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VideoLAN Announces libaacs 105

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-hear-what-you're-doing-there dept.
supersloshy writes "VideoLAN, makers of the well-known media player VLC, have just announced a new project called libaacs. The libaacs library's intention is to provide a free software library to implement the AACS specification, the copy-protection found on things such as Blu-ray discs. Note that this isn't meant to actually be a decoding library. It includes no AACS keys and is solely developed for research purposes."
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VideoLAN Announces libaacs

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    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @06:59PM (#33210244) Homepage Journal
      I'd like to see how such a cease-and-desist notice might be worded. From the summary: "It includes no AACS keys". From the article: "this project doesn't offer any key or certificate that could be used to decode encrypted copyrighted material." So without the player keys, it's not a complete circumvention device but instead an encryption research project, exempt under 17 USC 1201(g) [copyright.gov]. And even if it did have keys, the interoperability exemption in 1201(f) combined with the fair use exemption that the Register of Copyrights recently enacted for three years might save it.
      • by CarpetShark (865376) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:08PM (#33210312)

        I'd like to see how such a cease-and-desist notice might be worded.

        Fuck you, pipsqueak? ;)

        • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

          >> I'd like to see how such a cease-and-desist notice might be worded.

          > Fuck you, pipsqueak? ;)

          HULK SMASH!

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      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'd like to see how such a cease-and-desist notice might be worded.

        You seem to be under the impression that having the law on your side means that you won't be harassed by lawyers.

        The cease-and-desist will claim some intellectual property violation and it will be up to you to give in to the intimidation or resist by contacting your host to get your site back online.

        • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:29PM (#33210474) Homepage Journal

          You seem to be under the impression that having the law on your side means that you won't be harassed by lawyers.

          This is the sort of thing that EFF jumps all over.

          I'd like to see how such a cease-and-desist notice might be worded.

          The cease-and-desist will claim some intellectual property violation

          One does not violate "intellectual property" [gnu.org]. One infringes a copyright, infringes a patent, or infringes a trademark. Which of the three would apply?

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            > One does not violate "intellectual property" [gnu.org]. One infringes a copyright, infringes a patent, or infringes a trademark. Which of the three would apply?

            A very good question. Unfortunately, only a team of highly trained and well-paid lawyers would be qualified to determine the answer.

            Did you know it's illegal in almost every state to "practice law" without a license? (source: http://www.dcba.org/brief/mayissue/2002/art40502.htm)

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              Did you know it's illegal in almost every state to "practice law" without a license?

              What, even if you say IANAL first?

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:49PM (#33210604) Homepage Journal

            This is the sort of thing that EFF jumps all over.

            And the EFF has some bad-ass lawyers. I know one EFF lawyer, who spoke to a local group here in Chicago back in the Spring, who's been offered jobs by two industry groups. I guess they figured they'd rather be paying him a salary than facing him in court. He was an interesting guy. He'd made some dough doing mergers or something before joining the EFF and didn't seem to be phased by the dangling carrot. He was also an extremely persuasive speaker. I could understand why someone like the RIAA wouldn't want to meet him in front of a judge.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Fnkmaster (89084)

            You seem to have forgotten about the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and the concept of a "circumvention device". That was what they chased after everybody who distributed DeCSS for. Of course, it was totally futile then as it is now, but there is a legal stick to shake at people for this sort of thing, at least in the US.

            • actually i'm getting to like the DCMA, it's a lot more of a double edged sword than the people who were lobbying for it thought. sure, you get a take down notice and you're boned if you're not rich and right and don't take it down immediately, however if you do take it down immediately 50 other people immediately put it back up and they have to go through the whole process again. gives the lawyers something to do too.
          • by schon (31600)

            You seem to be under the impression that having the law on your side means that you won't be harassed by lawyers.

            This is the sort of thing that EFF jumps all over.

            And that makes the harassment worthwhile?

            Just because you might be able to get your legal defense for free doesn't mean that the harassment from the FBI, being arrested, potentially losing your job, etc. is all OK.

