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Software The Internet

Inside the Shadow Internet 954

Paladin144 writes "Wired has a report about the mysterious 'pirate networks' that obtain new movies, music & games before they are released and spread them throughout the net. It's not as simple as putting a movie on LimeWire. These people are highly organized and very paranoid about secrecy. They maintain a hidden network of top-level FTP sites that get the best files first and allow them to trickle down the pyramid and into many a slashdotter's sweaty little fingers."
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Inside the Shadow Internet

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  • Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lightdarkness ( 791960 ) * on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:05AM (#11236335) Homepage Journal
    Well... I used to be apart of one of the pyramids, before I got caught.

    I used to have access to the Distro section of an elite IRC channel, known across the net.

    They would give movies to those few, who would then take them to the regular channel.

    It's really crazy, and insanly hard to get in to, but you would get stuff very early.

    Also, easier to get caught, as I found out.
    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dont_think_twice ( 731805 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:07AM (#11236341) Homepage
      Details, please. How did you get caught? What was the punishment?
    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:55AM (#11236563)
      What's the motivation? Is is just self-importance?

      Reading this article kinda made me feel sick, as if all these people were so addicted to all these horrible hollywood releases (Hellboy?!) and RIAA crap, they were compelled to share it like tape traders of old.

      Seems like a huge waste of time and talent to bust your butt and possibly face jail time for the new Good Charlotte or Linkin Park.

      I'm hoping the scene does this "because its there and it can be done" for this 99% or so terrible content. But the piece on the people making a "Netflicks content" server implies otherwise.
      • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lightdarkness ( 791960 ) * on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:03AM (#11236600) Homepage Journal
        I didn't watch 75% of the videos I downloaded

        The motivation was the statistics. Seeing that I shared 10 gigs of movies in a day kinda made me feel important. I was almost op'd in one of the channels due to how much I was doing.

        I just did a little search, and found out the site I used to do this for is still going. Very supprised at how they keep at it, when I was caught so easily.
        • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dstech ( 807139 ) <> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @02:23AM (#11236943)
          That's because you were what is called a "mule" in the world of drug dealing. A mule is the low-end pusher/dealer, the person that deals with individual users, and always the fall guy. Not that I'm saying file sharing and drug dealing are analogous...

          In the warez community, as I understand it, you were probably either an "IRC/P2P Kiddie" or a "Racer" (if you got into sitetrading). Both of these are fairly easy to spot (from the perspective of syndicates like the RIAA & MPAA and the feds) because you are moving a lot of copyrighted data in plain text, with unobscured filenames. Until the very recent past, these "middlemen" were seen as fairly harmless by the FBI & co.

          Before the MPAA/RIAA campaigns against end users came into play, you would have been given a slap on the wrist (which, it would seem, is what happened). If you were doing the same stuff today, your personal information might have undergone the subpeona process the RIAA & MPAA have become infamous for, and you might have faced a civil suit and/or criminal charges. Consider yourself lucky to have gotten caught back then!

          (Most of my information comes from the article "A Guide to Internet Piracy" in 2600 Magazine, issue 21:2. It looks to be the same information, pretty much, as the Wired article mentioned in the top post, although I admit I have not RTFA. This is slashdot, after all...)
          • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by paganizer ( 566360 ) <> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @03:26AM (#11237171) Homepage Journal
            Did anyone read the article?
            Think about how they are slanting things; the article gives the impression that the vast majority of new material is being initially provided by these shadow networks.
            Back in the day when I was dodging sundevils (a cookie if you get the reference), that was essentially true.
            In the current picture, it's a vast overstatement; yes, there are "elite top level" groups, but they are mainly kiddies; the majority of app and game files circulating on the 'net are either done by 1 person who figured out the crack from standard deprotection tools, or from the established cracking houses like paradox, class, etc.
            The wording and, um, flavor? of the article is to create a scary thing on the internet that even the relatively well informed have heard of remotely or even been a peripheral member of, much the same way the Bush administration manufactured links between 911 and Iraq, and for essentially the same reason.
            It IS obvious right? if you stop and think about it? This is just a step down the path of making us accept fewer online freedoms, as a necessary aspect of the war on cyber-terrorism.
          • Re:Well.. (Score:4, Informative)

            by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:57AM (#11237435) Homepage
            That's because you were what is called a "mule" in the world of drug dealing. A mule is the low-end pusher/dealer, the person that deals with individual users, and always the fall guy. Not that I'm saying file sharing and drug dealing are analogous...

