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January 14 2007

HD-DVD copy protection cracked - with Serenity. A few weeks ago, somebody cracked HD-DVD, but didn't release the 'keys' needed, but hinted about them - including the word "Reaver". They're now available, so discs can be copied. The title which was first used to break the keys and encryption? Serenity.

Additional coverage here.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-01-14 17:40 ]

1. it's not actually cracked, just cheated until "they" recall the decoder's license (PowerDVD, and then the whole cycle begins again)
2. Serenity was just one of the first few HD-DVD titles ever issued hence it being used, it was not the main HD-DVD used
3. IMHO I don't feel this is suitable for whedonesque, or something to be proud of in general - the whole AACS fiasco is a mess and will certainly get someone thrown in prison before it's over, under the DMCA which it is protected under...

[ edited by TaraLivesOn on 2007-01-14 17:18 ]
I'm not saying it's something to be proud of, but it will be (and is) something which will go down as news, and history. Serenity was the title used to distribute the keys in this, and was subject of hints for some time.

We've no idea if the creator even lives in the US (DMCA is a US only thing), and it's slightly slanderous to say they're certainly going to prison. The last person who did this was the person who cracked DVD region coding - a teenager in Europe. He didn't go to prison. I think he ended up working in the industry.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-01-14 16:59 ]
Heise newspaper are covering the "Serenity riddle".
Gossi, it doesn't matter if the original person to discover this was not in the USA, as the DMCA is written if someone else who happens to be in the USA explains to someone else how to bypass a security system like AACS, you can very well be sent to prison. (If someone wants to be an activist against the law, more power to them, but these people aren't activists, they didn't even actually break AACS, just bypassed it temporarily)

I'm not saying the DMCA makes sense or is a good thing, but it's where all this is going to lead. Serenity was not the first HD-DVD used for this either if you read the original doom9 thread, just the person on slashdot decided to make it Serenity centric over the silly riddle.

Again, none of this is suitable for here or something to be proud of IMHO. Serenity fans helping charity, wonderful. Serenity used to break US law, not a good idea to boast.
I agree with Tara. Just one more bad thing. It just makes me sad.
Thanks, gossi, for the link. The German article is actually quite confusing and hard to understand even for Germans who don't have a degree in IT sciences. But I rejoice over the publicity Serenity gets by this.
Here's a much better explanation of what actually happened and what it all means. So much for us ever getting OMWF in HD within this decade :-(
Uhm, the DMCA can not send me to prison, if I had done anything to do with this. Which, I might stress, I have not.

Also, to stress, the link does not explain the encryption keys.

We could go around and about and circles on the issue. I don't wish to. Serenity was used as one of the initial titles, and 'Reavers' and such was used as the hint which lead people to it. It's going to be reported as news because of that.

I realise this is one which people are going to have strong opinions on, so if Whedonesque doesn't want to cover it that's up to the mods.
Well I thank you for the link (or at least that I signed on early enough to see it before it was deleted), I have no idea what any of this means, but if it DOES lead to mentioning Serenity and Reavers in the news then it is all good in my book! Why would we be surprised that the pirates love Serenity?
You know, it was bound to happen. Let's just hope it gets people asking "what is this "Serenity" Thing, anyway"?

btw, I've started working in a DVD library, and ciruclation of our copy of Serenity grew greatly since I started working there ?:)
Aside from the volatile nature of the news itself, it will be interesting to see if the sales of the Serenity DVD increase due to attention this story is bringing.
Well, in theory if people are copying it, it should go down in the charts you'd think. Just had a quick look and it's number 6 on HMV's HD-DVD chart.

One thing I will say -- a HD-DVD copy of Serenity would give 19201080 screen caps, which I suspect would be great for artwork - would look beautiful.

Hey, I'm a giant nerd.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-01-14 18:10 ]
I don't really think of this as good news - if HD-DVD can be cracked, then won't more studios go to Blueray? Which will suck because it's Sony. And HD-DVD is such a better name!
Gossi, it doesn't matter if the original person to discover this was not in the USA, as the DMCA is written if someone else who happens to be in the USA explains to someone else how to bypass a security system like AACS, you can very well be sent to prison.

