Media, tech firms probe possible high-def DVD hack

R.A. Hettinga rah at
Fri Dec 29 08:33:19 PST 2006

I think this sounds suspiciously like "Yet Another Mickey Mouse DRM
Protocol", which got rather instantly blown up, by multiple independent
cryptographers drinking beer, at a Financial Cryptography conference rump
session. The 2000 conference, I think.

Of course, cryptanalysis is not necessary; ultimately, the punchline to
just about *any* DRM system is, "And *where* do you put the CCD?"

As any cypherpunk worth his Szechwan food knows, the only thing you can
tell with a watermark is who it was stolen *from*, not who stole it.

Which brings us to the proper solution to such things, a recursive
cash-settled auction market for digital goods. There, watermarking is
actually *necessary*, because it identifies what you're buying, which is
necessary, and not who "owns" it, which is, under a strict cash-for-bits
protocol, superfluous.



Media, tech firms probe possible high-def DVD hack

Fri Dec 29, 2006 8:46 AM ET

By Gina Keating

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The companies behind an encryption system for
high-definition DVDs are looking into a hacker's claim that he has cracked
the code protecting the new discs from piracy, a spokesman for one of the
companies said on Thursday.

A hacker known as Muslix64 posted on the Internet details of how he
unlocked the encryption, known as the Advanced Access Content System, which
prevents high-definition discs from illegal copying by restricting which
devices can play them.

The AACS system was developed by companies including Walt Disney Co., Intel
Corp., Microsoft Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp. to protect
high-definition formats, including Toshiba's HD-DVD and Sony's Blu-ray.

Muslix64 posted a video and decryption codes showing how to copy several
films, including Warner Bros' "Full Metal Jacket" and Universal Studios'
"Van Helsing," on a popular hacker Internet blog and a video-sharing site.

The hacker also promised to post more source code on January 2 that will
allow users to copy a wider range of titles.

A spokesman for one of the AACS companies, who declined to have the company
identified, said they were aware of it and were looking into the claims,
but would not elaborate.

The vulnerability could pose a threat to movie studios looking for ways to
boost revenue as sales of standard-format DVDs flatten. In 2005, U.S. DVD
sales generated some $24 billion for the movie industry.

If the encryption code has been cracked, then any high-definition DVD
released up to now can be illegally copied using the Muslix64 "key,"
according to technology experts.

Jeff Moss, organizer of Defcon, the world's largest hacking convention,
said in an interview that Muslix64 appears to have found a real breach in
the encryption system.

"Everybody is talking like it worked, and apparently it's not that hard,"
said Moss, whose annual convention draws thousands of security researchers,
government workers and hackers. "This will be the first trial run of how
this (AACS) is going to work whenever a compromised player comes out."

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, a UK-based technology expert and author of Internet
blog PC Doctor, wrote in a Thursday posting on technology site
that Muslix64's source code "seems genuine enough."

He said the hack would not necessarily make much of a difference in the
battle for supremacy between the new HD DVD and Blu-ray formats.

"What's interesting here is that while this hack might give HD-DVD a
temporary advantage amongst enthusiasts who want to backup discs ... in the
long run it won't give either format an advantage because both HD-DVD and
Blu-ray use the now cracked AACS," he wrote.

Warner Bros. is a unit of media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. and Universal
Studios is part of NBC Universal, controlled by General Electric Co..

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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