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The Internet

NYTimes Looks at Warez 591

Flamerule writes "The New York Times has a new article up that relates the end result of the DrinkorDie copyright infringement case (the "ringleader" and 5 other guys are in prison), and talks about warez in general. They at least tried to get a story from both software companies and denizens of the warez scene. Pretty interesting stuff, even if you haven't been following the case closely."
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NYTimes Looks at Warez

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  • Hi (Score:5, Funny)

    by JeanMarieLepen ( 575911 ) <cabinetlepen@frontnational.com> on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:42PM (#3865694) Homepage
    Anyone knows an FTP site when I can download Linux Warez? K Tnx!
  • This is like (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sheepab ( 461960 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:44PM (#3865709) Homepage
    This is like the chicken and the egg story. Only with warez, what came first, extremely high prices for software or software pirates? Software developers always whine about how pirates drive costs through the roof, and pirates always whine about how they dont but their software because its too overpriced.
    • Re:This is like (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dciman ( 106457 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:51PM (#3865772) Journal
      I would have to think that it isn't really a question of which came first. I think it safe to say that both evolved on their own and each became a good excuse for the others actions. People have been piriting software forever.... even on silly things that don't cost much money. I remember doing this back when I had my first comedore 64. Software developers charge high prices because they want to make money, and often they deserve it. Warez people do it because they enjoy seeing what they can find and accumulate.
    • Re:This is like (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jat850 ( 589750 )
      I think you're right, pirates USE the excuse that its because software is too high priced that they don't buy it. However, I think even if software was relatively inexpensive, piracy would continue all the same. Lots of software pirates claim to do it because "they can", not because of money ... it's just cool to have hundreds of gigabytes of software they would never use ANYWAY archived. Cost is a piss-poor excuse to steal something, and anyone who falls back on that is just terribly illogical.
      • Re:This is like (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Clay Mitchell ( 43630 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:22PM (#3866018) Homepage
        Well, I don't believe so. I much prefer having a legit version of all my software - but $600 or whatever obscene price they want for photoshop is, well, obscene.

        When I saw WinXP being offered through Microsoft for $40, I was all over that.

        I was looking for some database design software, like erwin, that supported postgres. eventually i settled on a $35 copy of Database Architect, even though it wasn't as good as the $250 Case Studio.
    • If the software developer community have raised their prices to make-up for the sales lost to piracy they should in theory be making just as much money as if their software weren't pirated (because the price would be lower then). So the reason why software developers are chasing pirates is so that they can lower prices?
      • by ebyrob ( 165903 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @03:51PM (#3866791)
        So the reason why software developers are chasing pirates is so that they can lower prices?

        Don't buy the BS from either side. Software developers (like this Mr. Vold) charge money for what they create because like everyone else they must eat, but would like to do what they love (create software) to fill their needs. Large corporations(and governments?) are a different sort of entity. I don't think I need to go into what they care about or how far they will go...

        Personally, my feeling is if you're going to charge big $$$ for a stream of bits, your support and other benefits should be good enough that piracy can never truly devalue what you sell. If you're selling to tons of people for low prices, there should still be that "something extra" between what you offer and warez. If you're missing that "something extra" prepare for a difficult time staying in business.

        That said, speaking as a developer for a small company: I'd still throw the book (minus the DMCA) at anyone I might catch infringing our software. We've spent a lot of time and money on development effort, and the law currently says we control who has rights to own "a copy" and what price they will pay. Just don't expect me to make any corollaries with murder on the high seas, burning houses, or physical theft.

        Bottom Line:
        Intellectual property is different than physical property but has meaning nonetheless. Further, information will eventually be free, or people won't be. The equation is that simple. History will decide the rest.
    • Yeah, there are cases where the "victims" brought it on themselves. If you feel you've been screwed over, it gets a lot easier to justify to yourself that you're breaking the law. Personally, I've gone looking for warez exactly once, and the reason was that I'd bought software that stopped working when I upgraded my OS. Their response was that I could upgrade to the latest version of their software. In other words, I could pay for the privilege of continuing to use software that I'd already paid for.

      Another example would be MS's abusive licensing setup. I'm sure a lot of the "piracy" of Windows consists of people who don't want to pay for a new copy of windows just because they bought new hardware. Another MS example is when people pay for Word, but then don't want to pay for an upgrade a couple of years later when people start sending them e-mail attachments made with a newer version of Word, which they can't read.

      And how about licenses that say you can't reverse-engineer (or even benchmark!) the code? They shouldn't be surprised at the negative reaction they get, if they go out of their way to antagonize people.

      Even in cases where the vendor isn't abusive, they could probably increase their profits and decrease piracy just by doing stuff like offering a student version of their software at a much lower price.

  • Man.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by taernim ( 557097 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:44PM (#3865717) Homepage
    Forget this registering for an account at the NYTimes! Time to go post and ask if anyone has any cracked versions of it! hehe ;)
  • Last week, at age 29, John Sankus Jr. moved out of his parents' house for the first time.

    Wait, a warez d00d aged 29 still living at home? NO WAY. This totally shatters my image of them.

  • really? (Score:2, Troll)

    by mike77 ( 519751 )
    What? A news page actually taking the time to get both sides of the story and write an intelligent informed article?

    Must be a sign of the coming apocalypse and end of the world!

  • Warez (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LordYUK ( 552359 ) <jeffwright821@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:47PM (#3865743)
    Its a vicious circle: Warez exists because programs (for home users, anyway) are too expensive, and they are too expensive because of warez. Like Photoshop. I "have" a copy of ps 6.0, and I've used it twice in 4 months. I made some wallpaper, and one character portrait for NWN (Drizzt is available too!! www.threemoons.net/dnd.php if you want them!).
    This is NOT worth the hefty (600 or so??) price tag associated with it, although I'd've probably paid 50.

