Pirated movie release types

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Pirated movies are distributed in a variety of forms by groups such as Warez and organized piracy groups. Within the groups, a movie is usually released in several formats and different versions, because the primary sources used by a group for a particular movie may vary. Pirated movies are primarily released by these organized groups, commonly referred to as scene groups or warez groups. The first release of a movie is usually of a lower quality (due to a lack of sources), and is eventually replaced with higher-quality releases as better sources become available.

History[edit]

Pirated movies are usually released in several formats and different versions as better sources become available. The versions are usually encoded in the popular formats at the time of encoding. The sources for pirated copies have often changed with time in response to technology or anti-piracy measures.

Cams[edit]

Cam releases were the early attempts at movie piracy which were implemented by recording the on-screen projection of a movie in a cinema. This enabled groups to pirate movies which were in their theatrical period (not released for personal entertainment). Alternative methods were sought, as these releases often suffered distinctly low quality and required undetected videotaping in movie theaters.

Pre-release[edit]

Beginning in 1998, feature films began to be released on the internet by warez groups prior to their theatrical release. These pirated versions usually came in the form of VCD or SVCD. A prime example was the release of American Pie.[1] This is notable for three reasons:

  1. It was released in an uncensored workprint format. The later theatrical release was cut down by several minutes and had scenes reworked to avoid nudity to pass MPAA guidelines.
  2. It was released nearly two months prior to its release in theaters (CNN Headline News reported on its early release).[citation needed]
  3. It was listed by the movie company as one of the reasons it released an unrated DVD edition.[citation needed]

DVD and VOD ripping[edit]

DivX[edit]

In October 1999, DeCSS was released. This program allowed anyone to remove the CSS encryption on a DVD. Although its authors only intended the software to be used for playback purposes,[citation needed] it also meant that one could decode the content perfectly for ripping; combined with the DivX 3.11 Alpha codec released shortly after, the new codec increased video quality from near VHS to almost DVD quality when encoding from a DVD source.

Xvid[edit]

The early DivX releases were mostly internal for group use, but once the codec spread, it became accepted as a standard and quickly became the most widely used format for the scene. With help from associates who either worked for a movie theater, movie production company, or video rental company, groups were supplied with massive amounts of material, and new releases began appearing at a very fast pace. When version 4.0 of DivX was released, the codec went commercial and the need for a free codec, Xvid (then called "XviD", "DivX" backwards), was created. Later, Xvid replaced DivX entirely. Although the DivX codec has evolved from version 4 to 10.6 during this time, it is banned[2] in the warez scene due to its commercial nature.

x264[edit]

In February 2012, a consortium of popular piracy groups officially announced x264, the free H.264 codec, as the new standard for releases,[3] replacing the previous format, which was Xvid wrapped in an AVI container. The move to H.264 also obsoletes AVI in favor of MP4 and Matroska.

x265 (HEVC)[edit]

With the increasing popularity of online movie-streaming sites like Netflix, some movies are being ripped from such websites now and are being encoded in HEVC wrapped in Matroska containers. This codec allows a high-quality movie to be stored in a relatively smaller file size.

Release formats[edit]

Below is a table of pirated movie release types along with respective sources, ranging from the lowest quality to the highest. Scene rules define in which format and way each release type is to be packaged and distributed.[4]

