HDCP master key leak could help kill DRM

By on September 14, 2010, 1:43 PM
The HDCP master key, which permanently unlocks the DRM protocol on Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, and displays with HDMI inputs, was supposedly leaked by Twitter user IntelGlobalPR (via Engadget). If the key is indeed legitimate, there could be major consequences for the film industry since HDCP is built into the HDMI spec.

"Master HDCP key released: http://bit.ly/aM84GD (please mirror and RT!) #drm #hdcp #defectivebydesign," the tweet exclaims with a link to a Pastebin page that describes the key as "a forty times forty element matrix of fifty-six bit hexadecimal numbers."

Most legally purchased HD content currently requires HDCP DRM technology to play. HDCP DRM works by embedding keys to encrypt and decrypt protected data in the devices and ports; both the input (say a Blu-ray player) and the output (say an HDTV) need to be compliant. The technology allows for banning individual HDCP keys in the event that they're compromised, but this master key would let anyone to create their own source and sink key, thereby permanently bypassing the DRM protocol. In other words, users could play high-quality pirated content and the authorities would not be able to throw the kill-switch via another firmware update.

It's still not clear whether the key is indeed legitimate, and if so, how it was found. It has been proposed, however, that as few as 50 keys to different devices could let one find the master key via reverse engineering (but a straight out leak is also possible). Still, for now it means that only those technically competent enough to flash the firmware of HDCP compliant devices could render their protection ineffective.

User Comments: 11

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Lurker101 said:

If this is true and could play a severe part in DRMs deathnail, that would be fantastic

Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

If there is one piece of technology I despise this sure is it

HDCP causes soooo many headaches it is not even funny!

I've tried to get several computers working with it, in the end I've just given up on most of them

I can spend my time better by simply using a tool like Slysofts that has existed for a very long time now, to simply rip the HDCP protection away and get on with viewing my bought Bluray discs.

That pirates are supposed to have such a much easier time is just a testament to how silly this game has become!

I actually feel kind of bad because I told my brother to buy a Bluray player for his HTPC, I still have not managed to get it to work right!

It played one movie ok but then on the next I got some stupid message about needing to change the region, even tho it was the same, I spent hours reinstalling PowerDVD (/w Bluray support) to no avail

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I've never been a fan of DRM! This could be a justice to the consumers and enable fair use.

princeton princeton said:

Companies need to start using their brains. Look at the ubisoft effect. Your DRM punishes legit users while pirates still get around it. Pirates will always exist, Stop punishing your paying customers for it.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

A general question:

Obviously there are some pretty smart pirates, does that make pirating smart? Does it add more legitimacy (not legally, but connotatively) to pirating?

treetops treetops said:

kitty if I figured out a clever way to cut off your arm would you be ok with it?

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

If it can kill DRM, then it's great IMHO.

Guest said:

they dragged me through the whole HDMI HDPC nightmare, just to create DRM secure connectivity then it turns out to be a load of rubbish because they cant safeguard the master key...

Who can I sue?

tengeta tengeta said:

Although this is nice, chances are this means they will just move to a new plug and a new encryption, forcing us to yet again buy everything. The industry is still getting its money people, its becoming time that we go for the option of unplugging and not even fighting a war that just runs in cycles.

Guest said:

but the game is so fun!

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