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Fed Raids Software Pirates in 27 Cities 1172

Posted by chrisd
from the no-mention-of-peg-legs-and-eye-patches dept.
akiaki007 was among many who wrote in to say: "Check out this article on the New York Times (free reg, blah blah) site. The Feds have raided 27 cities in 21 states. Raid sites include MIT, UCLA, Purdue, Duke, UofO. Their main target was the group DrinkOrDie. 'This is a new frontier for crime,' Kenneth W. Dam, deputy secretary of the Treasury, said at a news briefing. 'The costs are enormous to both industry and consumers.' I better hide my burned Linux CD's. They might think it's some weird hacking tool."
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Fed Raids Software Pirates in 27 Cities

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  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by EvlPenguin (168738) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:27PM (#2690325) Homepage
    There's this Thinkgeek add on the top of my page now that reads something like: "CDs, great for ... pirated software (don't worry, we won't tell)." I always knew they were up to no good.
    • "WAREZ" Defined (Score:3, Informative)

      by inKubus (199753)
      WAREZ n., (wares) (alt pronouc: ware-ez)
      1. Commercial software, generally of a highly desireable nature, but with an exhorbitant price thus not allowing curious young hackers a chance to even try it.
      2. Software in general.

      What WAREZ is not:

      1. A group of people.
      2. An organization.
      3. Anything but software.

      A "warez" group is a group who is interesting the the afformentioned software. IT IS NOT SOME "CYBERGANG" OR OTHER SUCH DRIVEL. Gee, with reporting like this, one has to wonder if we are really at war with Afghanistan because of terrorism, or if this is all about oil.

      See "Wag the Dog" for more information.
  • by Suppafly (179830) <slashdot@s[ ]afly.net ['upp' in gap]> on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:27PM (#2690328)
    Luckily they are only cracking down on people at expensive schools.. Should be quite a while before they get to state schools in the cornfields of illinois..
  • You would think... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CokeBear (16811)
    You would think after September 11th that they would have more important things to worry about. I've never heard of anyone dying (or even getting hurt) because of software piracy.
  • Right (Score:2, Funny)

    by Spackler (223562)
    Like I would have paid for XP?
  • by David Ziegler (5030) <david&ziegler,ws> on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:30PM (#2690341) Homepage
    MSNBC [msnbc.com] and Wired [wired.com]. Seems that no one was arrested (in the US, at least - 5 people were in England). One customs agent said each computer has an average of 1-2 terabytes of software (Wired article). Wow.
  • by JoeShmoe (90109) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:31PM (#2690344)
    In other words, this effort that went into this coordinated 27-city raid (which took probably tens of thousands of manhours to prepare and execture) could not have been spent elsewhere?

    Because I thought we were still at war with terrorism. I thought we were still living with the constant threat of terrorism. Every one of these FBI agents chasing down CD images is one less agent knocking on doors, interviewing potential suspects.

    I swear, if there are any attacks or terrorist incidents tomorrow, or the next week, or hell, any time the first question I'll be writing my congressman will be "Where was the FBI?"

    I almost hope something does happen. What's it going to take for the FBI to learn their FIRST AND PRIMARY responsability is to safeguard the lives of American citizens...NOT the PROFITS of American corporations.

    - JoeShmoe

    .
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:38PM (#2690388)
      You're right. All police activity that doesn't help fight terrorism should cease immediately and all freed resources should be redirected towards the War on Terrorism. We should only focus on one thing at a time.

      Look, just because you don't like a law doesn't mean you won't face the consequences if you break it. That's what civil disobedience is all about, taking absurd responsibility for an unjust law. What these idiots were doing was breaking the law hoping to never face the consequences.
      • by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @11:00AM (#2693153)
        Look, just because you don't like a law doesn't mean you won't face the consequences if you break it. That's what civil disobedience is all about, taking absurd responsibility for an unjust law. What these idiots were doing was breaking the law hoping to never face the consequences.

        Well, not to defend the warez dudez, for they were (and probably still are) idiots, but you should be very careful what you wish for. There are so many laws on the books these days at so many levels of government restricting and legislating virtually every aspect of our lives that each of us, just about every day we get out of bed, is breaking a number of laws just by living out our daily lives. Without ever meaning to, and certainly without malice.

        What allows us to live out our daily lives? The fact that these laws are (almost) never enforced, at least until some local police officer or official develops a personal vindetta against you ... at which point you may well find yourself serving hard time for living in the same apartment as your lover (this happened in Texas a few years ago, brought to you compliments of a local DA of the religiously right persuasion and a century old state law no one remembered remaining on the books), or doing some other innocuous thing (like singing a copyrighted song in public, say in a bar with your drunken friends) which common sense would tell you would never be illegal, but our lawmakers and/or their corporate paymasters say otherwise.

        So the argument that enforcing unjust and absurd laws, which many of us feel copyright in the digital age to be, is a screwed up priority in light of current, more pressing events, isn't so misguided, particularly given that our very ability to conduct our normal, everyday lives depends in no small part on the selective enforcement of a plethora of existing laws anyway.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:40PM (#2690401)
      Because I thought we were still at war with terrorism.

      We are. Violating the DMCA is now an act of terrorism.

    • What's it going to take for the FBI to learn their FIRST AND PRIMARY responsability is to safeguard the lives of American citizens...NOT the PROFITS of American corporations.

      On FBI website you can find [fbi.gov]
      mission:

      The Mission of the FBI is to
      uphold the law through the investigation of violations of federal
      criminal law; to protect the United States from foreign intelligence
      and terrorist activities; to provide leadership and law enforcement
      assistance to federal, state, local, and international agencies;
      and to perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive
      to the needs of the public and is faithful to the Constitution
      of the United States.


      So, the first thing they say is that they have to uphold the law. That's what they did. Piracy (and therefore warez) are against the law.