    Just my $.02
    • D000d, I hear ya! There's this sweet Jag that I jacked last year, but I've only driven it twice, and once was just down to the Circle-K ya know? That was NOT worth the hefty ($60 G's!) price tag associated with it, although I'd've probably payed $50.
      • Re:Warez (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gethane ( 451907 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:57PM (#3866308)
        It kills me everytime I hear people equate software piracy with actual theft.

        When Joe Blow downloads Photoshop, he doesn't deprive the company of the money of someone else buying it.

        When Joe Blow steals a car, he completely deprives the company, not only of his money, but of ANYONE ELSE that might have bought the car.

        See the difference? No? The world is not black and white. It's shades of gray. Is Joe Blow wrong? Yes. Is Joe BLow "as wrong" as a car thief... no way.

        Were the horrible pirates mentioned in the times article wrong? Yep. Do you think they caused more pain than Mr. Enron? Hahahah!

        If people don't understand why its wrong that our government is criminally prosecuting people at the behest of corporate america, over CIVIL crimes, then I truly don't know that you ever had an understanding of what our country was supposed to be about.
        • Re:Warez (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @04:46PM (#3867208) Homepage
          Then let's look at the REAL problem of this analogy.

          When Joe CEO buys a JAG for $60k, what is he buying, really. S-T-A-T-U-S. (I can think of no other luxury car, perhaps except the Cadillac or Lexus where the customer is charged so ridiculously much higher for what is essentially not much of a car, compared to say, a Porsche, BMW, or frankly, a Corvette). All to be seen driving down the road - careful man, I'm a big shot. I pay more to park this car than you do for rent. My suit costs more than your college education. I can afford the gas guzzler tax, unlike you SUV posers.

          So is that what really is troubling people here? Paid $600 for the top of the line premier professional graphics software - I'm a hot shit pro graphic artist, yet can't stop those snotty little pimple-faced warez d00ds from getting to use a copy (perhaps developing pro-level skillsets in the process) for nothing?

          I can see where it would be unfair for a professional to use a pirated copy of software to compete with other pros who are legit. I say bust those motherfuckers.
          But for casual, or even educational purposes, you'd be hard pressed to make a case with me that that's as wrong (and as deserving of enforcement effort) as Accountants shovelling fraud trial evidence into a shredder. (yes, where were the 40 heavily armed agents when they were shredding documents at Arthur Anderson for MONTHS, and it was not only public knowledge, but a top news story, while they continued to shred?).

          Again - this illustrates the sheer triviality of the crime of software copy infringement. And the low regard in which I hold the BSA, and current government policy.

      • Re:Warez (Score:5, Informative)

        by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @04:40PM (#3867172) Homepage Journal
        There's this sweet Jag that I jacked last year

        You need to stop watching the BSA/SPA propaganda films.

        When you take a Jaguar, someone else is missing a Jaquar.

        When you pirate a copy of software, no one has fewer copies of it.

        If you pirate a copy of Photoshop instead of buying it, you deprive Adobe of income.

        If you pirate a copy of Photoshop instead of buying Paintshop Pro, you deprive JASC of income.

        If you pirate a copy of Photoshop instead of using the GPL GIMP program, no one has been deprived of income.

        Now, this being the Internet, I'll sit back and wait for the self-righteous indignation, unfounded accusations, and heavy-handed diatribes about the legality and morality of software piracy (despite the fact that I never addressed the morality or legality of it).
    • Re:Warez (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Clue4All ( 580842 )
      Your point might be valid if Photoshop were for the casual user, but it's not. It's a high quality image tool designed for graphical artists who need the capabilities it features and will pay for them. Adobe offers a home version for under a hundred bucks, but I'm sure you won't be paying for that one, either.
      • Re:Warez (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jilles ( 20976 )
        The fact that I'm not a professional user does not mean that I want a dumbed down program full of wizards. Most knowledgeable users probably appreciate the feature set offered by photoshop and enjoy messing about with their holliday pics in it. However that does not exactly justify a 600$ pricetag and I doubt many users would actually pay 600$ for some occasional playing around.

        For that kind of users a warezed copy is tempting to say the least. Arguably this style of copying is what actually mada adobe succesfull since a lot of their paying users probably started messing about with illegal versions when they were students.

    • Just my $.02

      And that $.02 isnt enough to pay for $600.00 software LoL :)

    • So you advocate the valuation of a sophisticated tool for skilled artists based on what you can do with it? It's not my intent to offend you, but might I suggest using something else that's more in line with your skills, price range, and scope of application?
    • > and [programs] are too expensive because of warez

      Do you really think that if Warez were eliminated that software prices would decrease? I see warez as a form of competition, in some ways. I release a piece of software and charge $19.95 for it, hoping that most people will just buy it instead of passing it around on KaZaa.

      I think many, if not most people have a limited conscience. They'll pay $10-$20 for their favorite applications to support the starving author. But if that price rose to $100, they would open up their favorite P2P app and just download it.

      Eliminating piracy doesn't mean the manufacturers necessarily make more money, either. It just means the average person has less software on their desktop. Do you think the majority of people who pirate Adobe Photoshop would actually purchase it if they couldn't download it? If they are a professional, they probably already bought it. If not, I have a feeling they would migrate towards something cheaper like Paint Shop Pro or The Gimp.
  • "Pirates" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maynard-lag ( 235813 )
    I love all the recent (well, last couple of years) banter about software pirates in the mainstream media. My favorite quotes are something along the lines of.. "software pirates cost us $x.x billion last year. When they are actually referring to people that haven't paid for the "illegal" copies of the software. I thought pirates were the people "selling" and gaining "profit" from "illegal" copies. How does putting a copy up on an ftp site relate to making a profit?
    • It also applies to acquiring value without due compensation, or supplying this value to others. Face it...software has value, because if it didn't, there would be no demand for it. So, you might not be making a profit, but you ARE benefitting from its value.
  • Enforcement (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Templar ( 14386 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:49PM (#3865759) Homepage
    To me, an interesting aspect of the fight against piracy is the teaming-up of companies/divisions.

