Research Brief
Production Costs
Crew Sizes
Industrial Changes
Image Quality
Aesthetics & Style
New Filmmakers
Smaller Productions
Big Productions
Julia Morris
Christopher Grose
Post Production
Digital Distribution
Digital Projectors
Analogue Distribution of Digital Films
Sharmill Films
David Hawkins
Simone Govic
Franziska Wagenfeld
Day and Date Distribution
Some Day and Date Numbers So Far
Against Day and Date
For Day and Date
Forms of Piracy
What is Piracy
Piracy Stats
Combating Piracy
Online Distribution
Exhibition Costs
New forms of Exhibition

What are the different types of Piracy?

By Christopher George


There are many differing forms of piracy and they each work differently but ultimately all contribute to the epidemic that is piracy. The forms of piracy discussed here are internet piracy, optical disc piracy, movie ripping methods, theatrical print theft, signal theft, broadcast piracy, public performance, parallel imports and videocassette piracy.



Internet Piracy (HYPERLINK to http://www.mpaa.org/piracy_internet.asp) 2

  • The downloading or distribution of unauthorized copies of movies, television, music, games and software programs via the Internet.
  • Illegal downloads occur in many forms including file sharing networks, pirate servers, websites and hacked computers.
  • Each file posted on the Internet can result in millions of downloads.
  • Hard goods pirates also use the Internet to sell illegally duplicated DVDs through auctions and websites.


The Global Avalanche of Internet Piracy.

  • The primary source of newly released pirated movies comes from thieves who camcord films in theaters.
  • Illegally recorded movies are then sold to individuals who distribute them around the world through computer servers known as “Topsites.”
  •  The extraordinary speed and power of a Topsite triggers the avalanche that is global Internet piracy.
  • Click here(HYPERLINK mms://wm9.global.synccast.com/mpaa/topsite_avalanche.wmv) to  to view a short presentation on the Global Avalanche of Piracy.


Peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing services

  • A network that enables computers to connect directly to each other in order to distribute, trade  and copy files.
  • Examples of P2P services: eDonkey, Kazaa, Limewire and DirectConnect.
  • These programs can turn your computer into a directory and distributor of an unlimited variety of illegal material, viruses and worms. 2



Optical disc piracy (HYPERLINK to http://www.mpaa.org/piracy_OptDisk.asp ) 2

·        The illegal manufacturing, sale, distribution or trading of copies of motion pictures in digital disc formats including DVD, DVD-R, CD, CD-R and VCD.

  • They are sold on websites, online auction sites, via e-mail solicitation and by street vendors and flea markets around the world. 
  • Much like downloadable media, the pirated motion pictures in hard goods format are typically poor quality video camera recordings. 
  • The low cost of disc burning hardware and blank discs has led to the proliferation of DVD-R and CD-R burner labs.


Movie ripping methods


Cam Rips 1

  • A copy made in a cinema using a camcorder, possibly mounted on a tripod.
  • Sound source is the camera microphone.
  • Cam rips can appear online fast, after first preview, or premiere of the film, but the quality is always quite horrible.


Telesync Rips 1

  • A copy made in a cinema using a camcorder mounted on a tripod.
  • Synchronized with a secondary audio recording, either done with a professional microphone in an empty cinema, fed directly from the cinema's sound system, or captured from an FM radio transmission intended for hearing-impaired customers.
  • Often, a ‘Cam rip’ is mislabeled as a telesync. Telesync usually has certain angle in the image, because the camera is below and possibly off from the center of the screen.


DVD Rips 1

  • A final retail version of a film, typically released before it is available outside its originating region.
  • Often after one "release group" releases a high-quality DVD-Rip, the "race" to release that film will stop.
  • Because of their high quality, DVD-Rips generally replace any earlier copies that may already have been circulating.


Screener Rips 1

  • Early DVD or VHS 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."
  • 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.


HDTV Rips 1

  • Digital stream rip is a rip that is captured from a digital source stream, such as a HDTV or DVB transmission.
  • With HDTV source, the quality can sometimes even surpass DVD.
  • Movies in this format are rare, as this source is used for primarily for TV show ripping.



Telecine Rip 1

  • A copy captured from a film print using a machine that transfers the movie from its analog reel to digital format.
  • Were rare because the telecine machine for making these prints is very costly and very large, however, recently they have become much more common.
  • Telecine is basically same quality as DVD, since the technique is same as digitizing the actual film to DVD, but the result is inferior, since the source material is usually lower quality copy reel.
  • Telecine machines usually cause a slight left-right jitter in the picture, and the color levels are inferior compared to DVD.


Workprint Rip 1

  • A copy made from an unfinished version of a film produced by the studio.
  • Has missing effects overlays, and may not be identical to 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.



Theatrical Print Theft (HYPERLINK to http://www.mpaa.org/piracy_other.asp) 2

·        Theft of an actual film print (35 or 16 mm) from a theater, film depot, courier service or other industry-related facility for the purpose of making illegal copies.

·        Allows the pirate to make a relatively high quality videotape from the theatrical print, which then serves as the master for the duplication of unauthorized videocassettes.

·        Extremely rare due to the difficulty in obtaining the prints illegally and also in transferring the print to another format, such as videocassettes.


Signal Theft 2

·        Illegally tapping into cable TV systems as well as receiving satellite signals.

·        Pirates also supply consumers with illegal cable decoders or satellite descramblers.

  • Internationally, the problem becomes more acute when programs not licensed to a particular country are pirated from satellites and then re-transmitted in that country either by cable or broadcast TV.

Broadcast Piracy 2

·        Over-the-air broadcasts like signal theft.

  • However, instead of stealing signals, the illegal act may be the on-air broadcasting of films or television programs without permission from the copyright holder.


Public Performance 2

·        Unauthorized public performances where an institution or commercial establishment shows a tape or film to its members or customers without receiving permission from the copyright owner.


Parallel Imports 2

  • The importation of goods authorized for manufacture or distribution in the exporting country but imported without authority of the copyright or trademark owner. (Parallel Importation may or may not be lawful under local laws).


Videocassette Piracy 2

  • The illegal duplication, distribution, rental or sale of copyrighted videocassettes.
  • In recent years, the MPAA/MPA shifted its investigative focus onto the illicit duplicating facilities or "laboratories" that are set-up to create and distribute pirated videocassettes, producing hundreds of thousands of illegal videocassette copies each year which are distributed to a variety of outlets including swap meets, co-operating video dealers and street vendors. The pirate product is often packaged in counterfeit videocassette boxes that resemble legitimate packaging.

Back-to-back Copying: A "back-to-back" copy is a pirate videocassette made by connecting two VCRs and then copying an original video onto a blank cassette.

Research Brief ] Production Costs ] Crew Sizes ] Industrial Changes ] Image Quality ] Aesthetics & Style ] New Filmmakers ] Smaller Productions ] Big Productions ] Julia Morris ] Christopher Grose ] Post Production ] Distribution ] Cinemas ] Digital Distribution ] Digital Projectors ] Analogue Distribution of Digital Films ] Sharmill Films ] MPDAA ] David Hawkins ] Simone Govic ] Franziska Wagenfeld ] Day and Date Distribution ] Some Day and Date Numbers So Far ] Against Day and Date ] For Day and Date ] [ Forms of Piracy ] What is Piracy ] Piracy Stats ] Combating Piracy ] Online Distribution ] Exhibition Costs ] New forms of Exhibition ] References ]

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Last updated: 06/13/06.