— “Where does all this free stuff come from, anyway?”
Well, that depends on what you are looking for. Generally when it comes to pirated movies, TV shows, software, games and even music, piracy “Release Groups” are the usual starting point for distribution.
Release Groups are at the top of the Illegal Distribution Pyramid, and it is through them that pirated copies are first created.
A typical release group will comprise of members that are very adept at certain tasks. Some members are suppliers; some will ‘crack’ software; some are packers and distributors. After all, groups perform better than even the best individuals at solving complex problems.
Tags and file types:
“So why should I care if what I want comes from a Release Group or not?”
In a word: Quality. You want to stay as close to the top of the illegal distribution as you possibly can. Proper ‘Scene Releases’ will not have viruses/malware/adware. They will be accompanied by a set of rudimentary installation or operation instructions. They will just simply work. So you want to be able to identify the difference between what was distributed by a release group, and what was uploaded by your next door neighbor.
Release groups typically follow a stringent set of rules that govern the proper etiquette of a common release. One such set of rules that we can ’see’ are the “Tags” placed on releases to classify them. Tags, simply put, help to identify the release through a set of standard criteria used throughout ‘The Scene‘. Releases will most often have more than one tag, given that the release requires two or more criteria to distinguish its characteristics. The name of the release group is the last tag on a proper release; however, many times the name of the tracker will be the last tag [www.torrentfive.com] in brackets. But keep in mind that just because there is a name at the end of a file (or folder); by no means does this validate the authenticity of it being a proper ’scene release’. But it is the collectiveness of these tags and other criteria to whereby a release can be identified as genuine or not. Whether you’re looking to download from BitTorrent websites, on P2P file sharing, IRC or even Usenet, the classification is generally the same.
- Movie Tags
- [Music](../tags-found-on-music-releases/ “Pirated release ‘tags’ found on music”) Tags
- [Software](../tags-found-on-software-games-releases/ “Pirated release ‘tags’ found on software/games”) Tags
Below is a look at a typical proper movie release on Mininova.org. We searched for “Fragment” (a known Release Group) in order to generate results displaying what proper release ‘Tags’ should look like. In general, the ordering of the tags can vary from one group to the next, and it’s not imperative that they remain sequential. It’s more important just to know what each one means.
Here is an unofficial listing of Tag categories in a proper release, and a short description of what they represent:
|Name of Movie ‘Tag’||Contains the title of the movie, or release title.|
|Date of Release ‘Tag’||This is an optional tag. Most Release Groups (RGs) don’t include the year in the release.|
|Source ‘Tag’||Tells the originating source of the release (i.e. “CAM, TS, DVDRip, DVDScr”). This tag is always included.|
|Information ‘Tags’||Used to describe additional information about the release. Sometimes these are pertinent (i.e. ‘UNRATED’) and other times these tags are for internal use within the group (i.e. ‘REPACK’).|
|Format ‘Tag’||This is the output video format of the release and/or audio/video codec(s) used by the output file. Proper RGs always include these tags (i.e. XviD, DivX).|
|Release Group ‘Tag’||The name of the Release Group responsible for the release. It will always be the last tag on a movie release (except for the tracker tag, below).|
|Tracker ‘Tag’||This is not a tag that has been added by a RG, but by a ‘tracker’. It isn’t a terribly important tag for public BitTorrent sites. The tracker name here only really matters with private torrents.|
Source Tags (Quality)
Here’s a look at some available source tags of movie releases, from worst quality to best:
|Cam or CAM||Simply meaning ‘camera’, these are normally filmed using a camcorder right in the movie theatre. Sometimes people can be heard laughing and coughing, or be seen getting up and walking in front of it. Download only if you really, REALLY need to see it.|
|TS/Telesync||Same video quality as a “CAM” release, except it has a direct audio connection either in the projection booth or another source. The camcorder is sometimes mounted on a tripod for a slightly better picture, and the sound is generally quite good. Not highly recommended for downloading.|
|TC/Telecine||These are recorded using a Telecine machine, hooked up to the reel of the movie. TC’s are released far in advance of the official release date and the quality is usually very good - recommended for downloading. True telecine releases are quite rare, and many times they turn out to be mislabeled “telesyncs/TS”, which is why they get only 3 stars.|
|WP/Workprint||A rough draft of a movie, used by film editors. While the picture is usually good, these generally include audio from the original shoot. Quality varies quite a bit, depending on if it is an early WP or one from later on in production. Great collector’s item!|
|DVDScr/ Screener||A screener is an advance copy of a Video or DVD copy of a film sent to critics, video stores, awards voters, etc. These are “almost” replicas of the store-bound versions except for a ‘ticker’ or message that scrolls past the screen from time to time stating “Property of…”. Often used for public playback at popular video store chains such as Blockbuster.|
|— Retail Pirated Releases —|
|R5/R1 (Region Code)||An ‘R5′ is a English-language bootleg of a movie made for sale in DVD Region 5 (East Europe). Quality is not quite that of retail DVDs, often it is the audio quality that gives it away. No special features are included in R5 releases, either legally obtained or not. ‘R1′ is the code for North America. Highly recommended!|
|DVDRip/ RETAIL||This is a pirated/bootleg release of the ‘retail’ version of a film, without any extras that a retail DVD would contain. The original source would have come from a retail DVD, and the release is simply a video file (usually *.AVI), sometimes containing external subtitles.|
|DVDR / DVDr||Release is usually in the form of DVD5 (or “Full DVD”). Usually these are accompanied with other tags like NTSC or PAL. Typically these are a ‘replica’ of the retail DVD, but often have missing menu items like multi-language, extras, deleted scenes, subtitles etc.|
Movie/TV Tags (Other)
Includes other source tags, distribution tags, format tags, movie edition tags etc.
