4K Netflix stream pirated for the first time

Posted Aug 29, 2015 by James Walker
The DRM on Netflix's ultra-high definition content has been broken for the first time, allowing pirates to upload a 4K episode of Breaking Bad to a private torrent site. The episode weighs in at nearly 18GB because of the high quality.
A booth showcasing the game consoles available for Netflix at the Toronto event.
A booth showcasing the game consoles available for Netflix at the Toronto event.
Digital Trends reports on the break-through for online pirates. The 4K content is protected by High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection 2.2 (HDCP) and has never been cracked before. The digital rights management (DRM) ensures that Netflix shows can only be watched by paying subscribers.
4K offers resolutions four times as great as with 1080p "Full HD". 4K is the equivalent of 2160p but has yet to go truly mainstream, primarily because of the cost of ultra-HD displays, high performance processors required to play it and the massive file sizes that accompany so much detail.
The leaked Breaking Bad episode is around 17.73GB in size and has a bit-rate of 41.3Mbps. Most people on an average broadband connection would not be able to successfully stream it; saving it onto a typical smartphone with 32GB of storage would take up over half of the total available space with just one video.
TorrentFreak reports that iON uploaded the episode to a private torrent tracker. It has already been downloaded a few times and is expected to make it to public providers eventually.
Sony's description of the protection on its Netflix streams says that the content is usually watermarked to 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."
It is unclear whether the group has successfully removed the watermark or not. How the HDCP protection was cracked is currently unconfirmed but a screenshot of the torrent listing suggests that a lossless capture card was used to intercept the HDMI video output from a TV.
Netflix told TorrentFreak that it is investigating the incident. A spokesperson said: "We, like other content providers, are actively working on ways to protect content featured on our site."
If the leak is genuine then the first way of avoiding HDCP 2.2 may have just been found. If so, a lot more 4K content can be expected to be offered for illegal download until the vulnerability is found and patched if possible.