A major development may be about to happen in the anti-piracy cat and mouse game between Hollywood and movie pirates, with the hard-to-break Cinavia protection being broken, according to the publishers of a DVD copying software.
Cinavia is a digital watermarking technology designed to foil those that download pirated videos. While it does not prevent copying of Blu-ray movies, the copied movie will have the digital watermark incorporated within, even after converting to other formats, like MKV or AVI. When played on a device supporting Cinavia, which is all Blu-ray players produced since 2012, including the PS3 and PC software solutions, the watermarked clip may lose sound or playback will simply stop, with an error message informing users of "unauthorized playback".
Cinavia has been at the center of controversy and criticism, both because it is more difficult to remove than other types of anti-piracy protection, and because it prevents users from performing format-shifting, which usually falls under fair use.
But now, a company that has been working on breaking Cinavia for the last couple of years has finally succeeded. Pixbyte, makers of the $69.99 DVD-Ranger software, claims to now have a process that strips Cinavia from downloaded files, including downloaded MKV, AVI and MP4 files.
The entire process only takes 20-minutes, and involved re-encoding the audio track (where the Cinavia watermark is stored), while the video and subtitle tracks are untouched. The software itself also does not perform the actual DVD or Blu-ray decryption, requiring users to obtain other tools to perform what the DVD-Ranger website says is "illegal DRM disabling".
The authors of the software don't believe that breaking Cinavia will bring them legal trouble, at least not in their native country, Germany.
"In our country it is only forbidden to develop and sell software that circumvents copy protection. The law doesn't mention digital watermarks. So is it legal? Definitely," Pixbyte's Ingo Förster told the BitTorrent news website, TorrentFreak.