So, you scratched up your $500 Adobe CD and now it's unreadable. You could go buy a new one, but you already purchased it! Searching The Pirate Bay and downloading some Adobe software can usually be easy enough, but what should you watch out for?
And what about your movies? What are the best backups to use for DVD collections? Why is all this DRM being cracked? Yes ladies and gentleman, I am going to teach you how to find and download your backups. So grab your eyepatch and peg leg and let's get down to it.
A word of caution. This might be frowned at in your country, and in fact, might even be illegal for some people. Folks living in the Police States of America should take special note to watch out. I am only providing this information for the sake of knowledge. It is assumed you're downloading copies of media you already own.
Imagine someone boosted your brand new car overnight, but when you came out in the morning to head off to work, it was still there! Yes, piracy is less like stealing and more like just making a free copy of something.
Copyright infringement happens when you acquire or redistribute a protected work without the expressed consent of whoever might own it. When you download and burn that copy of Windows Vista Pirated Edition and give it to your dorm matey who then installs it on his or her computer, you are breaking the law and performing software piracy. While it is not required to talk in a pirate accent whilst downloading your backups, it is encouraged.
However, you are allowed to backup your own legally purchased software for your own private use, so long as it is not distributed in any way. Because we do not endorse copyright infringement, the information being presented is for your personal use in obtaining backups of lost or damaged software.
You need a few things, mostly a program to handle the torrents and a tracker site to give you the file data and let you enter swarms to start downloading. Windows users can use Utorrent and *nix users can use whatever they are comfy with. If you are using Linux, I expect you know what a torrent is already and have a favorite.
Most of the time, files that are grouped and compressed will be in a .rar format. You might need to download WinRAR to handle these. Think of them as another kind of .zip file.
Now, let's take a look into the various types of media out there so you know what to look for.
Movie releases come in several flavors and forms depending on the time frame of normal release. Quality can very from grainy and unwatchable to high definition. You will see these types in the name of the file you are downloading, giving you the background on it.
- Cam - A copy made in a cinema using a camcorder or mobile phone. The sound source is the camera microphone. Cam rips quickly appear after the first preview or premiere of the film. The quality ranges from terrible to pretty good, depending on the group of persons performing the recording and the resolution of the camera used. The main disadvantage is the sound quality, it's usually poor as the microphone does not only record the sound from the movie, but also any background noise. These are very common.
- Telesync - This was shot in an empty cinema or from the projection booth with a professional camera mounted on a tripod, directly connected to the sound source. The professional camera source is then synchronized with audio source fed directly from the cinema's sound system, or captured from an FM radio transmission intended for hearing-impaired customers. These are not as common as others, but you will find them from time to time. Usually decent quality.
- Workprint - A copy made from an unfinished version of a film produced by the studio. Typically WPs have missing effects and overlays and often differ from its theatrical release. Some have a time index marker running in a corner or on the top edge and some also include watermarks. These are very rare and you usually will not encounter them on the open market. Having scene connections might get you access.
- Telecine - A copy captured from a film print using a machine that transfers the movie from its analog reel to digital format. Telecine has basically the same quality as DVD, since the technique is same as digitizing the actual film to DVD. However, the result is inferior because the source material is usually a lower quality reel. Telecine machines usually cause a slight left-right jitter in the picture and have inferior color levels compared to DVD. I have personally come across these twice.
- Screener - 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. Disney has started encrypting the screener releases so they can only be played on special hardware, but this has not taken on industry wide as of this writing. 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.
- R5 - The R5 is a retail DVD from region 5. Region 5 consists of the Indian subcontinent, Africa, North Korea, Russia 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. This audio quality varies based on who is doing the new syncing.
- DVD-Rip - 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. Because of their high quality, DVD-Rips generally replace any earlier copies that may already have been circulating. No one usually bothers with the lesser versions afterwards.
- TVRip - TVRip is media captured from an analog capture card (coaxial/composite/s-video connection). Digital satellite rip (DSR) is a rip that is captured from a non-standard definition digital source like a satellite. In both of these cases, the best description would be they are pirating it off their TVs and sat boxes.
- BRRip - This is similar to DVD-Rip, only the source is a Blu-ray Disc. A BD/BR Rip in DVD-Rip size often looks better than a same-size DVD rip because encoders have better source material. It is Blu-ray, after all. What is commonly misunderstood among pirates is that a BDRip and a BRRip are really the same thing. A BDRip comes directly from the Blu-ray source, and BRRip is encoded from a prerelease, usually from a 1080p BDRip from another group. BD Rips are available in DVD-Rip sized releases, usually between 700MB and 1.5GB.
- R0 - No region coding
- R1 - United States of America, Canada
- R2 - Europe, including France, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Arabia, Japan, and South Africa
- R3 - Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Borneo, and Indonesia
- R4 - Australia and New Zealand, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America
- R5 - India, Africa, Russia, and former USSR countries
- R6 - Peoples Republic of China
- R7 - Unused
- R8 - Airlines and cruise ships
- R9 - Expansion (often used as region-free)
R1 and R2 usually offer the best quality, though R4 releases can be solid, as well.
Music is a little less complex due to the rather open distro channels and ease of ripping and converting audio formats. MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, aka MP3, is still the common and default format for transferring music around. Things don't look to change there for the time being.
And of course, you can always just download entire albums as a torrent, so long as you own the original version legally.
Here we get to the real fun stuff for the nerds out there.
Software cracking is a very complex programming project and the scene is divided into groups that perform this function. Usually, when a new version of some hot software is released, the race starts between these informal groups to crack the DRM protecting it and release the new version. Typically, this is achieved by cracking the executable file that would start the program, bypassing functions and routines that might be calling protection related code.
However, this is just a simple explanation of a complex topic. The side effect of this is that new versions usually need new cracks and it is a back and forth battle between the development teams and the black hats.
It should also be noted that not every file you see out there is safe, and proper safety should be practiced. This is a huge vector for malware and spyware, so only work with trusted sources.
And there we have it, your guide to the high seas of software and media backups. Hopefully, this will keep you from wasting your time on that crappy CAM release, or maybe you can get your hands on that video editing software you desperately need for school but lost last semester.
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