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HDMI Master Key Hacked Allowing Protected Movies To Be Copied

By David Richards | Monday | 20/09/2010

As major consumer electronics vendors get set to dump the use of HDMI cables in favour of a HDBaseT offering it has been revealed that the master key that is specifically designed to stop piracy when using a HDMI cable has been hacked and is now being distributed on Twitter.

According to several sources the digital rights management scheme that protects HDMI inputs has been hacked via the master key that unlocks HDCP. As a result consumers can now download protected movies.

According to Home Theatre Magazine, HDCP stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. It made its debut in DVI, the digital interface used by some older HDTVs, and was ported over to HDMI. 

The hack has been revealed just as Hollywood Studios adopt HDCP to limit playback of VOD titles to DRM-protected interfaces, such as HDMI cables.

The way that HDCP works is that it assigns individual keys to both transmitting and receiving devices such as HDTVs, Blu-ray players, and set-top boxes. 

The use of a master key that unlocks these devices is a step backward for DRM and copyright holders says experts.

 The master key is now being distributed on websites linked to Twitter.

The Blu-ray format is protected by three additional schemes: AACS/CSS, also used in DVD (long ago hacked); plus BD+ (hacked) and the BD-ROM Mark (rumored to be hacked). But even the accumulated weight of all those forms of protection hasn't prevented Blu-ray copying applications from circulating on the internet.

According to Wired, HDCP requires hardware as well as software, so the HDCP jack can come to fruition only if the black market comes up with illicit HDCP cards.

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