            Sorry, epic logic fail.

          • One does not violate "intellectual property" [gnu.org]. One infringes a copyright, infringes a patent, or infringes a trademark. Which of the three would apply?

            One migt think that pleasuring oneself to computer porn was a violation of intellectual property.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              One does not violate "intellectual property" [gnu.org]. One infringes a copyright, infringes a patent, or infringes a trademark. Which of the three would apply?

              One migt think that pleasuring oneself to computer porn was a violation of intellectual property.

              One does not pleasure oneself to "computer porn". One pleasures oneself to hot teens, sexy MILF's, or the serious freaky-deaky. Which of the three would apply?

          • Which of the three would apply?

            Whichever ones an Intellectual Property lawyer can convince an Intellectual Property judge(formerly IP lawyer) apply.

        • by nomadic (141991)
          You seem to be under the impression that having the law on your side means that you won't be harassed by lawyers.

          You seem to be under the impression that you have to obey cease and desist letters.
        • by fishbowl (7759)

          >The cease-and-desist will claim some intellectual property violation and it will be up to you to give in to the intimidation or
          >resist by contacting your host to get your site back online.

          You need a hosting provider that won't act without a court order.

          Make sure your contract with them puts them in breach if they shut you down without a lawful reason.

        • by RulerOf (975607) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:30PM (#33211268)

          The cease-and-desist will claim some intellectual property violation and it will be up to you to give in to the intimidation or resist by contacting your host to get your site back online.

          Back when the first AACS decoder was released on Doom9, it was called BackupHDDVD and made use of a key obtained from PowerDVD (IIRC) for Windows.

          The programmer, however, implemented AACS decryption by following the specification as posted directly on the AACS Licensing Authority's website.

          Food for thought ;)

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        VideoLAN is in France.

        • Anonymous Coward wrote:

          VideoLAN is in France.

          For one thing, France has its own counterpart to the DMCA [wikipedia.org]. For another, I am speculating on the right of United States residents, including the editors of Slashdot, to use VideoLAN products.

          • Re:DADVSI (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:39PM (#33210532)

            For another, I am speculating on the right of United States residents, including the editors of Slashdot, to use VideoLAN products.

            Tangential riff: Anyone else notice CNN using videolan recently? It looked to me like they used it all the time for showing video of the oil spewing out of the well. They frequently had multiple videos running simultaneously, each in its own window and often there would be at least one 'dead' window with the trademark videolan traffic cone in it.

            • by Spad (470073)

              I suspect that's more likely because you were using the VLC browser plugin to playback those videos.

              • by hairyfeet (841228)

                Actually he is talking about those videos that are often shown behind the speaker in their "war room" or whatever they call it and I have seen it too. I would guess it is because VideoLAN has that simple checkbox to loop videos indefinitely and the fact it'll play nearly any format, so it is easy for them to take several videos fresh from viewers and folks at the scene and loop them in the background.

                As for TFA I wish them the best of luck and hope they enjoy their cease and desist. It is getting to the p

          • For another, I am speculating on the right of United States residents, including the editors of Slashdot, to use VideoLAN products.

            Using the product isn't the issue. The DMCA is about the distribution of a product to circumvent protection schemes.

            • by tepples (727027)

              For another, I am speculating on the right of United States residents, including the editors of Slashdot, to use VideoLAN products.

              Using the product isn't the issue. The DMCA is about the distribution of a product to circumvent protection schemes.

              One cannot use a product that has not been distributed. Please allow me to rephrase: I am speculating on the right of United States residents to obtain VideoLAN products.

              • One cannot use a product that has not been distributed.

                Yes, but the distributor of the product is the one who gets in trouble not the user.

                Please allow me to rephrase: I am speculating on the right of United States residents to obtain VideoLAN products.

                And it's still irrelevant to what the DMCA says.

