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More DRM woes for Hollywood

Anydvd_hd_logo The electronic locks on high-definition DVDs have been picked again, prompting a flurry of gleeful posts from the anti-DRM crowd. By my count, this is the fourth program or device to give up its keys to the discs: the first exploits hit two software players, then the Xbox 360's add-on HD DVD drive, and now an as-yet identified player has been cracked. Unlike the previous circumventions, which were developed largely in a collaborative and public way on Doom9 ("The definitive DVD backup resource"), the latest breach was done privately by SlySoft, a company based in Antigua that sells DVD-copying software. So it's anybody's guess at this point as to how SlySoft did it. My favorite bit of speculation comes from Freedom to Tinker's J. Alex Halderman, who suggested that SlySoft found a weakness in an additional player but sat on that knowledge while AACS-LA, the group that licenses much of the encryption software for high-def discs, went through the unpleasant and lengthy process of revoking the compromised versions of CyberLink's PowerDVD and Intervideo's WinDVD. Just as that process was complete, SlySoft trotted out its new exploit, forcing Hollywood to spend several more months tracking and plugging the hole. In the meantime, more high-def titles will be ripped and shared online.


Anyway, because SlySoft is a Web-based retailer, it's not surprising to find text and display ads fed by Google on the site. But it was a bit of a surprise to see an ad for Disney's Blu-ray discs today on the product page for AnyDVD HD. And how richly ironic -- the ad was for Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates. Antigua. Bwah hah hah hah hah hah hah.... OK, maybe that's not so funny in this part of the world. And I'm sure Disney didn't advertise there on purpose -- it had to have been a function of a serendipitous overlap in the keywords the two companies picked (say, "pirates" and "Blu-ray"). The ad rotates on and off the site, so here's a screen grab:

Screen grab from SlySoft's Web site

Here's the source file for the ad, too --  Download disney_bluray_ad_source.txt -- in case someone savvier than I am wants to try to pick out any nuggets of info there.


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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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