What is "the scene"?
Borrowed from another site I belong to.
The Scene is a term used to refer to a collection of communities of pirate networks that obtain and copy new movies, music, and games, often before their public release, and distribute them throughout the Internet (and previously through BBSes). Each specific subsection within The Scene has its own community and rules governing releases, and are made up of many smaller groups. These communities are referred to as scenes as well, for example the MP3 Scene, the DVDR Scene, etc. Groups gather in private where they can easily coordinate with other members to "pre" and distribute releases.
The Scene started emerging in 1980s on privately run BBS systems. The first BBSes were located in the USA, but similar boards started appearing in Australia and Europe. The BBSes advertised their dial-in numbers openly in group nfo's or semi-hidden, so that anyone interested had to use a war dialer to actually find the real number of the BBS box. The BBS systems typically hosted several megabytes of material. The best boards had multiple phone lines and up to hundred megabytes of storage space, which was very expensive at the time. Releases were mostly games and later 'utils' (applications), once 386 systems started to emerge and take over the standard as PC system. The Scene didn't work with a fixed ruleset, they just assumed that end-users would know what they were getting either based on the release name or nfo. Talented coders who cracked games often included 4 or 64 kilobytes long cracktro to express their skills as a coder, artist or a musican.
The demoscene grew especially strong in Scandinavia, where annual gatherings are hosted even today. Warez distribution played only a minor role during the modem/BBS era since the transfer speeds were extremely slow. It would've taken several hours to transfer complete game from host to another even with the fastest modems available. The Scene was limited, secure and worked on an invite-only basis. For this reason, some older scenesters often long for the "good old days."
Subsections of The Scene
Beginning in the mid 1990s, the MP3 Scene was formed. This scene was one of the first incarnations of the scene as it is known today. By 1999, the original groups had implemented a set of strict rules about the way releases were ripped, packaged and released. Releases were required to come from a CDDA source, be encoded at 160 kbit/s, have proper filenames and directory structure, and include a playlist, a SFV file and a NFO file. In recent years this rule has been amended, allowing the source to be from DVD (including DVD-A) or VHS, live recording, vinyl, or tape, and stipulating that all MP3 files must be encoded with LAME, using the APS (alt-preset standard) variable bitrate setting. In 2004, a rule was added that all non-retail releases be tagged as bootleg.
During the 1980s what is now known as the demoscene began to branch off from "the scene". Sometime in the late 1990s there was also the branching off of the abandonware scene. Today, PC gaming groups such as RELOADED, DEViANCE and recently Razor 1911 still place what sometimes look like Commodore 64 cracktros alongside their cracks on the ISOs. Unlike the original cracktros, these are separate executables and do not run with the cracked executables.
Warez(A really overused, and mostly inapplicable term)
Warez refers primarily to copyrighted material traded in violation of copyright law. The term generally refers to illegal releases by organized groups, as opposed to peer-to-peer file sharing between friends or large groups of people with similar interest using a Darknet. It usually does not refer to commercial for-profit software counterfeiting. This term was initially coined by members of the various computer underground circles, but has since become commonplace among Internet users and the media.
The term "Piracy" is used in this article to refer "unauthorized use of intellectual property", where "unauthorized" refers to a lack of authority granted by the holder of the intellectual property and the use is within the jurisdiction of the legal authority under which a property right requiring such authorization for use is established.
The word "warez" was coined to indicate more than one piece of pirated software, as "software" is a non-count noun and users found it natural to use a count noun to differentiate between one "ware" (one piece of software [one program]) and multiple "warez" (multiple pieces of software [multiple programs]). Due to the relatively large amounts of time needed to transfer large files over slow telephone modems and bulletin board systems (BBSes), pirates would typically ask for one-for-one trades from other pirates. Hence, software pirates adopted a merchant-like attitude with their software collection(s) and the term "wares" was apt.
