AACS has not been fixed

I meant to discuss this on yesterday’s podcast, but forgot. There’s been a new round of news this week about AACS potentially being “fixed“, and other stories saying that it’s been “rebroken” – in fact, it is neither.

Here’s the gist. WinDVD rolled out an update which they said was required in order to play future discs. This of course implies that the device key for WinDVD has been revoked, and that future discs won’t be able to be decoded without a new key. That’s all well and good – it’s exactly what was predicted.

That’s it.

That’s all.

The AACS group did a stupid press release saying that they’d fixed the problem. Of course, all they’ve done is made it so the folks looking to crack the discs will have to dig around for another device or processing key.

The Volume ID hack that is somehow being tied up in this whole story is in fact mostly unrelated. Prior to this hack, folks were having to go through a few annoying machinations to obtain a volume ID, as it’s not directly readable from the disc through typical means. The volume ID, in combination with the device key or processing key is required to decrypt a disc.

So, when new discs appear which revoke WinDVD’s device key, the processing key will stop working as well, and having the volume ID won’t do any good. The VID hack is still important, at least until they figure out a way to force a new firmware to the Xbox HDDVD drives, but it doesn’t negate the key revocation.


I have seen the future, and it is Joost

After much anticipation, I got my invite to Joost today. All I gotta say is “Wow” – this thing might actually work.

As soon as you launch the client, you get a list of channels that you can flip through. What makes this different is that you can not only pick your channel, but you can pick your show within the channel. Each of the channels has between 5 and 20 (or so) shows available to choose from. As soon as you select one, it starts playing, almost immediately.

It seems like the video stream is approximately 650kbits (~80K/s). At this point, it’s using about 20K/s of outbound traffic, presumably seeding to other viewers. Sometimes outbound usage will spike up quite a bit. I’m not sure if there’s a cap on how much outbound traffic it will generate.

In addition to flipping through channels, Joost has a widget system, that lets you chat with other users about what you’re watching, or get basic widgety-type updates (news ticker, clock, etc).

It’s still a little bit beta – audio sync isn’t perfect, and interface operations aren’t totally smooth yet. But wow, I could definitely see this, combined with iTunes, making a big dent in normal broadcast tv.

Picture 7

iTunes goes partially DRM free

At a press conference in London today, EMI along with Steve Jobs announced the availability of DRM free tracks via iTunes. Macrumors has a good roundup of the news. The gist is that for an extra $0.30 per song, or for the same price per album, you’ll get 256kbps AAC files without any DRM restrictions. At this point it’s just EMI, and perhaps not even the full EMI catalog, but Apple is predicting 2.5 million DRM free tracks by the end of 2007, indicating that they expect other labels to join in the fun.

Is this one of those “tip of the iceberg” moments, where DRM finally crumbles, or will this just prove that people can’t be trusted with DRM-free music? Time will tell.