      What you say is basically the same as what so many traffic (parking, speed, etc) offenders say: "Don't you have some bad guys to arrest?"
      That argument does not work. If there's one big goal to pursue (wether it's the end of terrorism or arresting all gangsters) should all other goals be set aside? I don't think so.
    • It is almost never the case that a big agency or institution has only one, current, urgent project that supercedes everything else. FBI fighting terrorism, NASA with the ISS, EFF fighting the MPAA/RIAA...sure, they're important, but they're never "drop everything else and deal only with this". Besides, the effectiveness that could be gained by dropping all the other projects and working only on the one is minimal, in some cases actually negative.
  • ok.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pcgamez (40751) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:31PM (#2690348)
    I like how they say "billions in software." I wonder how much companies would really get from any of those people. Most people who pirate software can't aford it in the first place. I mean, who can afford to spend 500 on office and another 500 on Adobe programs just for a semi-intermediate user.
  • by Brad Wilson (462844) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:32PM (#2690354) Homepage
    I'm not surprised by the responses we're seeing here. I just think it illustrates the unfortunate situation that a valuable concept like public domain or open source software has to be overly infested with thieves who believe that stealing software or pirating movies in the theaters "doesn't hurt anybody".

    Say that when it's your own livelihood that's being stolen.
    • Whatever... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Brendan Byrd (105387) <SineSwiper-slash ... esonatorSoft.org> on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:49PM (#2690474) Homepage Journal
      I'm not surprised by the responses we're seeing here. I just think it illustrates the unfortunate situation that a valuable concept like public domain or open source software has to be overly infested with thieves who believe that stealing software or pirating movies in the theaters "doesn't hurt anybody".

      The problem is when they call it "pirating", as if they are some oversea rag-tag group that takes things away from other people. It's not taking away; it's making a copy. Most anti-pirate sources try to claim that every single copy is directly affected by the sales of the product. In fact, most pirates are just people who can't afford to buy the damn game anyway.

      Say that when it's your own livelihood that's being stolen.

      Please...I'd love for a product of mine to get pirated all over the place. Just look at id Software and Doom. More pirates = more popularity.

      If you really want a comparison of numbers, try comparing the online games with serial numbers (which is a pretty effective anti-piracy agent right now) to the games without serial numbers. More or less, it's the same numbers.
    • by RogrWilco (522139) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:03PM (#2690580)
      I somewhat agree with the you on the sentiment shown here. The introduction of high speed internet at home has really increased the waez scene. I've diluded myself into believing that I warez responsibly, and I believe that it has allowed me to support decent products. I work for a small, but highly technical company with a $250,000 IT budget. That may seem like an awful lot of money, but half of that goes to liscencing fees.
      With half of my budget eaten up by software liscences, I simply don't have enough money to buy garbage software, and the demo's released by the companies are generally lacking. The last full product I bought without testing it fully was MS Project. One department direly needed it to work, and needed it yesterday. So I bought ten copies, installed it, then listened to the complaints of how it was a giant waste of time, it didn't work as easy as they wanted, or didn't do what they expected. Since that fateful day I am really picky about the products which I choose to purchase or upgrade. I download the full version off of morpheus at home, play around with it, and if it's a good product, I buy it. And yes, every copy is liscenced.
      This way, I am rewarding the companies which release a good product, shunning the companies who release software with features nobody will use and expect you to upgrade, and am no longer spending my budget needlessly. I suggest everyone else do the same.
  • THE Warez Group? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tester13 (186772) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:32PM (#2690357) Homepage
    Members of Warez includes corporate executives, computer-network administrators and students at major universities, government workers and employees of technology and computer firms, the Customs Service said today.
    When I hear reporting like this I really start to wonder if all the whole newspaper is this inaccurate. I'm sure almost everyone here has at one point used something that could be considered warez. Are we all part of this group? Where is my share of the profits? etc.
  • My Favorite Quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SnatMandu (15204) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:34PM (#2690364) Homepage
    Philip Bond, the Commerce Department's under secretary for technological policy, said cyber-pirates steal an estimated $12 billion worth of technology and goods a year, according to the Business Software Alliance. American leadership in computers and software is "very much at stake" because of piracy, he said.

    Right... Because people pirate software, American companies are going to loose out to foreign companies, since software produced overseas is much harder to pirate. Oh yeah, and all those countries have more clout that the US government does when it comes to getting foreign governments to cooperate with enforcements efforts. Yep, American Leadership in Software Development is definatley at stake. Uh-huh. Yep.

  • Warez. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:36PM (#2690376)
    Firstly.. my take on warez.....
    here's the thing.

    First.. these groups get busted. Okay. Well.. they *are* knowingly spreading massive amounts of copyrighted material, which IS illegal... sure.. we all do it.. but they can't say 'Oh gee, I didn't know'.

    Second.. it IS rediculous to claim 'billions' in losses because of them. I've seen my fair share of warez groups.. they hoard software so they can be bigger & better than the next guy. Almost nothing actually gets USED by anyone, even those downloading it.

    And of all the pirated software I've seen used by most people.. only a fraction actually comes from the warez scene.. lots are just directly burned CDs.

    Warez kiddies hoard software like other kids hoard baseball cards, or pokemon, or whatever the new craze is. It's about who can hoard more.. it's not even about theft.
    • Re:Warez. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Calle Ballz (238584) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:43PM (#2690428) Homepage
      Software companies have very good lawyers who work out the numbers. When they say that 11 billion was lost due to software piracy, they estimate those numbers by only figuring "how much would we have made if every kid in America had their very own MS Windows Lease?". They use these make believe 'losses' as a tax fraud.. come on? wouldn't you love an $11 billion tax write-off?

      What is really sad is most of the software that is pirated is never worth the time it took to download it.
    • Re:Warez. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Alan (347) <.arcterex. .at. .ufies.org.> on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:12PM (#2690640) Homepage
      Second.. it IS rediculous to claim 'billions' in losses because of them. I've seen my fair share of warez groups.. they hoard software so they can be bigger & better than the next guy. Almost nothing actually gets USED by anyone, even those downloading it.

      Exactly! I've been warezing for a while now, and always for the same reason. "Try before you buy." Back in the 'old days' I spent a lot of money buying games and programs that were absolute crap. Now that I (and other users) have "choice" though means such as p2p, gnutella, etc, we can grab a copy of a program, see if it is worth it or if it's shit, and then decide if we want to buy it. Sometimes expireware and crippleware just doesn't do it. Same with video, same with audio. It's all about choice for the user I think.

      It's still up to the user to buy it if they use it, and I can see that the average warez kiddie isn't going to buy their pirated copy of XP or photoshop, but for businesses who have the money to buy a program legally after it's been tried for a bit in a production environment.
      • Re:Warez. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ryanvm (247662)
        I've been warezing for a while now, and always for the same reason. "Try before you buy."