Warez is used most commonly as a noun: "My neighbor downloaded 10 gigabytes of warez yesterday"; but can also be used as a verb: "The new Windows was warezed a month before the company officially released it". The collection of warez groups is referred to globally as the "warez scene" or more ambiguously "The Scene".
History of warez
Piracy in its current form began during the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Industrial textile production was one of the important factors in economic growth. Plans for weaving machines were patented and the British government applied strict restrictions on exports of the technology. 
At the time, patent law in the United States limited all patents to US citizens only and, protected by this act, several businessmen such as Francis Cabot Lowell began manufacturing without paying any compensation to the patent holders in Britain. Francis Cabot Lowell's mill was based on technology patented by Edmund Cartwright.  Such acts were condoned by the US government for over a century until the passing of the International Copyright Act.
During the 1980s, and continuing into the 2000s, some of the most famous products targeted were Lacoste shirts.  This type of product counterfeiting was and still is done by organized crime groups often based in Eastern or Asian countries such as China, Thailand, Russia. These groups illegally produce millions of counterfeit copies of clothing, electronics, microchips, music CDs, VHS & DVD movies, and software applications.
While most copies of pirate software are manufactured in Asian factories, their distribution often begins in first-world nations such as the United States and Western Europe, where the largest international publishers of proprietary software are located. These pirate copies are regularly sold on city streets throughout most of South America, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In some countries they are sold at retail price which can be worth several billion dollars annually. While the selling of pirate copies is less common in Western nations, its popularity is growing. In Western nations, pirate products are usually sold in specific areas, such as Chinatown in New York and the Pacific Mall in suburban Toronto. Unlike Asian countries where pirate goods can even be sold in retailers, this kind of distribution is rare in Western nations.
Rise of software piracy
Software piracy has been an issue from the day the first commercial software program hit store shelves. Whether the medium was cassette tape or floppy disk, software pirates found a way to duplicate the software and spread it amongst their friends. Thriving pirate communities were built around the Apple II, Commodore 64, the Atari 400 and Atari 800 line, the ZX Spectrum, the Amiga, the Atari ST among other personal computers. Entire networks of BBSes sprang up to traffic illegal software from one user to the next. Machines like the Amiga and the Commodore 64 had an international pirate network; software not available on one continent would eventually make its way to every region through the pirate network via the bulletin board systems.
It was also quite common in the 1980s to use physical floppy disks and the postal service for spreading software, in an activity known as mail trading. Particularly widespread in continental Europe, mail trading was even used by many of the leading cracker groups as their primary channel of interaction. Software piracy via mail trading was also the most relevant means for many computer hobbyists in the Eastern bloc countries to receive new Western software for their computers.
Copy protection schemes for the early systems were designed to defeat the casual pirate, as "crackers" would typically release a pirated game to the pirate "community" the day they were earmarked for market.
A famous event in the history of software piracy policy was an open letter written by Bill Gates of Microsoft, dated February 3, 1976, in which he argued that the quality of available software would increase if software piracy was less prevalent. However, until the early 1990s, software piracy was not yet considered a serious problem by most people. In 1992, the Software Publishers Association began to battle against software piracy, with its promotional video "Don't Copy That Floppy". It and the Business Software Alliance have remained the most active anti-piracy organizations worldwide, although to compensate for extensive growth in recent years, they have gained the assistance of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), as well as American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI).
Causes which have accelerated its growth
In the late 1990s, computers became more popular. This was attributed to Microsoft and the release of Windows 95, which greatly decreased the learning curve for using a computer. Windows 95 became so popular that in developed countries nearly every middle-class household had at least one computer. Similar to televisions and telephones, computers became a necessity to every person in the information age. As the use of computers increased, so had software and cyber crimes.
