The Blu-ray disc format was designed in order to stop software pirates from creating and selling movies in high-definition resolution. But while the copyright protection technologies do affect user experience and make consumers download new firmware, they do not stop pirates from selling pirated Blu-ray movies, it appears.
Authorities in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen last month unearthed a pirated warehouse collection with 800 of Blu-ray discs, reports the Wall Street Journal.
HONG KONG — Movie pirates are going after Blu-ray, using a technological twist that makes their illicit copies both cheap to make and tough for consumers to spot.
Pirates are taking advantage of the fact that many viewers can’t tell the difference between Hollywood’s new high-definition, higher-priced Blu-ray movie format and a bootleg format — called AVCHD — that’s a grade lower: AVCHD uses 720 horizontal lines of resolution instead of Blu-ray’s 1,080, but still offers a sharper picture than an ordinary DVD on high-definition television sets.
The movies are pulled off Blu-ray discs using easily available software
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In fact, the media was not exactly Blu-ray with 25GB or 50GB capacities, instead, pirates sold consumers typical DVDs packaged like Blu-ray with video in 1280×720 resolution (720p).
Average consumers may not be able to determine whether he or she watches a true BD movie in 1920×1080 (1080p) resolution with high-quality audio, or a pirated movie in 720p with compressed moderate quality audio. Still, even 720p looks much sharper compared to usual DVD resolution. Since DVD media costs much less than Blu-ray blank discs, it made a lot of sense for pirates to use lower-cost solution.
“When we created the specifications for Blu-ray, we were very serious about trying to stem the tide of pirate discs regardless of where they were in the world,” said Andy Parsons, a senior vice president at Pioneer Electronicsâ€™ Home Entertainment Group and the U.S. chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association promotions committee.
It is still possible to pull off high-definition video from Blu-ray using AnyDVD HD software from Slysoft. In fact, there are loads of web-sites that allow to download ripped Blu-ray copies. But since the media itself is pretty expensive, the popularity of such services is not high.
Even though counterfeited â€œBlu-rayâ€ movies were discovered only in China, it makes sense for consumers in other parts of the world to ensure that what they buy are true Blu-ray discs, not DVDs packaged into blue boxes