      • by Sylak (1611137)
        you forgot that this specific use should also be covered by the same court ruling that deemed it legal to jailbreak iphones and rip/copy DVD's for personal or educational use
      • by Sloppy (14984)

        The exemptions the librarian of congress recently decreed don't apply. See 4(ii) in the research exemption: MPAA lobbied sufficiently to get it crippled to the point of uselessness. And the fair use exemption is only for DVDs. If you want to legally play a Bluray, nothing has changed.

        • by GodWasAnAlien (206300) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:07PM (#33210716)

          "legally play a Blueray" (same question for DVD)

          What exactly does that mean?

          A Blueray/DVD player that one may purchase at Best Buy also decrypts the disc. Is that circumvention also?

          What exactly is the difference between a commercial player and an open source player (which also must decrypt the disc)?

          The main difference that I see is that one is using the official specification, and one is using an unofficial specification.

          But using an unofficial specification is not illegal.

          Perhaps, If some are claiming that an open source player plays "BlueRay" or "DVD" discs, then that may be a Trademark violation, as it has not been certified.

          Is that what you are implying? a Trademark violation?

          • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:33PM (#33210902)

            no, you miss the point.

            players are LICENSED. money.

            freeware players skip this. that annoys those who, uhh, like money.

            get it?

            its JUST that simple.

            (then again, you can't GET a license just by asking for it. you have to bend over and kiss corporate ass and promise never to allow users to do what they wish with the media they bought)

            back in the early days of linux/dvd, authors DID try to buy 'proper' licenses. they were refused. at that point, we all turned 'rogue' in the industries' eyes.

            well, so be it. don't want our 'player fees'? then you get NOTHING.

            but we still will be able to play our media. you have done nothing but stopped revenue to your own self, you silly mpaa morons.

            • players are LICENSED. money.
              While i'm sure the money is nice gravy I don't think it's the only reason and probablly not even the main reason for keeping things tightly gaurded.

              Open source and open standards are fundamenally incompatible with drm since if you have the unobfuscated source to a player or even a sufficiant spec (including all required keys) needed to implement a player you can create a player that does not respect the drm.

              but we still will be able to play our media. you have done nothing but st

              • by ratboy666 (104074)

                The money is the ONLY reason. It must be, since the ones promoting this are corporations, and it isn't a benefit otherwise.

                As to key revocation -- sure, why not? But, existing material can still be decoded. Of course, "official" players would then have to be updated to play new discs. Which gives a very bad "out-of-the-box" experience. Imagine you (accidentally) purchased a new disc, and an old-stock player. Take it home, and discover that your Blue-Ray won't play Blue-Ray.

                Until you attach it to the interne

                • As to key revocation -- sure, why not? But, existing material can still be decoded. Of course, "official" players would then have to be updated to play new discs. Which gives a very bad "out-of-the-box" experience. Imagine you (accidentally) purchased a new disc, and an old-stock player. Take it home, and discover that your Blue-Ray won't play Blue-Ray.

                  Until you attach it to the internet with an ethernet cable. Or give it an update on a USB stick, or order a special Blue-Ray from the manufacturer. Oops, you discover that your model is two years old, and no further updates are being done...

                  They just put updates for players directly on the new discs. No internet/usb/update disc necessary.

                • by iainl (136759)

                  Revocation works, and has worked, because all the keys identified so far came from Windows software players, and it's deemed standard operating procedure to have to patch Windows software occasionally. If someone gets the AACS key out of a Sony BDP-S370 or whatever, we may see a very different result.

            • It would only be illegal to play a disc if the disc, not the player, had an attached license that you would be violating. Player licenses only means you can't sell or distribute a device that decodes it without one. If you were intrinsically capable of reading the disc with only the power of your MIND, player licenses wouldn't stop you. Of course, that would also make disc license infringement a little hard to detect.

