Most readers will be familiar with The Scene, the ‘place’ where most pirate movies, music, TV shows, software and games first hit cyberspace. Although members of this intensively private community would prefer to maintain their privacy, it is from their servers that media leaks out to the wider Internet community. According to the MPAA, The Scene sits at the top of the “Piracy Pyramid”.
Although The Scene has its own unique set of quality-control standards, this doesn’t necessarily mean that their output is always of a high quality. Although the most serious offenders will be ‘nuked’ (Scene talk for “something is wrong, don’t bother with this release”) in the case of movies, for example, Scene rules allow CAM releases which may be virtually unwatchable.
Furthermore, a release receiving a ‘nuke’ doesn’t necessarily mean that its unwatchable, it might just mean that it has breached any one of The Scene’s often bewildering and sometimes downright archaic in-house rules.
Of course, none of this would matter to ‘outsiders’ if Scene releases stayed locked away as intended for the use of the few, but they don’t. So wouldn’t it be great if there was a central source, a database of releases where the average Internet user could go for information on what’s hot and what’s not in the world of piracy?
Some might be surprised to learn that VCDQuality.com has been providing such a service for almost a decade. Founded in 2001, VCDQ quickly became the best place for the average non-Scener to find out quickly if a new movie had hit the Internet yet and in what quality. If it had, it would appear pretty quickly at the top of the list on the main page.
Along with the name of the release, the format of the source is indicated – DVDRIP, CAM, DVD Screener, R5 (Region 5) for example. This information is supported by links to screenshots of the release in question, its NFO (a small descriptive text file distributed by the Scene group responsible), the name of the release group and a link to the movie on IMDb.
Perhaps the most useful link moves off to the comment section. Here those that have actually downloaded and watched a particular release discuss what they have seen, specifically whether the video and sound of the release are up to scratch and worth the effort of finding and downloading.
Unfortunately, due to the site’s policy of shunning most advertising, it has lacked investment in recent times. A hard drive disaster last year caused quite a lot of pain and 8 weeks ago their server died altogether. It was time for a new beginning.
With the assistance of a new owner, behind the scenes the site has been receiving its first proper update in a decade. If all is going to plan, as you read this article or in the coming hours the new VCDQ will be launching with a fresh new look and a host of new features.
Along with a rock-solid server and hosting, the site will be expanding its databases. While traditionally VCDQ has reported only on Scene releases, with the rise of BitTorrent release groups, P2P releases will be reported on too
“We’ve decided to add P2P sources due to the rise of Torrent sites in recent years,” Admin Neversoft told TorrentFreak. “While the scene still produces more releases and better quality we cannot ignore the fact that your average Torrent user doesn’t care about group affiliations or rules, they just want the best quality available.”
Scene purists (and there are a lot of those reading and resident at VCDQ) will be pleased to learn that P2P releases can be filtered out from the site, but the rise of P2P and BitTorrent in particular as a force to be reckoned with can’t be denied.
“By ignoring P2P we would be ignoring a large percentage of what people are downloading out there,” Neversoft explains. “This was a difficult decision for us, we’ve always shunned the P2P scene and to a certain extent derided it but as they say… ‘If you can’t beat em, join ‘em’ and we think we can provide the same excellent service for P2P releases as well. Having said that, it will be select releases – we’re not about to become a dumping ground for every reencode out there.”
In addition the site will add movie/TV HD formats, PC, Xbox360 and Wii sections and will improve its databases with information from multiple sources. Importantly, the site will update quicker to provide news on the latest releases, faster.
That news will be delivered in a number of ways. From the nicely presented release pages, fully customizable RSS feeds, Twitter updates, improved forum and staff blogs, the new VCDQ already looks very promising indeed. Neversoft told TorrentFreak that there’s even more to come.
“In time we’ll be improving the rating/review system as well and we’re still tweaking and will be for some time but we’re going live because the site already seriously out-performs the old VCDQ so it seems silly to just keep tweaking in beta when we already have something better’ that we can deploy now,” he explains.
Moving forward, Neversoft hopes that VCDQuality can become the iMDB of the warez scene while also providing useful services to BitTorrent and Usenet sites. While user comments on torrent sites are useful for determining if a torrent is ‘fake’ or not, often the quality of the release is a neglected topic of conversation, a gap that Neversoft feels VCDQ can fill.
“What’s the point of Torrent and NZB sites having the odd comment on releases on their site when they can link to a whole smorgasbord of comments, reviews and screenshots free of charge?”
Continuing on the P2P/BitTorrent theme, VCDQ will also allow users to submit P2P release information. So, if anyone believes the site has missed an important P2P release, all they have to do is collate the NFO along with samples if they have them and submit them to the moderation team for consideration.
All in all, this is a very welcome update to a much-valued resource. Furthermore, unlike other sources that have tried to replicate the VCDQuality experience but with tacked on download links, VCDQ remains entirely legal and as such can look forward to a stable and promising future.
The new site (blue theme, as opposed to the old red) should be available within a couple of hours at the usual URL.