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Never piss off a nerd
January 25, 2007 12:53 AM   Subscribe

An interview with 'muslix64', who got fed up when his new television refused to play HDDVDs, because of DRM problems. So he cracked the HDDVD DRM. Then, for good measure, he cracked Blu-Ray too. The first HD movies are already appearing on a Torrent near you.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste (42 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a really bad thing for those torrents to be appearing, it does those of us who want the media we pay for to be DRM no favour when we want to prove we're not just wanting to steal everything.

I don't want there to be no DRM on CDs because I want to steal music, I want there to be no DRM on CDs because I want to be able to use the player of my choose without risking a Sony™ rootkit. Same thing with DVDs, if I want to put all my DVDs on a media machine next to the TV rather than having to physically handle the disk every time I want to watch it, I want to be able to do that.

So by all means, break DRM so you can do what you want with your own media - that makes the DRM look pointless. But don't break it so that you can steal a movie - that makes it look like they have to make stronger DRM.
posted by The Monkey at 1:35 AM on January 25, 2007


Interesting discussing if you click through to HDTV Bolgger. It's funny how with the availability of free but illicit content, a whole ecosystem of pirate sites springs up, inevitably governed by adolescent rules of social interaction, status, etc. Reminds me of Lord of the Flies.
posted by metaplectic at 1:37 AM on January 25, 2007


They're all over the newsgroups too, apparently. Serenity, of course, was the first movie to appear there. 22 gigs!
posted by antifuse at 1:42 AM on January 25, 2007


I don't want there to be no DRM on CDs because I want to steal music

That's basically my position translated to ebonics.
posted by stammer at 1:45 AM on January 25, 2007 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I think I'd probably be more coherant if I hadn't just had a big curry dinner. I'm sure it's still possible to work out what I meant.
posted by The Monkey at 1:55 AM on January 25, 2007


BTW, the oldest HD (1080p) movie being tracked on TPB is much older: Swordfish 8.15 GiB 2005-04-26.

I would guess it was copied from an HD cable or satellite feed, judging by the file size.
posted by metaplectic at 2:06 AM on January 25, 2007


I would guess it was copied from an HD cable or satellite feed, judging by the file size.

Maybe they just did the appropriate thing and stopped the movie after the first twenty minutes or so. Never in my life have I seen a cool open for an action movie devolve into such unmitigated banality. It's not quite as disappointing as the Aliens vs. Predator debacle, but still...
posted by The God Complex at 2:24 AM on January 25, 2007


I fail to see the point in watching a crap movie in high definition. Two other things.

1. I'm a bit of an old codger, who believes that watching a film at the cinema can never be surpassed. HD-DVD is best used for wank material.Plain old DVD is fine for home use with a decent television.

2. I think this new urge for hyper-realism, more resolution, is a fine thing, but at the same time it will push the actors and photographers to further enhance the artifice because of a perception that flaws are bad. Who knows, it might be positive, creating a resurgence in character actors.
posted by gsb at 2:48 AM on January 25, 2007


It's a really bad thing for those torrents to be appearing, it does those of us who want the media we pay for to be DRM no favour when we want to prove we're not just wanting to steal everything.

I know. I mean, I've been a perfectly ethical non-violent shoplifter for years. It's these armed robbers that fucked everything up.

C'mon. It's not like the five ethical downloaders in the world control it. Don't resort to sophistry. You really believe that Sony or whoever's lawyers think for 5 tenths of a second about these distinctions?
posted by dhartung at 2:58 AM on January 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


I torrented that last comment. I expect to get it some time next week, as it wasn't an especially popular one.
posted by Wolof at 3:18 AM on January 25, 2007


I've been a perfectly ethical non-violent shoplifter for years.
Isn't that a rather invidious and unhelpful analogy? Shoplifting is almost universally considered to be unethical, but you seem to accept in the next paragraph that what The Monkey wants to do is ethical.
posted by Coventry at 3:21 AM on January 25, 2007


I rent, rip and return movies from a netflix clone. Why? Downloading takes too long and kills my internet speeds. By renting I obtain the movie legally. I time shift it by ripping it which may or may not be legal. I return the movie so I can get more movies.

Every now and then a disc comes that I want to watch right away so I pop it in the xbox or my laptop and watch it and lo and behold the 100% sanctioned viewing is aversive.

