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Hackers use PlayStation 2 to dump DVDs to tape

Industry-standard copy protection mechanism bypassed, claim Web sites

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

PlayStation hackers have discovered a second way to use the console to bypass the DVD industry's strict regime. The first hack overcame the games machine's DVD regionalisation software, and now users have found out how to circumvent its DVD copy protection mechanism. According to EE Times and reports from Register readers, Japanese Web sites devoted to Sony's console reckon the PlayStation's analog RGB output port can be used to copy a DVD onto VHS. Essentially, the signal sent from the PlayStation is picked up by a VCR's input socket and recorded as if it were an on-the-air broadcast. Sony built in the industry-standard Macrovision copy protection system to prevent just such analog to analog recordings. Macrovision's system works by modifying the output signal. On a TV, the picture will look fine, but when it passes through a recording system, the Macrovision modulation interferes with the picture signal making it unwatchable. The Japanese sites have published schematics of a device that they claim can strip out the Macrovision signal. The box essentially converts the RGB signal to an NTSC (the US analog TV standard) composite signal, but appears to negate the effect of Macrovision too. Of course, the real problem for Sony is not the acts of the hackers, but that it arguably shouldn't have included the RGB port in the first place. The regulations for the licensing of DVD technology, as administered by the industry-funded DVD Copy Control Association, prohibits the use of analog DVD outputs in DVD players. Of course, Sony can argue that the PlayStation 2 isn't a DVD player but a console that happens to play movies. This may be one of the reasons why the functionality isn't built in, but is provided through software on the console's memory card. However, such an argument is unlikely to cut the mustard with an industry near-paranoid about the threat of piracy. Sony is unlikely to recall existing units to fix the problem, but it may well be forced to revise the console, particularly for its US and European releases this autumn. ® Related Stories PlayStation 2 can play US DVDs, apparently Sony asks buyers to return faulty PlayStation 2 MCs Sony plugs US DVD PS2 grey market PlayStation 2 prices hit £1000 on UK grey market

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