Well well well. The industry tried their best to make the new competing high definition formats Blu-Ray and HD-DVD as secure as possible to block customers from copying the movies, or viewing them on devices that the movie industry deemed insecure (to avoid copying).
The files themselves are protected by AACS which stands for Advanced Access Content System. HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) makes sure that high definition playback is only available if the output device (television, monitor) is HDCP capable, if not the movie will be downsampled to 960x540p.
The German computer magazine CT found a way apparently to copy Blue-Ray and HD-DVD movies. The first movie players on Windows XP that are capable of running those protected movies allow the print screen key to work which can be used to save a HD image of the current frame to the computer. Automating that screenshot feature to take 24 / 25 / 30 was the logical next step which meant that every single frame of a movie would be saved as a high definition screenshot on the computer system.
The mag calculated that it would not be a problem for today's high end computers to save all images in real time. All that was left to do is join all images. The result? A high definition movie of course.
The mag tested this exploit with Sony's first Blue-Ray PC Vaio VGC-RC 204 and with Toshiba's HD-DVD-Notebook Qosmio G30. Both were running a special OEM version of WinDVD. Upcoming versions of WinDVD will most likely be patched so that you won't be able to circumvent the protection using this method anymore.
Update: The format war is over. Blu-Ray is the winner and the sole surviving format as of right now. While you may still find some stores carrying HD-DVD movies, you will find that no new movies in that format are produced anymore. There are even some tools available now that let you rip Blu-Ray movies right from the disc, provided that your PC has a Blu-Ray drive.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.