I have to sit through an anti-piracy message. Then I have to endure an advertisement for some dorky crap like coolroom (wtf?). Then there are previews. Then I have select play from a poorly constructed and unclear dvd menu designed by a 14 year old whose only previous UI experience is designing ansi menus for pcboard.

With a ripped version all I have to do is hit play.
posted by srboisvert at 3:45 AM on January 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Heh. The funny part is, when DVD Jon broke CSS, everyone was saying "Haha, you idiots! you rolled your own encryption scheme, when you should have used a well-known, well-tested, standard scheme! You shouldn't rely on security through obscurity, you fools!"

So, they "learned from their mistakes," and used an openly documented system, with openly documented ciphers (AES, iirc) this time around. From the looks of it, maybe they had it right the first time.

It will be interesting to see whether BD+ comes swinging to the rescue, and also how well they'll manage to ratchet down the software players (i.e., from having their keys so easy to snag) after this incursion. Should be quite the battle.
posted by blenderfish at 4:11 AM on January 25, 2007


I stand with the monkey on this one - I dont want to go out and spend $600+ on a video card and monitor that can do HDCP when the video card and monitor I have now are perfectly capable of displaying an HD movie. I have no intention of piracy, but seeing the encryption bypassed and knowing its possible to watch HD-DVD movies on my PC w/o having to buy into the latest DRM is nice.
posted by SirOmega at 4:17 AM on January 25, 2007


It's a really bad thing for those torrents to be appearing, it does those of us who want the media we pay for to be DRM no favour when we want to prove we're not just wanting to steal everything.

Right on, The Monkey. Right on.

It is a pity that consuming digital content without paying for it (when it should be paid for) is not regarded with the same universal contempt as shoplifting.
posted by three blind mice at 4:21 AM on January 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Instead of spending money to develop better DRM, they should come up with a better business model. Hey major media, you can make money off the internetz! Everybody's doing it these days.

I find it incredibly hysterical that they pay a team of nerds to write this DRM crippleware only to find that there's hundreds of (smarter) nerds on the internet who'll crack this crap for free.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:25 AM on January 25, 2007


DRMs only penalize the lawful.
posted by Eideteker at 4:32 AM on January 25, 2007


cool, I already have a computer and a HDTV plasma.

now all I need is a DVD burner that burns 20+ GB files, a bunch of blank DVDs where such files can be burned, and a DVD player that can play them.

I'm, like, almost there.
posted by matteo at 4:35 AM on January 25, 2007


Matteo: why bother getting the dvd burner when you can just output directly from your computer to the plasma? :)
posted by antifuse at 4:47 AM on January 25, 2007


Wait, wasn't there an article not too long ago where a hollywood insider admitted DRM was not about piracy, but rather about creating revenue streams where there were none to begin with?
posted by chibikeandy at 5:44 AM on January 25, 2007


blenderfish, the reason muslix64 was able to break the encryption wasn't because the encryption was weak, it's because the idiot programmers stored the key in plain sight in the decoder's memory. The best code in the world is useless if you tape the password to your monitor.
posted by localroger at 6:03 AM on January 25, 2007


localroger: wasn't that also how DVD Jon broke the original DVD encryption? Some manufacturers had printed keys on the discs themselves?
posted by antifuse at 6:13 AM on January 25, 2007


Its is the nature of DRM that you MUST have the key "taped to the monitor". The key must be somewhere, otherwise how would you watch the movie? That "somewhere" may be more or less obscured, but that's it. DRM can't work and that's a computer science certainty.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:25 AM on January 25, 2007


Its is the nature of DRM that you MUST have the key "taped to the monitor". The key must be somewhere, otherwise how would you watch the movie? That "somewhere" may be more or less obscured, but that's it. DRM can't work and that's a computer science certainty.

Truth. Why can't they grasp that? If you can see it or hear it (which is the purpose of the media) you can steal it. No way around it.