    Right now, the MPAA is trolling IRC for servers, and reporting infringing IPs back to Time Warner, who promptly warns customers against their usage. I've seen some of the letters.

    There may or may not be antitrust concerns, but it's certainly schizophrenic... In cases like these, whose profit is considered to be more important?
    • Re:Enforcement (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sheepab ( 461960 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:10PM (#3865922) Homepage
      Right now, the MPAA is trolling IRC for servers, and reporting infringing IPs back to Time Warner, who promptly warns customers against their usage. I've seen some of the letters.

      If thats sucessful, they will just move to an IRC server that doesnt support finger/dns. I know a few irc servers that you cant get other peoples ip, you can dns/finger them all you want (get your mind out of the gutter!) but it will still return YOUR ip. With that said the MPAA/RIAA might try and force the server to release the ips of certain people, but the server has every right to deny that request do to 'security' reasons.

      "I want the list of ips for all these people!"
      Sorry, that poses a security threat not only to our servers, but to our many faithful users :)

      *sigh* Please dont flame me for what I have just said...Im only stating what will most likely happen.
      • they will just move to an IRC server that doesnt support finger/dns. And how will that help? They're not going after people in the channels, can't prove they're doing anything. They're going after people running fserves. You have to allow people to connect to your server for them to download anything. Once they're connected they know who you are.
  • OSS killed warez (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tsugumi ( 553059 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:51PM (#3865766)
    It's not exactly a new assertion, but Open Source quite obviously killed most of the motivation behind warez. Now we can just download the apps we need anyway. The desire to put your name out there, and to participate in the distribution of good software to people. Many of those creative people that would oce have been cracking software have a much more interesting, rewarding and legal outlet in devloping open source applications. Instead of "giving something back" by posting warez to ng's or pub ftp's, you can do your bit by bug testing, or contributing documentation etc etc
    • by qurob ( 543434 )

      You're nuts.

      There's no OSS equivalents of the latest version of TrueSpace, AutoCAD, PhotoShop, Quark, Flash, etc etc

      Half the mystique of WaReZ and Crackers is getting to be the first group getting a crack out, having copies of EVERYTHING, and having software just to have it.

      Do you think every WaReZ kiddy has all this software installed? Hell, they might not know what half of it is, but they have it.
  • FBI Scaremongers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maynard-lag ( 235813 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:57PM (#3865822)
    Here's a nice quote from the article:

    "It's the same reason that people join gangs," said Allan Doody, the Customs Service investigator who led the DrinkorDie investigation...

    Um.. yeah, script kiddies trading software like baseball cards is exactly like joining a gang so you won't get beat up on the way to school. I just love when the government/media feels the need to subtly add words that make things sound more evil than they really are.

    • Not qutie (Score:5, Informative)

      by unformed ( 225214 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:12PM (#3865937)
      Yes, in that sense it's different. And I quite agree with what they're saying, but you pulled it out of context.

      His next workds were: "They're hanging out on the cyber-street corner." I used to in the priacy rings; and it -is- like a gang, it's a place to be accepted, to be around similarly-minded people, etc.

      Then again, joining the football team is also like a gang. Adolescence is about joining "gangs" regardless of whether or not you commit crimes.

      (Read: A gang is a group of people, not a group of people who kill other people.)
  • by shren ( 134692 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:57PM (#3865828) Homepage Journal

    Although release and courier groups engage in little direct commercial activity, a 1997 extension in federal copyright law made piracy a crime even if there is no monetary profit.

    How were pirates prosecuted before then? I seem to recall that they busted hacker rings long before 1997.

  • Losing billions? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AAAWalrus ( 586930 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:58PM (#3865837)
    *snip*
    "It's cool to release something that costs $18,000," said Mr. Grimes, the DrinkorDie member from Arlington, Tex. "Basically, if it wasn't for us, you would never see this piece of software."
    *snip*

    I understand how they figure that companies "lose money" whenever they're software is pirated. But do they figure into those billions of lost dollars statements like the one above? Seems to me it's hard to find out just how much money the software companies are really losing because not all people who pirate their software are people who would ever pay for it.

    Still, the worst part is that because software piracy is so rampant, it enables people who would (can?) pay for proper licensing for software to obtain illegal licenses.

    I certainly feel bad that small businesses that rely on software licensing for revenue are having their stuff pirated, but another company like Blizzard who sold something like (correct me if I'm wrong) 1 millions copies of Warcraft III on pre-sell alone... how are we supposed to feel sorry that their "losing" money, when we can't be sure that people who pirated that software would never have bought it because they don't have the money or whatever? Maybe that's a lame example, but you get my point. Replace Warcraft III with some $500 publishing software, like Photoshop or CorelDraw. Is everyone who pirates those someone who would pay for them if they couldn't obtain them illegally?

    Now here's a good hypothetical question: Suppose someone illegally downloads a copy of Warcraft III just to "try it out", with the intention of buying it if they like it. They play it and don't like it because of the 90 food limit, or something like that. They delete the game and never play it again. Do they owe Blizzard $55 because they should have bought the game in the first place to "try it out"?
    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:21PM (#3866013)
      *snip*
      "It's cool to release something that costs $18,000," said Mr. Grimes, the DrinkorDie member from Arlington, Tex. "Basically, if it wasn't for us, you would never see this piece of software."
      *snip*

      I understand how they figure that companies "lose money" whenever they're software is pirated. But do they figure into those billions of lost dollars statements like the one above? Seems to me it's hard to find out just how much money the software companies are really losing because not all people who pirate their software are people who would ever pay for it.