            No. The guy who deals with the customers is the dealer. The mule is the guy who smuggles drugs from the growers/chemists to the dealers. They're pack animals. That's why they're called "mules".
    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @03:48AM (#11237244) Homepage
      Please, allow me to rephrase and condense the parent's post that somehow got modded +4 interesting.

      "I used to be 1337! No really, I got caught, so I'm really cool, right guys?"

  • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:08AM (#11236343) Homepage Journal
    These people talk and probably spend a better part of the day or night on IRChat and do so because they have no more social life, than the average /.er.

    God bless them
    • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:19AM (#11236392) Homepage Journal
      I've read that mega-pirates don't even enjoy the majority of what they crack and distribute. It's all about the process for them -- some like to defeat copy protection, most like the social circles and ego they've got from being first to release or having the best stuff to offer.

      Menace to society, indeed. Maybe they'd do better to pick up programming and write free software rather than cracking someone else's, but I think you've hit the nail on the head; it's not even about the software or movies or music being pirated, in my opinion, when one gets in to the degree these folks have. They get nothing out of what they do but they get nailed harder than spammers or spyware purveyors.

      • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:36AM (#11236472) Homepage Journal
        You're exactly right. The people who do the most sharing, and especially the bleeding edge stuff are in it simply for the thrill of going against the Machine, and there aren't even enough hours in the day to listen to every song they have, or watch every movie. They simply have it, because it is there, and it gives them status with their peers. And I don't mean peers in the P2P software sense, I mean peers as in people. These people have no or little offline life. Their friends are mostly online, and may be in other countries even. I wasn't being a troll when I said they have no social life. I mean they have no social life, as 80%+ of society views a "real" social life.
        • by Carthag ( 643047 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:53AM (#11236818) Homepage
          That's not entirely true. It might be different now, as I've lost touch somewhat with the goings on of the "underworld" but it wasn't like that in the old days.

          I know a lot of guys who were big in the amiga scene some ten to fifteen years ago, and they all have pretty well-functioning social lives. One of them now works for a major computer game developer, others are completing various educations (and not necessarily comp.sci).
      • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:11AM (#11236629) Journal
        Back in my C-64 days, I knew a guy who tried to copy everything he got his hands on. Not that he used any of it, or even distributed it.

        It was the thrill of trying to break the copy protection, of finding the "cRaK" to pirate the software.

        He even went so far to paint his 1541 disk drive with "War Copy" paint....truely over the edge.

        The thrill for these people is like breaking a code somebody else devised, it's an Ego booster. And like drugs that give you pleasure, it's addictive.

        The process of getting the latest movie in the best quality on a 700MB CD (with DVD's so cheap..WHY do they continue to want to fit it on 700 MB CD's!) and getting it done first is somewhat similar.
      • by Forbman ( 794277 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @03:42AM (#11237224)
        So, for all you Slashdot readers who have partaken in the middle of this operation (i.e., a "distributor") or higher (not just a downloader), how much money did you actually make in it?

        The point being, the spammers, the junkmailers, etc., even though they are really just human cockroaches, ultimately make fist fulls of $$$ from their petty little endeavors. $$$ means that one or more of them might have enough sense in their heads to hire competent lawyers.

        Competent lawyers means that it is not a trivial effort for the FBI, Dept. of Justice, etc. to try and, prosecute them, because it will cost THEM too much time and energy for very little PR value, and certainly NO support for them (or their political...leash holders) when the next election cycle is around.

        So they go after these networks.

        Not only do they sound much better than "a spamlord was busted in suburban Detroit yesterday for allegedly sending out 1 beeleeon spam messages per month. Meanwhile, he's out on his own personal recognizance awaiting arraignment" vs "a secret cabal of movie pirates was busted yesterday by a huge interagency, multi-state task force that has worked for over 3 years to crack into, gain and ultimately betray the trust of those involved. Spec. Agent Murphy says, 'well, these activities only lead to bigger and far more nefarious criminal elements acting in our borders, not only against you and me, but other counterfeiting operations, etc. We hope their testimonly will allow us to catch the really big fish.' Meanwhile, bail on the 17 accused has been set from between $500,000 and $1,000,000 each."

