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BD+ Cracked? So Much for Happily Ever After

by December 10, 2007
Down with DRM!

Down with DRM!

Today, we shall learn about humility. We shall also learn about futility.

This "fable" is about the MPAA who believed they should have control of how people watch movies in their homes. The MPAA wanted to make sure that the people would be unable to do anything with those movies that the MPAA didn’t want them to do. So, the MPAA sought champions and prepared elaborate defenses to defend their content and to enforce their will upon those who would challenge them and steal their content.

First came VHS, but VHS was imperfect and of very low resolution. VHS was easy to copy but the copies were of even lower quality. The people hadn’t a care for the MPAA’s wishes because they were protected by fair use and the Betamax decision. But the MPAA brought Macrovision down upon the people to make sure they felt the will of the MPAA.

The analog of VHS gave way to the digital of DVD and the Internet and with the digital came the fearsome hacker hoards, loathsome barbarians who would thieve the digital content from the MPAA. The MPAA feared the hacker hoards greatly, feared that they would be among the people, and that they would make the people turn on the MPAA and steal their precious content.

So, when DVD was wrought, the MPAA’s called for a champion, defender of the content. Fair use and Betamax would be no more. DVD was perfect, but still of low resolution, so to protect its perfection, the MPAA wrought CSS to champion their cause. But CSS was only 40 bits strong and so fell quickly to the hacker hordes and the people were free to do what they wanted with DVD.

Then DVD began to wane in popularity, so the MPAA needed something new, something perfect and of high resolution so the people would be interested in movies again, but subject to the will of the MPAA. But because this new thing would be perfect and of high resolution something new would be needed, something better than CSS, something that could surely defeat the hacker hoards and protect the precious content.

So AACS was forged, but the MPAA was divided. AACS was 128 bits strong, far mightier than CSS. Some in the MPAA felt AACS would be enough to thwart the hacker hordes, others felt something more was needed.

Then came the great rift.

Some in the MPAA became the red and others became the blue. Those who became the blue had a new champion, BD+ and it was praised for its impenetrable might.

As the blue predicted, AACS fell easily before the onslaught of the hacker hoards. So, the blue, to protect their precious content marshaled BD+ to join the fight.

The criers proclaimed that BD+ had arrived; the fight against the hacker hoard would soon be over. BD+ can not be felled by the strength of arms of any enemy.

Trumpets blared, and BD+ was joined in battle.

The hacker hoard reared up and fell upon BD+ with a scream. Very soon indeed, to the dismay of the MPAA, BD+ was also felled and the hacker hoards swept on, unopposed.

For in the quest to control the content and protect it from all, through mistrust and misuse, the MPAA had turned the people into the very hacker hoard that they feared.

The moral: Toot your own horn loud enough someone is bound to make a fool of you.

In the latest setback to the MPAA’s quest to lock down all digital content a software crack for the much vaunted BD+ is now available.

Some readers may recall that the Blu-ray Disc Association is populated with content companies who felt one kind of copy protection was not enough for their precious HD movies and we of course know that criminals, I mean consumers are out to get them.

In other words, one type of electronic headache was not enough to inflict on consumers, causing hardware/software interoperability issues, slow hardware loading and operation times, as well as driving up both software and hardware costs for designing and implementing the additional security and then passing the costs onto the consumer. Consumers needed two headaches.

So, BD+ was conceived to be an additional layer of protection to run on top of AACS. BD+ operates as a Java virtual machine, on top of BD-J that allows decoding of localized data corruption built into BD encoding to protect the raw data as well as operate countermeasures against hacked players. Finalization of the BD+ specification was delayed, but was at last approved in June of this year.

BD+ was initially claimed to be impenetrable, some backpedaling, then BD+ was claimed to be impenetrable for at least 10 years.

BD+, unlike AACS, which suffered a partial hack last year, won’t likely be breached for 10 years. And if it were, the damage would affect one film and one player.

Slysoft Proves BD Plus Hackable

With the AACS repeatedly cracked, Blu-ray studios started to roll out BD+ titles. ‘Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer’ was the first title with BD+, and along with ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, both of which included advanced BD-J features. Both titles had numerous playback issues reported by consumers, with slow load times and stuttering on many players, but certain players outright refused to play such as the Samsung BD-P1200 and the LG dual format player. The studio, Twentieth Century Fox, blamed the hardware manufacturers and the hardware manufacturers blamed the studio. All of it is BS because, irregardless of who caused the bug, BD+ had never seen widespread public use, what occurred was inevitable.