These ’scene’ tags accompany movies to identify general information about the release, including language, originating source, and other tags used by and for other release groups. Proper ‘tags’ are normally case-sensitive to the examples below - and more often than not they are in capital letters.
|AC3/AAC||Movie audio is in the format of Dolby Digital AC-3 or Advanced Audio Coding.|
|Blu-Ray||The ‘Blu-Ray’ tag signifies the source format of the release. Many Blu-Rays are ‘ripped’ as *.MKV files or (in larger size releases) in their native *.TS format. VideoLAN VLC is a PC media player that supports both formats.|
|COMPLETE||Release is in the form of DVD5 (or ‘Full DVD’). Usually it is accompanied with other tags like NTSC, PAL, and DVDR. Typically these are a ‘replica’ of the retail DVD, but often have missing menu items like multi-language, extras, deleted scenes etc.|
|CUSTOM||This release is for a select group of individuals. The ‘CUSTOM’ tag is usually accompanied by a second tag like SWESUB (Swedish subtitled) or FiNSUB (Finnish subbed). Most are non-English and the subs are hard-coded into the movie, but some CUSTOMs contain multi language/subs.|
|Date/Year||Somewhat uncommon, most release groups don’t put the year in the title of the release.|
|DC||A “Director’s Cut” version of the movie; most likely to be released after the original.|
|DivX (codec)||A commercial video codec used to rip all types of video media. Technically this codec is found in older releases, as the movie scene has now primarily adopted XviD as the new opensource codec. Some groups still use it; one being “aXXo”, who still uses the DivX 5.x version. Avoid movies that use the DivX 3.11 and 4.x versions - quality is inferior to XviD releases.|
|DL||Refers to a Dual Language release. Users should be able to switch languages through either the software or DVD player. Generally English is ONE of the two, but not always.|
|DSR||A “Digital Satellite Rip”. Very popular tag associated with TV shows, sporting events, and PPV events.|
|DUBBED||Refers to movies where the original language audio was copied over and a new audio track put in. Usually refers to foreign movies with new English audio instead. The opposite would be SUBBED or subtitled where the original language was left intact.|
|DVB/DVBRIP||A “Digital Video Broadcast” rip. English language ‘DVBs’ are usually related to nature shows; BBC, National Geographic etc., whereas ‘DVBRip’ is almost exclusively non-English and associated with dubbed popular television shows.|
|DVD5/DVD9||DVD5/DVD9 is a COMPLETE movie that refers to the media in which it is presented. DVD5 can be burned to single-sided DVD media (4.7GB) and DVD9 can be burned on dual-layer disks (8.5GB). The tag itself does not refer to these burning scenarios; it refers to the medium on which the originating source was taken.|
|FESTiVAL||A release that was shown only in movie festivals, not in public theatres.|
|FS||Stipulates that the release is in Full Screen mode only - a relatively rare tag. Almost everything retail (and pirated) are now released in their native theatrical video aspects (i.e. 16X9).|
|HDDVD||Or HD-DVD/HD DVD, these are high-definition video formats - typically *.MKV (Matroska) files or *.TS files. VideoLAN VLC is a PC media player that supports both formats.|
|HDTV||A tag to signify that the source was from “High Definition TV”. Very popular tag. Excellent quality in most cases. Files with this tag usually have been converted to *.avi or *.mpg.|
|iNTERNAL||Or “iNT” this refers to a release specific only to a ’scene’ site. As a tag, this generally has no concern to the public and can thus be ignored, as the release will have other tags.|
|KVCD||A very common movie format (especially older titles) although video quality is better than VCD, it is usually inferior to XviD. KVCDs can be burned onto a single CD, and are almost always found as an image file (*.BIN/*.CUE) for easy mounting/burning. KVCDs when burned are compatible with most standalone DVD players. “TUS” is a popular release group of KVCDs.|