        Ooo, these must be REALLY BAD BASTARDS if they have bail like that!

        No, these nets are just sexier targets than the spammongers, not only because they sound much better in a soundbite, but the perps tend to not have a bunch of money burning a hole in their parents' pockets to hire a good, agressive defense lawyer or to have made prudent past political contributions.

        Only and until AOL, Microsoft, and several of the other ISPs in the US decide that the loss of customer good will these simps cause everyone, and the additional work of their corporate customers, and fund these kinds of raids ala the MPAA/RIAA, then it just won't happen.

        But we've seen at least what AhOL is doing now, really, just marketing noise. AOL I think still makes too much money for selling subscriber lists to really make an effective "this shit is going to stop NOW" stand.

        The other part of it is that some of the people in the neo-money set have also figured out various semi- or quasi-legal schemes that make them lots of money, and combined with whatever other zealous drives or needs they have, makes them a bit more politically connected, compared to your typical working stiff. They protect their own, because if the spamschmucks go down, they could be smoked out too. The only difference between the spammer and the successful timeshare or RV salesman is really the job title (oh, and maybe the house, and car and multiple T1 connections in the house, and...).

        I suppose you could fit a lot of small and family-owned businesses in there as well (taking wholesale goods from the store/shop/market for use at home is probably a common one. it's not a big deal if it's a few rolls of bumwad, Sticky-Notes and stuff like that or those cheap-ass Papermate Stic-pens. But using the company, and other peoples' jobs as collateral for personal/family loans probably should be a big deal)...

        Also, when a "legitimate" group like the RIAA/MPAA feels it has to stoop to using spyware and other things to help "fight" that which it has deemed the Ultimate Doom and Evil (P2P), well...

        WWJD? No, the wristband to have in 2005 is "LWSHTJ - Look What Still Happened To Jesus!"
  • The Rules (Score:5, Funny)

    by da3dAlus ( 20553 ) <> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:08AM (#11236344) Homepage Journal
    The first rule of the shadow internet is, you do not talk about the shadow internet.
    The second rule of the shadow internet is, you DO NOT talk about the shadow internet. ...
    • Re:The Rules (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheHawke ( 237817 )
      That, actually holds true in this day and age.
      Usually the time to when the law would catch wind of something like this and act would be like, a couple of months, maybe three. These days... ehhhhhhhh, more like 2-4 weeks, tops!

      The ack-acks have the law enforcement groups running their donut-encrusted behinds off on on things like these, so the best way to let others know, is not to be hasty about it.

      Swelled egos + big mouths = big trouble down the road.
    • Re:The Rules (Score:3, Insightful)

      The first rule of referencing Fight Club is to NOT reference Fight Club. The second rule of referencing Fight Club is to NOT reference Fight Club.
    • by ceejayoz ( 567949 ) <> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:03AM (#11237282) Homepage Journal
      The third rule of the shadow internet is, if you talk about the shadow internet, a 14 year old pimply faced nerd threatens you with a supposed 350 pound hitman with a glock.
  • Curious tone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mistersooreams ( 811324 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:09AM (#11236349) Homepage

    The tone of the Slashdot article summary makes these people sound like rather romantic pirates (in the original sense), having exciting adventures with clandestine societies and having a strict code of secrecy.

    The truth of the matter, as the article reveals, is that it's people like these that caused so many problems for our friends at Valve and are responsible for most of the other irritating leaks of software. While I'm for P2P, fair use, BitTorrent et al as much as the next Slashdotter, I don't think these people are really up to any good. They are not much more than Internet criminals.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:17AM (#11236384)
      " so many problems for our friends at Valve"

      Valve is a business. They're not your pal, they're not your relative, they're not the cool people next door.

      They're a business that is out to make money. Never forget that about any company. Even Apple.
      • by Reteo Varala ( 743 ) <> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:43AM (#11236500) Homepage
        You make that sound like a bad thing.

        At least these companies offer something in return for that money. Say what you want about the greedy "rich people," they got to be that way by trade, not theft.
        • If you say "some of these companies", then I'll agree with you. I'm all in favor of those who get rich through fair competition being rich, but there's so many of the other kind that it's quite easy to lose them in the crowd.
        • by incom ( 570967 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @02:03AM (#11236852)
          Funny, I didn't see anything in the post saying that it was a bad thing to conduct a profitable business, or anything even close. It seemed like it was pointing out the irationality of harboring friendly emotions towards such an entity, with your relationship being merely a consumer.
        • by Civil_Disobedient ( 261825 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:16AM (#11237324)
          Say what you want about the greedy "rich people," they got to be that way by trade, not theft.