I've seen the argument made by the RIAA and the MPAA that DRM keeps "the honest people honest". If they're honest, they don't need DRM, no?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:50 AM on January 25, 2007


Benny Andajetz, you and I would go to RIAA's IT consultant call and say their problem can't be solved. Other, less honest or knowledgeable, will propose a full end-to-end encryption system (they won't say where the ends are thou) and make millions of dollars selling it. Even if it doesn't work. That's how we arrive at the present situation.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 7:06 AM on January 25, 2007


output directly from your computer to the plasma?

output in HD?
posted by matteo at 7:12 AM on January 25, 2007


I'd like DRM to go away so that boingboing could go back to being interesting.
posted by srboisvert at 7:16 AM on January 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


Who has the time to download 22 gigs from a newsgroups? How many individual postings would that be? Even if you can snag it in one torrent, how long does it take to download and then can you burn it, or do you just later delete it from your hard drive to free up 22 gigs?
posted by caddis at 7:44 AM on January 25, 2007


matteo, sure. Most (meaning 99% of all new) hdtv screens have dvi or hdmi ports, which are pretty much the same thing. Even my several year old laptop has dvi out.
posted by mikeh at 7:57 AM on January 25, 2007


It's a really bad thing for those torrents to be appearing, it does those of us who want the media we pay for to be DRM [free] no favour when we want to prove we're not just wanting to steal everything.
A case can be made that casual copying (which the content business has counter-productively sexed up with the word "piracy") is not the real issue. What the content business really wants is greater control over its paying customers.

People who sell things often go to great lengths to segment their market, by offering several variations of a widget at different prices. Doing so correctly can yield dramatically more revenue than just selling widget X at price Y. That's why there are so many varieties of Windows Vista, for example.

DRM allows a copyright holder to segment the market for each individual copyrighted work. With DRM, a customer can't (legally) pay one price to access a movie, TV show, or piece of music whenever and however he or she wants. Instead, customers must pay to watch a movie in a theater, must pay again to see it on home video, must pay again to load it onto an iPod, etc. Even when the media isn't something that a customer wants to watch repeatedly, the segmented market with its many price points and formats works to extract maximum revenue.

Obviously, that sort of market segmentation won't work without DRM. Genuine CDs can be purchased anywhere, played anywhere, and converted to other formats easily. That sort of customer-friendliness is exactly what the MPAA tried to prevent by including encryption and region coding in the DVD system. And tellingly, these measures were built-in from the start, long before it was even technically feasible make casual copies of DVDs.

When you "prove you're not just wanting to steal everything," by, say, buying a locked-down HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc, you're actually rewarding the content business for its customer-hostile market segmentation. Your continuing honesty does nothing to discourage the use of DRM.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:04 AM on January 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


caddis: ...then can you burn it, or do you just later delete it from your hard drive to free up 22 gigs?
22 GB of hard-disk space crrently costs around $6. A similar amount of space on a burnable Blu-Ray disc currently costs about double that.

It's my understanding that many who compulsively hoard boatloads of illicit media simply use lots of hard disks. They're speedy and convenient. They're more expensive than DVD+R, but not prohibitively so. Much of the traffic in illicit media actually happens at in-person meets and LAN parties, where large data swaps are relatively straightforward and speedy. 22 GB isn't a hurdle in such an environment.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:27 AM on January 25, 2007


matteo, sure. Most (meaning 99% of all new) hdtv screens have dvi or hdmi ports, which are pretty much the same thing. Even my several year old laptop has dvi out.

DVI feeds will probably be downsampled. The manufacturing cabal is pushing HDMI to make sure copied goods aren't sent down the digital pipe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:34 AM on January 25, 2007


Even my several year old laptop has dvi out

DVI feeds will probably be downsampled


I admit my cluelessness: can I plug my HDTV cable into my iBook and watch a movie??? like that?
posted by matteo at 9:34 AM on January 25, 2007


I think it depends what version of the iBook it is. Check EveryMac for details on your specs.
posted by aaronetc at 9:48 AM on January 25, 2007


DVI feeds will probably be downsampled.

DVI feeds will be downsampled if Microsoft's new specs are adopted. They want all HD signals downgraded until they go through the whole pipeline. Only when all your hardware "checks in" as indicating a legitimate stream will the signal be stepped back up. (Never mind how much degradation that adds- we stupid consumers won't notice the difference, according to them.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:50 AM on January 25, 2007


The way it works is this:

You have two spanky new devices with HDMI plugs, with HDCP (a type of hardware encryption), i.e. a HDTV or monitor and a computer with a HDCP compatible graphics card.

The PS3 and HDMI tv's are one example. They talk to each other, and turn on the encryption regardless of what you're watching (and it falls over sometimes) You put in your legit Blu-ray or HD-DVD disk. It then it sends out a nice HD 1080p signal over the HDMI/HDCP protected connection.