        That argument barely flies for MP3s, but if you think that even 1% of warez users are on the "try before you buy" program you're nuts.

        It's like breaking into car lots and test-driving cars in the middle of the night because you want to get a feel for the car before you make the purchase. I don't think the cops are going to buy that one.

        There's nothing more pathetic than watching Napster and warez users try to rationalize their habit. Just admit it, you don't want to pay the exorbitant prices for this stuff.
    • Re:Warez. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CtrlPhreak (226872)
      I do warez, but most of the software I have that are illegal licenses, are of products I'd never ever buy for myself. Take for example 3DSMax. It's fun to play around with and I may eventually come into a need for skills I learn playing with it, but I'd never go out and buy it. Has Autodesk lost anything from me using this software? No. The same principal goes out to Lightwave($2500!) and several other applications. Then there are programs I'd love to pay for that I use daily. Most of these are shareware and I will buy a legitamite license of once i obtain another job (just a poor college student anyway). I can realy feel for these developers and may one day be in their shoes. All the warez I have comes not from my wanting to screw the corperation (except M$FT of course) but from my inability to pay for the software. If I am not able at all to pay for it, the company has not lost anything. Unless I go and use their software for commercial purposes. But then that's another story...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:36PM (#2690382)
    The numbers these groups throw around are bogus, and that needs to be repeated.

    Note that these raids occured on a number of campuses.

    Microsoft and law enforcement love to talk about the millions and billions lost to piracy.

    When they bust down some students door and find things like Maya, 3DSMax, and Windows Datacenter Server they go, whoops, we're out $250,000.

    But there is a fatel flaw in this argument. These are NOT lost sales. Students simply do not have the money to go out and buy a ton of high priced server software, though they may enjoy playing with it.

    And the low priced stuff a campus almost always as a Campus Select Open agreement for.

    The guy in China paying $5 for 200 programs worth $2 million? Same thing.

    This needs to be repeated. These numbers are often bogus. Things like drugs have real street value, so that's more acceptable when they value drug busts, and they actually track street prices carefully. Microsoft numbers hype is a distortion of the system.

    This reminds me of the $1 billion Microsoft offered to settle their private court cases. $800 million of it in their software. I doubt the marginal cost of supplying that software was $800 million (estimates are it would be around 20 or so) and they get a dream come true, take out apple their last competitor and drive their software into the education system to hook the next round of users.
    • This needs to be repeated. These numbers are often bogus. Things like drugs have real street value, so that's more acceptable when they value drug busts, and they actually track street prices carefully. Microsoft numbers hype is a distortion of the system.

      Actually, for what it's worth, drug bust numbers are nearly as inaccurate as software losses. The problem is that drug prices are caculated at street value, but the people they're busting, at least if they have any serious amount, aren't selling on the street. For instance if a drug trafficer gets caught with one million pills of ecstasy at the border they'll claim it's a 20 million or 30 million dollar bust when in actually that person would be lucky to get $1 per pill at those volumes. They imply that the one being busted would be making these obscene profits when in actuality their profit margins, while better than most legit practices, are still very thin by comparison.

      But yeah, at least in the case of drugs somebody would actually pay it, somewhere down the line for at least a good chunk of the haul. The BSA, on the other hand, have always been full of shit. Hell, I wrote a fairly lenghty essay on that very topic in 1996 and even then it was old news. What surprised me the most about this story was that the group DOD is still around today! What's next, busting Razor 1911? :)

      - j
    • by alsta (9424) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @12:23AM (#2691644)
      I am one of those strange guys that pay for what they use. I have two computers that have Windows 2000 on them and I upgraded my NT 4.0 license to Windows 2000 Server. I also bought CALs for the clients. Why? Because my son and my wife use these services. I don't, but that's another story. I am of the belief that one should pay for what one uses. Hell, I am one of those weirdos that actually paid for WinZip.

      I probably buy $1,000 worth of PC games every year at the very least. And every time it pisses me off to the point that I write the company in question asking them why the hell they are including copy protection on their CDs. Why can't I make a copy of a game that I bought for $50? Why are these companies charging me for a product that I am restricted to use with their original media? How about if I actually value the products that they pushed out the door? Perhaps I want to play the game (which requires the CD in the reader) off a backed up cheapo CD-R rather than the $50 original. Perhaps I don't want a jumbo scratch on my original? But these companies do not care. Why?

      The reason is very simple. The multi billion dollar software industry aimed at corporate computing aren't losing much money. The reason being, which has been properly mentioned, is that most people copying this software can't afford to buy it in the first place. Get over it. If they wanted to see some revenue from the public, they should drive "non-commercial" licensing much harder.

      But the gaming industry is different. They cater to entertainment needs of people in most ages and they have a very small margin. Activision can't charge $100 or $1,000 for a game however cool it may be. People will not buy it. But the $50 median is pretty much the breaking point. Hence they need to sell vast numbers of the game in order to make money on it. Add to that, that games are probably much more complex in terms of development than shoddy word processors are.

      Because these people cater to the public, they also want to restrict or make it harder, for the public to serialize copies of their products. Understandable. Id Software seems to have reached a smart deal. Instead of including a bunch of weird copy protection schemes that significantly hinder me from fair use, they use a key string which is validated on a server somewhere. That's it. No checking of what hardware it runs on and tying it to some specific configuration. Just make sure that the key is valid. And it works. Why is it that it is such a hard thing for other game vendors to understand this concept?

      Now what if piracy would stop all together? Would these companies stop being idiotic? Probably not, because it is somewhat of a second life line.

      I accidentally broke the CD with Half-Life on it. I called Sierra and asked for a new one, but they said that I had to pick up a new copy in the store. I asked why. They said that it was just as expensive for me to have them ship me a new copy, but that would add shipping charges as well. This is where I told them that I needed replacement media, NOT another "license" to play the game. The reply I got was "We're sorry, sir. But we don't replace CDs just because customers can't take proper care of the product they bought." Chicken and egg answer. In the end, the consumer (love that word which implies parasite rather than citizen) gets screwed.

      So some bright guy will now ask the question, why do I continue to buy games if I hate the companies that publish them so much? To tell the truth, I am not sure. But I suspect that I am a sucker for a good gaming experience, just like any other dude down the street.
      • >"We're sorry, sir. But we don't replace CDs just because customers can't take proper care of the product they bought."

