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Netflix’s high-definition DRM cracked for the first time

It seems as though no amount of digital rights management (DRM) protection can hold firm against an industrious bunch of hackers. Pirates have managed to crack the code for Netflix’s Ultra HD 4K content for the first time, putting an episode of Breaking Bad on a private torrent site. The episode reportedly weighs in at 17.73GB.

4K or UHD video (where frames are 2,160 pixels tall rather than the 1,080 offered by full HD) is still in its early stages, and many devices and computers today struggle to play it. The likes of Netflix and Amazon offer a handful of shows in 4K, but as Internet speeds and home computers get faster, it will quickly become more widespread — and the pirates are going to be waiting.

TorrentFreak broke the news of the 4K rip but as yet there’s been no official response from Netflix. Up until now, the High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) version 2.2 and above had proved to be uncrackable — it’s the DRM Netflix and other sites use to prove you really are a logged in and paying customer before displaying the video. At the moment it’s not clear how the pirates managed to get around the copy protection.

The leak comes from a well-established torrenting group and at nearly 18GB is around 50 times bigger than a standard definition video — you’re not going to be able to pack many of these clips on your smartphone. The DRM streams are originally watermarked to help identify anyone who attempts to rip them, but it’s not clear if the group has managed to get rid of this watermarking.

“Piracy is a global problem,” Netflix told TorrentFreak in a statement. “We, like others content providers, are actively working on ways to protect content featured on our site.” The company says it’s looking into the reported leak and will do its utmost to prevent similar leaks in the future.