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Copy-Protection Body Probing Hack of HD DVD Format

A business group behind copy-protection software for next-generation DVDs was investigating reports that hackers found a way to circumvent its technology, a group member said Wednesday.

"There are reports that indicate success by a number of hackers. We're still evaluating and determining what the most appropriate course of action is," said Michael Ayers, chairman of the group behind the Advanced Access Content System.

The system was created by a coalition of technology and entertainment companies, including The Walt Disney Co. (DIS), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Intel Corp. (INTC) and Panasonic.

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The technology is used to prevent copying of high-definition DVDs in both the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD formats.

Ayers said hackers had apparently exploited a weakness in computer software used to view DVDs.

[Various tech-related blogs said that the high-definition version of the feature film "Serenity," released on HD DVD by Universal Studios Home Entertainment, had been copied and was available for download on the Internet.]

"We look at it as an attack on one particular implementation," he said. "It doesn't breach the security of the AACS technology as a whole, because that one implementation can be fixed. Once it's fixed, then that attack no longer works."

Ayers declined to say which DVD-viewing software had been targeted by hackers but noted that vulnerable versions of the software were no longer available.

A report published Wednesday in The New York Times identified the DVD player software as WinDVD.

• Click here to read the New York Times story.

The software is distributed by InterVideo Inc., which was acquired last month by Canada-based Corel Corp. (CREL)

A Corel spokesman said the company wasn't certain a breach had occurred, but that it had disabled a few software codes as a precaution.

Users will not notice any difference, spokesman Andy Markin said.

"We're taking proactive, corrective action and we're trying to backtrack where this breach, if you will, came from," Markin said.