              That's not to say that they do or don't have licenses on every blu-ray disc, I don't kno

          • by ksandom (718283)
            I see two main things:
            1. Royalties
            2. Freedom. Open source software generally makes it easy to connection functionality of different programs together. So once you have it decrypted, there's a lot of cool stuff you can do with it. Commercial software potentially makes all sorts of promises to the people they get the license from to not allow that.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:07PM (#33210310) Homepage

      If they had the power to take down BluRay decrypters, they'd be going after the commercial tools that actually work. This is roughly the umpteenth open source library announced and what they all have in common is that they don't work on any of the newer movies with MKBv11 or higher and/or anything more than the simplest forms of BD+ protection. It's unlikely open source will catch up until the MPAA gives up the DRM fight, you may not see it but there's still a constant war of updates to make the decrypters work on new discs.

      • I'll buy BluRay discs just as soon as they can work in my player.

  • One small error (Score:5, Informative)

    by supersloshy (1273442) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @06:56PM (#33210212)

    Sorry guys. I submitted this article before I realized this. libaacs has been around for a while and was a project started at Doom9. It was just adopted by VideoLAN. My bad!

    • by Osty (16825)

      Well, it's a good thing Slashdot editors fact check articles before posting them, or that would be embarrassing.

      What's that? Editors don't do a damn thing here? Carry on. Nothing to see here. Maybe this story will hit the RSS feed a couple more times before they get it right ...

  • Sounds legit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anarkhos (209172) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @06:58PM (#33210228)

    "Note that this isn't meant to actually be a decoding library. It includes no AACS keys and is solely developed for research purposes."

    Riiiiight

    • To decode your own Bluray disks.

      In the free world, anyway, even if not America.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Or Europe, after the EUCD. And it won't be most other places either, after ACTA. But over time you realize the law isn't a perfect democratic tool but often run by special interest groups, and how little the law means if sufficiently many disagree with it.

        • I don't know about elsewhere, but they've been trying to pass copyright expansion legislation here in Canada for nearly a decade without any success.

          • by hitmark (640295)

            largely thanks to a few good people that keep calling the bluff each time the legislation gets renamed and presented as something thats supposed to fix a new problem. Sadly, for each generation there are fewer thats willing to stick their neck out for those kinds of causes.

            • Since Sam Bulte [wikipedia.org]'s political career was destroyed due to her support for Bill C-60, only MPs in very safe ridings have been willing to take on the issue, and no government has risked letting a bill actually make its way to a vote.

              The bills keep getting proposed to appease the Americans, but no government is going to have the balls to try to get them passed in the current minority climate.

        • by Kynde (324134)

          Why is that marked as a troll?

          Decoding ones own DVDs for watching purposes on a linux is illegal these days in many european countries and becoming illegal in the others.

          Haven't bought a dvd since and will not.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)
        What makes you think it's illegal to decode bluray disks in America? Just how do you watch your movies anyway?

        This is a decoding library nothing more. It's useless without AACS keys. How you obtain those keys is your problem and the problem of the person who actually is in breach of the stupid American anti-circumvention laws.

        Using this library is no more illegal than using a TV to convert 1s and 0s into pretty pictures.
  • Awesome (Score:4, Funny)

    by cosm (1072588) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .3msoceht.> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:02PM (#33210264)

    It includes no AACS keys and is solely developed for research purposes.

    So was lysergic acid diethylamide. Looks like a win for us if things go according to history!

  • Nice Name (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Wanted to be first in alphabetical listings, eh?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jdunn14 (455930)

      Sadly they'd still be beaten by my local ambulance chaser who is in the phonebook as "A Accident Attorney"....

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Wow. What is this country coming to? Now even the lawyers don't speak English.... :-D

        (For anyone who doesn't get it, "An" comes before a vowel sound.)

      • by jimicus (737525)

        Better than mine. "Aardvark Accident Associated Attorneys".

      • by Abstrackt (609015)
        He should have used "AAAAAAAAAAAAA! Accident? Attorney!" to secure first place.
  • While I appreciate Videolan's achievements, VLC's programmers should improve the interface in one key aspect that has boggled my mind for a while:

    I would like to see video and audio controls on the active default interface. At the moment, if I am watching video and want to adjust contrast, saturation, brightness etc, I have to click an icon on the interface, then choose video controls which I first have to activate!

