Blu-Ray Copy Protection Gets Hacked

Sony won’t have much time to celebrate winning the format war against HD DVD: Notorious Antigua-based software maker Slysoft says it’s cracked Blu-Ray’s copy protection. Slysoft’s AnyDVD HD application is now offering unencrypted access to Blu-Ray content, making it possible to back up Blu-Ray discs onto your own hard drive, copy or transcode HD movies and watch them without DRM-compliant hardware, according to a company press release.

HD-DVD’s copy protection got cracked a good year ago; Blu-Ray promised Hollywood stronger protection with it’s own BD+ protection scheme. This promise was at least one factor in the industry’s backing of Blu-Ray and thus a nail in HD’s coffin. “Film studios that have switched to Blu-Ray may have crowed a little too early,” comments Slysoft in its press release announcing AnyDVD HD. Companies in the online HD space, on the other hand, couldn’t be happier.

The Blu-Ray hack is a slap in the face of the format’s advocates, and Slysoft isn’t being shy about it. The press release, for example, cites comments made by industry analyst Richard Doherty, who last year told Home Media Magazine that Sony’s BD+ protection won’t likely be breached for 10 years. “It is worth mentioning that since he made that statement only eight months have gone by,” Slysoft quips.

Blu-Ray’s BD+ technology is based on a virtual machine running on any licensed player that continuously checks whether the player has been manipulated to make unlicensed copies. It also offers capabilities for security updates through future disk releases, so it’s only a question of time until Blu-Ray will shield itself against AnyDVD HD. Slysoft, however, doesn’t seem too worried. “We are well-prepared for this and await the coming developments rather relaxed,” Slysoft’s head of high-def technologies, Peer van Heuen, is quoted as saying.

There has been lots of speculation about the strategies and back-room deals of the HD format war. Transformers director Michael Bay even suggested that Microsoft supported HD DVD to make Blu-Ray’s life miserable and in turn get consumers to embrace HD downloads.

We’ll leave that one up to the conspiracy theorists, but Microsoft can’t be too unhappy about Slysoft’s new crack. Studios that have been hesitant to release HD content online might be much more likely to strike deals knowing that Blu-Ray won’t offer any absolute security either.