      If we define

      R := real lost revinue the company would have gotten were it not for copyright violators
      P := profit per copy of software company makes when it is purchased legally. This isn't the same as the retail price, as Id probably makes domething less than the $30.00 sticker price of a retail copy of Quake, for example.
      N := Number of copies obtained illegally
      and
      C := Ratio of people who would have paid for the software had they not gotten an illegal copy over the total number who got a copy illegally (value 0.0 - 1.0),

      then

      R := C * P * N

      C is a value between 0.0 and 1.0, and probably almost never equals 1.0. E.g. if out of 500 copyright violators 250 would have bought the program otherwise, while the other 250 would have done without, C = 0.5

      Still, the worst part is that because software piracy is so rampant, it enables people who would (can?) pay for proper licensing for software to obtain illegal licenses.

      Actually, the value of money lost probably approaches $0.00 the more expensive the software becomes. I suspect C is quite high for really cheap software that is copied illegally, while it approaches 0.0 for really expensive software copied illegally.

      Two factors play a significant role in this: (1) commercial entities almost always want to have their licensing in order (due to audits, liability, etc.) and (b) individuals have very limited budgets (comparitavly speaking).

      I doubt very much a single copyright violator of an $18,000 program would have purchased it legally had it not been available on the internet. Indeed, I suspect C = 0.0000 in that particular example.

      On the other hand, illegal copies of a $50.00 program (e.g a game) probably do mean that some percentage would have gone out and spent $50.00 on it had they not obtained it, so C is probably higher.

      For a $2.00 piece of software (assuming its really easy to find and pay for), C probably approaches 0.9 or higher.

      Of course, even this equation ignores the effect of advertising (someone copies the $18,000 program, then finds a need for it in their professional life and talks their employer into purchasing one or more copies), as well as the 'bleedoff' effect (a kid copies one $50.00 game, but goes and spends the $50.00 he would have spent on the first game on another game instead, perhaps by the same company, perhaps by a competitor. Statistically, assuming both games are roughly the same popularity, this is a wash, and neither company loses anything despite the kids having twice as many games as they could have afforded). It also ignores the very common practice of 'try before you buy', where people will in fact borrow a friend's copy of a commercial package, use it, get used to it, then quite often chose to buy a copy (for the documentation, for support, etc.).

      I think it is obvious even to the IP zealots out there that the real losses due to copyright violations are tiny fractions of the amounts being deceitfully presented to the FBI and the courts, and in some cases (e.g. Napster) copyright violations have been shown to have the opposite effect, and even increase sales.
    • I understand how they figure that companies "lose money" whenever they're software is pirated. But do they figure into those billions of lost dollars statements like the one above?
      No, of course they don't. They make the rediculous assumption that every person who obtains a free copy of the software would have purchased it had the free copy not been available. The result is a hugely inflated idea of financial loss, which is exactly what they want.

      The reality is much more complex, in many situations the avilability of free versions of software, which - say - poor students can play with, can motivate that student to purchase, or persuade their employer to purchase, the software when they leave school.

      I am just waiting for the day when you get a longer prison sentence for copying the wrong set of bits and giving them to a friend, than you would if you murdered him.

      • They are assuming that people who use a product should have paid for it. Stealing something because you wouldn't pay for it anyway in no way makes it less of a theft. If you use the software you owe the company money for it.
    • Seems to me it's hard to find out just how much money the software companies are really losing because not all people who pirate their software are people who would ever pay for it.

      Whether or not they would have paid for it is beside tbe point. It still involves theft of the value that the software provides.

    • Re:Losing billions? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jafuser ( 112236 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @03:00PM (#3866331)
      I understand how they figure that companies "lose money" whenever they're software is pirated. But do they figure into those billions of lost dollars statements like the one above? Seems to me it's hard to find out just how much money the software companies are really losing because not all people who pirate their software are people who would ever pay for it.

      Is there a term for this? If not, someone must invent one. It must be a fairly unique word which is distinct enough to make it clear that companies do not lose money to people who would never have bought something in the first place. It seems like lately this concept has been explained over and over (software, mp3s, movies, etc), but until we label it, it will never sink in.

      I will concede that a portion of the people would have purchased it if there were no piracy, but there has to be a stop to this incessant and inane meme that, for example, one million users illegally downloading software "X", valued at $100 per copy is not a net loss to the company of 100 million dollars - maybe one million, maybe five million, maybe ten million - but no way in hell 100% of the people who copied the software would have bought it if piracy never existed.

      DIE MEME DIE!

  • Overkill (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dolohov ( 114209 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @01:59PM (#3865842)
    Wow, they used 40 armed agents to bust a 29-year-old still living with his parents? I guess they must have decided that they can spare the manpower from, say, the anthrax investigation or the war on terror.

    These guys need to lay off a bit. One or two unarmed agents would have sufficed to bring the guy in.

    • Inflated costs are hard to justify if you don't treat them as "Big Deals" throughout the entire operation. It's all part of the show...
    • Re:Overkill (Score:5, Funny)

      by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:18PM (#3865982) Homepage
      Ok, this is offtopic so mod to your heart's content, but I love to tell the story so I'm gonna

      I friend of mine back in the BBS day had always steered clear of guessing MCI codes for fear of getting busted. Lots of people we knew were doing it, and had been for a long time without any problem, so finally someone talked him into running a kind of war dialer to find MCI codes. He gets the program, finds a local MCI dialup number on a BBS and sets it to run overnight.
      Sadly, the dialup that he finds is an FBI plant -- they had been trying to get some big-time LD thiefs in the area and my buddy stumbled into the sting.
      His computer was a flaky old Apple II, which didn't quite run before the CPU warmed up a bit. The way he booted it was to turn it on, wait a few seconds, then hit the red button connected to a non-maskable-interrupt card (NMI cards, ahh the memories!) to restart, and repeat the cylce until it worked.
      So these two FBI goons greet him at his door, and ask to see the computer. He shows them the computer on his desk, and they ask him to turn it on. As he's reaching for the red button, he notices that the two goons have shoved their hands inside their jackets, just shy of drawing guns on this dorky kid, and ask him "just WHAT does that button do?!?"
      To this day we can't figure out what they hell they THOUGHT it was going to do. (release the hounds!)

