A second user has claimed to have found a method for cracking and decoding the AACS encoding protecting HD DVD and Blu-ray discs. Meanwhile, SlySoft has already begun offering beta software to "remaster" and copy HD DVDs.
"Arnezami," a poster on the Doom9 forums, has claimed he has found a method to find the "processing key" used in AACS, the digital-rights-management scheme used to protect next-generation DVDs. The user and others have begun posting methods to use that key to pry the copy protection loose from existing high-def DVD discs.
SlySoft, an Antiguan software company, has also begun offering a beta version of its download-only AnyDVD program, which removes the copy protections from CDs, DVDs and allows them to be "remastered," or copied. The beta version extends this into HD DVDs, but not Blu-ray discs, the company said. A new software product, AnyDVD HD, will be available "soon," the company said.
Although the two high-definition DVD formats use different encoding mechanisms and media, the same protection scheme AACS is used to protect both formats. DVDs use a simpler version of copy protection called CSS, which was discovered and cracked several years ago. Although CSS is technically protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, several freely available programs exist to remove the DVD protections and allow users to manipulate the content on DVDs for their own use.
Previously, Doom9 users "Muslix64" and "jokin" used a program to sniff the memory registers of their PC when a HD DVD was being played back using WinDVD, a software decoder. Arnezami used an HD DVD drive as an external volume, then examined the data as it came through his PC. Once the processing key was found, the key was used to derive the media key and volume key, which can decrypt the disc.
While Arnezami's work does not provide a method for unlocking all future Blu-ray and HD DVDs, the method apparently will work for all current discs. So far, the hackers have not worked to determine the "device keys" that are locked to a particular player. AACS allows for device manufacturers to upgrade the firmware of an HD DVD player, allowing both a particular device key and a particular processing key to be locked out, preventing discs from playing. By avoiding the device key and attacking the processing keys, however, individual consumers won't be locked out, and instead the encryption methodology itself is attacked.
What this means, sources said, is that any decryption software would need to be connected to the Internet, to download on-the-fly updates with the latest processing keys. Even if a processing key is invalidated, the method is still valid; like algebra, once a variable is known, it can be used to determine the values of other variables. Doom9 posters pointed out that an existing cracked disc can be used to determine if an updated processing key is present, and if so, what it is. Once that key has been determined, it should theoretically unlock all existing discs, they said.
SlySoft, meanwhile, has released beta 184.108.40.206 of its AnyDVD software, which supports "decrypting and "on the fly remastering" of HD DVD discs, according to the company. Users who buy the $49.00 download also have the ability to receive free upgrades for the life of the product, which will allow them to upgrade to the HD DVD functionality. For now, however, registered users must rename their license key to allow the beta to work.
Users who enter the code "valentine" when purchasing the software will receive $5 off, through Feb. 18, SlySoft said.
SlySoft has not released a timeline for AnyDVD HD; company officials were unable to be contacted by press time. However, company representatives posting replies in SlySoft's support forum said that they believe that each new version of the beta, and eventually the release software, will unlock all existing HD DVD discs.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story misstated the HD DVD software from SlySoft.
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