          Most of the large fortunes you can name were reaped through amoral or unethical means.

          Warren Delano [] (as in, Delano Roosevelt) got his money through the opium business.

          Joseph Kennedy [] was involved not only in some shady stock deals, but later ballooned his fortune with alcohol during Prohibition.

          John Jacob Astor [] made his initial fortune trading alcohol for furs with native americans.

          Bill Gates [] bought QDOS from Tim Paterson for a pittance, only to license it to IBM for millions.

          Of course, one could argue that these men weren't actually breaking any laws, they were simply taking advantage of the situations at hand while disregarding moral or ethical constraints that might bind us "normal" (read: unsuccessful) folk.
      • I'll choose mine.

        Businesses may have a primary aim of making money but they are made of people too and those people do have an effect on how a company behaves, especially in smallish companies. There's no harm in supporting and appreciating a good company. At the very least it gives them some encouragement them to keep being good.

        I don't know much about Valve and I've never played one of their games but they look like people trying hard to produce good software. There's no shame in liking that.
    • Re:Curious tone (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:22AM (#11236413)
      While these are the same people that were involved with the Valve incident, they are also the people who actually began distributing movies/music/etc and made BitTorrent and other P2P so popular. Peer-to-Peer has always been a good idea, but it could have been another decade before it saw widespread adoption if not for these groups.
      In many ways, these people are also responsible for there being a fight against the **AA in the first place. If they hadn't made piracy such an issue, laws would have continued to have been passed behind our backs.
      This isn't to say they don't do harm, or that aren't many people fighting the good fight legally.
    • Re:Curious tone (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:39AM (#11236478) Homepage
      The real truth of the matter, as the article also reveals, is that these people don't *care* that they caused so many problems for Valve or any other company. They also don't care about breaking media monopolies, changing distribution paradigms, and only just barely care about possessing and using the media and programs they pirate. It's all about getting attention and respect, and being online lets them reduce the chance of getting caught and ignore any side effects their "races" cause.
    • Re:Curious tone (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sheepdot ( 211478 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:45AM (#11236509) Journal
      The individuals this article recognizes are more commmonly known as FXPer's. These are often legitimate and illegitimate FTP server operators.

      Ago, who reportedly (see for explanation) stole the HL2 code, was a botnet coder. While botnets are designed primarily for three purposes: DDoSing, File Trading, and Spamming, they are not used for stealing source code. Instead, this is someone that acted of their own will to use a botnet to hide their identity when stealing the source. The source was also propagated via this method.

      The FXPer's are actually an echelon higher than botnet herders. The FXPer's have nothing to do with stealing Half-Life 2's source code. They are, indeed, the closest thing we have to romantic pirates. They also purchase the majority of the software they crack and distribute, ironically. They do this as a philosophical movement, and do not believe in copyright law or IP law.

      A good deal of the FXPer's also contribute to open source and are active on Slashdot.
    • Valve Hurt? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pVoid ( 607584 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @02:42AM (#11237016)
      I don't understand your fucking point man. I downloaded Valve's source just out of curiosity. I also bought Half-Life 2 because a) I wouldn't settle for anything less than release quality code, b) the game rocks to the point of deserving my money, and c) you actually can't play the god damn thing unless you have a real key (and, btw, I hate that: I have relatively up to date hardware, and it took around 50 minutes just decrypting the files on the DVD, and it also 'phones home' every time I want to play the game... If Microsoft did that, I'm sure you'd be waiting at the Redmond gates with a sawed off shotgun).

      I also love the quote: Valve stood helplessly by watching its big Christmas blockbuster turn into a lump of coal

      Ease up on the melodrama man, Valve is doing JUST FINE.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:10AM (#11236354) Homepage Journal
    spending hours and hours developing contacts so you can get a copy of a movie filmed from inside a theater.

    yeah, that'll hurt the industry.

  • by IO ERROR ( 128968 ) * <> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:12AM (#11236360) Homepage Journal
    The pirate release networks have been operating like this ever since people figured out how to connect two computers together. There has always been one or more topsites for any pirate group, and you can only get in by invitation.