In the mid-1990s, the average Internet user was still on dial-up, with average speed ranging between 28.8 and 33.6 kbit/s (with a maximum speed of 56 kbit/s becoming possible in early 1999 with the advent of V.90). If one wished to download a piece of software, which could run about 20 MB, the download time could be longer than one day, depending on network traffic, the Internet Service Provider, and the server. Around 1997, broadband began to gain popularity due to its greatly increased network speeds. As "large-sized file transfer" problems became less severe, warez became more widespread and began to affect large software files like animations and movies.
In the past, files were distributed by point-to-point technology: with a central uploader distributing files to downloaders. With these systems, a large number of downloaders for a popular file uses an increasingly larger amount of bandwidth. If there are too many downloads, the server can become unavailable. The same is true for peer-to-peer networking; the more downloaders the slower the file distribution is. With swarming technology as implemented in file sharing systems like eDonkey2000, downloaders help the uploader by picking up some of its uploading responsibilities.
BitTorrent brings a new way of how peers share their files. When one downloads files, one is not only a downloader, but also an uploader. To a point, the more downloaders there are, the faster the file distribution becomes.
Types of warez
There is generally a distinction made between different sub-types of warez:
- appz - Applications: Generally a retail version of a software package.
- crackz - Cracked applications: A modified executable or more (usually one) and/or a library (usually one) or more and/or a patch designed to turn a trial version of a software package into the full version and/or bypass anti-piracy protections.
- gamez - Games: This scene concentrates on both computer based games, and video game consoles, though the latter are more often referred to as ISOs and ROMs.
- moviez - Movies: Pirated movies generally released while still in theaters or from DVDs prior to the actual retail date.
- nocd/no cd/nodvd/no dvd - A file modification that allows an installed program to be run without inserting the CD or DVD into the drive.
- tvrip - Television programs: Television shows generally released within minutes after airing, with all commercials edited out. DVD Rips of television series fall under this sub-type.
- mp3z - MP3 audio: Pirated albums, singles, or other audio format released in the compressed MP3 audio format.
- bookz/ebookz/e-bookz - Books: These include pirated ebooks, scanned books, scanned comics, cartoons etc.
- scriptz - Scripts: These include pirated scripts coded by companies in PHP, ASP, and other languages.
- templatez - Templates: These include pirated website templates coded by companies.
- dox - Computer game add-ons: These include nocds, cracks, trainers, cheat codes etc.
- 0-day warez (pronounced as zero day warez) - This refers to a crack which has been released on the same day as the original.
Software cracking groups delegate tasks efficiently among their members. These members are mostly located in first world countries where high-speed internet connections and powerful computers are readily available. Software cracking groups are usually quite small. Only a few skilled people usually do the cracking work, as the complexity of reverse engineering and patching code requires a deep understanding of the software.
Movie piracy was looked upon as impossible by the major studios. When dial-up was common in early and mid 1990s, movies distributed on the Internet tended to be small. The techniques that were usually used to make them small were to use compression software and lower the video quality. At that time, the largest piracy threat was software.
However, along with the rise in broadband internet connections beginning around 1998, higher quality movies began to see widespread distribution ? with the release of DeCSS, ISO images copied directly from the original DVDs were slowly becoming a feasible distribution method. Today, movie sharing has become so common that it has caused major concern amongst movie studios and their representative organizations. Because of this the MPAA is often running campaigns during movie trailers where it tries to discourage young people from copying material without permission. Unlike the music industry, which has online music stores available since 2000 and more recently supported by music programs such as iTunes, the movie industry has only moved to online distribution in 2006 with the launch of Amazon UnBox
Distribution of warez
Organized groups operate with strict rule set of what can be released and in which format each release should be. The groups may also have private sites for internal purposes, such as archiving their own releases and transferring the unmodified material between their members. Communication within a group is usually handled through encrypted channels (with Blowfish, AES, or some other cipher & key method), using SSL secured private Internet Relay Chat (IRC) servers. Communication within a group is important in coordinating their releases. Groups usually focus on some specific area of expertise and release material from their field. These groups usually transfer material using topsites.
