HDCP 'master key' supposedly released, unlocks HDTV copy protection permanently
By Richard Lawler posted Sep 14th 2010 12:14AM
Just as the MPAA is preparing to offer movies to customers at home while they're still in theaters by limiting playback to DRM-protected digital outputs only, the HDCP protocol they rely on may have been cracked wide open. All devices that support HDCP, like Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and displays with HDMI inputs, have their own set of keys to encrypt and decrypt protected data and if keys for a particular device are compromised, they can be revoked by content released in the future which will then refuse to play. Now, posts have been floating around on Twitter about a supposed "master key" which renders that protection unusable since it allows anyone to create their own source and sink keys.
Who discovered this and by what technique isn't immediately clear, but as early as 2001 security researcher Niels Ferguson proposed that it could be easily revealed by knowing the keys of less than 50 different devices. Hardware HDCP rippers like the HDfury2 and DVIMAGIC have been around for a while and various AACS cracks easily allow rips of Blu-ray discs but if this information is what it claims to be, then the DRM genie could be permanently out of the bag allowing perfect high definition copies of anything as long as the current connector standards are around. While it's unlikely your average user would flash their capture device with a brand new key and get to copying uncompressed HD audio and video, keeping those early releases off of the torrents in bit perfect quality could go from difficult to impossible.