Even Pirated Media Files Are Now Upgrading To 4K

The grainy bootleg tapes and even DVDs of yesteryear are gone, gone, gone. Among today’s daily signs that we all are, indeed, now living in a bright, shiny future: Even pirated video is apparently now in pixel-perfect ultra-HD.

That’s according to TorrentFreak which, well, keeps an eye on what’s out there on the torrents. And what’s out there on the torrents right now is apparently looking very, very good. As in, 4K resolution, ultra-HD good.

4K has been the talk of all the tech sites for a couple of years now, but overall it’s a technology still in its very early stages of adoption. Netflix and Amazon started trickling out 4K content in 2014, and Roku’s 4K ready gadget just came out this fall, Plenty of households have only just recently gotten around to replacing bulky old TVs with modern 16:9 HD flatscreens, and so it’ll be a while before everyone is on board with spending even more money to upgrade the upgrades.

There are some technically legal ways to record content from streaming services, although getting caught doing so will get your account suspended faster than you can say “Daredevil.” However, cracking any encryption on the data files is a big fat no-no, as is redistributing any of that content on your own.

That, of course, has never stopped a certain segment of the population from doing it anyway. Cracking the 4K code is apparently a monumental achievement for media pirates, as TorrentFreak explains, and is kicking off a new era of exceptionally high-quality files floating around.

There are a couple of things that might slow down the distribution of unlawful 4K files for the moment, though. The first is that slow adoption: if you don’t have a TV or monitor that can actually properly display 4K video, there’s not really any point to having the higher-resolution file on hand.

The other challenge is the sheer size of the data. You don’t need an always-on high-bandwidth connection to watch downloaded video rather than streamed, but you do need the connection up front… and then the drive space to store it. A 4K rip often runs greater than 100 GB, TorrentFreak points out, meaning that even on a 1 terabyte drive you couldn’t store more than a handful of them. (For comparison’s sake, that’s the same amount of data per 4K file as roughly 2500-3500 MP3 song files.)

Files that large would also bump into most broadband caps pretty quickly. Comcast’s 300 GB / month allotment would support between two and three 4K file downloads per month at that size, before incurring fees and overages. And if pirates felt like paying fees, they probably wouldn’t be ripping the files in the first place.

Pirates can now rip 4K content from Netflix and Amazon [TorrentFreak]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.