The administration behind HD DVD and Blu-ray encryption technology AACS (Advanced Access Content System) was left Canute-like yesterday after a web-revolt which saw legal attempts to remove a 128-bit processing key to the copy-protection system lost in a sea of blog-disobedience. Although the ‘skeleton’ key has been known for months, having been discovered by hacker Muslix64, it suddenly turned up on thousands of websites worldwide after Proskauer Rose, the law firm representing the AACS licensing association, issued Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices to organizations which had published the number, including Google and the news aggregator Digg.
Observers believe that attempts to suppress the digits, which can be used to decrypt and copy Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD movies, now seem doomed to failure. “We’ve seen this script before. The key will show up on t-shirts and in song lyrics. It will be chalked on the sidewalk outside the AACSLA office,” predicted Princeton computer science professor Ed Felten.
The AACS remains adamant that it will continue to “exercise technical and legal options in response to the purported hacks of AACS.” Its ‘takedown’ letter argues that the decryption keys are effectively a device for circumventing the protection of copyrighted content, which is proscribed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Sites featuring the number can thus be prosecuted for ‘trafficking’ in a circumvention device.