If you do NOT have this HDCP compatible connection, which is very likely if you're using a PC DVI output, or you're using component support, then you're in trouble. There's a flag called ICT on a HD-DVD or blu-ray disc that will instruct the player to downgrade the signal (not yet enabled on current discs; it will be in a year or two)
DVI may or may not work at all with protected content. Vista, for example, will just turn off DVI output for HD films even without ICT enabled. Component output will 'just' be downgraded to normal SD resolution.

Thus you download the pirate copy, or get the software and crack your legit disc yourself to the hard-drive (you can burn it back to a HD disc if you really want). Now you can play it back with HD-playback software, such as powerDVD or videolan, and NONE of the above restrictions apply. If you want to play over DVI, or use any analog connection once ICT gets turned on, the only way to watch your HD content in HD res will be to go the pirate way. Or replace ALL your hardware with spanky-new expensive HDCP compliant kit.

Once again, the content companies make the free pirated material easier to use, and MORE valuable (simpler, no adverts, no unskippable FBI warning, no DRM, no playback restrictions) to the customer than their very expensive new disc format. Brilliant.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:21 AM on January 25, 2007


metaplectic: There are a lot older HD rips out there than that. There are cards which can dump the MPEG-2 transport stream directly from an HD broadcast or cable signal. There were HD versions of things like the LOTR movies floating around several years ago. On the other hand, these new HD-DVD and BluRay rips will no doubt be much higher quality due to the better compression schemes used.
posted by Potsy at 11:59 AM on January 25, 2007


DRM allows a copyright holder to segment the market for each individual copyrighted work. With DRM, a customer can't (legally) pay one price to access a movie, TV show, or piece of music whenever and however he or she wants. Instead, customers must pay to watch a movie in a theater, must pay again to see it on home video, must pay again to load it onto an iPod, etc. Even when the media isn't something that a customer wants to watch repeatedly, the segmented market with its many price points and formats works to extract maximum revenue.

That pretty much hits the nail on the head, for me.

Really, I don’t give a crap about the physical part of the media I buy. My movie could come on a flash drive, a DVD. I could download it, or receive it though smoke signals. As long as I can watch the movie where I want to and when I want to, I really don’t care how it’s delivered to me after purchase.

When I buy a DVD or a CD or some other kind of media, I am treated as if purchasing physical product is my goal. I pick a thing up off a shelf, (or some variation of that activity,) take it to a cashier and then pay for it. The content companies then do their damndest (which is kind of pathetic) to make sure that I can only use it one way, or at one time, or in once place.

Apparently, someone has done some math. Their conclusion is that it’s more profitable not to sell me what I want on my terms that it is to sell it to me on my terms.

It’ll be interesting to see how this little conflict between capitalism in practice versus capitalism in principle plays out. My money is on me.
posted by generichuman at 12:09 PM on January 25, 2007


*than it is. Too much coffee.
posted by generichuman at 12:10 PM on January 25, 2007


Some people have an irrational hatred of Steve Gibson, but if you're not one of them, and want to know about the history of video DRM and how it's baked into Vista (and the Mac, for that matter), these three podcasts are a wealth of information.

Also: Fuck DRM.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:24 PM on January 25, 2007


blenderfish, the reason muslix64 was able to break the encryption wasn't because the encryption was weak, it's because the idiot programmers stored the key in plain sight in the decoder's memory.

Yep; the encryption itself is much stronger. But, if I hand you a key and go "hey, here's an AES-256 key, go to town" that's a little different than "hey, here's a Blenderfish'sOwnSecretCryptoSystem key." Admittedly, my personal secret cryptosystem is probably a load of crap, and will be broken to shit with enough effort (like what happened with DVDs,) but at least it's harder than googling "AES GPL implementation," and hitting "Compile."
posted by blenderfish at 9:57 PM on January 25, 2007


Who has the time to download 22 gigs from a newsgroups? How many individual postings would that be?

Ahhh, you don't know how easy they've made it. Programs like NewsLeecher Will grab and combine all the required individual postings, and sites like Newzbin even go so far as to index what is posted to newsgroups, and let you download a (NZB) file that lists each individual posting, and NewsLeecher can read that file. So it comes down to searching for what you want on NewzBin, creating the NZB file, setting and forgetting. With a fastish internet connection (5 megabit, as an example), you could download 22 gigs in less than a day, easily.
posted by antifuse at 3:24 AM on January 26, 2007


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