We've been complaining about the dearth of good quality 4K video — movies and TV shows, things we'd actually like to watch — for years now, ever since Ultra HD TVs started hitting the shelves of our favourite electronics stores. In Australia, having our relatively crappy internet speeds, streaming 4K over Netflix has never really been viable. Ultra HD Blu-ray looks great, though it's been a year away for five years now.
But good news for pirates over the weekend — a torrent release group has cracked the encryption on Netflix and Amazon's 4K video lockers, and ultra high-def rips of brand new TV shows are flooding out across the 'net.
As Torrentfreak reports, TrollUHD releases of shows like Marvel's Jessica Jones (nee Netflix) and The Man In The High Castle (nee Amazon), as well as movies like Looper, have been appearing on torrent sites for just under a week. The file sizes of these individual episodes are predictably massive — The Man In The High Castle, an Amazon release set in an alternate-history 1962 where Nazi Germany won World War II, clocks in at around 10GB per 60-minute episode, while Jessica Jones, a Marvel comic series based on the Alias graphic novels and released on Netflix, tips the scales at around 15GB per 60-minute screening.
It appears the issue exploited by the new release group relies on a hole within the HDCP audiovisual security layer, rather than an issue specific to either Netflix or Amazon. Says Torrentfreak: "The new 4K leaks come from both Netflix and Amazon, suggesting that there’s a general loophole that allows pirates to circumvent the copy protection on both services."
Interestingly, despite being extremely high quality — with 4K video running at 32.5Mbps for 24fps footage, versus the circa 4 to 6Mbps that most 720p or 1080p TV rips are encoded at — the Ultra HD rips are drawing some complaints, with downloaders saying that Jessica Jones in particular looks disappointing, "because the master from Netflix is probably bad", a release group insider told Torrentfreak.
It could be that a new streaming device released onto the market with inferior security is to blame for the rips making their way online; Roku's new 4K-compatible Roku 4 hit store shelves in early November, while the Amazon Fire TV is equally new and only supports the outdated HDCP1.4b protocol. [Torrentfreak]
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