|Language Tags||These specify the language(s) associated with the release, sometimes combined with each other. Language codes are: ENG=English, NL=Dutch, ESP=Spanish, ITA=Italian, DL/GER=German, FRA=French, SWE=Swedish, among others. When these tags are found with DVDRip movies, either the movies are in dual-audio format, or external subtitle files are included with the release. When these tags are found with DVDR (full) movies, the language and/or subtitles are within the menu of the DVD.|
|LiMiTED||A tag given to a release that made very few theatrical showings.|
|MULTiSUBS||Normally associated with a DVDR or COMPLETE release that contains multi-language subtitles included on the DVD menu. Most often refers to PAL (European) video format.|
|NTSC||The North American standard of video or video media, for instance, DVDs. Usually this tag pertains to DVDr or COMPLETE movies, and not to individual movie files.|
|PAL||The European standard of video or video media, for instance, DVDs. Usually this tag pertains to DVDr or COMPLETE movies, and not to individual movie files.|
|PDTV||‘Pure Digital TV’ releases are similar to that of HDTV. Exclusive to television shows.|
|PPV||Stands for ‘Pay Per View’. These releases are taken via cable, satellite etc. and converted to regular video format (*.avi, *.mpg etc). Often PPVs can be found the next day after the original airing.|
|PROPER||Or ‘Proper’. This refers to a previously released movie that has something wrong with it (bad picture, unsynced sound etc.) and has been fixed and re-released by a different group. The PROPER is generally regarded as an improvement to the original release.|
|RECODE||Or ‘ReCode’. This usually refers to a pre-release movie (CAM, TS etc.) that has been changed by a different group than the one that posted the original release, in the purpose to fix something wrong with it (bad picture, unsynced sound etc).|
|REMASTERED||Or ‘Remastered’. An ‘enhanced’ version of an older film through video and audio processes, in the attempt to create a better product. It is generally regarded as a gimmick created by the studios to “double-dip” consumers.|
|REMUX||A process whereby multiple analog or digital signals are combined to create one signal. These tags can be found in HDDVD and Blu-Ray releases. Also known as multiplexing.|
|REPACK||This is the same as PROPER, but this time the re-release has been done (fixed) by the same group who put out the original one. Most common in pre-release movies.|
|RERIP||Similar to ‘Repack’, but usually pertains to movies a little higher up in the production chain timeline (SCR, DVDRip, DVDR).|
|SE||Special Edition release of a DVD movie. These are relatively rare.|
|Season/Episode||This refers to the tag or code of a particular TV show, in the format of “S02E16″. The ‘S’ represents the season number and the ‘E’ represents the Episode number. S02E16 translates to Season Two, Episode 16. This is the same format TV networks use.|
|STV||Straight To Video. Movies with this tag were never released to the theatres.|
|SUBBED||Refers to movies that have hard-coded subtitles burned right into the movie. This is in contrast to external subtitles that can be turned on or off.|
|SVCD||A ‘Super VideoCD’ with much better quality than VCDs. Commonly found in the .BIN/.ISO or .MPG formats, and are generally compatible with most home DVD players, and will fit onto a single CD-ROM.|
|TVRIP||A file that has been recorded from the TV. Inferior to DSRs.|
|UNRATED||Or ‘Unrated’, this refers to the movie being the ‘uncensored’ version.|
|VCD||A “VideoCD”. These releases are intended to be burned to a CD-ROM and will play in most standalone DVD players. Quality is inferior to DivX or XVID.|
|VHSRIP||Media ripped from a retail VHS tape, released as a movie file.|
|WS||Stipulates that the movie is in Wide Screen only. This tag is not common to find anymore - it is assumed most movies are all in WS anyways (keeping in relation to the original aspect ratio).|
|XVID/XviD||A primary video codec used in ripping all types of video media with superior quality to that of DivX and mpeg. This is the standard in which most movies are ripped, and they will play in any home DVD player that has the DivX logo. XviD files are *.avi format.|
High-Resolution Video Tags
These tags are typically found among HD/Blu-Ray releases, when a specific tag is required to clarify audio and video codecs, formats and screen resolutions. Many of these releases will have multiple audio tags if the format supports it.
