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How The Scene Works

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qwersd avatar
Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 14:29
Author: Blocked
Not so much a tutorial, more an explaination of how the 'scene' works.
Quote Originally Posted by http://www.wikipedia.com
The Scene is a collection of pirate networks that illegally obtain and transfer new movies, music, and games before they are even released and distribute them throughout the Internet. These kinds of people are extremely organized in their behavior and are very paranoid about their secrecy. They maintain a so-called "hidden network" of top-level FTP sites that get the highest quality files first and allow them to fall down the elaborate pyramid of illegal downloaders until seen on P2P programs and networks.

The Basics of How A Release Gets to the Average p2p Network:
1. An Insider.
An insider gets hold of a copy of a movie/game/album/program through whatever means necessary and a copy ends up in the hands of the release group the insider works with.

2. The Release Group.
One member of the release group who is highly skilled in his field goes to work getting it from the original format into one which is 'scene' friendly. All members of release groups are highly skilled in their relevant fields, the main ones being:

Movies: An encoder gets his hands on the copy and gets to work on encoding a 9gig+ file into 1, 2 or 3 700meg files (depending on the movie).
Games: A 'cracker' has the unenviable task of cracking the copy protection the game currently has and creating a 'no-cd crack'.
Programs: A similar 'cracker' has the job of removing the copy protection (if applicable) and finding a way around the registration code/cd-key usually associated with programs.
Music: Another encoder is given the task of converting a cd to mp3s. Not the hardest job in the scene as many of you will know but an essential one all the same.

The end product is a quality release which is up to the incrediably high standards of 'the scene', the strict rules governing the release of everything, if a release fails any rule or just isn't upto the required quality a top-site (see the next step for more info) will reject it and the group will have to start again, or another group will step in and beat them to it.

3. Top-Sites.
Highly underground (meaning don't even consider try to find anything more out about them, its near impossible) ftp sites which act as the first store for the release before it begins its exponential spread throughout the internet.
The top-site owner will get a hold of a release and as soon as it appears on the site a highly secretive (and very very small) groups of individuals (couriers) which are trusted to access these sites are allowed access and begin the spread of the file(s). Once a file hits a top-site, its a race between couriers to spread it to as many 'dump-sites' (next step) as possible. Only one top-site will have each release, as far as I can tell that is.
Although I have no idea how many such top-sites exist, from various places on the net its estimated to be around the 30 mark.

4. Dump-Sites.
These are lower level ftp sites which serve as storage for the releases used by couriers to store the releases and from then the releases make their way down slowly to p2p networks.
Such sites are still highly secretive and are still near impossible to find out about and access is still highly restricted. There are many more dump-sites than top sites and are there for the sole purpose of 'dumping' new releases onto, varying from top-sites in that each dump site (or most) will have new releases stored on.

5. IRC and NewsGroups.
From dump sites the release makes its way to irc and newsgroups before more well know p2p networks. IRC and newsgroups have always been the 2 places new releases appear first from dump sites before working their way to more well known p2p networks.
While any user can essentially find new releases on irc and newsgroups, most avoid them because of their complexity compared to p2p and as such are still relatively unknown to most p2p users.

6. p2p Networks.
Only now does the average user have any contact with any release made, and even then the distribution is usually slow until enough people have the release and are sharing it, as many of you will have found out when trying to download the latest release (which may have been released by the release group days ago).
The rate at which a new release spreads depends on the p2p networks being used. Typically BT was the first to get new releases (straight after irc and newsgroups) and it spread like wild-fire from there, but after BT's recent downfall the spread will be slower, like it was before BT came along. The big networks will always get the files first, ed2k being the first, DC isn't usually that far behind, G2 isn't the quickest, but isn't too slow, and unfortunately Ares is usually one of the last for new releases to populate (many don't).

So, that's a basic run through of what happens to a release from an insider to the p2p users out there.
All you can really hope to do is to understand what happens, the percentage of users who have access to dump sites, top sites and the elite release group members is very very small, so don't even consider trying to get involved unless you have some exceptional skill which is demanded as you simply won't find out about these things. Chances are if you do you will get already know how to contact the groups and go about getting involved.

A few more explainations I thought I would add:

Release Groups: Release groups are very highly skilled people who are able to provide a skill required by the group (cracking copy protection, encoding movies, coding programs, etc) and as such the release group usually specialises in one particular catergory (movies, games, programs, music).
The rivalry between groups can be intense, especially when it comes to big releases (half life 2, doom 3, unreal tournament 2004, etc) as scene rules mean that the first release made has won the race and is the only one allowable.
This usually causes some conflict when it comes to movies as there are many different sources a movie can be acquired from (TeleSync, Cam, TeleCine, Screener, DVD-Screener, etc) and the highly subjective PROPER tag which can be used if another group has a better quality release, or simply has another release it wants to get out.
The scene is all about credibility, nothing more, every group wants to be first with a new release and provide a good quality one.

Couriers: Couriers are the 'worker bees' which make the release spread from one file to as many as humanly possible. They do the task of copying the file from a top-site to as many dump-sites as they can, as the more copies they make the more 'credits' they accumulate. The couriers then in turn use the credits they get to exchange for 'goods' from the higher levels of the scene.
But the main reason the couriers do their job is for acknowledgement on the scene, for the glory, the goods they can exchange their credits for is a strict second. Think of it as the opposite of greed, or at least another form of it, each courier wants to spread releases as much as possible, but not for the goods it can get them, it's kinda strange but it's the couriers who drive the scene and who you can all thank for getting the latest releases, without them the release would remain hidden in the upper echlons of cyber space.

The reality is that if the MPAA and RIAA and other such organisations wanted to actually put an end to piracy, they would have to spend years infiltrating the release groups, top-sites and dump-sites and from there spend even longer trying to gather any info about the individuals involved they could, but as it is the organisations are taking the easy option and sueing p2p users instead of going for the beast at the centre of it all.
I don't doubt that these organisations are trying to become part of the scene and gain access, as the downfall of several release groups proved last year, but the likelyhood of them doing anything to slow (not even stop) the scene is infinitely small. New anonymous p2p networks will come along to protect the p2p users and the release groups will become even more paranoid than they already are and drive the scene further underground.

So, there it is, my attempt at explaining 'the scene' and how it basically works. I don't pretend to know more than I've wrote here, it's taken a while to find out what I know aswell. I'm just another p2p user like anyone reading this who thought he would try and explain how these things work.

This is a bit old and not everything in this is 100% correct as time has went on p2p groups and encoders have better sources and beat the scene to a release all the time but this article does give a good explanation to the general structure of the scene.

But it is true that if the scene were to just disappear the amount of content on p2p networks would probably drop by half if not a bit more

Honeyko avatar
Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 07:34
The end product is a quality release which is up to the incrediably high standards of 'the scene'
I wish that part was still true. -- I've seen so many bad blu-ray releases swimming in grain that I barely know where to begin criticism. Over the last five years or so, it seems like film rippers have forgotten how to degrain, denoise and sharpen (there are now apparently "lost arts" which only survive in anime encoding).

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