    Too many steps for a simple thing in my opinion. With the present implementation, If one choo

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So why are you telling us instead of Videolan? Nobody here wants to hear this crap. Go [videolan.org] tell someone who cares (Videolan).

    • by mjwx (966435)

      VLC's programmers should improve the interface in one key aspect that has boggled my mind for a while:

      Because most of the world cares about how the video player performs rather then how it looks. When I use VLC I want to press the play button and have the whole thing go away until I'm done. At this very moment VLC does just that.

      I would like to see video and audio controls on the active default interface. At the moment, if I am watching video and want to adjust contrast, saturation, brightness etc

      This pu

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        besides VLC is open source so if it's that important to you make your own damn interface

        That's really constructive advice, I'm sure that the GP is a programmer and had just never thought about doing it himself before.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:40PM (#33210544) Homepage

    From the cited ruling [legifrance.gouv.fr] which discusses application of the EU ban on circumventing DRM:

    Ces dispositions ne s'appliquent pas aux actes qui ne portent pas préjudice aux titulaires de droits et qui sont réalisés à des fins de sécurité informatique ou à des fins de recherche scientifique en cryptographie

    Which roughly translates to:

    These provisions do not apply to acts which do not interfere with rights-holders or to acts carried out for computer security purposes or for scientific research or cryptographic purposes.

    So libaacs is legally 100% safe so long as it stays in those boundaries. (That EU law is unjust and should be contested.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Small correction, the last part of the translation should be:

      or for the purpose of scientific research in cryptography.

      (I misread an "en" as an "et".)

    • These provisions do not apply to acts which do not interfere with rights-holders or to acts carried out for computer security purposes or for scientific research or cryptographic purposes.

      Bolded for emphasis. I put the French original into Google's translator and got

      These provisions do not apply to acts which do not prejudice the rights holders and are made for purposes of security or for scientific research in cryptography

      A very important difference. One says security and research are allowed regardles

  • by fishbowl (7759)

    It's weird how VLC plays every codec under the sun, but not SHN.

    http://trac.videolan.org/vlc/ticket/632 [videolan.org]

    • by enoz (1181117)

      It's weird how people expect VLC to play every codec under the sun, including little-used codecs that the average user would never come across.

      • by Kevin108 (760520)

        Well...the slogan on the web page proudly announces, "It plays everything!" So yeah, I guess they want it to...do...that.

        • by enoz (1181117)

          As I read it the "Plays everything" slogan refers to the types: "Files, Discs and Streams".

          Just a little bit further: "It comes with support for nearly all codec there is." (emphasis mine).

      • by Xtifr (1323)

        Shorten isn't all that obscure, although it's fallen out of favor. There was a time not too long ago when it was the most popular and widely known lossless audio codec. Of course, the market for a lossless audio codec was pretty small back then--most people, as now, were perfectly happy with MP3s, and few people had the bandwidth to download lossless files. And nowadays, SHN (or "Shorten") has been almost entirely supplanted by FLAC and lossless formats from Apple and MS. Nevertheless, it's hardly "litt

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      Well I, for one, haven't ever come across .shn files am I missing something?
      • by Xtifr (1323)

        Depends on whether you consider the Grateful Dead or Phish or other similar bands to be something. Shorten (.shn) was the standard lossless audio format among the "taper-friendly-band" recording exchange community until FLAC came along, and it hasn't been fully supplanted in that community yet, though its use is dying.

  • AnyDVD HD already does decrypt AACS and BD+ and it contains all the keys necessary to decrypt movies. So far Slysoft (makers of the tool) have kept themselves from being sued by being located in Antigua where clearly they have some kind of legal defence.

    Traditionally that has also been the case for VLC which was based in France where software patents don't apply and decss appears semi legit. I don't think they have much to worry about (more than now) by inserting an AACS implementation. Where they might g

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