|AVC||A digital compression format (see x264/h264 below).|
|Dolby Digital||A digital surround audio codec typically used in the film industry. Variant tags include DD51/DD5.1 (5.1 channels) /DD20 (two-channel) / Dolby TrueHD (lossless audio) / DD-EX (6.1 and 7.1 channels).|
|DTS||A multi-channel digital surround sound format, similar to Dolby Digital. Variant tags include DTS-HD (High resolution audio/Master audio which support up to 7.1 channels and DTS-ES (Extended Surround - Matrix 5.1 and Discrete 6.1).|
|EAC3||Dolby Digital Plus (DD+) audio format (sometimes seen as DDPlus).|
|LPCM/PCM||(Linear) pulse code modulation is a method of digitally encoding multi-channel audio, sometimes seen as LPCM7.1 and PCM5.1.|
|MPEG2||Not to be confused with MPEG I (layer II) audio (*.MP2), this is a method of video compression often used in HD and Blu-Ray disk formats.|
|OAR||Original Aspect Ratio.|
|VC1/VC-1||Another audio format used in HD/Blu-Ray.|
|x264/h264||x264 is a free h264/avc encoder (codec). Most forms found are *.mkv (Matroska) and *.mp4 (and some of those have been converted to *.avi). These will not play in a typical non-HD DVD player, but they will play in the VideoLAN VLC Media Player software, and many others.|
|480p/720p/1080i/1080p||Display Resolution Numbers Tags - represent the number of lines of vertical resolution; most commonly associated with x264 releases, Blu-Ray and HD video formats. The ‘i’ indicates interlaced video; the ‘p’ indicates progressive scan video. Generally the higher the number, the better quality of the picture, with progressive being better than interlaced.|
|5.1/6.1/7.1ch||Number of audio channels tags. 5.1/5.1ch denotes that the audio is in ‘5-channels and a subwoofer’ format, typical of home theatre systems. Many HD-type releases do not specify the number of channels - it is already assumed. Since most “retail” disks contain different audio formats to choose from in the DVD menu, this tag is sometimes applied to indicate which (single) audio source is included in the release.|
Types of Movies (extensions, subtitles etc.)
Movie/TV releases come in a multitude of different file types and formats (known as ‘containers’). Here’s a list of commonly found file types and extensions. Note that many require a ‘[codec](../../16/audio-video-codecs/ “Codecs for Audio/Video Playback”)‘ pack to be installed on the system for playback, or special media applications to open them.
|.AVI||Video container (or wrapper) format created by Microsoft; stores video data that may be encoded in a variety of codecs. Most commonly found movie/video file available.|
|.BIN/.CUE||These are usually in VCD/KVCD format. It typically requires burning (or mounting) of the disk before playback, however the .MPG video file can be extracted using tools such as Isobuster or VCDEasy, among others. .BIN/.CUE can also be found in DVDR and COMPLETE releases to do a DVD burn.|
|.DivX (file)||Files encoded by the DivX software can be sometimes found in this container. Most home DVD players are unable to play them as-is, but they will occasionally work if the file extension is changed to .AVI.|
|.ISO||CD/DVD image disk. Most commonly found in DVDR and COMPLETE releases (for full disk replication).|
|.MKV||Matroska video file. Can be played with Windows Media Player, VLC Media Player and more. Requires the proper codecs to be installed on the system.|
|.MP4||Used by Apple Quicktime movie player. MP4 files with audio and video generally use the .MP4 and .M4V extensions, occasionally .MP4V|
|.MPG/.MPEG||A video file extension. Quality is typically not as high as .AVI format. Compatibility in standalone DVD players is not as good as .AVI files either. Common container used in VCD/SVCD releases.|
|.RM||A ‘Real Movie’ video file, requiring the Real Movie player for playback.|
|.RMVB||A new version of .RM files, using a high-compression algorithm or codec. Typically these are smaller than the average releases, and video quality is compromised due to lower bitrates. Inferior to .AVI files; comparable to DIVX.|
|.SUB/.IDX||These are external subtitle files used by DivX and AVI video formats.|
|.SRT||Text file containing subtitles used by various video playback programs; supported by DivX, DVD, and other video formats. Some home DVD players support them.|
|.WVM||Windows Media Video files. .WMV files sometimes contain malicious registry editing DRMs.|
[…] you’re looking for the exact same torrent name (complete with identical release group name and tags). Keep an eye on the size of both torrents - it’s important to choose similar release sizes (when […]
How to Identify Tags on Pirated Releases
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How to Identify Tags on Pirated Releases
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