Disorganized distribution usually consists of average computer users, who are using some form of P2P to transfer material. These users often rely on Usenet binaries newsgroups, BitTorrent or IRC XDCC bots to distribute their material. These new releases typically do not spread far, but since there is no real way to track what was released and where, this is hard to do. Disorganized groups rarely release software, since releasing usually requires a competent programmer to patch the original program. Usually these types of releases are MP3, cloned game images and movies.
There are several methods warez material could be distributed. The methods include, but are not limited to: Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), File eXchange Protocol (FXP), BitTorrent (BT), Peer-to-peer (P2P), Usenet and Xabi Direct Client Connection (XDCC).
The typical warez scene release process is as follows:
1. A popular new piece of commercial software is released by the software company.
2. A warez group might use one of its contacts to obtain a pre-release copy, steal it from a DVD/CD pressing plant, or obtain it from a retail store before release date or once it has been released.
3. It is then sent to a skilled software cracker/programmer to remove copy prevention.
4. It is packed in proper format (usually split and compressed using the RAR file format), and it is uploaded to private FTP servers which act as a group's release-HQ.
5. The packs are uploaded to topsites, and once they are complete on all the sites, the group PREs.
6. It is then moved by couriers to many smaller and possibly slower FTP servers around the world.
Steps 4, 5, and 6 can be used to describe all types of Warez, since the distribution format is defined in standards.
Many, if not all, release groups look down on peer-to-peer networks and protest against users making their warez available on such networks.
P2P release process can be as follows:
1. A popular game is released. It has strong copy protection mechanism, and scene groups are working hard to bypass it.
2. Some enthusiast has been waiting for hours in front of the store, and as clock turns 8, the doors open, and he rushes in to buy the game.
3. He takes his game home, and makes an image of the DVD with CloneCD
4. While the torrent generator is calculating chunk checksums, he posts a message on his local forum, telling he has new game and image
5. Some people wouldn't believe that he actually has the game, since there is no scene release yet, so he takes a picture of the game DVD and posts it on the forum, along with a link to the torrent file which he already uploaded to his favourite tracker, and where he's seeding the image
6. The torrent starts spreading, since many people are reading the forum, and it gets reposted on other trackers as well
7. As people complete their downloads, they start other P2P applications to resume or start new downloads, and share the game image to other P2P networks
By now, there are hundreds of copies being spread around in various different networks, and it is relatively easy to find a download for the game, even with www search engine.
File formats of warez
For more specific information see Standard (warez)
The modern warez scene deals with petabytes of data and thus the need for an efficient system of handling files was apparent. A typical CD software release can contain up to 700 megabytes of data, which presents challenges when sending over the Internet. This was especially true in the early days when everything was done via dial-up connections. These challenges apply to an even greater extent for a single-layer DVD release, which can contain up to 4.7 GB of data. The warez scene made it standard practice to split releases up into many separate pieces, called disks, using several file compression formats: (historical TAR, LZH, ACE, ARJ), ZIP and most commonly RAR.
This method has many advantages over sending a single large file:
- The two-layer compression could sometimes achieve almost a tenfold improvement over the original DVD/CD image. The overall file size is cut down and lessens the transfer time and bandwidth required.
- If there is a problem during the file transfer and data was corrupted, it is only necessary to resend the few corrupted RAR files instead of resending the entire large file.
- This method also creates the facility of downloading from many sources.
File verification is accomplished using SFV files, which is usually integrated into the topsites FTP server software so that files are verified automatically as they are uploaded. Ironically, the distribution methods used by the warez scene are so efficient that they are sometimes superior to the ones used by actual software producers.
Releases of software titles often come in two forms. The full form is a full version of game or application, generally released as CD or DVD-writable disk images (BIN or ISO files). A rip is a cut-down version of the title in which important additions included on the legitimate DVD/CD (generally Portable Document Format (PDF) manuals, help files, tutorials, and sample media) is omitted. In a game rip, generally all game video is removed, and the audio is compressed to MP3 or Vorbis, which must then be decoded to its original form before playing. A nuke is stand-alone version of a game or application, in which the installer has been removed and the program is modified to execute without installation into a particular directory.