        You should have picked up on that one. :) When they said that they just forfeited all rights to the game.

        They said the CD is the product you bought. They didn't say you purchased the license. This means the data on the CD is free. This could mean you can give it to others without breaking the law.

        Next time this happens, point this little fact out to them. If they say that you actually bought a license to the data instead of a CD, then tell them you don't want the data shipped on a CD. They can email it to you at no cost.

        Now its their chicken and egg.
    • Paper? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by karb (66692)
      How about if I stole a whole cart of paper from the government, which has a value of only a few thousand dollars?

      What if the cart of paper happens to be uncut hundred dollar bills worth 20 million dollars?

      It isn't so much that the treasury department misses the few thousand dollars it cost to buy the paper and print the bills. The economy wouldn't suffer because there's an extra 20 million in cash floating around. But the thieves still made off with 20 million dollars in cash. You can sit around talking about how the economy doesn't suffer, and how the treasury department didn't suffer, but there's no doubt that the culprits have 20 million extra dollars.

      It's kind of the same thing. There is a way of saying "look, microsoft didn't lose any money." But, there's also a way of saying "look, these people have in their posession 20 million dollars worth of software they shouldn't." It doesn't really matter to me whether or not microsoft actually suffered. It is enough that they could potentially suffer. Laws were broken, the pirates have software they did not obtain legally, and they were so proficient and brazen that the FBI actually paid attention to them.

      You are right about the microsoft thing being crap, however. :)

  • Part of Life (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Renraku (518261) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:37PM (#2690386) Homepage
    Get over it, Feds. Software piracy is a part of life. When you try to sell something that has no material component other than a CD which can pretty much be replicated at will, for outrageous prices and with EULA's so tight they make our balls ache, there's going to be piracy. Blame companies like Microsoft for setting their own prices. $300 for a piece of buggy, crashy software that we HAVE to buy to play many games, or use many popular aps is insane. Live on, pirates.
  • Interesting... (Score:5, Informative)

    by maniac11 (88495) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:38PM (#2690394) Homepage Journal
    Here are some stats [bsa.org] from the Business Software Alliance [bsa.org].

    What I find interesting here is that while the total dollar losses are the highest in North America, the 'Piracy Rate' is the lowest. That means that the large majority of software users in the U.S. and Canada are properly licensed, law-abiding citizens.

    Further, these stats say that piracy has gone down not up.

    ( Here's a current study [bsa.org] with information by US region. )
  • I have a good deal of experience with MIT and their network, and for some reason the administration there thinks that any and all network activites should be allowed and are for some reason granted under free speech (as evidenced by, among other things, fuck-the-skull-of-jesus.mit.edu [mit.edu]), including piracy of software, music, and movies. I'm really not sure what's going through their heads or why they consistently look the other way (join MIT, pay to pirate all you want and we'll protect you!), but I've SERIOUSLY seen less piracy in a number of Asian cities selling "questionable" goods on recorded media. What a disgrace.
    • What on earth are you talking about?

      I'd love to hear what your "good deal of experience with MIT" is. And it's not "looking the other way", it's "not looking at all". It's not a freedom of speech thing, it's more a privacy thing.

      And why the hell would MIT, or any school (that's not ultra-religious/conservative) care what people name their machines?...christ...what are they going to do, look at what everyone has all their machine's aliased to and then police such based on some arbitrary set of rules? Um, no.
    • As at least one other person has pointed out, it's not condoning the bad stuff, it's deliberately ignoring EVERYTHING. MIT does this so that they have some claim to common carrier status for their internet service. Many other schools (including mine) do the same thing for the same reason. If they once start policing any of the illegal activity on their networks, they risk becoming liable for ALL of it. Given the nature of college students, any intelligent person will avoid any liability for ANYTHING they do, be it computerized or not!
  • So, where are all the sob stories? Where are the stats of companies going out of business due to piracy?

    This is not trolling, I'm honestly interested in seeing any evidence to back up these oft-repeated assertions.
    • by awharnly (183017) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @09:47AM (#2692861)
      When you pirate Microsoft and Adobe software, obviously you aren't bringing Microsoft and Adobe to their knees.

      Who you're hurting are the guys trying to write reasonably priced, moderately featured software that will sell for $50-$200, instead of the $500+ price of the Microsoft/Adobe/BigName software.

      In a non-warez world, people look at the very expensive apps and think, no way! Then they see the moderately-priced alternatives and think, yeah, this will meet my needs.

      In a warez world, people look at the very expensive apps and think, no way! Then they see the moderately-priced alternatives and think, maybe. Then they see the $free, full-featured warez apps, and choose that.

      The little guys are hurt.
    • Someone called into the G. Gordon Liddy show about this the other day, but forgot the details.

      I remember the incident in the late 80's or early 90's a software company sold a copy or two of some sort of management software to the feds. DOJ I believe.

      The agency then copied and copied, sold copies to other agencies and other folks, etc.

      FINALLY, years later, after the firm was out of business or nearly bankrupt, they were heard in court but I believe the case was settled before a judgement was made.
  • A good thing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmd! (111669) <jmd&pobox,com> on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:40PM (#2690405) Homepage
    Wiping out warez can only be a good thing for Linux and Free/Open Software. If people actually have to pay $600*workstations for MSOffice, they won't. I only wish XP's activation wasn't so easy to circumvent.

    A complete set of PC hardware goes for $250-$300 now... Windows XP + Office XP is $900. So you can have a new workstation for $300 running Linux, or, now that you can't pirate Microsoft's crap, the exact same machine, for $1200.
  • Although he had to say:

    This is not a sport, this is a crime," Mr. Bond said, adding that punishment could be "serious hard time" in prison.

    What he really wanted to say was:

    They're not going to some white collar resort prison. No, no, no! They're going to federal POUND ME IN THE ASS prison!"
  • by Courageous (228506) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:41PM (#2690411)

    I've said before on Slashdot and in other venues that the Intellectual Property system in the United States is cracking. With the advent of distributed internet Piracy of the type Napster made popular, it is completely inevitable that the system mutate to account for the fact that the primary source of IP theft is no longer commercial bandits, but rather the users themselves.

    What this ultimately means is more of what you've seen. You'll see Federal agents descending on ordinary users, people who are just "innocently" making copies of software and music and sharing it with their friends. This activity has been illegal forever, but for the most part readily overlooked by the glaring eye of justice, largely because justice had bigger fish to fry.

