It isn’t fair or even legal to go on a file sharing website to download copyrighted movies without the authorization of the copyright holder.However, this doesn’t exclude such sites from also providing links to copyright free, public domain, copyright holder approved, or open source files. So the onus is always on the user to understand what it is they are downloading.

When you search for particular downloads, you’re bound to see all kinds of strange abbreviations and acronyms that you can’t make sense of. Even if all you’re interested in doing is staying away from bootlegged stuff, you do need to understand what the descriptions on each torrent says. If this is the kind of information you’re looking for, the following glossary should help. It gives you a quick introduction to the language used by movie pirates and torrent uploaders, and should signal that you not download these files because to do so would often constitute copyright infringement.




A torrent with the term Cam anywhere in the name or description is usually bad news. It usually means that the movie contained in the torrent isn’t from a DVD or even a VHS tape. Rather, it’s a purely bootlegged print — obtained by someone stealing a camcorder into a movie theater. The quality can be sketchy.




A Telesync print is a cam print, too.  It’s worth taking a look at, though, because this bootleg is by the projectionist at a movie theater, equipped with a professional camera. You usually get reasonable audio and video on Telesync prints. Since the video is still shot off a screen, though, you’ll find that everything looks curiously flat.




A DVD screener is a prerelease copy of a movie that the production company sends out to film critics, awards organizations and so on. Usually, someone along the way manages to make copy of this DVD and put it out on a torrent website. DVD screener prints are usually top-notch quality. The only thing amiss that you’ll notice on DVD screeners is a notice that runs at the start of the movie – it warns you that the movie isn’t a legal copy.




A good proportion of the world’s supply of illegal movie torrents originate from Eastern Europe and certain other parts of the world. To make sure that copies from a torrent website publishing these movies are of poor quality, movie distributors these days make sure that the DVDs released in these parts are a special low-quality variety. They release these DVDs in these markets as soon as they send out DVD screeners to critics elsewhere in the world. The hope is that the market will be so flooded with rips taken out of these low-quality DVDs that no one will be interested in the screeners. The quality of R5 rips tend to be somewhat better than what you see on Telesync torrents. It isn’t as good as DVDs screeners, though.




PPV torrents are stolen from the pay-per-view videos offered in hotel rooms in advance of full release. Hotel employees or dedicated pirate hobbyists may plug a digital video recorder of some kind into the video signal in the hotel and record an analog copy of the movie they desire. These are very good quality, but aren’t quite as sharp as genuine DVD prints.


The name of the group


Finally, torrents usually come with the name of the ripper included as a kind of creative badge. Names like aXXo, extremezone and juggs are popular for their ripping skill. Fans tend to look for torrents created by some of these talented rippers for the best quality.


Understanding the terminology is a good first step in understanding which downloads you need to avoid to stay on the legal side of the fence. There are many great resource sites, such as bittorrent client vendor, which go one step further and encourage users to seek copyright free, public domain, rights-holder authorized, opens source or creative commons content. Their site links to such resources and is a good place to start.


Lisa Aragon has been a computer nerd for many years now. When she’s not online researching, she’s sharing what she has found by blogging.