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Potential HDCP key is out in the open

Shows the promise of free media
Tue Sep 14 2010, 16:25

IT SEEMS that the movie industry has once again been hit with bad news as a hacker has published what he claims is the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) key.

The HDCP key is used by just about every major video format to protect the transmission from source to sink. The data is encrypted using the key at source, typically a set-top box, DVD player or even computer and is then decrypted at the sink, the display. The protection, or rather digital restrictions management (DRM) is aimed to stop people from making copies of content such as television shows or Blu-ray movies.

At this point it is not clear whether or not this key is actually the one that could render HDCP worthless. The hacker did not disclose how the key was obtained or whether it was a scene effort. Don't expect a twitch from Digital Content Protection, the subsidiary of Intel that owns and licenses out the technology. After all, if its golden goose has just been slain, it's hardly likely to make too much noise about it.

Innovative hackers have managed to get around HDCP to produce copies of content in the past, with software freely available that rips Blu-ray discs for some time. With the HDCP key out in the open, it will mean the MPAA will have little to no chance of stopping raw, uncompressed content from appearing on Bitorrent or Usenet, not that it was having much luck with that in the first place.

Although the death of HDCP is far from confirmed at this stage, it is clear that, like almost every other DRM system devised by greedy corporations, it is on its way out. Don't expect many tears from the media content cartels' long suffering customers. µ


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