    • I would imagine that any law enforcement agency has a better idea of risks assessment than J. Random Slashdotter.

      Obviously there was a reason they assigned 40 armed agents to bust one man, and I guarantee you that it's not because 38 guys were sitting around with nothing better to do and decided to go out there on a lark.

      Maybe you would have cooperated and gone in quietly if 2 unarmed agents showed up. Maybe this guy would have pulled an unregistered shotgun from his closet and blown them both away. You don't know, and they didn't either.
      • Jesus Christ. That has to be one of the most moronic and ill-conceived rebuttals I've read in months.

        Crimes committed were basically the most non-invasive of any white-collar crime. The other poster has it correct - it's all part of the show.

        Perhaps two men is too few, but two to fetch him and three more for "backup" if something goes wrong is certainly more than enough. 5 men to fetch one conceivably harmless white-collar, still-living-at-home-with-mom-and-dad 29-year old has certainly got to be adequate.

        40 is blatant misuse of resources and eeks of an agenda.

  • Warez hot or not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by I_am_Rambi ( 536614 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:00PM (#3865852) Homepage
    According to the /. article Warez is slowing down [slashdot.org], but the articles say "Although the warez scene took root only in the early 1990's, piracy has expanded rapidly, particularly in the last five years." So, what is it? is Warez cooling down or still heating up? Warez is blocked (at my school at least), so that could be why most students are not downloading warez software anymore. Who knows what they do to the code anyway. Besides other things on their site, warez is never an option for me. I would rather buy my programs, write them myself or use open source. Open Source is the best option anyway.
  • Don't be too quick to label these people as warez kiddies or people who are somehow different from you.

    Warez can become an addiction, just like mp3's. It starts out with you downloading the newest Dreamweaver for your new flashy website; then you get the latest Photoshop to doctor your home pics. Then three months later, you have a 60g hard drive on your cable modem server, running a cracked version of XP, that is full of the latest and greatest graphics and rendering software. It's very, very easy to become immersed in the scene.

    However, most people eventually leave the scene, because they realize they never use any of the cool programs. And the new people in the scene are just greedy and selfish. Then they move on to loftier anti-establishment movements.

    Peace.
    Al.
    • Yep. I had a brief stint in the warez-scene in high school. Ran a hidden ftp-server on a computer connected to the school network. I thought I was really cool until I realised that I was throwing so much time away. It's really easy to get hooked into the warez-scene and all th "l33t" stuff that comes with it. Like using stolen ISP-accounts for "free" (this was in Sweden without flatrate) dialup access or using creditmaster 4000 to make your own compuserve account.

      God I don't miss that period of my life...

  • Its more expensive to jail these people for 'stealing' than it is to let them run free. Imagine it. They don't even have to pay taxes in prison, they just...sit there. At least on the outside they had to pay taxes and didn't leech off of the government's money. l
    • I think this is a justifiable use of resources. Let's think of it in AD&D terms: my lawful good cleric (the police) walks into a vampire nest and starts Turning Undead (W4r3z D00dz and H4x0rs). The vamps either (1) run away in terror and don't bother anyone for a long while, (2) die gratuitously (are sent to jail), or (3) are converted to my side (become white hats).

      Of course in real life hackers and vampires are different, since putting Windows 2000 on an FTP site is a tad more benign than sucking the life out of a struggling human being, feeding your twisted bloodlust and creating yet another member of a terrible legion of undead. And software pirates don't give you any experience points or gold when you kill them. Actually, now that I think of it, this AD&D thing is a fairly shitty analogy. Sorry. Oh well, time to go feed my Baldur's Gate 2 addiction.

  • by BitGeek ( 19506 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:06PM (#3865893) Homepage

    This article shows just how out of control our government is, when 40 armed agents "bust" a guy who's pirating software.

    First off, let me point out that I'm a software developer, and I'm in the process of creating a shrink wrapped application which I intend to charge for and which I expect a number of people are going to try to pirate. Since I am a one man startup in this situation, if piracy affects anyone, it affects me directly in my pocket book.

    But this situation is absurd. Teh government should not be wasting time going after people who are pirating software who aren't profiting from it.

    If someone steals my software, then they are liable to me under the law-- not to the feds. The feds have no rights to my code and no rights to lock people up for violating my rights in this way.

    If someone pirates my software, then I should be able to take them to civil court and sue them for damages-- possibly twice actual damages, but I have to show damages to recover the money.

    The Feds are busting people, claiming that "millions of dollars" have been stolen when this is a bald faced lie-- millions of dollars have NOT been stolen.

    The only way a pirated piece of software is "theft" is if the person who uses it would have OTHERWISE bought the product. IF someone tries it out and then discards it and never would have bought the product, then the software company has not experienced damage-- they got some free advertising and didn't happen to pick up a customer.

    IF someone pirates your software and then sells it, well then that would be theft. But those who give it away a guilty of mischief, but do not belong in a federal prison.

