I've had a few questions from readers regarding the implication of the AACS key for WinDVD 8 being revoked (as covered on, for example, Slashdot).
First off, has the AACS key for WinDVD 8 been revoked? The answer is yes, as you can read in this press release by InterVideo:
To our valued InterVideo WinDVD Customers,
Today Corel is releasing an important new security update for InterVideo WinDVD. We have taken this step to ensure that our customers continue to enjoy the latest HD DVD and BD content.
Our decision stems from recent reports that hackers have illegally obtained certain software licensing keys and have used them to duplicate copyrighted content without prior authorization. Corel takes this situation very seriously. We have been working closely with our partners and other industry organizations to ensure we take the steps necessary to prevent copyright infringement from happening in the future.
WinDVD customers who are currently using either HD DVD or BD playback will need to download the free security update from your PC or Drive manufacturer's websites.
This update includes security enhancements as well as updated licensing keys that will be required to view both newly purchased HD DVD/BD titles and those in your existing HD DVD/BD collections. By downloading Corel's free update, you will be able to continue to enjoy the latest HD DVD/BD content, while ensuring that copyrighted materials are properly protected.
Please be aware that failure to apply the update will result in AACS-protected HD DVD and BD playback being disabled.
Your continued enjoyment of our software is Corel's primary concern. If you have any questions about the WinDVD security update, please contact Corel's Customer Support Team at www.corel.com/support or by calling (800) 772-6735.
It's important to note that this update only affects WinDVD users who play HD-DVD and Blu-ray media. No other software or hardware players are currently affected. No current hardware Blu-ray or HD-DVD players need updated keys. Also, the issue will not affect existing HD and Blu-ray discs, only new ones which which won't support the revoked key. However, it is possible for a disc containing an updated Host Revocation List (HRL) to disable a player until it is updated.
It's a trivial matter to update a software player. Just download the patch and apply it. Hardware players are a different matter. A network jack is mandatory on HD-DVD players but optional on Blu-ray players. I can see a point coming when hardware players could need updating, and imagine that when that happens those will be tough days for the tech support personnel having to field calls from angry owners just wanting to play a disc. It's possible that firmware patches could be delivered directly on HD-DVD and Blu-ray media, eliminating the hassles of having to connect the player to the Internet. Truth be told though, I don't see the patches being delivered directly on the media though, that would require an extremely high level of organization. My guess is that when keys are revoked for hardware players many owners are going to experience a high degree of hassle.
Question: How long are InterVideo going to release updates to WinDVD 8 after the next version is released? How long until users will be left with a revoked player and be forced to upgrade?
In other developments, hackers over on Xboxhacker have come up with a way to get a unmodified Microsoft Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive to pass a disc's Volume ID before it has been authenticated by AACS. This doesn't allow discs to be copied but it does allow copied discs to be played back as though they were originals.