HD DVD & Blu-Ray Appear to Have Been Completely Cracked. So Much for DRM.

Wow. That is some sort of world-record for turning an entire new generation of DRM worthless.

Engadget: Hackers Discover Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Processing Key

Engadget is reporting that the “processing key” for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray have now been cracked. This is a big deal, because unlike previous exploits that were able to copy individual movies, this crack, if true, means that every HD-DVD and Blu-Ray DVD will be able to be ripped.

I have to say, I’m not surprised. The industry has basically an impossible problem when it comes to DRM:

  1. I want to ensure that no one can copy the digital content off my discs.
  2. I want to ensure that my discs can play in any one of millions of players made by hundred of different manufacturers by anyone in any location.
  3. I want to be able to mass produce identical discs
  4. I want to be able to mass product identical players
  5. I want to ensure that my discs can play on PCs, in order to take advantage of scale economics for PCs.

All of the above produce too many openings for hackers to figure out how to “pretend” to be just another player, and thus get the decrypted content.  The economic incentive for hackers is just too high, and that combined with a good dose of anger towards the “greedy studios”, and you have a guarantee that eventually, these new standards will be cracked.

I wonder if the movie studios will take Steve Jobs’ & Bill Gates‘ advice and give up on DRM? Unlikely to be sure.

Instead, they will focus their efforts on limiting the rights of legitimate, paying customers while crackers will get access to all of their content for free. Of course, I’m sure there will be the requisite push on law enforcement for “trophy arrests” of some 15-year old somewhere with an archive of 300 Blu-Ray movies (20GB each!) on a server.

Unfortunately, this ruins my theory of who would win the format wars – I thought that the first format to be cracked would win the market, since the increased options for buyers of a cracked format are so much higher than a secure one.

Alas, they seem to both be cracked at the same time, so it’s a dead heat again.