Very shortly, much less than the prophesized 10 years, the first rumblings that BD+ had cracked started coming from Slysoft at the end of October. A week later, Slysoft announced that a Beta is available.

The forums at Slysofts website have a post that describes the software features and has some entertaining things to say to the BDA and Fox in particular:

v6.1.9.6 2007 11 07

  • New (Blu-ray): AnyDVD ripper copies BD+ titles
  • New (Blu-ray): Removed "BD+ not supported" warning, as all available BD+ titles can be copied with AnyDVD ripper, or can be watched on HTPC without HDCP using PowerDVD 3104 and AnyDVD. Reports indicate, that burned BD+ titles work on PS3 and standalone players as well.
  • Note to Twentieth Century Fox: As you can see, BD+ didn't offer you any advanced security, it just annoyed some of your customers with older players. So could you please cut this crap and start publishing your titles on HD DVD? There are thousands of people willing to give you money.
  • Note to people considering to invest in HD media: Please buy HD DVD instead of Blu-ray. HD DVD is much more consumer friendly (e.g., no region coding, AACS not mandatory). Don't give your money to people, who throw your fair-use rights out of the window.
  • New (HD DVD & Blu-ray): Support for more MKBv4 titles
  • Some minor fixes and improvements
  • Updated languages

There are reports of some operational issues with Slysoft’s beta on the forums, but the software is a beta release. It is likely they will work out the bugs before it is an official commercial release, unlike Fox’s buggy BD+ releases to the public, which of course saw no public beta.

Keep in mind that there are legitimate uses for such software, as much as content owners like MPAA would like everyone to believe otherwise.

Commonly accepted practices for such software that is non-infringing, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, based on copyright law and court case law:

Fair Use Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)


What's been recognized as fair use?

Courts have previously found that a use was fair where the use of the copyrighted work was socially beneficial. In particular, U.S. courts have recognized the following fair uses: criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, research and parodies.

In addition, in 1984 the Supreme Court held that time-shifting (for example, private, non-commercial home taping of television programs with a VCR to permit later viewing) is fair use. (Sony Corporation of America v. Universal City Studios, 464 U.S. 417 (1984, S.C.)

Although the legal basis is not completely settled, many lawyers believe that the following (and many other uses) are also fair uses:

  • Space-shifting or format-shifting - that is, taking content you own in one format and putting it into another format, for personal, non-commercial use. For instance, "ripping" an audio CD (that is, making an MP3-format version of an audio CD that you already own) is considered fair use by many lawyers, based on the 1984 Betamax decision and the 1999 Rio MP3 player decision (RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia, 180 F. 3d 1072, 1079, 9th Circ. 1999.)
  • Making a personal back-up copy of content you own - for instance, burning a copy of an audio CD you own.

For more on Fair Use and other significant topics and rights issues for the public in the Information Age, visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Both AACS and BD+ trample on fair use, private, non-profit backing up of legally purchased content or transferring legally purchased content between different mediums. The MPAA and other groups like the RIAA would like to see content repurchased again and again and again.

Your kid turns your new Blu-ray or HD-DVD movie into a Frisbee: buy it again.

Your teething 10 month old decides your CD collection is tasty: buy it again.

Your computer crashes and your hard drive, with all your legally purchased DRM laden media, becomes irrecoverable: buy it again.

The content provider gets a better deal on DRM from another vendor and now nothing you purchased will work: buy it again.

Want to hear that song you bought and downloaded last week again: buy it again.

Pay for play; this is where the content providers are headed. They would love to have consumers send them money every time they watch a movie or play a song.

What is even less savory about BD+, beyond other schemes like CSS and AACS, is what the Java based virtual machine running on a Blu-ray player can be programmed to do, even after the content after it is purchased:

More worrying than a resolution of the high-definition format wars, however, is what studios might want to do with the additional powers that BD+ provides them. The ability to run any sort of code in the name of "advanced countermeasures" also brings the power to limit content by other means: timed-release and expiring discs are just some of the possibilities. Somewhere, the ghost of the original DiVX may be laughing.

Note to all the studios: quit treating all your paying customers as potential criminals, stop wasting money on DRM and making paying customers live with the costs and inconveniences of DRM, and go after the real criminals who mass produce pirated copies of movies for profit.

DRM does not stop real pirates; it only annoys them.



About the author:
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Professionally, David engineers building structures. He is also a musician and audio enthusiast. David gives his perspective about loudspeakers and complex audio topics from his mechanical engineering and HAA Certified Level I training.

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