June 1, 2007

AACS Cracked Again, Keys Circulate Again

Filed under: open — Wendy @ 5:07 pm

After the widely-heralded circulation and revocation of one AACS key, Ed Felten ran a satirical integer sale on his Freedom-to-Tinker blog. Now it seems one of the commenters decided to hide another processor key there, BoingBoing reports.

Of course, the odds are basically zero if the number was chosen at random. You have a better chance of winning the Powerball jackpot four days in a row. So, for more than a week, everyone who read the comment assumed that it was just another joke. But one thing about it was different: the cryptic hint to arnezami, a “uv” number, a pointer to a specific key within the AACS keyspace.

You can probably guess the rest of the story. Eventually someone tipped off arnezami about the strange comment, and he tried using the 45 5F … number to decrypt the new discs. It worked! It really is the new processing key. As a result, all HD-DVDs are open to the public again, at least until new titles can be updated once more.

Should blog-owners start to worry that their comment forums will earn them takedowns? I don’t think so, but the law is remarkably unclear, as I wrote in a piece, Anticircumvention Takedowns, LinuxWorld just published, describing the last round of AACS-key purges:

Note that this claimed contribution to circumvention is a degree further removed from underlying copyright harm than a contributory infringement. The claim is not that hosts assisted in unlawful copying, but that they assisted in distribution of a component of a tool with which others might circumvent technological measures and thereby access copyrighted works or infringe copyright. That’s a lot of layers of indirection, and courts have never yet adopted a “contributory circumvention” claim.

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