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September 19, 2014

Hackers discover how to download streaming movies from Netflix

by Brad Linder, posted Aug 6th 2007 6:45PM
Netflix
Earlier this year Netflix announced a new service that would allow you to watch a limited number of videos online instead of waiting for the DVDs to come in the mail. The service is free with your regular subscription. If you pay $17/month for access to 3 DVDs at a time, you can watch 17 hours of video per month. If you pay $5 per month for access to 2 DVDs per month, you can watch 5 hours of video online.

There's just one problem. You have to watch on Netflix's terms. The video player is browser based, and the movies are encoded using Windows Media DRM. If you want to begin a movie now and finish it later, you're out of luck. Or if you want to copy it to a portable device for viewing during your morning commute (on the train, not while driving, of course!), no soup for you.

Well, the smart folks over at the Rorta forums seem to have cracked the code, using Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player 11, FairUse4WM, and Notepad. The solution involves finding the URL of the video file, downloading it, acquiring the license key and then stripping the DRM. It's a bit involved, and will probably take longer than just sitting down and watching the movie. But hey, it's the principle of the thing, right?

Keep in mind, this hack will not let you download more than 17 hours of video per month, so it's not exactly going to be a great trick for starting your online video piracy empire.

Update: As several people have pointed out in the comments, you can indeed stop a Netflix "watch now" movie and start it again later, or fast forward to any point in a film to begin watching. Thanks!

[via Brent Evans]

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Matt

Looks like a lot of shows have been removed like The Office. Perhaps NBC got scared??

August 11 2007 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve

For those wanting to view the "Watch Now" movies in Firefox, download the latest IE Tab extension. Works like a charm :)

August 09 2007 at 1:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
asktheadmin

How long before they patch this up? Any guesses? But thanks for the tip from your friends over @ http://www.askTheAdmin.com

Any chance they are going to send you a bill??

August 08 2007 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Usama

I've watched two movies now using the streaming thing. "The Hotel" and "Lilya-4-Ever." While I wasn't a fan of the first I loved the second movie, a foreign one (Russian). I love how I can stop a movie, shut down my computer and then come back to the same part automatically. As far as I know I can login from wherever with my Netflix ID and watch the movies, but I do believe being able to download would be convenient.

However legally speaking I can see why Netflix wouldn't allow that because once you've downloaded the movie you technically have it to own but you didn't pay for the movie, you only "paid" to view it. So I probably won't be doing the whole download to own hacking thing this article mentions. Well, unless better movies are made available and the crack still works.

Anyway I'm a fan of this streaming thing. I get the lowest quality stream (yes, my internet connection sort of sucks) but I can still watch a movie in full screen and there's little to no pixelation. I'm running 1280x1024 on Windows Vista.

Oh and yes I did have to use Internet Explorer to watch the movies but it was a minor issue, I don't mind switching browsers for this. (normally I use Firefox)

August 08 2007 at 3:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TacoEaterandLiker

We were also in the midst of developing and patenting a software-only GPS receiver (thereby eliminating the need for a hardware device plugged into your PC) when the business went under.

That is a stupid idea. There is no way to truly authenticate such a setup. The only way it could deduce any location information is from the IP address assigned to the machine, which is not always geographically accurate. No wonder your company went under. Are you developing software-only sexual devices now?

August 08 2007 at 12:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent

Thanks for the link credit Brad. I personally would prefer to see better movie content on the free streaming more then I want the content to be "rippable". I still posted about it on my blog because I knew it would be a popular topic.

Brent

August 07 2007 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SATAN

WHAT THE FUCK IS NETFLIX??? IT'S AS IRRELEVANT AS VHS BY NOW.
322FT3W

August 07 2007 at 9:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TheDude

Remember when shiney whitepapers could fund a company for 3 years? ahhhhh the good ol days

Anyone with basic microcontroller experience could spoof any GPS based authentication you could develop. Not that anyone would bother, because it would be much more trivial to just inject it somewhere into the software itself.

August 07 2007 at 7:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert MacEwan

How long before this is a huge failure and those heading up the project can write the report explaining the reason it failed? Does anyone get fired before they explore the nonDRM route?

August 07 2007 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve

I did this a little while back, the painfully simple way.

Step 1) Connect your pc to your home DVD recorder's line input.
I use DVD Anywhere by X10, but there's lots of ways to do that.
Step 2) Insert a DVD-RW and hit record

Works like a champ. I watch WatchNow movies with my portabld DVD player all the time on my morning commute.

August 07 2007 at 5:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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