    Back in the day, these sites were run on BBSs whose phone numbers were non-published and which only a few people had access to. These days it's FTP sites, but the principle is the same. And frequently it's not their own FTP sites, but someone else's site which isn't properly secured, but this happens more at the lower levels.

    Anyway, the networks run the same as they always have. You're either in or you're out. And most people are out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:15AM (#11236373)
    Without the threat of piracy, its a good bet that CD's and DVD prices would be 50-100% higher than they are today.

    If economics and history teach us anything, its that producers of any product, whether its widgets or music, or movies, will raise the price as high as they can in the absence of any competition.

    Since Government sponsered "Intellectual Property" is a defacto monopoly supported by the government, the only relief we have is to just grab the stuff if they charge too much.

    • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:58AM (#11236578) Homepage
      But CDs and DVDs haven't always been widely pirated. It's not like prices got halved since bittorrent got released.
      • by pediddle ( 592795 ) <pediddle+slashdot&pediddle,net> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:29AM (#11236703) Homepage
        Haven't they? Premier DVDs are on sale now for $9.95, whereas just a year or two ago nothing was available for less than $20-25. IMO, publishers have realized that crappy Hollywood blockbusters that lots of people want to buy but nobody wants to pay for are prime targets for piracy. God knows I wouldn't pay $20 for a copy of Hellboy that I'd watch exactly once, but I'd more than likely download one. But I might pay $9.95 for one, especially if that's less than I would have paid in a theater the first time around.
    • Or you could just not buy the product. I realize in that case you'd have to actually make a sacrifice and deprive yourself of something, but at least you'd have a clean conscience.

      The people who produce music and movies and whatever do have competition. They're all in the "entertainment industry". Most people have a certain portion of their income which the allot to entertainment. If people feel that one form of entertainment is too expensive, they'll start spending their money elsewhere. Movies, concerts, sporting events, travel, hobbies.... entertainment is a wide field. If the pirate networks were shut down tomorrow, we wouldn't see CD prices move a dime. There's still too much competition for the entertainment dollar.

      I'm not saying I never grabbed an MP3 or copied a floppy, but I never tried to justify it with some half-assed argument about fighting an evil tyrannical government conspiracy. I just stole it because I didn't want to pay for it.

  • by Create an Account ( 841457 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:17AM (#11236385)
    I think I just read about these guys in The Da Vinci Code.
  • by torpor ( 458 ) <<ibisum> <at> <>> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:17AM (#11236387) Homepage Journal
    .. not 'shadow internet'.

    Virtual Private Network.

    The oh-so subtle difference between positions (shadow internet vs. VPN) is that if someone does a google for VPN, they'll realize just how damn easy it is.

    "Shadow Internet"-way just sounds comic-book super-hero, and as we all know thats as literary as most peoples thoughts go, it won't be obvious that 'any joe can build their own private and secret Internet on top of the Internet []'.

    (Not just 'elite techno-psycho-fascist' types hell-bent on destroying 'systems'. *Anyone*.)

    Obscure, eh?
    • by RollingThunder ( 88952 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:47AM (#11236785)
      I don't recall seeing in the article reference to actual VPN technoligies... just obscurity.

      A VPN involves address encapsulation - the VPN has it's own address space, and when your packets are in transit between nodes that know of the VPN, they're wrapped up inside other packets, that go between publically adressible nodes.

      What I saw in this article was basically just a bunch of really covert but publically addressible internet sites (FTP, web, etc).

      To put it another way - I could have a webserver on my system that's only accessible after port knocking in a specific pattern, but that doesn't mean you're on "my VPN" when you manage to connect to it.
  • In the day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rockwood ( 141675 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:18AM (#11236388) Homepage Journal
    I also remember certain #'s on irc. #warez and man others, that had hundreds of users in them, though always password protected. I would try and try to get in... but to no avail. I even went as far as setting up a bot network and when the irc split, I jump in and took it over, frantically posting whatever I could think of to get them to allow me to stay. Problem was.. with hundreds of users already having access, I got stomped with other splits by several hundred bots. I lastest but a glorious few seconds. Ah, but those few seconds were the best seconds of my life... those few seconds when I was, for a vague moment, 'in' one of the channels.