    But that's changing. The distributed and widely connected nature of the internet is enabling ordinary users to become first class pirates, with the push of a button distributing many thousands of illegal copies to any and all takers. This is turning those users into IP public enemy number one.

    There is simply no alternative. The law is going to CRUSH the violators, with a variety of test cases being used to set harsh examples.

    From past reactions here on Slashdot, I know that the Slashdot community is not ready to hear this message. Please don't forget, I'm only a messenger. The outcome I'm seeing is easily forseeable. Consider it yourselves: will the government sit idly by and allow the intellectual property system in the U.S. to go titsup.com? Hell, no. It's not going to happen.

    That being the case, what's going to happen:

    Examples will be made.

    C//
    • Man (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @11:05PM (#2691181)
      What is it with all Slashdot posters seeming to think they can see the future with perfect clarity. You may be correct, but if I were you I'd try not to sound so sure of myself. That way you don't put your foot in your mouth as bad if you're proven wrong.

      Personally, I think you're dead wrong. What you and many others seem to forget is that the US is still a republic. Now I realise that could change and we could become a dictatorship, but I find that highly unlikely. At any rate, so long as we are still a republic, that means the people are ultimately in control. It may not seem like it at times, but it is the truth. Generally big companies, special intrest groups, etc get what they want because they are the ones that whine to the politicians. However, when a large percentage of the population decides they want something, they get it. Right now J. R. Public doesn't really care about the IP battles going on, none of it has effected them. However, if the authorities start locking up everyone that tapes a copy of Survivor, you will hear a mass outcry. Voters will tell the politicians "change the law, or we give your job to someone that will".

      Again, something like this doesn't happen much, most of the time there aren't enough people that care on one issue, but it DOES happen. And I bet you if the FBI starts locking up normal people over things they've been doing for years, people will speak up, and with a loud voice.
      • Re:Man (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pyramid termite (458232) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @10:00AM (#2692909)
        However, if the authorities start locking up everyone that tapes a copy of Survivor, you will hear a mass outcry.

        I'd like to think so, but the authorities lock up everyone they catch who has some pot in their possession, potentially half the population at one time or another of their lives, and I haven't heard a mass outcry yet. The brutal truth is there's about 10 to 20% of the electorate who wants the government to oppress those they feel are freaks and corruptors of what they feel is "Americanism", whether it be hippies, atheists, druggies, hackers, or whatever. When some of the voters protest a cruel law being overenforced, they are offset by the ones who would gladly see a strongman government elected to crush everyone's liberties but those of "right thinking people".

        The key is of course, the great apathetic middle. And as long as they can enjoy their current right under the law to tape a copy of Survivor, you won't hear a peep out of them.
  • by jabber (13196) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:42PM (#2690416) Homepage
    Considering that 'They' see things thus [adequacy.org], how can anyone be surprised?
  • Give me a break (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Snodgrass (446409) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:42PM (#2690417) Homepage

    An article is posted with the word 'Fed' in it and the Slashdot crowd is screaming the imminent doom and destruction of life as we know it.


    They broke the law. People who break the law are punished. We're not talking about people's rights being violated, we're talking about groups who know that what they do is illegal and are getting caught.


    If real life existed the way the /. crowd thinks it should be, we'd live in total anarchy.

  • by hooded1 (89250) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:42PM (#2690419) Homepage
    From the DoJ site:
    "Bandwidth, through the joint efforts of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General (EPA-OIG), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), supervised by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada, created a 'warez' site, controlled and monitored by the undercover operation, as a means of attracting predicated targets involved with the distribution of pirated software. "

    I can see the FBI and the DoJ being involved in this operation, but why the hell was the enviromental protection agency have to do with this? The piracy of corprate software has nothing to do plants or air pollution.

    I'm sure the EPA was actually secretly dissolved by the Bush administration and was replaced by a DoJ brute squad using the same name.
    '
    '
  • your kidding me! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pcgamez (40751) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:42PM (#2690420)
    So the US will spend millions on this investigation, and what to show for it? A few thousand in fines, and a few million more to jail a bunch of people for a few years. Wow, we have gotten so far ahead!
  • by Arandir (19206) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:42PM (#2690424) Homepage Journal
    I have a friend who is big time into piracy. Every time we get together he wants to give me some new game he ripped. Then he emails me 5Meg cracks to the rips. Constantly. He whines if I won't take them.

    So I offered to burn him a copy of Slackware. "Why would I want it?" he said, "It's already free. Duh!"
  • how much is Microsoft's monopoly costing the economy?

    How many billion dollar software businesses do you know out there that market their main products solely for the Microsoft platform.

    Answer: I can't think of one that Microsoft hasn't bought, buried, or screwed with some manner of breakware.

    I'd pay for front row seats the day our protectors in the FBI raid Microsoft HQ because their "activites are costing the economy billions of dollars".

    Stories like this make me mad not because I think piracy is harmless, but because its pretty clear to me that FBI and DOJ have their priorities dead wrong.

    "insert angry epithetes and swearing here" yes yes.. I know this has been said but I want to vent.
  • by baudbarf (451398) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:45PM (#2690445) Homepage

    "Bandwidth, through the joint efforts of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General (EPA-OIG), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), supervised by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada, created a 'warez' site, controlled and monitored by the undercover operation, as a means of attracting predicated targets involved with the distribution of pirated software. The undercover 'warez' site has been accessed to transfer over 100,000 files, including over 12,000 separate software programs, movies and games."
    So not only did they use entrapment; but they were themselves accessory to over 12,000 incidents of software piracy!!!
    • by clone304 (522767) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:20PM (#2690681)
      It appears to me that what happened was that they setup a site and undercover agents who were infiltrating the warez scene "advertised" it to others in the scene as a distribution point. Since these people were already pirating, it is doubtful that this would be seen as entrapment, in my opinion.

      However, the fact that they became a distribution point makes them software pirates as well. It's not like buying drugs off of a dealer, where the drugs end up confiscated by the state. All of those 12,000 copyrighted programs were pirated BY the government, and they should be liable for all 100,000 individual incidents of which they most likely have detailed server logs.

      This went on for two-years!! How many small but promising software companies went under because the FBI was distributing their software illegally?

      This has to be one of the most outrageously blatant examples of the need for STRICTER control over our government's law-enforcement powers. Not only, did they take part in illegal activities, they made it more damaging to those that the law was intended to protect.

