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SlySoft Touts Bypassing Blu-ray Safeguards

25 Mar, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

SlySoft Inc., an Irish technology company with Antiguan mailing address, last week released an updated version of its AnyDVD software that it claimed allowed users to copy Blu-ray and DVD movies regardless of regional coding, copy protection and digital right management, including BD+.

AnyDVD HD is available online bundled together with other SlySoft copying software for 155 euros ($239).

The software would appear to pose a serious threat to the security claims proffered by supporters of Blu-ray and BD+, including assumption the technology was impenetrable to hackers for the next 10 years.

DVD ripping software is not new but the extent to which AnyDVD HD allegedly can circumvent encryption technology, regional coding and other safeguards would appear to put it on a collision course with studios and the Motion Picture Association of America.

The trade association in 2004 helped shutter 321 Studios, which at the time sold DVD and game copying software online. Similar software from Sonic Solutions does not circumvent existing copy protections in Hollywood movies.

John Malcolm, EVP of the MPAA and director of worldwide anti-piracy for the organization, said he could not comment on any course of action the MPAA may take against SlySoft, but he did note that the company is openly profiting off its AnyDVD software.

“SlySoft is not hiding what it's doing,” he said. “They're quite proud of what they are doing.”

AnyDVD and its Web site have been outlawed in Germany and lost twice on appeal in court.

Andy Parsons, SVP of product planning for the home entertainment group at Pioneer Electronics and marketing director of the Blu-ray Disc Association, said the veracity of SlySoft's claims need to be determined.

“We're checking into it,” he said. “Until we verify their claims, we can't comment much on it. They're being so bold about it.”

Richard Doherty, technology analyst with The Envisioneering Group, said he doesn't dispute the claims of AnyDVD HD, regardless of their legality.

“We haven't seen a prototype but technically it violates provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” Doherty said.

He said it is likely AnyDVD could circumvent existing DRM safeguards on a Blu-ray movie, but only on a disc-by-disc basis. Doherty said designers of BD+ envisioned just such a scenario and thus studios have the ability to implement coding changes on the fly that can render a movie unplayable.

He cited as an example someone could discover that an illegal copy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was different than his friend's.

“Just as studios are able to limit playback through regional coding, they could send a disc out to one retailer and another to Blockbuster,” he said. “Whatever glee [SlySoft] may have, it may be short-lived.”

Parsons agreed, noting that the BD+ technology can stop playback on discs that have been copied with “known hacks.”

“As new titles come out, [studios] can get smarter with the software,” he said.

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