Has DCP Encryption Been Cracked?

There are several recent articles in the news, suggesting that DCP Encryption is broken. Is this something filmmakers and distributors should worry about? In a word, no – but the team at TheDCPMaster.com will tell you why.

The Hatefull Eight - Promotional Poster - Pirates Claim Cracked DCP

What Was the Cracked Film?

The film in question is a pirated 4K version of the Quentin Tarantino film “The Hateful Eight”. It’s unique in that there are very few commercially available 4K sources for this film. As well, some of the hackers who claim involvement proclaimed they “cracked DCP”. As such, there has been a lot of interest in where the pirates got access to a 4K version of the film.

Why Would This be a Big Deal?

We have written before that we are not aware of any pirating of a film from an encrypted DCP source. If there was a legitimate way to “break” DCP encryption the added cost and complexity would not be worth it. As well, filmmakers would have to worry about risk of theft when sending out DCP kits. Because DCPs are such a high quality format, pirates would like to have encryption broken.

So Is DCP Encryption Cracked?

We don’t think so. After doing a little research, we don’t think this illegal release has anything to do with DCPs.

The pirate copy likely came from the Russian “Okko” movie-rental service. Okko has a 4K version of the film available, and the pirate copy had Russian audio. Okko also uses MXF files as part of their service, and the Russian hackers referred to “DCP MXF” files. DCPs do use MXF files however, MXF is just a “wrapper” file. A wrapper file is like an envelope – it can can have many different kinds of content. So not all MXF files are part of a DCP.

Second, Okko doesn’t likely work with DCP files. DCP is an excellent format for many uses, but movie streaming is not one of them. DCPs are far too large and need too much computer processing to handle. No comparable service (iTunes, Netflix, Broadcast) uses DCPs.

Third, encryption that would likely come into play in creating a pirate release from Okko is the similar-sounding HDCP. HDCP is the technology that controls encrypted material on HDTVs. There are known ways to crack or work-around HDCP encrypted material. HDCP has nothing to do with DCP – but it’s possible there was confusion at some point between the two terms.

Fourth, the fact that if DCP encryption was cracked, pirating movies is a poor use of that ability. DCPs use AES-256 bit encryption. If you could crack AES encoded data, there are “better” (illegal) uses of that ability. Secure internet transactions, financial records, even government documents are all stored using this standard.

Finally – our DCP team has looked at screen shots available from the illegal release. None of them show the characteristics that we would expect to see if pirates had made their version from a 4K DCP.

So What is the Bottom Line?

Given the above, we remain confident that this pirate release did not come from “breaking” DCP encryption. As we’ve said before the vast majority of pirate copies of films on the Internet come from commercial home video copies, “screener” copies, or audience videotaping.

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