Blu-ray DRM is officially dead. Chinese pirates selling Blu-ray movies for $7 each.

It took a bit longer than I expected, but the Chinese are ripping Blu-ray movies, cracking the DRM, and burning them to disc so they can sell them for next to nothing. The quality drops, but is still technically High Def and the movie industry is not happy:

Law enforcement in Shenzhen, China, raided a warehouse last month that contained HD copies of a number of popular movies. There were over 800 discs (so, what is that, like eight spindles?) that were packaged in faux Blu-ray boxes, complete with holograms to make them appear legitimate. According to the Motion Picture Association International, this is the “first ever” seizure of these types of discs in China.

The pirates are apparently ripping high-def movies (cracking Blu-ray’s AACS and BD+ encryption in the process) and re-encoding them using AVCHD, which offers a 720p picture. Because of the reduction in resolution, file sizes are smaller and can be burned to regular DVDs instead of the more costly Blu-ray discs, netting a tidy profit. Needless to say, the film industry isn’t thrilled by the news. “We are concerned and are assigning priority to this issue,” the MPA’s Asia-Pacific managing director Mike Ellis told the Wall Street Journal.

Movie piracy in China is by no means a new trend, but the proliferation of Blu-ray fakes out of Asia is being viewed as a serious threat that could make its way to other countries quickly. Ellis pointed out that pirates in China can be very enterprising and have exported their wares all over the globe in the past, so there’s nothing stopping them from doing so with this new format. “These syndicates are very quick to spot market opportunities,” he said.

Considering that standard Blu-ray carries an average price of $30 (which is why I only have a few movies on Blu-ray at the moment) the $7 the pirates are asking will probably more than make up for the content “only” being 720P. It won’t be long before those techniques are widespread. Another proof of the adage that if you can make it, they can break it.

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