UPDATE: AACS develops Blu-ray, HD DVD security patch for WinDVD

Posted by Mark Raby

Los Angeles (CA) – The AACS LA has issued a security update for HD DVD and Blu-ray playback software, trying to cut back on the copyright infringement that has resulted from recent hacking incidents into the new high definition formats. The update will be required for viewing Blu-ray and HD DVD movies with Corel's WinDVD programs.

Late last year, reports began circulating that someone had found a way to decrypt AACS protection, the digital rights management (DRM) platform used by HD DVD and Blu-ray.  Since then, the companies behind AACS, including IBM, Microsoft, and Intel, have been scrambling to prevent a large-scale compromise of the new encryption format.

The new update restricts HD DVD and Blu-ray playback on specific software programs.  So far, Corel's WinDVD is the only one to make use of the update.  "This update includes security enhancements as well as updated licensing keys that will be required to view both newly purchased HD DVD/BD titles and those in your existing HD DVD/BD collections," Corel said in a press release.  WinDVD is the program that was used by hackers to access protected Blu-ray and HD DVD content.

The update will have no effect on standalone Blu-ray and HD DVD players.  First off, some of these players cannot connect to the Internet and receive firmware updates.  Also, it's essentially impossible to hack the discs on any format other than a computer.  This extra safeguard is in place only to prevent video ripping onto a computer hard drive.

The question is not whether this update will prevent all future hacker attempts, but rather how long it will prolong them.  Yankee Group Research analyst Josh Marting was quoted in a ZDNet story as saying, "We saw a hack come out less than three months after the hardware for both HD DVD and Blu-ray, and it's a sign of things to come.  People with ample time and ample desire will always find a way to crack DRM."

A Cyberlink rep confirmed for us that the update would have no effect on its HD DVD or Blu-ray software, at least for now.  Calls to AACS were not immediately returned.