Type Label Rarity
Cam[5] CAMRip
CAM
Common; Quality issues make this an unpopular format
A copy made in a cinema using a camcorder or mobile phone. The sound source is the camera microphone. Cam rips can quickly appear online after the first preview or premiere of the film. The quality ranges from terrible to adequate, depending on the group of persons performing the recording and the resolution of the camera used. The main disadvantage of this is the sound quality. The microphone does not only record the sound from the movie, but also the background sound in the cinema. The camera can also record movements and audio of the audience in the theater, for instance, when someone stands up in front of the screen, or when the audience laughs at a funny moment in the movie.
Telesync[6] TS
HDTS
TELESYNC
PDVD
PreDVDRip
Very common
A telesync (TS) is a bootleg recording of a film recorded in a movie theater, sometimes filmed using a professional camera on a tripod in the projection booth. The main difference between a CAM and TS copy is that the audio of a TS is captured with a direct connection to the sound source (often an FM microbroadcast provided for the hearing-impaired, or from a drive-in theater). Often, a cam is mislabeled as a telesync. HDTS is used to label a High-definition video recording.
Workprint[5] WP[7]
WORKPRINT
Very rare
A copy made from an unfinished version of a film produced by the studio. Typically a workprint has missing effects and overlays, and often differs from its theatrical release. Some workprints have a time index marker running in a corner or on the top edge; some may also include a watermark. A workprint might be an uncut version, and missing some material that would appear in the final movie (or including scenes later cut).
Telecine[5] TC
HDTC
TELECINE
Fairly rare
A copy captured from a film print using a machine that transfers the movie from its analog reel to digital format. These were rare because telecine machines for making these prints were very costly and very large. However, they have recently become much more common. Telecine has basically the same quality as DVD, since the technique is the same as digitizing the actual film to DVD. However, the result is inferior since the source material is usually a lower quality copy reel. Telecine machines usually cause a slight left-right jitter in the picture and have inferior color levels compared to DVD. HDTC is used to label a High-definition video recording.
Pay-Per-View Rip[8] PPV
PPVRip
Uncommon
PPVRips come from Pay-Per-View sources. All the PPVRip releases are brand new movies which have not yet been released to Screener or DVD, but are available for viewing by customers with high-end TV package deals.
Screener[5] SCR
SCREENER
DVDSCR
DVDSCREENER
BDSCR
Very common
These are early DVD or BD releases of the theatrical version of a film, typically sent to movie reviewers, Academy members, and executives for review purposes. A screener normally has a message overlaid on its picture, with wording similar to: "The film you are watching is a promotional copy. If you purchased this film at a retail store, please contact 1-800-NO-COPIES to report it." or more commonly if released for awards consideration simply, "FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION." Apart from this, some movie studios release their screeners with a number of scenes of varying duration shown in black-and-white. Aside from this message, and the occasional B&W scenes, screeners are normally of only slightly lower quality than a retail DVD-Rip, due to the smaller investment in DVD mastering for the limited run. Some screener rips with the overlay message get cropped to remove the message and get released mislabeled as DVD-Rips.

Note: Screeners make a small exception here—since the content may differ from a retail version, it can be considered as lower quality than a DVD-Rip (even if the screener in question was sourced from a DVD).

Digital Distribution Copy or
Downloadable/Direct Digital Content[9]
DDC
Common
A digital distribution copy (DDC) is basically the same as a Screener, but sent digitally (FTP, HTTP, etc.) to companies instead of via the postal system. This makes distribution cheaper. Its quality is lower than one of a R5, but higher than a Cam or Telesync.

In the warez scene DDC refers to Downloadable/Direct Digital Content which is not freely available.

R5[10] R5
R5.LINE
R5.AC3.5.1.HQ
Very common
What is known as an R5 is a studio produced unmastered telecine put out quickly and cheaply to compete against telecine piracy in Russia. The R5 tag refers to the DVD region 5 which consists of Russia, the Indian subcontinent, most of Africa, North Korea, and Mongolia. R5 releases differ from normal releases in that they are a direct Telecine transfer of the film without any of the image processing. If the DVD does not contain an English-language audio track, the R5 video is synced to a previously released English audio track. Then a LiNE tag is added.[11] This means that the sound often is not as good as DVD-Rips. To account for the lesser audio quality typically present in R5 releases, some release groups take the high quality Russian or Ukrainian 5.1 channel audio track included with the R5 DVD and modify it with audio editing software. They remove the non-English spoken portion of the audio and sync the remaining portion, which contains high quality sound effects and music with a previously recorded source of English vocals usually taken from a LiNE tagged release. The result of this process is an almost retail DVD quality surround sound audio track which is included in the movie release. Releases of this type are normally tagged AC3.5.1.HQ and details about what was done to the audio track as well as the video are present in the release notes accompanying the pirated movie.[12]
DVD-Rip DVDRip/DVDMux Very common
A final retail version of a film, typically released before it is available outside its originating region. Often after one group of pirates releases a high-quality DVD-Rip, the "race" to release that film will stop. The release is an AVI file and uses the XviD codec (some in DivX) for video, and commonly mp3 or AC3 for audio. Because of their high quality, DVD-Rips generally replace any earlier copies that may already have been circulating. Widescreen DVDs used to be indicated as WS.DVDRip.

