I just read an article on Torrent Freak.com which reports that the first HD DVD movie is now available to a BitTorrent client near you.
How HD DVD DRM Works
HD DVD uses a version of Digital Rights Management (DRM) called High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). HDCP is only employed on high definition monitors over the DVI and HDMI inputs.
Each HDCP capable device (players and monitors) has a unique set of keys (there are 40 keys, each 56 bits long). For each set of keys, a special key called a Key Selection Vector (KSV) is created. Each KSV has exactly 20 bits set to 0 and 20 bits set to 1.
More from Wikipedia:
During the authentication process, both parties exchange their KSVs. Then each device adds (without overflow) its own secret keys together according to a KSV received from another device. If a particular bit in the vector is set to 1, then the corresponding secret key is used in the addition, otherwise it is ignored. Keys and KSVs are generated in such a way that during this process both devices get the same 56 bit number as a result. That number is later used in the encryption process.
If some particular model is considered “compromised”, its KSV is put into revocation lists, which are written e.g. on newly produced disks with HD content. Each revocation list is signed with a digital signature using the DSA algorithm; this is supposed to prevent malicious users from revoking legitimate devices. During the authentication process, if the receiver’s KSV is found by a transmitter in the revocation list, then the transmitter considers the receiver to be compromised and refuses to send HD data to it.
If that new HD plasma you just bought doesn’t have HDCP, the player will not play the disk in high definition. It will downsample the resolution to 960×540. A 1080p monitor (the highest HD spec) displays at 1920×1080 and standard definition (regular DVDs) displays at 720×480 (NTSC) or 720×576 (PAL). The problem is that many high-definition monitors currently being sold are not HDCP-capable, which would remove a lot of the benefits of HD DVD and Blu-ray!
Crack The Code
We all knew that the DRM would be cracked – I didn’t think it would be so quick though! It was cracked around Christmas 2006 – before HD DVD has even been adopted by many consumers.
Now there is a tool called BackupHDDVD which will allow you extract a disc’s contents but it doesn’t crack the copy protection, but people have found a way around that as well: There is a thread on Doom9’s forum where people are trading keys for movies like Serenity, King Kong and 12 Monkeys.
My standing on digital media and the MPAA and RIAA is that the more they fight, the more users will fight back. If these organizations would embrace digital media, THEY would be better off. They’re starting to, and it took iTunes to do it but the system is still flawed. I am all for protecting your copyrightable content but treating users like criminals is plain wrong. Things like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are completely backwards – I am not a criminal for copying the CDs I bought to my iPod. I am not a criminal for making backup copies of my kid’s DVDs (so they can’t scratch the originals).
When Napter became popular, the RIAA freaked out, and rightly so – their stuff was being stolen. However, they should have created a iTunes like business model and they wouldn’t have dug the hole they’re in now! It’s all about supply and demand: Users didn’t want 14 crappy songs on a disc with one good one. These college students (Napster’s original users) wanted digital media, so they didn’t have to fill up their cramped dorm rooms with more stuff (of course, there was the get-something-for-nothing crowd as well). These kids had access to T1 lines and they wanted new music now. The members of the RIAA should have given it to them, with DRM of course. There should have been a one-stop-shop for all of your digital music (that you – and only you – could play) so you wouldn’t have to steal it, but I guess we have that now . . .