Ultra HD Blu-rays have already been pirated and shared on torrent sites

After Blu-ray brought high-definition video to the home, Ultra HD Blu-ray has done the same thing for, you guess it, ultra high-definition video. 

But as well as bumping up resolution, the industry also uses these new formats to beef up their copy-protection, in an attempt to stop people from ripping their contents and sharing them online. 

However it appears as though just a year into its life, Ultra HD Blu-ray’s copy protection has already been cracked, despite the new AACS 2.0 encryption that’s been employed on them. 

The pirates got to work

TorrentFreak reports that a cracked copy of Smurfs 2 has appeared on the BitTorrent tracker UltraHDclub, and it’s a massive 53.30GB.

However it’s difficult to know why someone would bother downloading such a file because of where the film industry has gotten to with digital distribution. 

Film piracy online used to be a much bigger issue, but then the likes of Google Play, Amazon Instant Video and iTunes started beefing out their catalogues to offer films at a similar price to what you’d pay to rent them from a Blockbuster in the pre-internet era. That's before even considering the rise of 4K streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.

Outside of online services, physical media has also had to fight hard to remain relevant, and Ultra HD Blu-ray has done exactly that with its picture quality. With the massive capacities the discs allow, you can get a 4K movie with much less compression than is available through streaming services or online stores, or cracks of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. 

From TorrentFreak’s report, it seems as though this first crack suffers from some issues. The colors in the screenshot displayed appear to be inaccurate, and the Maximum Content Light Level and Maximum Frame-Average Light Level are also reportedly different. 

With Ultra HD, the benefits of physical media are now clearer than ever, and we’d argue that a crack is never going to offer a comparable experience without an astoundingly high file size. 

So despite the fact that the new disc format having been cracked, we don’t think the end is in sight for Ultra HD Blu-ray just yet. The new discs are aimed at hardcore home cinema enthusiasts who only want the best in picture quality, and providing a compressed, or even slightly inaccurate file online compromises exactly what people care about when it comes to 4K. 

Jon Porter

Jon Porter is the ex-Home Technology Writer for TechRadar. He has also previously written for Practical Photoshop, Trusted Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, Al Bawaba, Gizmodo UK, Genetic Literacy Project, Via Satellite, Real Homes and Plant Services Magazine, and you can now find him writing for The Verge.