    As for the guy who claims his software costs $9,500 but lost out because it was pirated-- make your software not work without authentication with the mothership. This is really easy these days-- get the MAC address, and send it in, and return a cryptographically signed authorization code that the program needs to run-- if the MAC address changes too much, or you['re getting identical requests from dozens of IP addresses, then don't return the key. Hell, make it such that a key set of code for the App is stored in an external runtime-loaded framework, and encrypt that bit with the key so that it never exists on the CD or hard drive in decrypted form... and of course keys have an expiry so that the program has to check in every 90 days or so. Or whatever less draconian version of this works for you, hell dongles are cheap enough.

    Yes this can be defeated, but my experience with warez sites is that they just have CD images, the programs security hasn't been defeated, and people just share license keys-- in this case reporting the key to a central server and the ability to turn it off when it becomes obviously shared is easy.

    This seems to be working for ambrosia and idsoftware.

    But sending the feds in is NOT the solution-- we cannot tolerate this. MS has sent teams of armed men into small offices where they suspect the people are not licensing all their copies of windows. This is unacceptable.

    As long as we accept government stormtroopers doing the bidding of private companies we will not be free-- it will just get worse and worse.

    What's next- 40 armed marshalls bust some 13 year old for sharing MP3s?

    All the while real crimes are going on and are ignored.

    These are civil issues and belong in the civil courts. And anyone who doesn't protect their IP is just asking for it.

    This is the equivalent of cops busting down dorm room doors because 20 kids in the same class photocopied pages from a library book to study from.

    But because its computers they're "pirates" and the idiot press and public go along. Who's to stand up to the invasion of police in what should be civil matters? If anyone- US. Don't tolerate your company using stormtroopers-- protest loudly if they do. And protest to anyone who has the ability to affect change in this area-- such as your congressman (though I don't hold out much hope that they will listen, idiots that they are.)

    Civil disobedience is going to be what this comes down to eventually-- sooner or later, they will be tightening the noose. who here doesn't have an MP3 that they can't prove legal ownership of?
    • Yes this can be defeated, but my experience with warez sites is that they just have CD images, the programs security hasn't been defeated, and people just share license keys-- in this case reporting the key to a central server and the ability to turn it off when it becomes obviously shared is easy. This seems to be working for ambrosia and idsoftware.

      The problem with this is that unless you have some server-side logic, pirates can (and will) just hack the 'phone home' part of your program out. It works for id and other game companies because you need to connect to a server to get the full benefit of the game (and by the way, there are even hacked versions of the Quake3 server that allow people to connect with bad cd keys, though running one of these is obviously somewhat dangerous since it can be fairly easy for id to track down).

    • Quote: "Yes this can be defeated, but my experience with warez sites is that they just have CD images, the programs security hasn't been defeated, and people just share license keys-- in this case reporting the key to a central server and the ability to turn it off when it becomes obviously shared is easy."

      Bzzt. Wrong. Trusting the client is definitely not the best way to go. Heck, there's no way to go as long as someone else has your code. Also, most (all) of the warez I've seen HAVE defeated the checks -- why would someone want an iso of a cd that can't be used? Either that, or there is an .exe that is provided that probably just "nop's" when the original code said "Check this mac and report to the mother ship".

      Trusting the client will never work. For applications such as photoshop or word etc; there's no good reason to need to check. They're all standalone (if need be). Now, games on the other hand CAN be checked (cheats etc) if played online. However, in a closed environment, again there's no need to check the mother ship. And that's where warez groups can crack and say "Oh, it's ok, don't check with the mother ship" (can you tell I like that reference?)

    • As for the guy who claims his software costs $9,500 but lost out because it was pirated-- make your software not work without authentication with the mothership.

      ...

      Yes this can be defeated, but my experience with warez sites is that they just have CD images, the programs security hasn't been defeated, and people just share license keys-- in this case reporting the key to a central server and the ability to turn it off when it becomes obviously shared is easy.

      I think you had the right idea-- software this expensive can/should have special checks to deter hackers. I would argue that for this kind of coin the software company could afford to custom build each copy.

      Imagine if you knew that each binary had the name of your company watermaked inside it somewhere. Not the company you enter on the stupd registration screen, but the name of the company they shipped to on their invoices. Heck, throw the ship-to address in there too!

      Bury that, encoded, several places inside each binary. Burn it on CD. Ship it.

      It's important that the company know that all their binaries are encoded like this. It will "encourage" them to be more judicious about keeping them under control. The flip side, of course, is the software should no longer need some stupid license server associated with it. (The same process could bind a copy to a particular system. Yes, you'd need to build and burn a new copy for each system. Charge accordingly.)

      When the image shows up on the Warez board, de-watermark it, call up the company, terminate their license, and start filing suit.

      This has some nice advantages:
      + Accountability
      + No "can't run because the license server is dorked up" problems

      And a disadvantage mitigated by the already high price tag:
      + distribution costs go up
    • Tell me about it. Check out this for example:

      'But that argument fails to resonate for copyright holders like Mr. Vold. "If you like torching houses for fun, you don't gain anything from torching somebody's house," he said. "But that homeowner will certainly suffer a material loss."'

      How can this guy possibly draw a parallel between digitally creating more copies of something, and destroying someone's physical property!? What nonsense. Warez pirates aren't destroying anything, just the opposite. (I'm not saying this guy doesn't have a legitimate grievance, just that his analogy is stupid beyond belief)
  • "war on warez" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mad Quacker ( 3327 )
    They tried to make an example out these few, look it's working great. Then they'll put the thousands on thousands of couriers in jail, then they'll put non affiliated users in jail. It works just like imprisoning people for marijuana possession. The US prison industry is booming, that's what will bring us out of this recession, a profitable prison system driven by slave^H^H^H^H^Hprison labor. When it's all over, that's all we will have. Everyone in prison.

    Fear is not a good reason to do anything, as people will re-learn soon.

    So do you think _real_ pirates in china/korea/russia/etc will have problems making copies? hah.

