The DRM (digital rights management) police are at it again. After damning Kaleidescape and RealDVD several years ago, studios have shut down Slysoft and its popular AnyDVD platform for copying DVDs and Blu-ray discs.
Now, if you go to Slysoft.com, you see this simple text message:
Due to recent regulatory requirements we have had to cease all activities relating to Slysoft Inc.
We wish to thank our loyal customers/clients for their patronage over the years.
Because it is headquartered outside of the U.S. in Antigua, Slysoft has managed for years to escape U.S. copyright-protection bodies, including the DVD CCA (the group that shut down RealDVD in 2010 and almost killed Kaleidescape) and the AACS LA for Blu-rays. Both organisations act at the behest of the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) and other interested parties.
Arguably the most popular DVD and Blu-ray ripping software today (rather, yesterday), AnyDVD should still work – both with discs that have already been ripped, as well as DVDs yet to be copied. Blu-ray ripping, however, might be limited because some titles require access to an Online Protection Database (OPD) that could be shut down at any time.
In a Slysoft forum, commenter James, who claims to be a former Slysoft employee, responds to a couple of user questions on the matter:
Is the product self-sufficient without the online decryption database?
This depends on the disc / protection.
DVDs: All DVDs should continue work. OPD is only used to speed up things, it is optional.
HD-DVDs: All work.
Blu-Ray AACS: AnyDVD contains data for roughly 130000 discs, these will continue to work. Discs not included in AnyDVD will need the OPD. OPD results will be cached locally, if you copy the cache, you can move it to another PC.
Blu-Ray BD+, 20th Century Fox: Recent discs (1-2 years?) need OPD. Older titles work. OPD results will be cached locally, if you copy the cache, you can move it to another PC.
Blu-Ray Java protection (mostly Lionsgate): Recent discs (1 year?) need OPD. Older titles work. OPD results are not cached.
Blu-ray cinavia: Will continue to work with current players & software.
Note for the technical skilled: The servers are still running, probably as long as the bills are paid, but their DNS entries are removed.
If you have a router with a DNS proxy or can edit your Windows hosts file, you can add a key. Slysoft.com with an IP address for one of the key server proxies.
I don’t know how long the servers will continue to run.
If no registration/validation servers are responding, will we be able to install the last version on our new machines in the future?
There are no registration/validation servers. I always insisted, that we don’t follow the trend with “key authentication”. AnyDVD and the key is not bound to your hardware. As long as you have your keyfile, you can install it on your PC.
Despite assurances, though, AnyDVD users have reported a number of problems after the Slysoft take-down.
Custom Media Servers: Fusion, Request, Others
For many years, AnyDVD has been the preferred disc-copying software for movie servers in the custom home-technology channel. Manufacturers such as Control4 , Dune HD, Fusion Research, Request, Vidabox and Mozaex have recommended it or incorporated it into their movie-server products.
On the other hand, relative newcomer Helix Media Systems, a spin-off of Assassin HTPC, uses MakeMKV for its movie management system.
Owner Ben Lye, who says MakeMKV is the preferred transcoder of “enthusiasts and tweakers,” tells CE Pro there are “always concerns” about shutdowns like Slysoft’s, but “there’s no indication they [MakeMKV] are in distress or that anyone is looking at them.”
After the Slysoft shut-down, Helix sent this email to dealers:
Slysoft Announced Today a Permanent Shutdown of All Activities:
(From their website)
“Due to recent regulatory requirements we have had to cease all activities relating to Slysoft Inc.
We wish to thank our loyal customers/clients for their patronage over the years.”
BUT DO NOT WORRY!
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As for the other vendors, a dealer posting on RemoteCentral.com says, “My rep from Vidabox assures me there is already a promising solution in place that will need to be time tested. Always the same story with these – when one falls a dozen come to market.”
Another dealer comments, “Wonder what this means for Fusion Research…”
Ingo Schmoldt, VP sales for Fusion, tells CE Pro his company “already had an idea it [AnyDVD shutdown] might happen, so we had built provisions into it.”
Schmoldt says existing Fusion users should be fine with their current set-up, but the company is migrating to different software, which will be “seamlessly integrated” into the existing Fusion framework.
ReQuest, too, has been a proponent of AnyDVD for its movie servers.
“For ReQuest, our solution still functions for DVD and most Blu-ray discs,” says CEO Scott Bartgis in responding to the SlySoft news. “Out-of-the-box, a ReQuest system does not perform any decryption. This function is added, legally, by the consumer who wishes to make a copy of the movie they have purchased. With the loss of AnyDVD, some newer Blu-ray discs could fail to archive to their system. I say “could” because it is not known which movies will or will not archive. Not every Blu-ray disc contains AACS encryption and not every new movie will fail to archive the consumer’s fair use copy.”
The impact should be short-lived since many other providers can fill the AnyDVD void.
“There is an effect,” Bartgis says, “but as the industry will find out, the impact really hits the legitimate consumer of movies, not companies like ReQuest or the pirate networks Hollywood purports to be directing this attack on.”
Fusion’s Schmoldt echoes the sentiment of most manufacturers in the custom channel, saying, “We would like nothing more than to work with studios and give them money.”
But the studios make that prospect darn near impossible, as the Kaleidescape case clearly demonstrated.
DVDFab and Other Disc-Rippers in Jeopardy
CE Pro and others assume most media-server vendors will move to DVDFab, an AnyDVD competitor based in China, where alleged copyright offenders are harder to quash than in Antigua.
In 2014, the AACS sued DVDFab, winning a preliminary injunction when DVDFab ignored the claim. DVDFab.com and related Websites were shut down, but the company continues to operate through DVDFab.cn.
The AACS continues to make it difficult for DVDFab to do business, for example by ordering PayPal and other services to refuse payment for DVDFab products.
For its part, DVDFab just announced it won’t decrypt AACS 2.0, the new scheme for 4K UHD. The press release issued by the company is a useful and interesting read.
How the MPAA and their mighty band of DRM zealots ultimately got to Slysoft, after years of trying, is an interesting story, as relayed by Torrent Freak in 2014.
Antigua’s Copyright Act of 2003 does include anti-circumvention clauses referring to “any device or means specifically designed or adopted to circumvent any device or means intended to prevent or restrict reproduction of a work ….”
However, “a quirk of the law,” according to Torrent Freak, meant that only criminal action, not civil action, could be taken against Slysoft. Antigua agreed to prosecute Slysoft owner Giancarlo Bettini, finding him guilty of six charges and ordering him to pay $5,000 per offence.
Slysoft appealed, but ultimately capitulated … for now.
Fair Use Under Attack
The courts have continually upheld that individuals cannot copy encrypted discs, even for personal use (with some minor exceptions). The “fair use” exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act do not apply. You cannot legally copy your discs.
The Librarian of Congress reaffirmed this position again in October 2015.