For some strange reason I don't think this knowledge would be passed on legally within the US anyway just as i've seen DVD copying programs saying not for use or distribution in the US

As for Blueray I'm guessing people are working on cracking that
Thanks, gossi. I liked the post and find this sort of thing interesting (not in the how-to sense!).
As somebody who exclusively uses Linux at home, I welcome anything that might mean I'm not left out in the cold with the HD stuff. I'm already locked out of the Done the Impossible DVD-ROM features.

So much for us ever getting OMWF in HD within this decade :-(

Huh?
I know I'm still one of the new guys around here and shouldn't be jumping in on this... But I really don't think this article is the best idea either. Yes it involves Serenity, yes it's news. But it still isn't something to be proud of is it?
I do think (as Carolyn said the other day in the Michelle Trachtenberg thread) that if people have specific complaints about a thread they should email the mods and not complain about it inside the thread itself.

Also, according to one of the articles linked in the story, this encryption algorithm is used on both HD-DVD and on Blu-Ray disks, so this should not make people flock to Blu-Ray.

Personally I think both formats are rather silly -- I have an HDTV, and regular ordinary DVDs (like 'Serenity') look fine on it. I fail to see what the big deal is over hi-def, and I am certainly not going to pay $500 for an HD DVD player. If it played both formats, maybe, but since it doesn't, it would be like gambling on Betamax vs. VHS.
Bluray uses the same copy protection as HD-DVD -- AACS, so they have the same problem. AACS was a join venture between Disney, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic, Warner Brothers, IBM, Toshiba, and Sony.

It was widely critised by Jon Lech Johansen, the person who broke DVD copy protection years ago. He said he "expected AACS to be cracked by winter 2006/2007". Nobody listened to him, and they spent millions on it anyway. He was right. Again. The motion picture industry tried to imprison then teenager Jon Johansen back when DVD encryption was defeated (by almost the same method), however they failed. Jon was trying to play DVDs on Linux at the time. They also tried to stop distribution of DeCSS - they failed. Charges for those cases were dropped in 2004.

With regards to 'Is this something to be proud of', I don't think anybody is say 'Woohoo! Copy Serenity!'.
I have no idea what all of this means and I can't say I care much.
I for one am saying "Woohoo! Playing Serenity the way I want to!" Not that this method completely allows that, yet.

One thing I will say -- a HD-DVD copy of Serenity would give 19201080 screen caps, which I suspect would be great for artwork - would look beautiful.

I tried getting some caps from the HD trailers, though it didn't work out completely. But it would have been cool indeed. :)
The interesting thing here will be how the copyright holders respond. One of the (to me) creepy things about the protection of HD-DVD (and Blu-ray) discs is that they can revoke encryption keys, disabling functioning equipment so it can't play the discs anymore it could play all the time before.

This means they can decide no-one can play the Serenity HD-DVDs anymore (well, those released now, they can change the key in new releases of the Serenity HD-DVD; and if you hack the system using the now public encryption keys you could also still watch it). However I think this would really destroy any future public good-will, so they won't do this.

More likely they will revoke the key for the program which played the discs and was used to find the encryption keys in order to stop new discs from being hacked, but this would still be a major nuisance to users. If I understand correctly this is in this case computer software which can be relatively easily replaced by a new version, but if it happens to a new TV, or some other physical equipment, I would be really annoyed if it didn't work anymore.

Ironically, apparently the person who hacked it did it because he couldn't play his HD-DVD (apparently Serenity) on his HD monitor, due to the restrictions placed on HD-DVD compliance of videocards installed to prevent hacking. Let companies take note that if your protection mechanism disables consumers to use the products in the way they like they will be more motivated to circumvent this protection, and as a side-effect enable illegal copying. (PS I think that probably real criminals would never have announced they hacked the system, they would just have made and sold illegal copies of the HD-DVDs).
This is absolutely something to be proud of. You should be able to make backup copies of your DVDs. It's not fair or right to stop people from doing that because they could be doing it to make bootlegs or upload it to the Internet.

If you don't want Serenity to be associated with breaking the law, I have to ask, did you even watch the movie?
AACS is used on both HD DVD and BluRay, but BluRay has some additional protection that should protect those titles for the time being and licence revokation doesn't really help here, because it's not the player key that has been compromised, but the disk keys, so the cat's out of the bag for now.