Motivations and arguments
Software Pirates generally exploit the international nature of the copyright issue to avoid law enforcement in specific countries. In Russia, the copying of software was once explicitly permitted by law when such software was not in the Russian language. This is no longer the case, but prosecutions for copyright infringement are still very rare. In March of 2005, prosecutors in Moscow refused to charge the popular website Allofmp3.com with criminal copyright infringement due to the fact that Russian copyright law apparently only covers physical media .
The production and/or distribution of warez is illegal in most countries. However, it is typically overlooked in poorer third world countries with weak or non-existent IP protection. Additionally, some first world countries have loopholes in legislation that allow the warez scene to continue to operate in a limited fashion.
For arguments, see List of pro and anti-warez arguments
Warez is often a form of copyright infringement punishable as either a civil wrong or a crime. The laws and their application to warez activities may vary greatly from country to country. Generally, however, there are four elements of criminal copyright infringement: the existence of a valid copyright, that copyright was infringed, the infringement was wilful and the infringement was either for commercial gain or substantial (a level often set by statute). Often public sites such as pages hosting torrent files claim that they are not breaking any laws because they are not offering the actual data, but only link to other places or peers which contain the infringing material.
For more information, see article about copyright infringement
The Scene Standards
Standards in the warez scene are defined by groups of people who have been involved in its activities for several years and have established connections to large groups. These people form a committee, which creates drafts for approval of the large groups. In organized warez distribution, all releases must follow these predefined standards to become accepted material. The standards committee usually cycles several drafts and finally decides which is best suited for the purpose, and then releases the draft for approval. Once the draft has been signed by several bigger groups, it becomes ratified and accepted as the current standard. There are separate standards for each category of releases.
The first part of a standards document usually defines the format properties for the material, like codec, bitrate, resolution, filetype and filesize. Creators of the standard usually do comprehensive testing to find optimal codecs and settings for sound and video to maximize image quality in the selected file size.
When choosing filesize, the limiting factor is the size of the media to be used (such as 700MB for CD-R). The standards are designed such that a certain amount of content will fit on each piece of media, with a specific quality. If more discs are required for sufficient quality, the standard will define the circumstances where it is acceptable to expand to a second or third disc.
New codecs are usually tested annually to check if any offer any conclusive enhancement in quality or compression time. In general, quality is not sacrificed for speed, and the standards will usually opt for the highest quality possible, even if this takes much longer. For example, releases using the Xvid encoder must use the two-pass encoding method, which takes twice as long as a single pass, but achieves much higher quality; similarly, DVD-R releases that must be re-encoded often use 6 or 8 passes to get the best quality.
When choosing the file format, platform compatibility is important. Formats are chosen such that they can be used on any major platform with little hassle. Some formats such as CloneCD can only be used on Windows computers, and these formats are generally not chosen for use in the standards.
Next, the standard usually talks about how to package the material. Allowed package formats today are limited to RAR and ZIP, of which the latter is used only in 0-day releases.
The sizes of the archives within the distributed file vary from the traditional 3½" floppy disk (1.44 MB) or extended density disk (2.88 MB) to 5 MB, 15 MB (typical for CD images) or 20MB (typical for CD images of console releases), 50 MB files (typical for DVD images), and 100MB (for dual-layer DVD images). These measurements are not equivalent to traditional measurement of file size (which is 1024 KB to a MB, 1024 MB to a GB); in a typical DVD release, each RAR file is exactly 50,000,000 bytes, not 52,428,800 bytes.