    Anyway, I always wondered that is they kept things such a secret, how does *anyone* find out about them, or get access to them, etc. I used to own a local ISP, had dual T1's and dealt with thousands of users and net-friends, spent sleepness nights +O on numerous icr #'s /ctcp & /dcc and fserving what I could get and give back... but nothign worked. And hell, at that time I was merely looking for early release of OS's, prior to buying them so that I could get a techincal jump on questions from customers who were running those OS's. I always bought my software, I merely liked being ahead of the game.

    • Re:In the day (Score:5, Interesting)

      by poopdeville ( 841677 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:03AM (#11236596)
      A "friend" of mine spent some time doing mp3 trading through several forums for a few years before Napster came out. Basically, he joined a niche channel on EFnet and got to know the regulars. I talked with them too -- they were really nice actually. Within a few months, he was a channel operator, was constantly invited to the "big" channels, and had access to a terabyte of mp3's (in 1997!) through various ftp servers. It's kind of like buying drugs -- you have to know when you've met the right people. Being really funny helps, too.
  • Wannabes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jericho4.0 ( 565125 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:18AM (#11236389)
    As in any criminal conspiracy, it takes years of undercover work to get inside. An interview subject warned me against even mentioning Anathema in this article: "You do not need some 350-pound hit man with a Glock at your front door."

    Don't make me laugh. Anyone who belives for a moment that geeks racing each other to crack warez are going to defend their 'turf' with contracts against journalists is a fool.

    • Re:Wannabes (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rolo Tomasi ( 538414 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:02AM (#11236592) Homepage Journal
      I don't get that. Wouldn't it be better if they sent an average looking hitman, so he would be less conspicuous? I mean, why does he have to be heavy or strong when has a gun? So he could kill the journalist "even better" or what? Doesn't make any sense.

      Hell, if I ever wanted to take out a hit on someone, I'd hire a midget with a knife. Nobody would expect that. Even if the victim gets warned, nobody would take it seriously. "Dude, look out for a midget with a knife!" "Riiiight."

  • by Duncan3 ( 10537 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:20AM (#11236397) Homepage
    And by that I mean AGE old struggle.

    Every pirate eventually hits puberty, discovers girls, and suddenly has better things to do then rip off "da man". Just like almost all those hippies are now lawyers.
  • Pissed off people (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mellon101 ( 730405 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:21AM (#11236406)
    This article, and whoever it was they interviewed... really has some of these guys pissed off. 020 []
    • by Pete ( 2228 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:18AM (#11236665)

      Wow. I agree with Jericho4.0. Kids. And fairly stupid kids at that, several steps below your average script kiddie.

      For some reason I'm very strongly reminded of this line [] :-).

      Some of the bits from the article were pretty revealing too - one of the group members who was failing a CS degree because he never went to lectures and never studied (too busy "ripping and burning"). I'm guessing he didn't do the exams either :).

      And of course, who could forget that very scary and extremely serious and realistic </sarcasm> threat to the author of the article: "You do not need some 350-pound hit man with a Glock at your front door." Someone's been living a bit too much in movie fantasy-land, methinks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:21AM (#11236407)
    The article didn't mention The Brains - the crackers who break the copy protections for games/apps or The Carders - people who use stolen credit cards to purchase a valid serial # for games/apps. Insiders are pretty rare.

    And what's with the glorification? It's pretty boring stuff, expect when two groups release the same thing just a few minutes apart. You mainly sit in front of IRC all day long. In the Western countries it may be about bragging rights and prestige. In Asia, these releases are big business for a lot of computer stores. You feed your ego, they feed their family. What a waste of time.
  • Busted! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:27AM (#11236430) Homepage
    In April, federal agents interrogated Frank and impounded all his computer equipment. So far, no charges have been filed. "But the Feds had no idea about Half-Life," he boasts. "I was never connected to that shit. If they found out, I'd be in jail."

    So the pirate the feds arrested, interrogated, and impounded in April, but didn't file charges yet against, is the Half-life guy. That narrows it down quite a bit.

    • except (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )
      the guy who git half-life was german, and was arrested by the german police after the Germans learned that an American(HINT: it was his computer that was comprimised) was trying to lure hime to the states so the FBI could arrest him.

  • Spooks and cracks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rueger ( 210566 ) * on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:30AM (#11236453) Homepage
    Hmmm, once again a post about piracy seems to be populated with replies warning about The Danger, and telling how some guy has mended his ways and now refuses to be a pirate. Coincidence? An attempt to make file sharing seem a lot more risky than it is?