DVDMux differs from DVDRips as they tend to use the x264 codec for video, AAC or AC3 codec for audio and multiplex it on a .mp4/.mkv file.

DVD-R DVDR,[13] DVD-Full, Full-Rip, ISO rip, lossless rip, untouched rip, DVD-5/DVD-9 Very common
A final retail version of a film in DVD format, generally a complete copy from the original DVD. If the original DVD is released in the DVD-9 format, however, extras might be removed and/or the video re-encoded to make the image fit the less expensive for burning and quicker to download DVD-5 format. DVD-R releases often accompany DVD-Rips. DVD-R rips are larger in size, generally filling up the 4.37 or 7.95 GiB provided by DVD-5 and DVD-9 respectively. Untouched or lossless rips in the strictest sense are 1:1 rips of the source, with nothing removed or changed, though often the definition is lightened to include DVDs which have not been transcoded, and no features were removed from the user's perspective, removing only restrictions and possible nuisances such as copyright warnings and movie previews.
HDTV, PDTV or DSRip[14] DSR
DSRip
SATRip
DTHRip
DVBRip
HDTV
PDTV

DTVRip
TVRip
HDTVRip

Extremely common
TVRip is a capture source from an analog capture card (coaxial/composite/s-video connection). Digital satellite rip (DSR, also called SATRip or DTH) is a rip that is captured from a non-standard definition digital source like satellite. HDTV stands for captured source from HD television, while PDTV (Pure Digital TV) stands for any SDTV rip captured using solely digital methods from the original transport stream, not from HDMI or other outputs from a decoder, it can also refer to any standard definition content broadcast on a HD channel. DVB rips often come from free-the-air transmissions (such as digital terrestrial television). With an HDTV source, the quality can sometimes even surpass DVD. Movies in this format are starting to grow in popularity. Some advertisement and commercial banner can be seen on some releases during playback.

Analog, DSR, and PDTV sources used to be often re-encoded to 512×384 if fullscreen, currently to 640x480 if fullscreen and 720x404 if widescreen. HDTV sources are re-encoded to multiple resolutions such as 720x404 (360p), 960×540 (540p), 1280×720 (720p), and 1920x1080 (1080p) at various file sizes for pirated releases. They can be progressive scan captured or not (480i digital transmission or 1080i broadcast for HD caps).

VODRip VODRip
VODR
Uncommon
VODRip stands for Video-On-Demand Rip. This can be done by recording or capturing a video/movie from an On-Demand service such as through a cable or satellite TV service. Most services will state that ripping or capturing films is a breach of their use policy, but it is becoming more and more popular as it requires little technology or setup. There are many online On-Demand services that would not require one to connect their TV and computer. It can be done by using software to identify the video source address and downloading it as a video file which is often the method that bears the best quality end result. However, some people have used screen cams which effectively record, like a video camera, what is on a certain part of the computer screen, but does so internally, making the quality not of HD quality, but nevertheless significantly better than a Cam or Telesync version filmed from a cinema, TV or computer screen.
WEB-DL (P2P) WEBDL
WEB DL
WEB-DL
HDRip
WEB-DLRip
Extremely common
This is a file losslessly ripped from a streaming service, such as Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, Crunchyroll, Discovery GO, BBC iPlayer, etc. This is also a movie or TV show downloaded via an online distribution website, such as iTunes. The quality is quite good since they are not re-encoded. The video (H.264 or H.265) and audio (AC3/AAC) streams are usually extracted from the iTunes or Amazon Video and then remuxed into a MKV container without sacrificing quality.

An advantage with these releases is that they mostly have no network logos on screen, just like BD/DVDRips. HDRips are typically transcoded versions of a HDTV or WEB-DL source file, but may be any sort of a HD transcode.

