Nothing has contributed more to the rise of software piracy than the
Internet. With increasing connection speeds, downloading a software program
can take just minutes. The anonymity and the wide-spreading reach of
cyberspace make it a pirate's haven.
A Bulletin Board System is an electronic message center, accessed by a
dial-in modem connection. Most BBS systems serve specific interest groups,
by bringing people together for electronic newsgroup-type messaging. BBS
piracy was the origin of online copyright infringement. Before
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) became popular, most people would dial
in to a BBS, which would usually serve a local area. On BBS systems, people
would be able to request copyrighted software, which would be uploaded to
the BBS by other users. With the growing popularity of ISPs, people have
turned away from BBS systems. However, there are still many BBS services
still running around the country.
Usenet newsgroups are the Internet alternative to BBS systems. Similar to
BBS's, newsgroups allow people to post messages for public reading. There
are hundreds of thousands of newsgroups in service today, and the number
keeps growing. There are newsgroups for every possible topic, and some of
the more bandwidth-intensive ones carry pirated software. The
popular alt.binaries.warez.* hierarchy (which include
alt.binaries.warez.ibm-pc.games and alt.binaries.warez.mac) allows people to
upload and download pirated software. Each ISP can decide which newsgroup
to carry, and some (like Stanford University) have blocked the warez
Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, is an Internet instant messaging system used
by millions of people worldwide. IRC was the first to offer online chat
rooms (called "channels") for people to enter real-time live conversations.
There are a myriad of channels devoted specifically to people trading warez.
They allow for people to get in contact with one another and trade information
on where to find the latest cracked software. Many people set up an FTP server
for a single day, and then log onto an IRC chat room to advertise it. This
behavior is repeated by others, allowing for a rapid spread of pirated
software, while at the same time making it hard for authorities to track
individual pirates down.
Warez Web Sites
There are tens of thousands of web sites which provide free pirated software.
Many sites, often funded by pornographic banner advertisements, simply
offer the warez for download to anyone who wants it,
but some of them are organized into
"rings" or "clubs," which require membership in order to
download software. A member is required to upload software in exchange
for access. Some sites also sell pirated software to the general public.
With increasing connection speeds and the increasing power of personal
computers, it is now possible to set up a personal FTP server on a home PC.
Software pirates often use this method to trade warez.
GnuTella is a "Napster for warez." Although originally not developed for
software piracy, it has now been adopted as a pirate's dream tool.
It allows users to communicate in real time and distribute files amongst
themselves, while at the same time making the process completely anonymous.
Many pirates have turned to making profits by selling illegal copies of
programs on online auctions (such as eBay) for a fraction of the retail
price. Pirates try to deceive buyers into thinking they're buying legal
software. The actual software is counterfeit.