      Aren't all of you programmers out there happy to find out that your tax dollars have been spent for the last two years PROMOTING software piracy?
  • Great, now when... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bani (467531) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:46PM (#2690451)
    ... will the feds start prosecuting REAL crimes?

    They're spending all their time going after easy petty thieves which requires almost zero investigative work and zero effort. Then they beat their chests and toot their horns like it's some major accomplishment.

    My guess is that the feds will spend 10x as much time, effort, and money prosecuting these teens than they would ever spend prosecuting murderers, rapists, or armed robbers.

    And I predict they will get stiffer sentences than violent criminals too...

    Wouldnt this time, money, effort, and manpower be better put to use chasing terrorists? Sheesh.
  • by antis0c (133550) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @08:48PM (#2690469)
    My first rant, they constantly talk about how millions, even billions of dollars have been lost to Microsoft, Adobe, Macromedia, and more due to software piracy. Those numbers reflect if each and every person that stole a copy of that software or even used the copy of that software for 5 minutes and deleted it, would have actually purchased that software. They're working with phantom numbers and voodoo economics. I doubt even 1% of those people would have purchased that software. Software, like digital music, and anything else digital is data. It doesn't cost Microsoft money if I were to take their CD and copy it to another CD and give it to a friend. They haven't actually lost any money, especially if that friend weren't actually going to buy the product in the first place. I understand protecting intellectual property, and I am in no way saying what these people are doing is right, but what I'm saying is that you can't say the industry has lost billions of dollars to software pirates when half of the pirates and their users would have never purchased the software in the first place. Am I not allowed to purchase a lawnmower, mow my lawn, and allow my neighbor to use my lawn mower to mow his lawn?.. Hell all the people on my street use my lawn mower, in fact I could even charge for it, would anyone blink an eye at that? Would John Deere have the FBI do its dirty work and hunt me down for the sales it lost on all the people in my neighborhood?

    Second rant, On par with most of the Slashdot posts, why the hell is the FBI worrying about this in the first place? Lets see last I remember we are all suppose to still be on a "high alert" state for possible terrorist attacks. Somehow though, the FBI has the time, manpower, and money to go hunt these so-called criminals. Yet still, we have absolutely NO LEADS ON WHO WAS DISTRIBUTING ANTHRAX? Seriously, whats the count, 5 or 6 people have died from anthrax in the mail thus far, and the FBI doesn't have a single clue? It's been almost 3 months! Someone needs to straighten out their priorities.
  • by kafka93 (243640) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:01PM (#2690561)
    Ah, once again everyone's content with hitting the suppliers without addressing the issue of demand; once again, there's a failure to realise that busts of this nature will do nothing but screw with the lives of a few kids who were just having a bit of fun.

    The piracy 'scene' doesn't actually have all that much to do with the software; it's about friendship, competition, coding, learning to write perl or set up a firewall, and it's about a sense of community. And it's a community that isn't going to go away, irrespective of the number of busts or the citing of (oftentimes ludicrous) figures as to its costs.

    I've found that many people who rail against software piracy will quite happily copy music from their friends, or tape videos from the tv and lend them out. I've also found that virtually everyone I've ever met is happy to ask for a copy of a piece of software when it suits their purposes. I've *also* found that most people involved in software piracy tend to buy a great number of computer games, and do genuinely subscribe to the scene's central tenet that if one enjoys the software, one should buy it.

    What do busts like this achieve? They're a publicity stunt to demonstrate that *something*, anything, is being done. They're an example of pandering to big business, of ignoring what the public actually wants and believes. They're a triumph of bad accounting and spin over real-life facts as to software sales. And, ultimately, they don't change anything: the pirates will continue to pirate, and the end users will continue to download the stuff. And a few kids will find their lives becoming very difficult.

    What we need is a little less hypocrisy. We need more people to admit that they copy games, that they lend cds to friends - and, hell, we need to question whether it's *really* the piracy that leads to the high prices, or whether in fact that's just traditional market forces at work. And pay attention: programmers are themselves very often pirates, at least in my experience. Perhaps I'm an evil man and live in an evil world. Or perhaps everybody's doing it, and a war on the supply is as fruitless as all of our other wars that fail to address the root of the problem.
  • Damn Linux people (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:01PM (#2690563)
    "While the availability of free software over the Internet is a growing problem, the largest loss comes from unlicensed copying in the workplace, said Robert M. Kruger, vice president for enforcement at the BSA."

    Mr. Kruger is right : why isn't somebody doing something about these "kernel.org" and "gnu.org" people who make all that evil free software available to everybody ?

    • And should be modded up for it:

      Suppose these raids continue, and each newspaper or magazine article continues to make similar quotes about "free software" being a problem, being an issue, being ILLEGAL...

      Ordinary people read these articles, and begin to equate "free software" = ILLEGAL.

      Therein lies the problem, because if "free software" = ILLEGAL, then doesn't it follow that "Free Software" = ILLEGAL as well (in the mind of the common man)? That is a scary, but interesting thought to contemplate, that of the manipulation of the masses through words, by the BSA (which may or may not be a front organization for Microsoft - anybody got data to back that assertation up?), with the goal to ultimately cause Linux and other Free Software to be viewed as illegal, with the intention of destroying the movement.

      Or maybe I am just overly paranoid, hmm...?
  • by aussersterne (212916) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:16PM (#2690655) Homepage
    My friend was selling CD-R GPL Red Hat and Debian 2.2 CDs for $10.00 each in his little computing shop -- customers would just come in and ask for the latest Linux CD and he'd burn it for them on the spot. When his bank found out [apparently some nosy busybody didn't understand about Linux], his merchant account was frozen without notice for "investigative and evidentiary purposes" and he could no longer accept credit cards!

    The bank would NOT compromise and insisted that he stop comitting software piracy. He got a lawyer and tried to explain to the bank that the CD-R Linux CDs he was selling were GPL and that he was fully legal to distribute this way.

    The bank told him that it gave the *appearance* of software piracy and that if he was willing to copy Linux, there was no reason for them to think he wasn't copying other software. His account is still frozen, with over $12,000 in limbo -- and they are still trying to work it out months later.

