Has HD DVD’s AACS Protection Been Cracked Already?

Caught this on Gizmodo this morning:

They told us it was bullet-proof, unbreakable. Yet in a mere eight days, a hacker by the name of Muslix64 has managed to single-handedly break the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), the standard that Disney, Intel, Microsoft, Sony, and others developed to protect HD DVD and Blu-ray discs. Or has he? The BackupHDDVD software Muslix64 posted on a Doom 9 forum thread lets you decrypt Full Metal Jacket, Van Helsing, and a few other popular HD DVD titles, but there’s still no way of telling how he managed to get a hold of the decryption keys. Only time will tell if Muslix64 is the DVD Jon of the next-gen optical discs. – Louis Ramirez

If true, this is extremely interesting for a number of reasons.  The music industry is still in denial about what their customers want and will allow them to monetize, after years of digital music.  To date, most digital music is still acquired through a purchased CD and ripped to the MP3 format, which is compatible with all players.

It seems obvious, by default, that video will follow the same path.  That the preferred method of acquisition will be a lawfully purchased DVD (now less than $5.99 in some places), ripped easily to the MP4 format, with no digital rights management to deal with.

Wouldn’t it be ironic, if, in all the fury over the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray formats, if one of them is cracked and the other isn’t?  The movie industry might swing to the “safe” format, while consumers might quickly gravitate to the one that allows them to more easily use the content (the “open” format).

Of course, both of these formats will be cracked in relatively short order.  It seems inevitable given the complexity involved in protecting content for delivery, and the literally millions of young hackers out there trying to become the next DVD Jon.

We’ll see if this one pans out.  It might be just a one-off crack for a few titles.