    Don't these posts [] seem to have a real "Reefer Madness" [] feel to them?

    What the Wired article really demonstrates is how it will continue to be difficult if not impossible to stop electronic piracy.

    Even though I don't condone such theft, and would prefer that all media be acquired through legitimate channels, the fact is that the genie is out of the bottle. The folks who like to distribute music, film, and warez will continue to stay one technological step ahead of the RIAA, MPAA, and the police.
  • Secret? (Score:5, Funny)

    by age of reason ( 845243 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:41AM (#11236487)
    "These people are highly organized and very paranoid about secrecy."

    That`s why they made Wired.
  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:44AM (#11236503) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one here old enough to remember Bulletin Boards and the 0-day-warez BBS's that cracked C=64 games on the day they were released?

    In those days you had to be ElYte! to download at 1200 baud and you had the famous upload/download ratios.

    And their system was usually even more secure and secret than what these so-called hackers have now -- usually because you had to know the sysop personally to get on those BBS systems.

    However, if you were a decent social engineer, or just a decent chatter, you could usually talk you way into those places.

    So really, what is the difference between now and then? The downloads are larger, the bandwidth is higher, the networks are more connected, but that's about it. It's basically the same stuff that been going on since the mid-80's and even before that (when people copied paper tape).

    Why does "Wired" have to play it up like it's some cool new thing? Because piracy now is mainstream, and everyone wants to get into the action?

    It's only a matter of time before we have a reality-TV show about this kind of lifestyle. But what the real dummies don't understand is that this is the same culture that has existed for decades.

    How lame.
    • by Hollins ( 83264 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:16AM (#11236652) Homepage
      Why does "Wired" have to play it up like it's some cool new thing? Because piracy now is mainstream, and everyone wants to get into the action?

      If you had read the Wired article, you would find that the reporter states that the current practice of piracy distribution can be traced back to 100 or so people operating C-64s in the 80s.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Am I the only one here old enough to remember Bulletin Boards and the 0-day-warez BBS's that cracked C=64 games on the day they were released?

      Not at all. In fact, I know that the name "courier" really stuck as a name for the guys trading copies for points, because USR eventually released Courier and Courier HST modems, and only crazy rich warez puppies could invest that kind of money or get their parents to buy them, while the rest of us were still using 9600, 2400 (MNP5 in software, maybe), or even 12

    • by verbatim_verbose ( 411803 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @02:35AM (#11236986)
      You're not the only one old enough to remember old bulletin boards, just the only one who still considers it cool to brag about remembering it. ;)
  • by spyrochaete ( 707033 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:48AM (#11236524) Homepage Journal
    Isn't it possible that such a powerful and exclusive ruling group of warez illuminati could have supplied this reporter with false information? A supposed squealer dishing out red herrings? Or perhaps there are two duelling top-level release organizations and one is trying to rat the other out.
  • Tax fraud? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stubear ( 130454 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:12AM (#11236632)
    "In fact, Forest freely admits to being a supplier. "I have bought everything from hard drives to complete computers for various people in the scene. I've probably bought 15 camcorders alone." He says he considers it a business expense, and writes it off on his taxes."

    Wouldn't this be tax fraud? I'd think the FBI could pull a Capone on his ass and use him as the link to the topsites. I don't think the IRS would consider copyright violation a legitimate business. I certainly wouldn't shed a tear if he were busted for either copyright violation or tax fraud.
  • by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:19AM (#11236670) Homepage Journal
    The Shadow Internet is just like the real internet, except we all have goatees.
  • by Admiral Burrito ( 11807 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:26AM (#11236698)

    Did anyone else's bullshit detector get pegged by this?...

    Within minutes of appearing on Anathema, Half-Life 2 spread. One file became 30 files became 3,000 files became 300,000 files as Valve stood helplessly by watching its big Christmas blockbuster turn into a lump of coal. The damage was irreversible - the horse was out of the barn, the county, and the state. The original Half-Life has sold more than 10 million games and expansion packs since its late 1998 release. Half-Life 2's official release finally happened in November, after almost a year of reprogramming.

    ...Specificly, the "almost a year of reprogramming" part.

