Blu-ray Disc is getting another layer of content protection
with the availability of BD Plus (BD+). The system, from BD+ Technologies LLC,
is now complete and available to all Hollywood movie studios and content
developers for implementation in Blu-ray Disc media.
Issued by BD+ Technologies are system specifications, key
management rules, test specifications and various agreements. Also launched are
a key issuing center, testing centers for players, and testing facilities for
With the recent compromises to the
Advanced Access Content
System (AACS), BD Plus represents a new DRM scheme in hopes to thwart
piracy. The BD+ system is believed to play a part in several Hollywood movie
studios’ choice of which high-definition optical format to support. As the HD
DVD specification does not account for BD+, movie studios such as Fox may have
sided exclusively with Blu-ray Disc for its extra levels of protection.
The attacks on the AACS
have also had a noticeable effect on the release of movies from
Blu-ray-exclusive studios. Neither Fox (which holds the Star Wars movies) nor MGM (has the entire 007 catalog) have
released any Blu-ray movies since April. The release of the new BD+ system,
however, may soon change that.
BD+ differs from AACS in its
complexity. Effectively an embedded virtual machine inside player hardware, BD+
allows content providers to include executables on Blu-ray Discs to perform
specific, content protecting functions. For example, the BD+ virtual machine
could run diagnostics on the host environment to see if the disc player has
been modified, or to verify that the keys have not been changed.
As part of the BD+ scheme, video may be deliberately
corrupted or modified to prevent the ripping of the data stream for piracy
purposes. The BD+ environment, once verified, will correct and descramble the
content to render it viewable.
“BD+ will be the proverbial thorn in the side of Blu-ray
movie rippers,” said optical storage analyst Wesley Novack. “With AACS and BD+
switching up encryption keys and methods routinely (BD+), it might become too
much work to determine how to rip every Blu-ray Disc title out there.”
BD+ is a system made for Blu-ray Disc, but not all
implementations of the media are required to support the system. In fact,
support for BD+ is less that for AACS. Of all categories of BD-ROM, only game
consoles, movie players and BD PC software are required to work with BD+
Although an entire generation of Blu-ray Disc (and HD DVD)
titles were cracked by a single AACS processing key, the extra layer of BD+
should make it much more challenging for hackers. Unlike AACS, BD+ can protect
each Blu-ray Disc with a title-specific code, making the circumvention of the
scheme much more involved than finding a single “silver bullet” processing key.
Crackers would need to reverse-engineer each title individually to bypass the
protection. While that task may be difficult, it may not be impossible as PC
software with virtual machine-based protections, such as StarForce, are still being
“Only time will tell and there is no guarantee that BD+ will
be effective against the persistence and tenacity of the talented online
community,” added Novack.