Along with better picture and sound, one of the big selling points of both the next generation DVD formats Blu-ray and HD-DVD has been the incorporation of the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) encryption specification.
The format was supposed to control unauthorized copying on HD-DVD and Blu-ray video players. Now however, a hacker named Muslix64 has created a new BackupHDDVD tool and code on the Doom9 forum. This code effectively decrypts and dismantles AACS on a Windows PC.
Muslix64 has given the reason for the hack due to problem with the newly bought HD DVD. “I started to get mad,” he wrote in a posting to the Doom9.org discussion forum. “This is now what we call ‘fair use’! So I decide to decrypt that movie. When American consumers go and buy movies legitimately in the store, they should be entitled to play them back on whatever they’d like. Unfortunately that’s not the set of rules that Hollywood seems to be embracing.”
It’s a bold claim, but one that at present remains unverified. The hacker has posted video evidence of some of his claims on YouTube with a clip showing a PC playing the HD-DVD version of the film “Full Metal Jacket”.
Whilst both formats incorporate AACS, Blu-ray contains additional DRM encryption so the hack won’t presently affect those titles. AACS was designed with hacks in mind in fact so that if a hack has taken place, future discs will incorporate a change of keys on the system that should render cracked players unable to play those discs.