WEBRip WEBRip (P2P)
WEB Rip (P2P)
WEB-Rip (P2P)
WEB (Scene)
Common, WEB-DL is preferred
The file is often extracted using the HLS or RTMP/E protocols and remuxed from a TS, MP4 or FLV container to MKV.
WEBCap WEB-Cap
WEBCAP
WEB Cap
Common, WEB-DL is preferred
This is a rip created by capturing video from a DRM-enabled streaming service, such as Amazon Instant or Netflix. Quality can range from mediocre (comparable with low quality XVID encodes) to excellent (comparable with high quality BR encodes). Essentially, the quality of the image obtained depends on internet connection speed and the specifications of the recording machine. WEBCaps are often labeled as WEBRips, with a note attached by the encoder to let others know it was capped & encoded instead of losslessly remuxed.
Blu-ray/BD/BRRip Blu-Ray / BluRay / BLURAY
BDRip
BRRip
BDMV
BDR[15]
BD25/BD50 (also BD5/BD9)
Very Common
Blu-ray or Bluray rips are encoded directly from the Blu-ray disc. They can be ripped from BD25, BD50 discs or UHD Blu-ray. BDRips are encoded to an equal or lower resolution from the Blu-ray disc, they have high quality because Blu-Ray disc contains a high bitrate video stream.

A BRRip is a video which is transcoded from a BDRip to a lower resolution, it has slightly lower quality because the source is not directly a Blu-Ray disc. A BD/BRRip in DVDRip resolution looks better, regardless, because the encode is from a higher quality source.

BD5/BD9 are also available, which are similar to their counterpart DVD5/DVD9 releases. They are AVCHD compatible using the BD folder structure, and are intended to be burnt onto DVDs to play in AVCHD compatible Blu-ray players. More common types are complete Blu-ray copies (images/raw data), referred to as BD25 or BD50 which may or may not be remuxed and are never transcoded. They are commonly burnt onto Blu-ray discs for playback.

Release terminology[edit]

The initialism HC in some releases refers to hard coded subtitles.

Notation Network
ABC American Broadcasting Company
AMZN Amazon Studios
CBS CBS Corporation
CC Comedy Central
CW The CW
DSNY Disney Networks (Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior)
FREE Freeform
FOX Fox Broadcasting Company
HULU Hulu Networks
iP BBC iPlayer
LIFE Lifetime
MTV MTV Networks
NBC National Broadcasting Company
NICK Nickelodeon
NF Netflix
RED YouTube Red
TF1 TF1 Network

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Video CD: American Pie". Archived from the original on 2005-02-11. iSONews.
  2. ^ "The XviD Releasing Standards 2005".
  3. ^ "H.264 Codec Now the 'Official' Standard".
  4. ^ "AfterDawn Glossary".
  5. ^ a b c d VCDQuality Terms – Lists recent video releases in the warez scene.
  6. ^ Telesync – AfterDawn: Glossary of technology terms & acronyms Archived 2012-02-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "What does "WP" mean?". Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  8. ^ "What is PPVRip?".
  9. ^ "Music_Video_Council_Rules_v6.0-MVC". 2011-09-23. Retrieved 2013-01-22. "DDC" refers to Downloadable/Direct Digital Content which is not freely available
  10. ^ Wes Finley-Price – CNN.com Webmaster (2009-11-09). "Pirated copy of District 9 posted online". scitech.blogs.cnn.com. Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  11. ^ "What does "R5" mean?". Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  12. ^ "Man.on.a.Ledge.2012.R5.DVDRip.XviD.AC3.5.1.HQ.Hive-CM8.nfo". Retrieved 2012-10-04.
  13. ^ "The 2009 DVDR releasing standards".[dead link] THE.2009.DVDR.RELEASING.STANDARDS-TDRS2K9
  14. ^ "TV release rules v1.5 (2002-11-16)". Archived from the original on 2016-01-19.
  15. ^ "The BDR releasing standards". THE.2010.BDR.RELEASING.STANDARDS