Pirates have found a way to circumvent the 4K copy protection on Netflix, resulting in the first ultra high-definition leak. A copy of the first episode of Breaking Bad worth nearly 18 gigabytes is currently being traded on various torrent sites and more leaks are expected to appear in the future.
While many average consumers can’t even play 4K content on their TV or computer, true video geeks are looking forward to every new release.
Thus far the offerings have been limited to adult content and a handful of mainstream productions. However, with the adoption of a Blu-Ray standard for Ultra High Definition video more releases will follow soon.
4K streaming releases have been available for a while already, with Netflix and Amazon being the two key vendors. These online streams are well protected against pirates.
In fact, up until this week it was believed to be impossible to break the High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) version 2.2 or higher. However, this may no longer be the case as the first 4K Netflix leak just appeared online.
The leak in question is the first episode of Breaking Bad and was released by the reputable group “iON.” The 2160p video file takes up 17.73 GB of space, which is roughly 50 times that of a traditional standard definition equivalent.
The image below shows the file being listed at a popular private tracker with just over a dozen people sharing it.
The media info for the release shows that the episode has a bit rate of 41.3 Mbps and overall the video specs make it hard to play the file smoothly on the average computer.
At the time of writing the 4K leak is only available on private torrent trackers but it’s expected to eventually leak to public sites as well. It’s currently unknown if the release group broke HDCP 2.2 or if they found another way to capture the stream.
Leaked drafts of the 4K copy protection agreement between Sony and Netflix reveals that the streams are generally well-protected. They also include a watermark so that leaks can be traced back to the source.
“The watermark must contain sufficient information such that forensic analysis of unauthorized recorded video clips of the output video shall uniquely determine the account to which the output video was delivered,” the document reads.
It’s unclear whether the watermarks were included and if they were removed from the Breaking Bad video, but release groups are generally well-equipped to remove these type of markers.
Netflix informs TF that they are looking into the reported leak and the company will do its best to prevent similar breaches in the future.
“Piracy is a global problem. We, like others content providers, are actively working on ways to protect content featured on our site,” a Netflix spokesperson told us.
While 4K content is not going to be shared by the majority of online pirates, the first 4K leak from Netflix will certainly have Hollywood and the streaming service worried. Whether they can stop it has yet to be seen though.