Newfangled DVD Copy Protection Apparently Cracked; Now The Real Fun Starts

from the pointless dept

Next-gen DVD players are already something of a joke. Despite their ability to play HD content, industry infighting over two competing standards has stymied their introduction, and their high prices don’t help, either. But HD isn’t the only new feature these players enable — they’ve got a fantastic new DRM scheme, called AACS, too. But, just like pretty much every other DRM scheme out there, rumors say it’s already been cracked. It’s inevitable, really, and illustrates just what an exercise in futility implementing DRM is: it certainly doesn’t stop piracy, as the content available on file-sharing networks indicates, and it simply raises costs and prevents honest consumers from using content they’ve legitimately purchased in the ways which they’d like. In any case, if AACS really has been cracked, it will be interesting to see the industry response. AACS is supposed to be able to adapt and be changed as time goes on. For instance, keys on playback devices can apparently be revoked and updated in order to allow the DRM to be updated and keep pace with cracks and hacks. However, simply not updating a player may not shield a user from updated DRM, since the copy-protection on discs will change, too — and if a player hasn’t been updated, it won’t play the new media. Surely the movie industry feels great about this, and thinks it’s really got one over on crackers and pirates. Here’s the thing, though: whatever changes they make, the DRM will just get cracked again. And changing around the DRM and requiring updates and breaking functionality isn’t going to hurt those people — it’s just going to frustrate honest consumers who won’t understand why their expensive DVD player won’t play movies any more.

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Comments on “Newfangled DVD Copy Protection Apparently Cracked; Now The Real Fun Starts”

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Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Paying Customers are Criminals

it’s just going to frustrate honest consumers who won’t understand why their expensive DVD player won’t play movies any more.

How about frustrating honest consumers who do not understand why their cheap DVD player will not play movies any more? My youngest kid received Little Mermaid for Christmas. My wife and I wondered why he would leave the room part way through the movie. Well, at the half way point, the DVD would pause and eventually stop. This happened in two of my DVD players. My PS2 reported a read error. Apparently, the newer Disney DVDs use a new copy protection that fills the DVD with errors.

Fortunately, I was able to find a few programs on the internet that would decode and rip the CD, strip the copy protection and re-author just the movie (no previews, no FBI warnings and no menus). The newly burned copy worked like a charm – no compression required to fit on a regular DVD.

Screw the MPAA and other media trade organizations. Copy protection reduces the value of your product. I was still able to make copy of your ‘protected’ DVD without the previews and copyright warnings. I’ll be making a movie-only copy of every kids DVD I have. Stop treating paying customers as criminals.

Komataguri says:

I wonder..

I wonder how long it is going to take the industry to realize, that the more they lock down products with pointless DRM, the more they are going to drive once loyal customers to piracy.

Specially with the new HD era, Where you can’t play Blu-Ray or HD-DVD movies in your PC unless you have a HDCP compliant video card, a certified monitor, a pint of chicken blood, and three pagen priests.

The more they make their products inusable for the legitamate user, the more they are driving people to piracy.

I’ve had to resort to downloading things I legally own, Just to be able to use the damnable things, and its ridiculous.

This piracy fire continues to grow, and its only because the MPAA, RIAA, etc are fighting the fires with gasoline.

dataGuy says:

Re: I wonder..

“The more they make their products inusable for the legitamate user, the more they are driving people to piracy.”

That may be true for some. It’s not true for me and I doubt that it’s true for the majority of people.

What DRM does do is encourage me to look for non-DRMed products and to tell everyone I know about the down side of companies that use DRM. For example I know my input has cost Sony some sales.

If it ever gets to the point that I can’t easily find non-DRMed products, then I’ll do without. These companies are banking on the fact that most people are lazy and stupid. I believe they are wrong on that point. They will be able to burn plenty of customers in the short term (many less than in the old days thanks to the internet) but in the long term they will lose multiple customers for everyone that gets ripped off by DRM.

Anonymous Coward says:

DRM is a bad use of encryption

The problem with DRM is pretty simple. The reason you encrypt something is because you want to prevent people from being able to access the data unless they are authorized to do so. But to encrypt something to prevent someone from accessing the data and then handing them the key to decrypt it makes no sense. Even if you pull all sorts of tricks to try and prevent the person from using the key in ways you don’t want them to use it, you still have to give it to them.