    It seems that when people hear that the HL2 code was "stolen", they interpret that in the literal sense. It was "taken" from Valve so they had to "reprogram" it because they didn't have it anymore. This bogon seems to appear even among people who should know better (like Wired reporters).

    I guess Orwell was right: Control language, control thought.

    Imagine how productive OSS developers would be if they didn't "give away" all of their source code with every new version.

  • "Pirate," eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JeffTL ( 667728 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @02:56AM (#11237069)
    As Stallman (Free Software, Free Society; pp. 190-191) said, calling it piracy implies that unauthorized copying is tantamount to armed robbery, kidnap, and murder on the high seas. They both involve theft of a sort -- but are vastly different. Copyright infringement generally involves cheating someone out of their rightful royalties; piracy involves depriving sailors and their employers of life, liberty, or property (maybe all three!) without due process of law. I'd say that copyright infringement is not morally tantamount to this.
  • Me too. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:35AM (#11237385) Homepage
    Hard to get into? Pfft. No damn way.

    Back in my callow college years, I was a ripper for EPiC. I only did three or four releases; I was flush with the success of having learned to encode amateur porn using DivX (these were the heady days when DivX 3.11 with all that toolkit crap on top of it was the preferred encoding solution), and I put it to use.

    The guys had an ad on one of the XDCC channels---#imp-iso on EFNet, if I recall---asking for encoders. So I joined a chat channel, they helped me get set up, I got a Netflix account, and started encoding.

    Then Netflix didn't send me the DVDs, and kept charging me until I notified my card company and they stopped the autopayment. I don't know if it's changed since then, but there was no fucking way to get in touch with Netflix.

    But in the meantime, I had ratio access to some great big FTP dump in Europe. I was, at the time, frickin' amazed at how easy it was, and how clearly the feds either (a) didn't care, at that point, or (b) were horribly inept. I leaned towards (a).

    But, indeed, I was impressed at how sophisticated the tools (RaidenFTPD, mostly, seeming way, way better than the basic FTP daemons legit sites used) and organizations were, for people who never bothered to spell right or use there real names.

    And it wasn't like it was a really big or impressive group like Centropy. (They were, maybe still are, the guys who had telesync releases of every new movie the week it was in the theater. Watchable ones, which was the impressive part.)

    Ah, youth.

    --grendel drago
  • by onosendai ( 79294 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <gnuoyilo>> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @05:26AM (#11237488)
    has to be ...
    Last summer Jun Group dropped a collection of live videos and MP3s from Steve Winwood on the topsites. "We got 2.9 million downloads," says Forest, "and
    album sales took off."
    ..Small sample set maybe, but hopefully soon, 'they' will understand that #downloads ~= #sales
  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:10PM (#11238274)

    From the article:

    An interview subject warned me against even mentioning Anathema in this article: "You do not need some 350-pound hit man with a Glock at your front door."

    Does Slashdot really need to publish rubbish like this ? The whole article reads like the writer had infiltrated the Mafia (oh, sorry: "criminal conspiracy"), when in reality he simply interviewed some copyright infringers.

    For those who can't tell the difference between real criminal conspiracies and copyright infringers:

    • Real criminal conspiracies rob, extort and kill, which directly harms real human beings.
    • Copyright infringers distribute music, movies and programs without permission from copyright holders, which may or may not affect the financial bottom line of big media corporations, and might or might not cause their stockholders to not get as much profit as they would otherwise, for an undeterminable amount.

    Please note: I am not protesting the information content of the story. It actually had some interesting parts, like the joyrney of new files into consumers. However, I must protest the writer calling the warez people a "criminal conspiracy" simply to try to give the impression that he was infiltrating a real criminal gang.

  • Weakest Link (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sparkz ( 146432 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @10:10PM (#11241221) Homepage
    The MPAA spend a not-insignificant amount on CSS, lawsuits, lobbying for DMCA, etc. But the best source (or weakest link) in the chain is a minimum-wage projector operator.
    Unless the projection operator cares about the entire chain (maybe because they get a reasonable living out of it - there may be other ways, but that seems the easiest option) why not mandate that everyone who has the ability to leak your "crown jewels" is appropriately rewarded for that responsibility.

    Otherwise, any leaks are all your own fault.

    That doesn't excuse anyone for stealing the stuff, but it is a reason why it happens - get a month's wages for 2h work? Most people would go for that deal. It's human nature.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain