Intel threatens lawsuits against HDCP jailbreakers

Last week, the master key for the HDCP DRM scheme -- which prevents people from connecting unapproved monitors, recorders and switches to high-def players, computers and consoles -- leaked. Using this key, it is now possible to make more flexible and cheaper high-def equipment (for example, high-def recorders that save unrestricted video-files). Intel is promising to sue anyone who tries it, though:
"There are laws to protect both the intellectual property involved as well as the content that is created and owned by the content providers," said Tom Waldrop, a spokesman for the company, which developed HDCP. "Should a circumvention device be created using this information, we and others would avail ourselves, as appropriate, of those remedies."
I love the spokesmanese here: "avail ourselves, as appropriate, of those remedies" indeed! Christ, where'd this guy learn to talk, the Mistakes Were Made School For Obfuscation and Passive Voice Bullshittery?

Intel Threatens to Sue Anyone Who Uses HDCP Crack

(Image: Why I Don't Like HDCP, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from artgoeshere's photostream)


  1. AACS was supposed to make sure we never got to see an unencrypted bitstream, but of course it fell. HDCP was supposed to keep us from taking the decoded output and recompressing it for unauthorized distribution. With AACS broken and the p2p scene being fed right from the bluray disc, you’d think that HDCP would cease to be relevant.

    But it has an important secondary purpose: to make sure that you can’t create a DVR without also implementing a receiver for the specialized and tricky decryption of a satellite / cable provider’s bitstream. In other words, it’s about ensuring that the only playback devices of any use in the digital age are those supplied by the service provider. HDCP was always meant to kill Tivo and its cousins.

    Intel is telling us that HDCP may be broken, but it will still continue to fulfill it’s secondary objective: the developer of a device that implements the spec with a self-made key will be sued out of existence.

    1. It should also be noted that HDCP isn’t used only for Blu-Ray, but also for some cable and satellite boxes and for downloadable movies on computers and video game consoles. So this opens up new potential piracy options for devices whose basic encryption schemes have not yet been cracked.

      What I’m curious about it whether or not they would successfully be able to win a lawsuit. A plain reading of the law, which bans “circumventing a technical measure which effectively controls access to a copyrighted work” and defines circumvention as “avoiding, bypassing, removing, deactivating, or
      otherwise impairing a technological measure” doesn’t clearly show that using a correct key without authorization would be violation of the law. The clearly are not removing or deactivating anything. Whether or not they are avoiding, bypassing, or impairing it depends on how “it” is defined. They’re certainly not avoiding, bypassing, or impairing the authentication and key exchange protocol. It would only be if we read “it” as being broad enough to include the entire system including the handing out of authorized keys as part of the “technical measure”. This seems a little dodgy to me.

      But, of course, none of this means that the courts won’t find in their favor. At least one court has ruled previously that gaming console mod chips are DMCA violations despite the fact that the method they avoid clearly doesn’t control access to a copyrighted work. (The mod chips allow the games access to the console, not vice versa, and the gaming console is not a copyrighted work.)

  2. Okay. Let me see if I get this. I, we, don’t have television or do anything with video tech so I may be a bit out of my depth. But it seems to me that some of our our freedom loving and valued trading partners in Pakistan, India, China and elsewhere may not be as respectful of Intel as we are here in the USA. There is a history of knocking off products in these countries. So while we sue each other at home and block this and that and the other in the fanciful scheme of the moment, in countries where the authority of our courts has little or no meaning, the amusements, so-called “intellectual property,” of our entertainment industry is about to be ripped off and sold on the cheap.

  3. The passive voice is loved by me.

    However, underuse of the passive voice occurs in the aforementionned quote.

    Specifically, “we and others would avail ourselves, as appropriate, of those remedies.” should read “those remedies would be availed upon, as appropriate, by ourselves and others’.

    The missing of this opportunity disappoints.

    1. You’re right that they don’t use passive in that clause, but the passive is used in “Should a circumvention device be created.”

  4. from the beginning of HDCP, they have known that this would happen once puters are fast enough for people with enuf device keys on hand (OEM’s, ODM’s) to compare a bunch (50-100) of valid device keys and crack the master. This cannot be a surprise to them, their scientists had to have expected this from day one.

  5. Isn’t there a subset of remedies which would be, as apropriate, availed, here intel being the would be availing availers, that circumvent the circumvention avail?

    Or in short: intel be availin’ an whinin’, we be circumventin’.

  6. It’s not information that wants to be free, it’s entertainment that wants to be free.
    It was big business that preyed upon entertainment. like a tick.

    1. What? No, exactly the opposite. Information — news, history, etc. — should be be free as they’re essential to the functioning of a democratic society (I forget who first pointed that out; somebody smart, though, I bet). Entertainment, not so much. You either entertain yourself or you pay someone to entertain you. That’s just fair compensation for a service. Big corporations’ rapaciousness is a separate issue.

  7. I only own about five movies, and don’t watch many, but I always like good theater. . . such as impotent studio lawyers holding their breath until they turn blue.

  8. Let me be blunt: I just don’t care about their threats.

    I ignore fake commercial laws that serve only to restrict my personal freedom in cases like this. Seriously, I just don’t care what they say. I’ll use MY hardware and software however I want to, and Intel and the RIAA can threaten me all the way to the moon if it makes them feel better. It’s not going to make any difference in the way I choose to use what I have legally purchased. The only likely effect it’ll have is that I’ll buy less of their crappy product and Hollywood will suffer, not me.

  9. I’m still trying to figure out what Intel has to gain by doing this?

    They don’t make the content, perhaps the chips that do the HDCP? Either way cracking it isn’t going to affect the usage of the HDCP model since it is so well ingrained in all our products at the moment.

    The only really good reason I see for Intel saying all this is to save face with the other players in the business. Intel’s job is to sell it’s product and services, and if the companies that you deal with feel you are on their side then it will be that much easier.

    HDCP is/was crap. The whole Blu-Ray encryption thing was pointless over 2 years ago. I really wonder how many people would go to the effort of buying a DVR/PVR like device if HDCP didn’t exist for the sole purpose of making DVD/Blu-Ray of movies they have recorded off an HD source?

    Seems like a lot of work when you could spend 15-20$. It’s like Hollywood doesn’t know you can just rent and rip…

  10. All DRM does is promote piracy! There was a conference recently where someone had mentioned to Steve Jobs that she had purchased Up on her iPad, purchased a VGA cable for her iPad and wanted to project the film…but she wasn’t able to. Had she pirated the movie for free she would have been able to. That is some bullshit!

  11. I’m reading into this that the master key/keys that hopped over the barbed wire fence on a motorbike are traceable back to to intel.

    I also fully expect however the attitude displayed by intel to be enshrined in the US legal system very shortly.

  12. This is similar to the move to “license” books and music so that we supposedly won’t have the right to resell what we’ve legally bought. And I say again, I don’t care- I’ll ignore and/or break this bogus law as I see fit. I buy a book and it’s mine to do whatever I want with it- burn it, resell it, give it away- whatever. It’s mine, and I won’t obey a nonsensical law that says I can’t resell it. The megacorps can spend as many millions as they want to chase me and prosecute me, but it won’t make any difference. I’m going to do what I want with my personal property and that’s that.

    1. Btw, that law that says you can’t resell things -> Does that mean, technically, the banks can no longer repossess your possessions because technically the law states that you don’t actual own them? If you extend that law you could argue that nobody can be in debt, as technically whoever created the money you spent actually owns it, and then we’d have a very weird economic stand-off where nobody has any possessions or money.

  13. 26 letters in the alphabet and they had to choose HDCP? That’s just creepy.

    And yeah, approved devices? This why my most recent film purchases were the Tremors collection, Airplane and Rashomon on DVD. I know that shit just works. If I actually had any HD gear, piracy would look pretty tempting, since it’s both a better product and a better price.
    Paying your way and supporting the creators is the right thing to do, but if they don’t want to sell the product to you because of where you live or what you own, why not enjoy it for free? You can never remove the free option, you can only be better than it, like the old DOS games on Steam that are bundled with a properly configured copy of DOSBox so you can just download and play.

  14. I am so passively aggressively availing ourself appropriately of the remedy of putting that awesome school name on a shirt!

  15. I think the statement should have read:

    “While we were hopeful the HDCP model would not have been cracked this soon, we are impressed with the resourcefulness of the hacker community. Bravo!”

    …but then the lawyers wouldn’t make any money

  16. Let’s say something encrypted on Blu-Ray goes public domain, or is re licensed, say under the Creative Commons… Or say you wanted to use copyrighted material under fair use?

    Wouldn’t breaking HDCP now be an entirely legitimate method for playing NON-copyrighed or protected material?

    And wouldn’t a player be totally legal for use in such purposes?

  17. @ bcsizemo
    I bet that Intel owns some HDCP related patents and they don’t want them to become worthless if inline HDCP bypass adapters were to start flowing out of China.

    @ #20
    In short, no. Thank the DMCA for that.

  18. “Christ, where’d this guy learn to talk, the Mistakes Were Made School For Obfuscation and Passive Voice Bullshittery?”

    You may be familiar with it by its more colloquial name, “law school”.

    1. LOL.

      Franz Kafka once said that in his opinion, studying law was like chewing sawdust that had been chewed before by countless other mouths.

  19. Fine, so in the US they use the DMCA to prevent such a thing happening. But not all countries have anti-circumvention methods yet, and (strangely enough) most of the world’s population, and even money, is not American. So how can they control the rest of the world?

    1. they spend lots of money in lobbying politicians – see the recent changes in laws relating to using the internet to copy data in Canada, Australia, the UK …

  20. I can’t help but think the next step for businesses building on a DRM model is to sue to stop teaching math and economics in school. Why update with technology when you can just create a new generation of consumers who don’t understand the basic concept of scarcity in supply and demand as well as lack enough of an understanding of math to know that with enough examples of encoding and decoding, patterns emerge.

  21. “the Mistakes Were Made School For Obfuscation and Passive Voice Bullshittery?”

    That’s why I read BoingBoing.

    Thank you Mr Doctorow!

  22. If they come after you for using the HDCP jailbreak, just make sure they have a 27B/6 first!

    We’re all in it together!

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