    It's a proprietary software world, in case you ever doubted it.
    • Let this be not only a lesson about Linux and the GPL, but about banks in America. This kind of behaviour is completely sanctioned by federal banking laws. Most people don't realize it, but federally insured banks are allowed to whatever they want, whenever, they want, with your money and you can't do a damn thing about it. The best thing a high-priced attorney can do for you in situations like this is tell you to kiss-ass until your face is tan and do whatever the bank wants and then pray they decide to give you your money back. Once you have your money, close your account and never do business with that bank again - it isn't much because any bank is allowed to screw you over, but if you can find a small-town "family" bank where they actually know their customers and where they will feel guilt for doing you like that, you have less chance of getting the shaft.
  • by ChristianBaekkelund (99069) <draco@mMENCKENit.edu minus author> on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:16PM (#2690656) Homepage
    1) Trying to compare this to terrorist acts or similar is just not a fair comparison to make. Resources are divided up across many divisions in any type of organization. These divisions then each go after what they're created to... This is like telling a traffic cop, who is supposed to enforce traffic violations, "why aren't you out tracking down drug dealers?"...well, because he's not in the DEA, he's a traffic cop.

    2) With regards to "losses", I HATE it when software companies claim a LOSS from piracy. How can it be a LOSS if they never had that money to begin with???
  • by tcc (140386) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:23PM (#2690697) Homepage Journal
    "Major Games costs 30-50$ each because there's not a lot of volume in sales, if there would be more sales, the price would go down dramatically"

    10 years later.. Major games, 30-50$... While the complexity and everything surrounding a game got more complex, the price tag is still the same.

    Same goes with a lot of high-end software.

    On another note,
    There are 3 takes , 2 extreme, 1 middle.

    Middle: extended kind of piracy (like trialware) or sometime students have to learn somehow, and school arent' always the best avenues, students can't afford Max, autocad, and blablabla, and when they find a job, the employer needs to buy a seat of that software that the student knows, so basically, in the end, the money gets pumped in the system. That theory is good IF the employer is legit and honnest. In that case, Govs needs to target companies (which are the one MAKING money out of the software) but not in a super-intrusive-will-take-3-days-to-go-thru-all-th e-stuff kinda way. unfortunately there's not a "best way" for this that would suit both the employers and the prosecutors.

    The other problem is sometimes cashflow (especially for startups) doesn't allow to blast the required "200,000$" in a single payment (run a software budget analisis for 10-15 employees, a server based on M$ and the basic tools required to do the job depending on what kind of company it is, and it runs up quite fast) Some people are honnest and try to catch up with the licenses (I knew 2 startups that weren't legal from the beginning and catched up over a year or 2 and became totally legit afterwards, ok of course I know also a lot of small companies that are producing off pirated software and that disgust me,

    but there's ONE point that I saw that made me think: the argument for one was to ban all the M$ products and buy 1 license of every software they were using, not 5 like required for every seat, the argument was "if we buy everything needed, we go bankrupt, I'd rather not be fully legal and have a job than being legal and broke (and no, these weren't companies that had 50 employees and making gazillion cash) , besides (they added), you cut on the salary of the employees to give some extra $ to uncle Gates's pockets, which doesn't create anymore quality jobs than I do."

    While I have mixed feeling about that, the conclusion we can get from this is: if there could be a leasing option or renting option and the system would be more flexible, maybe there would be less piracy and people would tend to be more legit.

    The 2 other points of view are "*everything* should be free" which shows how immature and short-sighted some people can be, and "everyone stealing software should get shot, there's 0.00 reason for copying a software, even if it's to try, to get a snapshot, to do backup copies, whatever, there's NO reasons"... heh.. no need to comment on that.
  • New World Order (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ENOENT (25325) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:31PM (#2690750) Homepage Journal
    Here's a primer on how a government can attain total control of its citizens.

    For each dissident or somehow threatening group, perform the following steps:

    1. Turn the name of the group into a perjorative term. ("X")

    2. Hold numerous press conferences on the dangers "X" poses to society or to the economy.

    3. Create new laws to target some core activity of "X" that seems likely to be of no interest to non-X citizens.

    4. More press conferences on the widespread problem of violators of the laws created in step 3, and proposing harsh new penalties for such violators.

    5. Massive crackdown on violators of laws created in 3. For small and unimportant groups, all members may simply be thrown in an oubliette, or even executed. For larger groups, the threat of arrest may be used to compel individuals in whatever way is deemed necessary.

    That's it. This model works quite smoothly, as demonstrated by Stalin (too many groups to count), Hitler (Jews are the best known victims, but many others as well), McCarthy ("Communists"), and the Inquisition ("Heretics", "infidels", and others).

    Meet the New World Order. Same as the Old World Order.
    • History (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Cato the Elder (520133) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @10:15PM (#2690989) Homepage
      I don't think your model really works.

      Most of Hitler's victims were never accussed of violating any law. Stalin comes a bit closer, although 'counter-revolution' was already illegal before he took power. He just extended it into witch hunts. McCarthy's smear tatics damaged the careers and lives of many people before he was brought down. But again, he passed no new laws. The Communist activities that he targeted were treason and espionage. He didn't 'attain total control' because most American Communists were not in fact guilty of this. Oh, and the Inquisition's main target was "Secret Jews." But other than that, I guess that actually does follow the model, with lists of "Jewish" practices like bathing widely distributed.

      Your attempt to extend the analogy to software theft is equally sketchy. The sites that were raided had activities that were illegal long before the DMCA--this is just good old fashioned theft. And I don't really see the 'harsh new penalties either'.
  • by tuxlove (316502) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:32PM (#2690767)
    What's all this griping about? Why does everyone seem so seriously angry that a bigtime pirate organization got nailed for stealing software & movies in gross quantities? If it was your software they were ripping off, you'd probably be singing a different tune (and no, I'm not referring to free software).

    These weren't Joe Home User making copies of a buddy's software for personal use. These were dudes copying thousands of software and movie titles and distributing them. And it's not all Big Corporations that get nailed by these guys. I know a guy who writes shareware for a living, and mostly does okay. But fully 80% of the customer support requests he gets are from users with cracked copies of his software. What, should he just give away his work and live in an alley, all in the name of free beer? Or should he give it away and support himself by working for M$ or some other company? He almost has to anyway to support himself as it is.