Formerly, the size of disks were limited by the RAR file naming scheme, which produced extensions .rar, .r00 and so on through .r99. This allowed for 101 disks in a single release. This format is the old RAR naming system. For example, a DVD-R image (4.37 GiB), split into 101 pieces, produces approximately 50 MB disks. The new RAR naming format, name.part001.rar, removes the limit, although the individual split archives continue to be 50 MB for historical reasons. For dual-layer discs, the limit is avoided by using 100 MB RAR parts.
Different compression levels are used for each type of material being distributed. The reason for this is that some material compresses much better than others, movies and MP3 files are already compressed with near maximum capacity, and repacking them would just create larger files and increase decompression time. Ripped movies are still packaged due to the large filesize, but compression is disallowed and the RAR format is used only as a container. Because of this, modern playback software can easily play a release directly from the packaged files, and even stream it as the release is downloaded (if the network is fast enough).
MP3 and music video releases are an exception in that they are not packaged into a single archive like almost all other sections. These releases have content that is not compressible, but also have small enough files that they can be transferred reliably without breaking them up. Since these releases rarely have large numbers of files, leaving them unpackaged is more convenient and allows for easier scripting (scripts can read ID3 information and sort releases based on it, for example).
Rules for naming files and folders are an important part of the standards. Correctly named folders make it easier to maintain clean archives and unique filenames allow dupecheck to work properly. There's a defined character set which can be used in naming of the folders. The selected character set is chosen to minimize problems due to the many platforms a release may encounter during its distribution. Since many FTP servers or operating systems may not allow special characters in file or directory names, only a small set of characters is allowed. Substitutions are made where special characters would normally be used. As a note, spaces are explicitly disallowed in all current standards, and are generally substituted with underscores or full-stops.
The ubiquitous character set includes the upper- and lower-case English alphabet, numerals, and several basic punctuation marks; it is outlined below:
An example would be "Title.Of.The.Release.Source.Codec-GROUP".
If a group violates the standard, a release will often be 'propered' by another group. A sample is usually required to prove the flaw in the material, unless the flaw was clear enough for the release to be nuked at releasing time. Flaws can be found later during testing of the material, such as broken.crack or bad.serial. There is usually a two week period after the release date during which propers are allowed.
List of Standards
There are several standards to release movies, TV show episodes and other video material to the scene. VCD releases use the less efficient MPEG-1 format, are low quality, but can be played back on most standalone DVD players. SVCD releases use MPEG-2 encoding, have half the video resolution of DVDs and can also be played back on most DVD players. DVD-R releases use the same format as retail DVD-Videos, and are therefore larger in size. Finally DivX, Xvid and recently x264 releases use the much more efficient MPEG-4 standards. However few DVD players can playback these files so far.
- DivX, Xvid
MPEG-4 release standards are set in the so-called TDX rules. The generally accepted TDX2002 ruleset requires movie releases to contain a DivX 3.11 or Xvid encoded video stream with an MP3 or AC3 encoded audio stream in an AVI container file. Movies are released in one, two or three 700 MB files, so that they can be easily stored on CD-R. Two or four TV show episodes usually share one CD, hence 175 or 350 MB releases are common. 233 MB (3 episodes per CD) are rare but not forbidden, and are often used for high-resolution rips of animated 30-minute programs.
The introduction of HDTV and the availability of high definition source material has recently resulted in the release of video files that exceed the maximum allowed resolution by the TDX rules (which anticipated DVD-Video rips as the ultimate source). Due to a missing standard these releases follow different rules. They are usually tagged as HR HDTV and use half the resolution of 1080i (960 x 540 px, vertically cropped to 528 or 544 px). Some releases also use a resolution of 1024 x 576 px to provide a proper aspect ratio of 16:9. A doubling of file sizes is common with HR HDTV releases.
The latest TDX revision is TDX2005, but there's a rebuttal against this revision, proving it to be flawed in several aspects. Higher resolutions are not allowed. More efficient formats such as AVC and AAC have not been adopted yet, but are still being pushed by some release groups. There are also considerations to replace the old proprietary AVI file format with a modern container such as MP4 that can include multiple audio streams, subtitles and DVD like menus. However few standalone DVD players support these formats yet, and cross-platform playback is an important consideration. Nonetheless the introduction of MPEG-4 playback capabilities in standalone DVD players was a result of the huge amount of TDX compliant movie material available on the internet.
