Sony pushes out PS3 DRM to halt illegal movie playback

Posted 03 August 2010 02:00 CET by wconeybeer

It just got a bit more difficult to watch illegally downloaded Blu-ray movies on the Sony PS3. Sony appears to have pushed a firmware update, which includes Cinavia DRM protection, to PS3 consoles.

While Sony has been utilizing Cinavia on new PS3 consoles since earlier this year, the automatic firmware 3.41, now being sent out to prior customers, has been a bit of a surprise to some.

In a YouTube video posted last week, a PS3 owner demonstrated the effects of the new Cinavia DRM protection that had been applied to his console via the new firmware. The movie playback is halted a few seconds into playback, and an on-screen message alerts the viewer to what has happened.

Cinavia DRM technology works by embedding different “codes” in the audio tracks of movies. These codes will differ depending upon whether the film is a theater or consumer release, and is designed to stay embedded even when the movie is converted to another format. When a user attempts to play a movie, the Cinavia code is read by the device and it is determined whether or not the audio is authorized for its current use. If the code does not match, the audio will be automatically muted throughout viewing or video playback will halt.

If PS3 customers had been paying attention to recent changes in the Terms of Service, they may not have been taken off guard by the firmware 3.41 update. A few months back, Sony changed their PS3 TOS verbiage to read, “Some content may be provided automatically without notice when you sign in. Such content may include automatic updates or upgrades which may change your current operating system, cause a loss of data or content or cause a loss of functionalities or utilities.”

Despite the amount of effort that Sony and Cinavia likely invested to put the DRM update into place on the PS3 consoles, it doesn’t look all that difficult to bypass the “protection” and play the movie anyway, albeit in a lesser quality format. This really seems to just be another lackluster attempt in the DRM cat and mouse game. It might trip up movie pirates temporarily, but they’ll soon find a way around it and be back to happily playing their illegal downloads until the next DRM protection is created.


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