    Destroy society for money, you won't live long enough to see it in ashes.
  • by RembrandtX ( 240864 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:13PM (#3865941) Homepage Journal
    They can arrest all the people they want. Realistically though .. People have been pirating software since the 80's.

    Anyone remember Mr.Nibble ?

    Not that its justification, but there are products that wouldn't have market share .. or obtained market share if they didn't embrance piracy.

    Microsoft, Adobe, Macromedia, Quark.

    All of these 'big names' became the 'standards' becuase folks were able to play with them.

    3dMAX hates to admit it .. but they have better sales over lightwave because of college piracy of their product.

    College kids graduate, and eventually get into positions in companies that decide what software to actually buy. Do you buy something that you have never seen before ? or software that 1/2 of your staff already has at home .. legel or not?

    Internet piracey is a joke, You want real piracy .. ask Games Workshop how much of their product is illegally produced in Russia or Poland.
    [were talking toy soldiers]

    or Ask Black & Decker how many chineese companies made a knock off of the snake light.

    piracy is nothing compaired to actual industrial espianage. How many car manufactureres buy, and reverse engineer their compeditors autos?

    Or pick the solid state electrical giant of your choice. Chances are they are on the beta test list of all compeating companies through a friend of a friend of a friend.

    The reason Software companies are so loud about it now .. (or at least the big boys are) is because it gives upcoming companies the same ability to snake them like they did to others in the past.

    Its kind of like how the music industry was all over MP3 .. crying wolf about lost sales during their HIGHEST sales year in history.

    What people tend to forget .. is that its better to be a company that sells billions and looses 5% revenue to piracy .. than a company that sells hundreds of thousands, and looses 2%.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Software companies should be pricing software to maximize revenue.

    Price it too high, and the only users are pirates.

    Price it too low, and there's no piracy but then eventually there's no company, either.

    Piracy also indicates a good demand for a product, and if a warez hound does use the product, maybe he'll introduce it into a corporate environment later and spend someone else's money.

    I therefore suspect that there's a certain tolerance of piracy, and that ringleaders of large pirate organizations would probably be the only real targets.

  • by qurob ( 543434 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:18PM (#3865985) Homepage

    Ironically, what if this guy had been playing something like Rainbow 6 as his house was raided!

  • there was an article about piracy I posted a highly moderated insightful comment. However, this time I will say the same thing only shorther :-)

    First of all, the last line of the article was kind of lame, the rest of it was good though. The software company exec talked about burning houses down. Yes, a person is hurt if you burn their house down. That is not comparable to warez though. If I make a copy of photoshop, adobe hasn't lost photoshop, they still have it, it doesn't belong to me. All that happens is that I now have a copy of 500$ software that I can use, that I wouldn't have bought anyway, because I'm a poor college student with no money. NO, I didn't actually pirate photoshop, I bought PSP it's only 70$, when I bought it anyway.

    Anyway the reason there is warez is because software companies charge too much for software. 9500 dollars for an engineering program? Nobody can afford that! If I'm an engineer who makes say 80 grand a year and I use that software at work. Now I want to use it at home, to get work done at home. To be completely legal I need to spend 1/8 of my yearly income! insanity! Of course I'm just going to copy the cd-roms at work and pirate it.

    Warez will always exist as long as software is expensive. Software companies will keep increasing software prices as long as people keep pirating software. It's a vicious cycle of doom. Eventually software will become so expensive that nobody can afford it. The software companies are putting themselves out of business.

    The only way I see out is to use WS_FTP style licensing. Home users, college students, and generally anyone who isn't a company can get WS_FTP for free legally. If you need the crazy advanced features that only a corporation would need, or even if you are a small business that needs only the light features, you have to pay. If all software was like that i guarantee a large decrease in piracy and increase in profits for software companies.
    Games are another story since they are only 50 bucks. But even though warcraft 3 is out for free, I still see over a million pre-orders. I guess that the piracy really isn't hurting them that much is it?
  • Heh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <john DOT oyler AT comcast DOT net> on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:23PM (#3866026) Journal
    Sankus should have raped someone, or robbed them at gunpoint. He'd be out in half the time.
  • Pirates of the Web

    By JENNIFER 8. LEE

    Her middle name is eight? She's 31337 too!

  • i dont know about that. alot of these programs that are warezed, people would never buy. like the pro engineering packages, the high end modelers, and other very high end software. these programs sell to corporations that need them. companies cannot get away with not buying their software. adobe sells its products to professionals, they can afford the price; students canot that is why they have elements and educational versions. unigraphics probably wouldnt be in business unles gm still used their software.

    these companies that bitch about losing money do not realize that they are gaining a userbase that they never would have had. alias|wavefront realized this and released a FREE version of maya, which sells for thousands of bucks. they are getting kids into their company and their software so in the future they may get their employer to buy it for them.

    i know this is only one representitive of one portion of the warez scene but, i think more companies should take the maya approach to avoiding the warez problem

    oh and if you are interested in maya, get it here
    Maya PLE [aliaswavefront.com]

  • I imagine half the Office users wouldn't be using it if they didn't have a free copy. I used to get legally free copies of everything. Did I use the free Lotus 123? No. Did I use the free Wordperfect? No. I used the free Office. Would I have used the Office if it cost me $600? Hell no. I would have used the free WP/123. Or I'd use Wordpad. I only used it because it was free.

    If WP/123 had a 80% market share, Gates would be giving the shit away trying to drive them out instead of being appalled that people don't pay for his software.
  • I'm somehow glad to see that the information this article contains was pretty accurate. It is kinda scary to think, but the warez network really is that complex and so well organized. They seemed to focus a lot more on applications, but the scene contains so much more. Movies, (www.isonews.com) is a huge organization with the large need for bandwidth and large storage capacity. The articles that people post about "Lilo and stitch" are usually about crappy CAM's that the guy got off KaZZa. In the scene, those crappy quality movies are rarely seen, but instead are replaced with rips from cassette tapes, and sometimes DVD's that are sent out to critics.
    I must say though that the article does give a good idea into the depth that these systems have reached.
  • How do you "crack" Windows 95? It was shipped on a standard CD.

