How the world's most popular torrent site was able to get movies months before they came out on DVD

KickassTorrents was the world’s most popular torrent site — even bigger than The Pirate Bay. But the site has been taken down, and its alleged operator arrested.

The criminal complaint against KickassTorrents and its alleged operator includes a chart that shows the cinema release dates of popular movies, the date they appeared on KickassTorrents, and the DVD release date.

For every single movie, KickassTorrents managed to release a version weeks before the DVD was in stores, often just days after the films were screened in cinemas.

How does that happen? After all, a regular source of leaks comes from the production of DVDs, as then lots of factory workers are exposed to movies before they’re officially available to buy.

But the criminal complaint notes that many movies available on KickassTorrents have “telecine” or “TC” in their description.

Here’s a look at a cached version of a “Warcraft” torrent on KickassTorrents, before the site was taken down:

“Warcraft” isn’t out on DVD yet, but it was posted on Kickasstorrents shortly after appearing in the cinema. That’s because it was converted using telecine, a type of machine that takes the original cinema reels of a movie and converts them to a digital file.

Here’s an example of a professional telecine machine:

The cinema reels are run through the machine, which then records the film and turns them into a digital recording. That’s then shared on torrent sites, giving a faster turnaround than waiting for a screener copy of a DVD to be ripped.

KickassTorrents certainly wasn’t the only site to use telecine copies of movies, but it does show how it got them so quickly. After all, that’s a major reason why the site was more popular than The Pirate Bay — content came to Kickasstorrents before it reached its rivals.

NOW WATCH: Britain could be chemically ‘growing’ military drones in the future

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at