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Hackers reported to have broken HD DVD encryption system

Hackers have broken the AACS encryption system protecting the HD-DVD format, the New York Times reports.

The 2005 sci-fi film Serenity, made available through a P2P file-sharing system last week, is now being followed by other titles this week, including The Chronicles of Riddick and Batman Begins, according to the newspaper.

Serenity was made available on BitTorrent as full-resolution rip of an HD DVD disc as a .EVO file and is playable on most DVD playback software packages such as PowerDVD. The file was encoded in MPEG-4 VC-1 and the resulting file size was a hefty 19.6GB.

The HD-DVD security was partly broken in December, when a programmer called Muslix64 released free software so users could make copies of HD-DVDs in their computers. But they still needed a special "title key" called Advanced Access Content System, produced by the HD-DVD software.

Edward Felton, a computer science professor at Princeton University who has been monitoring the hackers' attempts to crack HD-DVD on his blog, said this title key, used to decrypt the contents of a particular HD disc, can be found on PCs that run the popular WinDVD player. The key is left in the WinDVD memory when it finishes playing a disc, he said.

Felton said that websites claim to hold the keys for about 50 HD-DVD movies, a third of the titles available.
"At least some of these title keys are correct. Within days, expect to see a software program that downloads keys from such a site and uses the keys to play or copy discs."

The Times said keys for at least four movies were available Tuesday. An HD-DVD industry spokesman told the paper the breach was serious, but suggested it was of limited importance and could be remedied.

Story filed 17.01.07

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