    I think the author meant that the skill was in just managing to obtain the copy a few weeks before release.

    - adam

  • Priority challenged? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheConfusedOne ( 442158 ) <the.confused.one@gm a i l.com> on Thursday July 11, 2002 @02:46PM (#3866225) Journal
    From the article:
    "It's the same reason that people join gangs," said Allan Doody, the Customs Service investigator who led the DrinkorDie investigation, part of a broader anti-piracy campaign called Operation Buccaneer. "They're hanging out on the cyber-street corner."

    But in contrast to petty criminals and warring gangs, Internet piracy groups have a worldwide impact of at least tens of millions of dollars, if not more. Such groups secure their reputations by releasing thousands of free movies, games, music and software programs on the Internet each year.


    So, distributing copyrighted materials is worse than such "petty criminal activity" as drive-by shootings, drug sales, and car theft? I'm glad our law enforcement dollars are being invested wisely to get this vicious criminals off the street.

    (And yes, they are criminals, I just object to the implied severity of their crimes.)
  • Good for OSS! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @03:22PM (#3866533)
    OSS should want to stop traditional software piracy. When people can't get those expensive programs for free anymore(ms office anyone?) they will either pay the price, find an alternative, or do without. I would bet that most of the time a free OSS alternative will do just fine for the average user. This could actually cause a increase in the usage of OSS.
  • It's obvious that what these guys were doing is illegal. Still I feel sorry for them, with their multi-year prison sentences, because they really weren't costing the software industry that much money in lost sales, and because they are scapegoats.

    As many others have said, most people wouldn't have bought the very expensive applications anyhow. When someone makes a pirated copy of Photoshop to do web graphics, at worst, they are depriving The GIMP [gimp.org] community of a new user, or depriving Jasc [jasc.com] of $99 -- usually not depriving Adobe of $600. There is some financial impact on the industry, but the numbers are lower. Also, there are plenty of software copiers. Software "theft" won't be reduced one iota by locking these guys up.

    The reason for that is, they were just functioning as a completely essential part of a healthy information economy -- the underground. Why is it essential? One reason is that, espescially near the turning points in society and revolution, information occasionally must transcend barriers created by law. If these underground data networks -- very small ones, if you believe the numbers in the NYT article -- are maintained, hidden, and keep working based on an economy of commercially available pilfered information, and if more citizens are trained in how to communicate covertly, and people are indoctrinated to know that storing or exchanging illegal information may not actually be wrong, then our surveillance-laden society has paid a fair price.

    The loosely hierarchical distribution network used by warez kidz is analogous in form and function to those used in China and other repressive regimes by political dissidents. Capable of passing only information, peer-organized, and with a medium level of identity isolation -- bring down one and you bring down a few others, but not the whole group. Personally, I feel more secure knowing that there exist these sophisticated illegal networks, capable only of traffic in information, that would be rather difficult for any authority to completely shut down. Who knows when they may be needed...

    -=Ivan (actually not very paranoid at all)

    "Here are a few notes from the underground / load them at your pleasure / These are the dusty pictures that I found / while on my search for treasure" -- Information Society [insoc.org]: Mirrorshades [insoc.org]
  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @03:33PM (#3866646) Journal
    Another one of those wild claims where these naughty boys are depriving certain industries of billions of dollars of theoretical money.

    Now when will we read more about the CEOs and other corporate executes who have deprived the good citizens of this country of billions of REAL dollars through their skimming and shady accounting practicies? Can we give this corporate rape a nickname? Can we make comparisons like "The CEO of suchandsuch is kind of like the guy who robs the 7-11 except he hit 10 million of them and left behind several million victims. Their sentences should be served concurently."

    Yeah, piracy is illegal, but I'm not seeing it at risk of pushing the world into a recession or worse depression, as investors and fund administrators move their money out of corporate stocks faster than they did in 1929...

  • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Thursday July 11, 2002 @04:13PM (#3866966) Homepage
    Although the warez scene took root only in the early 1990's, piracy has expanded rapidly, particularly in the last five years.
    Um, no.

    The `warez scene' was alive and well long before that. Back before the Internet explosion, warez was traded via BBS's, and by people bringing boxes full of floppies to their friends houses who had copy parties. Or they'd borrow a school's computer lab (rows of Apple II's) and set every one copying ...

    It seems that the NYT thinks that the warez scene needs the Internet to `take root' in. Not at all -- it'll root in anything it can, be it face to face meetings, BBS's, the Internet, or whatever comes next.

  • by splorf ( 569185 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @04:45PM (#3867205)
    The copies "become the raw materials that others use for commercial piracy," said Bob Kruger, president of the Business Software Alliance, an industry group that asserts that software piracy costs $10.1 billion a year in lost sales worldwide.
    The BSA loves to calculate these ridiculously inflated numbers based on estimating the number of pirated copies out there and multiplying by the full retail value of a single copy, as if all those people with pirated copies would have ever paid full retail if the pirate copy wasn't available.

    And yes, while commercial piracy exists, does the BSA seriously think that commercial pirates aren't capable of doing their own cracks? They're in a totally different space from what it sounds like these warez guys are doing. The idea that commercial pirates wouldn't exist without the warez crowd is ludicrous. The most popular targets for commercial pirating (Microsoft Office, etc.) aren't even copy protected.

    None of this is any news to /. readers but it's sad that the NYT swallowed the BSA line so readily. Some tougher questions definitely would have been in order.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of code." -- an anonymous programmer

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