The scene requires DVD-Video releases to fit on a 4.7 GB DVD-R. Hence many released movies are not 1:1 copies of the retail DVDs. The latest standards revision is 2005.
Scene rules require the releasing group to spread SVCDs in BIN/CUE files, that fit on 700 MB CDs. One movie typically uses two CDs, although length may force the release to be a 3 or 4 CD release. Content source is typically analog, such as Cam, telecine or telesync releases. Sometimes DVDSCR or even retail DVD is used as SVCD source. Advantage of SVCD is that you can play it on any standalone DVD player, but as XviD-capable players are taking over the market, SVCD is becoming slowly obsolete.
Scene rules require the releasing group to spread VCDs in BIN/CUE files or MPG files, that fit on 700 MB CDs, although often the CD size is dictated by the length of the movie or video. One movie typically uses two CDs, although length may force the release to be a 3 or 4 CD release. Content source is typically analog, such as CAM, Telecine or Telesync releases, (Movies recorded by a camera in theatres, often with external audio sources) but is often DVD, DVDSCR, (DVD 'Screener,' a DVD distributed before a movie is available on retail DVD, they often contain watermarks, black and white scenes or scrolling messages, all inserted to discourage people from copying and distributing them on the scene). Because of its low quality, VCD releases are declining in favor of SVCD and XviD. VCDs are often larger than these higher quality files, making VCDs even less attractive.
Due to broad support in hardware devices, most pirated audio material is required to be released in MP3 files at 192 kbit/s CBR or VBR quality. More efficient formats such as AAC or OGG Vorbis are not currently allowed. While Ogg Vorbis is an open codec, AAC is more likely to be adopted as a release standard in the future, because it is the successor to MP3 and therefore hardware support is more likely.
Application releases are usually split in two different categories, 0day and ISO apps.
0day applications are usually ~150MB or smaller. The release format allows almost anything in 0day section, but often 0day releases are cracks or keygens for different applications or small games with size varying from 1-50MB. Sometimes e-books, imagesets, fonts or mobile software are released as 0day.
ISO applications are usually either in BIN/CUE or ISO format. Allowed media is CD and DVD, but release can be smaller than the media size. Applications are required to contain working key or keygen to generate valid serial. Patch cracking is also required, which is used to bypass hardware protection, such as serial or USB dongle.
The game must fit on CDs or DVDs, and the format should be either BIN/CUE, or ISO, respectively. Some sites allow CCD images too, as defined in the site's rules. Media descriptor files (MDF/MDS) seem to be permitted now as well.
PDA rules require folder naming to define which application and version the release contains. Also required are CPU type, operating system and cracktype. Optional information such as language is expected, if the release is non-english. Packaging follows 0day guidelines.
There are no set standards for the console scene.
Sega Dreamcast releases are by convention in Padus Disc Juggler Format.
Sony PSP releases are by convention specified as FULL UMD or UMD RIP, meaning some parts were removed either out of non-necessity, or to fit it to a certain-sized memory stick. The PSP UMD discs use an ISO format for storage, so these are released in ISO despite the fact that there may never be a way to burn a copy and play it in a PSP.
Xbox releases are by convention in the XISO format, a slight modification of the DVD ISO format.
PlayStation 2 releases are by convention in standard DVD ISO format.
Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS releases are in their native ROM format (.gba for Game Boy Advance, and .neo or .nds for Nintendo DS). However, like the 0day releases, due to their small size, these are often compressed into RAR format, then compressed into ZIP format; otherwise, they are simply compressed into ZIP format. Every release gets a number and allows for collectors to keep track of what they are missing in order to keep a full set.