In the end I fear this may seriously hurt HD DVD even if Sony forbade adult content to be released on BD like they did with Betamax. From the end user point of view the HD DVD would be the better choice. It has backwards compatibility, normal DVD can be on the same disc as HD content and be played back on a regular DVD player. The disks are cheaper to produce with slight modifications to existing production lines, the player's are cheaper to make and it has the advantage of not being a proprietary format of a single company that can dictate what can and can not be released on it.

[ edited by kungfutse on 2007-01-14 18:56 ]
I wonder what Caroline really thinks :P

Yeah, Celebithil, the person who made this wasn't exactly an underground gang member. It was some dude who posted it under their normal forum account.

Here's my example: I've got an Xbox 360. I want to play HD-DVD. Simple. However, the Xbox doesn't have 'HDMI' cables, and future HD-DVDs will have additional copy protection enabled which stops high def content on non-HDMI cables. So it'll be useless.

Now, did anybody follow that? It's a ridiculous situation. How studios expect my gran to understand this I don't know.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-01-14 18:56 ]
No, no one is saying "Woohoo! Copy Serenity!"

If you dig deeper into the news by linking and googling and possibly using AcronymFinder, you'll see that the real issue here is Fair Use of digital content one has paid for. (Am I slowly being swayed to The Dark Side or what?) The guy/girl Muslix16 who supposedly did this posted on Doom9 (scroll down a bit for this part)

ETA: Calebithil beat me to it by the time I got my link to work (although I think Muslix16 was actually trying to watch something else)

"December 6:

I just bought a HD-DVD drive to plug on my PC, and a HD movie, cool! But when I realized the 2 software
players on windows don't allowed me to play the movie at all, because my video card is not HDCP compliant and because I
have a HD monitor plugged with DVI interface, I started to get mad... This is not what we can call "fair use"! So I
decide to decrypt that movie. I start reading the AACS specification I have found on the net. I estimate it will take
me about 4 weeks of full time job to decrypt that. I was wrong, it was in fact, easy..."

Obviously I wasn't there and don't know the truth about the story, but his/her YouTube video has already been pulled from its original upload site. Gossi, I'm so glad you posted this story because I read and linked to at least 20 other pages in an effort to fully understand the implications of the news.

I'm not touching that grey "file-sharing" area with a 10-foot pole (and the real profiteering pirates aren't concentrated in my country anyway), but I sure as hell am not going to start purchasing much digital content anytime soon. The fact of the matter is, why should I, when I can't use product I've paid for in the way I want? When I can view/read content I've paid for without purchasing loads of new software/hardware/equipment or signing some contract -- much in the same way I can take a book, CD, DVD etc. with me wherever -- then count me in as a purchaser of such products. Great link!!! *firmly believes Whedonesque makes me smarter*

[ edited by April on 2007-01-14 19:25 ]

[ edited by April on 2007-01-14 19:31 ]
If they're going to release a newfangled whatchamacallit product, it should at least be usable. In these circumstances, I don't see how they can blame anyone. People are entitled to what they paid for. While all technology can be abused, giving people the tool is not the same as sharing the file with them, or asking them to share the movie with everyone else. I don't understand high tech stuff, but this is pretty reasonable to me.
gossi ~ Well, in theory if people are copying it, it should go down in the charts you'd think. Just had a quick look and it's number 6 on HMV's HD-DVD chart.


That's why I'm curious to see how the sales of the DVD (either format) are affected. There have been some interesting discussions regarding the true effect on sales that result from media that people can copy.

A lot of people aren't into hacking the copyright protection barriers, even when the codes are available. That's why it would be interesting if sales result from curiosity when people read about "that Serenity movie" that was used to hack the codes.

One thing I will say -- a HD-DVD copy of Serenity would give 19201080 screen caps, which I suspect would be great for artwork - would look beautiful.


*wipes slight drool from sides of mouth*

Uh... yeah... that sounds really niiiiice... *sigh*

Hey, I'm a giant nerd.