LooseLips says:

... sink ships!

Well, this is what happens when you try to “prevent” the “unpreventable”. I mean when these studios get the hint and start offer a better means to transcode, re-encode, divx dump DVD’s then they will always have a small elite group of extremly driven indivuduals that will push as hard as possible to break the system. Lets face it folks, the data (no mattter how encrypted it is), will always be decypted else how the heck would we be able to listen [watch] or hear the media. Its time for these HUGE media compaines to understand that the consumers are not trying to steal but rather want many options for our purchase. Seriously, if I bought gasoline I would expect to use it anywhere in anything that accepts that medium. Well if we applied the DRM to gasoline then when I purchased it then I would only be able to use it for the medium I choose at the time of bidding. Ridculous…! I will offer up my entire fleet of computer’s horsepower to break that DRM crap. (I’m talking distrubuted computing, super-computing power here)… they cannot stop the mad cow they built.

xtraSico says:


I have an old and cheap dvd player, $28 about 2-3 years ago. Now I understand why there are some movies I can’t play in it. With some movies it doesn’t even play. It just shows “LOADING DVD-VIDEO” and then stops. Uhmmm. It was frustrating. I took the disk to the rental store and ask for the same title because I thought it was a damaged disk, only to get the same result. The owner never believed me that I couldn’t see that darn movie.

smellygirl says:

stop the comparisons to physical goods

everyone on both sides needs to stop making comparisons between physical goods and information.

obviously the difference is that digital information can be identically duplicated at effectively no cost, and physical goods cannot.

so none of those arguments are worthwhile.

we are in the mess we are because the old media keep trying to make them seem the same, and so far the laws support them in it.

we know that stealing a physical CD or DVD is not REALLY the same as downloading music or movies.

but DRM on a movie is not the same as your hypothetical DRM on gasoline, either.

and 1000s of people downloading movies and songs is not the same as making a mix tape for a friend.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: stop the comparisons to physical goods

but DRM on a movie is not the same as your hypothetical DRM on gasoline

No, not the same, just the same principle. Remember, movie DRM doesn’t keep one from copying the movie, it just intends to keep one from using it in an “unauthorized” player.

and 1000s of people downloading movies and songs is not the same as making a mix tape for a friend.

Seems to me to be the same as 1000’s of people making mix tapes for their friends. In principle that is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, this is what happens when you try to “prevent” the “unpreventable”.

Kind of like the “war on drugs”. It may not be winnable, but like with other wars there sure is a lot of money to be made in fighting it anyway. In fact there is more money to be made and power to be gained in not winning a never ending war of this sort than by actually winning. More prison construction, more guards, more lawyers, more judges, more cops, more surveillance, more control and so on. All of which benefits the enforcement system.

I expect to see a “war on piracy”, as it will probably be called, at the federal level. Federal law enforcement agencies are already pushing hard to get their involvement and subsequent funding increased in this area increased.

safusa says:

Returned DVD

Yes you get exactly the same title, but you don’t open it. You then return the unopened on to the store saying it was a duplicate present, or that you already had it. They will issue a store credit and put it back on the shelf for someone else to buy. I have done it with a computer game that wouldn’t play in my system.

Peet McKimmie (profile) says:

Re: Re: Only a matter of time...

I bought a VHS tape in Woolworths of Aberdeen a few years back. The woman took the tape out of my hand, took my credit card, rang the sale through, then ripped the cellophane off the tape, opened the box and put a “Woolworths” rubber-stamp on the tape label over the printed info. I complained and asked for an “undamaged” copy – she refused and told me it was the shop’s policy to stamp everything they sell because they had a run of people returning goods that they hadn’t originally bought there. Yeah, right.

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Only a matter of time...

If you try to bring vandelism charges based on the fact that you didin’t know that opening and stamping the item was policy (cuz if you knew then you wouldn’t have bought it right?) then the store would just mention the all too common clause of, “we reserve the right to change our policy without notice.”

This is a prime example of why lots of EULAs, store policies, and damn near every service contract (like phone, cable, and internet) has that clause thsese days. That line is just a blanket right to change the rules as they please. Don’t be surprised if the **AAs start putting this in the copyright warnings of their content and then try to have it interpreted as the right to go on a fishing expedition into someone’s media collection.

ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

The end of useful computers...

You know, we’ve spent 60 years trying to make software more and more power and useful, and it seems these days, the primary emphasis in software and hardware development is to literally make products that DON’T work.

Let’s face it, the software and hardware industry has a hard enough time making things that just work, adding in this additional layer of complexity is ruining the usability of consumer electronics.

I wonder how many companies will be ruined and how back the economy will be affected before they finally figure out that deliberately breaking their products isn’t good business.

Alex Hagen says:

Not so fast.

This is interesting, but I think this is not quite as big a deal as it sounds at first glance. It appears that a particular player key has been cracked, just like happened with CSS. What will happen now is that that player key will be revoked, and new titles coming out will not play on it. But there are a LOT of player keys this time around, and the only players being affected will be the same one that got cracked, i.e. the manufacturer that screwed up and left their key vulnerable will be the one that gets screwed in return and will have their products stop working and their customers mad at them, and presumably have to pay to replace all their players. In other words the system is working exactly as they planned it to.

The belief that all DRM is ultimately unworkable which many in the tech world seem to have, including most people here, is an interesting one. It may indeed be true, but I think it is way too early to believe this with as much certainty as people seem to do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not so fast.

“The belief that all DRM is ultimately unworkable which many in the tech world seem to have, including most people here, is an interesting one. It may indeed be true, but I think it is way too early to believe this with as much certainty as people seem to do.”

I think the reason for that is because to date there isn’t a single DRM or copy protection that has even remotely worked. So as many others have said if it can be watch or heard it can be copied period!

ScytheNoire (profile) says:

Re: Not so fast.

Even better. This means that they can keep cracking devices, ruining product keys one by one, until the manufacturers get tired of their products being blacklisted and simply release players that ignore the DRM and will play anything.

DRM is such a huge waste of money, and it stops me from buying legit products. i still buy DVD’s, because it’s DRM is a joke, but i don’t buy CD’s, ever since the Sony rootkit hacking attack. but then again, i never put a DVD in my computer, and i want my music on my computer and would never put a purchased disc in my computer.

VintageCoronado says:

a message Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz


This is Tom Cruise I make 20 million a film. Hi, this Cameron Diaz and I make 15 million a film. We want to express that piracy is illegal and can land you in jail. When you pirate movies the industry is forced to hike up movie ticket prices and while we’re still making 15-20 mil, the industry is also forced to layoff the workers behind the camera who happen to be the backbone of the industry.

Alex Elsayed says:


As a matter of fact, it was NOT the player key that was cracked. See, AACS works like this: The player key decrypts the title key, and the title key decrypts the content. The way it was crackes was that the software player cached the TITLE key in memory in the DECRYPTED form. This guy used a memory editor (like TSearch or ARTMoney) to find the title key, and then wrote a program to decrypt a movie, given that movie’s title key. Thus, they can’t revoke anything – That title key was never seen as a vulnerable point, so it doesn’t have a revocation mechanism. And so, as long as a software player that caches the key insecurely exists, we don’t crack AACS – We crack _each_movie_ on a case-by-case basis.

misanthropic humanist says:

easy, just don't buy it

The answer to this one is simple. Don’t buy this crap any more.

If you can’t survive without buying CD’s and DVD’s then you’re no better than a drug addict really are you?

I bought ZERO digital media this year for Christmas , despite some pressure from kids and naive family members.

I took it as a chance to educate them a little further – explaining how DVDs and CDs now contain “hacker code” designed to break your computer and media players.

I think my presents, like a juicer, clothes, and books were extremely well received this year, a nice refreshing surprise instead of the usual crappy silver discs that everyone knows cost 0.02c to manufacture and will be broken by February.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:


A funny twist on all of this is if some very effective, very easy to use hack comes out for only one of either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. If that happened, the media industry would throw another tantrum as expected, but I bet a weird outcome would surprise them:

If one of the two competing standards were fully DRM-hacked, it would suddenly increase in value to the users, and (like VHS to Beta) grow quickly in popularity. A good hack could decide the format war. Customers would feel comfortable buying HD disks and players, and despite themselves the media companies would make money selling us the same content again.

It wouldn’t be the first time “the people” had to fight the media companies to help them make money.

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