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PSP disc protection cracked

Illegal game swaps not far off

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It was never going to take very long, of course, but hackers have at last worked out how to bypass the copy protection scheme used by Sony to lock down content on the PlayStation Portable's Universal Media Disc (UMD).

Piracy doesn't appear to be an issue yet, since there's no way of copying games pulled from an official 1.8GB UMD onto a fresh disc, UMD being, for now, a read-only medium.

However, since the PSP has a MemoryStick slot, and suitably capacious MemorySticks are already available, the possibility exists that games or movies could be downloaded and transferred to the devices. Certainly, Sony's upcoming upgrade to its PSX PlayStation-cum-PVR machine will incorporate a facility for transferring recorded movies and TV programming to MemoryStick for playback on a PSP. It can't be long, surely, before someone figures out how to do this on a MemoryStick-equipped PC.

Sony is keen that third-party providers offer music and movie content in UMD, though few major names beyond the Japanese giant's own content companies have agreed to do so. To date, Sony has touted UMD's DVD-like region coding, unique per-disc ID number and AES-based content encryption system as suitable protection for UMD-stored content.

The PSP launched in the US on 24 March and is now scheduled to arrive in Europe on 1 September. ®

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