Nerds is good... heh

P.S.
Just wanted to mention that I pesonally didn't think you posted this story out of pride. It's a significant news story worthy of debate that involves Serenity, that's all. For me, the topic does not negatively reflect on our shiny movie. Can Serenity help it if she's so awesome someone just had to crack the codes to learn her secrets... hmmmmm?
I think the part that disturbs me is that the HD-DVD producers got an l33t haxxor to test their security without paying him/her a dime. Other than that, it's fully sweet. : ]

SenseiJJ: "I know I'm still one of the new guys around here and shouldn't be jumping in on this... "

Hey, in my opinion,SenseiJJ, you and anyone else should feel free to post on any and all threads as soon as you get your memberships.
Hear hear KernelM (and others). In my view this kind of thing is more like civil disobediance than actual immorality. The problem with these types of protection is that they pre-emptively criminalise people who are just trying to use their property as they see fit (and as they're legally entitled to under existing copyright laws).

And IMO the DMCA is one of the nastier examples of big business manipulating government to protect its own interests in recent years and, in my view, should be disobeyed at every sensible opportunity. Not to steal any lines from the cousins but the way it promotes monopolies, stifles criticism and restricts freedom is, well, it's downright un-American ;).

(also agree the Whedonesque way is - thankfully - to judge people's opinions based on their content not how long they've been a member so feel free to express yours SenseiJJ. And I disagree ;)
Where did I see this kind of morally ambivalent, self-justified behaviour against system they see as wrong, even as majority disagrees with them and thinks they're pirates or something, hm? Oh yes, it was Serenity.
I appreciate the kind words QuoterGal. I hope nobody took my post as being overly argumentative.

My only point was meant to be, as much as I support the idea of the 'fair use' in theory... we all know that despite any innocent beginings, things like this tend to "become" all about pirating.

I've just got to wonder how it's all going to end up? I agree it's nice for people to find work arounds to legally use, their legally owned media when they come across roadblocks like this. But I just wonder how some of the people involved in creating great work like Serenity feel about the potential problems here?
No this is not something to be proud of. However when they really crack it then its something to be proud of. Remember these Digital Restriction Management systems are designed to remove rights from end users and are inherently evil. Any real Browncoat would be against them - Mal certainly would.
I love this thread! I come to Whedonesque to get news and this is news, so (IMO) totally appropriate. Thanks Gossi!

I don't know much about HD-DVD or BlueRay. Oh, other than I saw Serenity playing in HD-DVD at a Best Buy store and it looked spectactular. Still I can't justify spending the money and re-buying movies I already own. Anyway it's great to read everyone's opinions on this topic, very informative.

"Ironically, apparently the person who hacked it did it because he couldn't play his HD-DVD (apparently Serenity) on his HD monitor, due to the restrictions placed on HD-DVD compliance of videocards installed to prevent hacking. Let companies take note that if your protection mechanism disables consumers to use the products in the way they like they will be more motivated to circumvent this protection, and as a side-effect enable illegal copying."
I wonder, is the movie labeled with this information so a purchaser would be able to know this before buying? Like software is labeld with all the system requirements?


When I started reading this thread I had no strong opinion, after reading I gotta say I tend to agree that once you purchase the product you should be able to use it.
I wonder, is the movie labeled with this information so a purchaser would be able to know this before buying?

Passion, not necessarily. In the US there're moves afoot to introduce a bill complementing the DMCA so that, among other things, fair-use is explicitly allowed and CDs (presumably it'd apply to DVDs as well) must be labelled appropriately if they're copy-protected.

Clearly, as a UK citizen and resident it shouldn't be all that important to me, except a) the EU has a habit of following in the US's footsteps on many things and b) as was the case with DVD-Jon, a Norwegian citizen living in Norway at the time, the reach of the Motion Picture Association of America is a lot longer than it should be.

(if a US trade organisation trying to enforce US laws in Norway doesn't raise any - usually misplaced and laughably over-the-top but maybe not in this case - suspicions about American hegemony then I don't know what will)
The part of U.S. hegemony that's sorta wrong is the "U.S." part. We, that is we, the people, are just a front for this mob.
Hmm, just a matter of time. Every copyright protection can be defeated. Whether it should should be the question.
I bought my Serenity HD-DVD. It looks stunning on my brand new HD LCD projector on my 80" screen. Better than it looked at the cinema even :)

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