Copy protection broken on some PCs

The first generation of personal computers integrating HD DVD and Blu-ray drives can be used to copy HD movies without the need of hacker code.

According to a report published by German computer magazine c't and in the U.S. by TG Daily, PC users can take screenshots of content protected by Advanced Access Content System (AACS) and a High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) chip by simply pressing the “Print Screen” key on the computer keyboard — a technique that has been used for decades to take simple pictures of current screen content.

The report noted that copying a complete HD movie in this method takes some programming knowledge, storage space and patience. A script, it said, can automate the screenshot process, which will result in about 162,000 separate 2-megapixel images for a 90-minute movie.

Current PC systems, c't said, are powerful enough to take and store 30 screenshots per second to enable a lossless recording of movie frames. Additional steps required for a successful copying process are the extraction of audio from a movie as well as merging about 50GB of images into one movie and the merging video and audio.

The report said c't verified the capability with Sony's first Blu-ray PC VGC-RC 204 von Sony as well as Toshiba's HD DVD notebook Qosmio G30. Both devices use a first-generation HD version of Intervideo's WinDVD application.