the terms under which it is consumed scares the hell out of the big media dogs.

pretty much everyone in media has lost sight of the way things work in media. the media companies have forgotten that:

1) we watch/read/listen to what we like, not what we are told that we like.

2) if we do not like the price, we will go elsewhere. we care only about our own entertainment, not your industry or failing business models.

3) media used to be art, and art is not an investment. hollywood is not wallstreet, and not even wallstreet can guarantee that you will make money.

Lion XL says:

did I miss something?

Did I miss something? was the point of this blog “how do I get the hole in WMP to copy video to work?” or was “There a hole in the DRM and whats the MPAA reaction going to be?” Video is one of those thing that react differently depending on a person setup, so of course, the print screen will work for some and not others. Why concentrate on a useless task when I think the more important issue is, a very simple and trivial part of the OS can be used to circumvent DRM. How is the MPAA going to react and how is this affect our OS’s in the future?

Little Dog says:

One Big Conglomerate

Here is the thing that gets me.

If ALL of the little dogs act TOGETHER i.e Stop simply BT’ing their choice movies etc etc etc, and actually sat down together in an IRC room, I am quite sure that thy could band together to create a rival for the MPAA with something similar to the open-source licensing for media rather than programs.

Now, I’m not saying “FREE” what I am saying is, CHEAPER than MPAA’s strict regulations.

For example on average a new DVD costs about 20 bucks. figure if the factories produce only 1000 DVD’s per day, and the movie sells 100 units a day, in about 2 days the factory has already recovered it’s overhead and is now making a profit.

I am sure. Absolutely positive, that they could sell DVD’s for about 5-6 dollars a pop and still make a killing.

The problem isn’t with the copyright protection, and I’m not sure who said it but they were right, It’s the PRICE.

Even CD’s are the same. There are CD’s out there that have maybe 1 good song on them, (I.E. A song that you would want to hear) And the rest of the cd is total garbage. They’re asking us to pay 15 dollars for that one song. It’s outrageous.

*scampers off to Limewire*

Wire Cramped (user link) says:


If it is digital it is able to be manipulated. ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING that is on your computer regardless of OS can be kept manipulated etc.

Remember for us to see the DVD there are a couple of things. 1. a DVD Disc. 2. a DVD player 3. Software to “DECODE” the movie for playback 4. a playback software.

Now if I have all these items just to see the damn DVD in the first place then I have the ability to place a shim into multple places and take that content..

Case in point. at the hardware level I can shim in a demacro/decrypting piece of hardware that simply outputs to one or many other places. OR

I can change the decrypting for playback software so the it too outputs to one or many other places including sending all packets inside a TCP/IP packet to you on the internet!

3. THE PLAYBACK SOFTWARE!!!! If you can see it and hear it on your computer why then would you think that I cant make software see it and hear it with you??? it becomes a screen frame on your screen it becomes a wave length at your speakers!! I can take this and collect them back into a file for myself, post decrypting RIAA/RMAA/RAM MY A/any other security.

It is impossible to build the perfect lock cause in the act of creating the lock you creat the ley to open it. It is a simple law of physics.

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