The MPAA used to be worried about piracy of standard definition movies, with problems of DVDs turning up with professional looking packaging and very attractive pricing.

That’s all over now. There are bigger fish to fry now.

In China, authorities have found almost perfect Blu-ray packages, with quite a variety of material, in counterfeiter’s warehouses. The report on Ars Technica states that about 800 discs were seized, in the first of this type of bust.

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.

Although no other reason is given for the transcoding, it might be to capture the larger market of HDTV users, or perhaps to hide possible glitches with higher resolutions showing up. (there are many more 720p televisions in use right now than either 1080 line format) Disc type can only account for so much of the cost, as on the wholesale level the differences are not that great. One more dollar would garner Blu-ray blanks, and a jump from $7 to $9 per disk is nothing by comparison to the real thing.

The motion picture industry is very worked up about this, as Blu-ray market share has fallen in the last few months; not a good sign when coupled with the lowered prices for that format.

Surely the MPAA and MPAI must realize that in turbulent economic times, their products will slightly slump in sales, but their larger concern is the possibility of these ‘fabulous fakes’ coming to the ‘land of opportunity’.

The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.Alfred Hitchcock