HDCP protocol cracked, another blow to DRM

Posted on Saturday, September 18th 2010 at 3:11 a.m.

As part of the arms race involving digital media and copy protection, the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) protocol was developed.  The aim of the protocol was to prevent the copying of high definition digital content, but like many other DRM schemes, punished legitimate users as much as pirates.

It has now been confirmed by Intel that the HDCP protocol has been hacked and the master key for HDCP has been leaked to the internet.  This essentially renders HDCP encryption useless as a master key can be developed on any device.

Ars Technica points out that Intel is still claiming that their HDCP scheme is successful:

In other words, Intel and the media companies don’t care that their encryption systems offer only token protection and consumer inconvenience; all that matters is that the encryption systems are sufficient to meet the DMCA threshold for a content protection system: the threat of legal action, rather than cryptography, is their real tool against unapproved uses of digital content.

One can only hope that eventually media companies accept that there will always be a certain amount of piracy and that their DRM systems usually end up negatively impacting legitimate users far more than pirates.

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