Avatar to shatter Blu-ray piracy records

20th Century Fox may be thrilled to see how well Avatar is selling on Blu-ray, but the studio can’t be happy about the film’s through-the-roof piracy rates.

TorrentFreak reports that the Blu-ray version of Avatar was downloaded more than 200,000 times within four days of release. At this rate, it should have no trouble becoming the most popular pirated Blu-ray download of all time.

Avatar’s Blu-ray version measures roughly 10 GB, and the number of downloads is small compared to the film’s DVD version, but no other Blu-ray film comes close on the BitTorrent charts. This makes sense given that the movie crushed day one Blu-ray sales records through legitimate outlets.

Avatar to shatter Blu-ray piracy records

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TorrentFreak notes an interesting trend, however: A “relatively high percentage of downloads” (the site didn’t give specific numbers) come from the United Kingdom and Australia. That may be because 20th Century Fox released the film in the United States on April 22, and in the United Kingdom on April 26. The time difference may have played a role in peoples’ decisions to download, especially given that a weekend passed between the U.S. and U.K. release dates.

A small percentage of users may have also become frustrated with copy protection on some older Blu-ray players, which require a firmware update to play Avatar. Because these updates weren’t available when the movie was released, users may have turned to piracy instead to watch the film they already paid for.

The silver lining for Fox is that it’s planning to release Avatar on Blu-ray again later this year, packing bonus features and possibly 3D playback (although that may come in a special 3D edition in 2011). People who downloaded the movie this time around may be compelled to buy the disc for those perks.

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