    I have another friend that makes a fairly popular shareware app. The only difference between the "registered" and "unregistered" versions of his software is that the registered version says "registered" in the "about" window. That's it. It's essentially freeware with a request for money to support his efforts. And still the crackers produce cracked versions of his software within hours of a new release. That, in my mind, perfectly well illustrates the mentality of the typical cracker. There's no great social or political statement being made by them. It's all a matter of machismo, pumping up their ego by breaking software and showing the world how big their penises are.

    In any case, the assertion that the Feds are doing this to protect M$ is asinine. Sure, M$ was one of the victims here, but I'd hazard a guess that all those ripped off movies were not produced by M$. Nor were the majority of the software titles either.

    Maybe we need a new business paradigm for software or other digital wares, I agree. I don't think wholesale piracy is the way to go about making it happen, however. Besides the faulty ethics, it hurts the little guy more than the big evil guy.
  • Students - Privacy (Score:4, Informative)

    by ruvreve (216004) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:35PM (#2690783) Journal
    I don't know about other universities but Purdue implements a policy that they do not give out personal information to entities that complain about students who cause trouble using university resources. I know of several cases where students were contacted by the Dean of Students and informed of their wrong doing but that their information was not given out to whoever complained. There are however exceptions to the rule for what I would assume are extreme cases. For instance several students were arrested in connection with a child pornography case. Anybody else know of policies like this at other universities and what the exact guidelines are?
  • Piracy as a Tactic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neema (170845) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:48PM (#2690848) Homepage
    Not all companies are trying to actually prevent piracy, mind you.

    It wasn't too long ago that Microsoft was pushing for it's products to get translated into Chinese and distributed to the country. It wasn't too hard to see the prospects of the software getting pirated; for every ten copies of software used in China, there is one sale. Actually, Steve Ballmer said: "If you're going to get pirated, you want them to priate your stuff, not your competitiors' stuff. In developing countries, it is important to have a high share of the piracy software."

    Guess what China is? That's right. A developing country. And once it hits "Free World" status, here comes the profits for Microsoft in a country that is already used to and dependent on it's software. Up until that point, Microsoft isn't really losing anything. Programmers for Microsoft aren't losing their jobs because of this, since the demand is still there, even if the supply is being sought out for free.

    Of course, this doesn't mean I'm supporting piracy, merely presenting an opinion.

    Another thing: I see you guys specifically referning Microsoft in alot of your comments, another idea on them... if your major software competition offers their products for free... isn't it a good idea to be able to reach the "customers" who are only going to get their Operating Systems for free anyway? That way, you trap 'em in either one of these ways...

    Further down the road, you increase piracy prevention so much that it's damn difficult to pirate your software. Microsoft-Using-Pirates now find themselves in a tough situation, either adapt to software you haven't used before, or actually buy the software.

    Or, how about the fact that Microsoft makes so many things besides the OS. Most people are bound to pay for some of their products... and that's where they'll make their profit.

    • by nyquist_theorem (262542) <mbelleghemNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @01:13AM (#2691846) Homepage
      Actually, Steve Ballmer said: "If you're going to get pirated, you want them to priate your stuff, not your competitiors' stuff. In developing countries, it is important to have a high share of the piracy software."

      The EXACT SAME concept should be applied to college students. The university I went to, Acadia University in Canada, gives every student an IBM Thinkpad. It's loaded with all sorts of less-than-ideal software. Many kids there would warez their laptops out with the latest versions of windows, office, photoshop, etc etc. They'd never buy the software, but gee whiz as they come out of school and get jobs, they know the software to use - the expensive stuff, NOT shareware/freeware stuff. If you have an emerging workforce that prefers to use expensive software, then that means that when those students enter the workforce, they will PREFER the expensive software with which they have experience, thus encouraging sales of said software.

      In simple terms, if a fine arts major pirates photoshop in school, they'll insist on using photoshop when they enter the field. If they can't warez their photoshop, they'll learn a freeware/shareware photo program, and/or learn to master the least expensive version available (no plugins, etc).

      If a software company wants to have the world addicted to their software by the time they get to the workforce, and they know they're not losing any sales by allowing college piracy to continue, then why not ENCOURAGE (tacitly, of course) college piracy? Busting them only turns them off the very programs you hope they'll be addicted to.

      While in university, I spent my summers selling computer software - and I sold *TONS* of software, games, OS's, and applications, based on my warez experience. When a customer asked me "why should I upgrade to (winME/Win2k/Office2000/etc)?" or "what can Photoshop do for me?" I could tell them from firsthand experience. Anyone in the computer reselling business will tell you that the software companies themselves, for the most part, do dick all to help the salesmammals get real at-home hands-on experience with software. Would you trust buying a car from a car salesperson who'd never driven a single model made by that car company?

      Anyhoo, busting college kids for warezing is like shooting fish in a barrel, but it does nobody any good. Busting a college kid often involves his or her being suspended/expelled/missing school time. That's one less college-educated kid in the country.

      Enough ranting for now.
  • by cosyne (324176) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:49PM (#2690857) Homepage
    Members of Warez includes corporate executives, computer-network administrators and students at major universities...

    Hey, I'm a student at a major university. Can I join "Warez?" How do I sign up? Is there a membership fee? Why didn't someone tell me they'd organized it into an actual group?

    And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the proper conjugation "Members of Warez include corporate execs blah blah blah?" Mr Stout there obviously doesn't know shit about computers, the least he could do is use correct English. (I admit my English may not be perfect but then I'm not wrting for the Times...)
  • by da cog (531643) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @09:51PM (#2690864)
    I do not play computer games that often because I generally have more interesting ways to pass the time.

    When I get a copy of a game from my friends, it's because, quite frankly, I'm not impressed enough with it to buy it on my own. In fact, more often then not I'm just installing it so we can all play it at a LAN Party. When the party is over, I never touch it again.

    The companies have lost NO money from me. If my friends hadn't had the game, I just wouldn't have played the game. I DEFINATELY wouldn't have spent any money on it. This "$1 billion" or whatever they're claiming to be their lost sales may be greatly inflated for the simple reason that many (maybe even most) of the people who copied these games wouldn't have spent money on them anyways. (Or at least, they wouldn't have paid the shelf price for it--maybe they would have bought them if they cost less.)

    Now, don't get me wrong: I DO spend money on computer games, and I've bought about 90% of the games that I've actually played for more than just a couple hours of "dabbling" (for the last 10% I had physically borrowed the CDs). My tastes generally go towards games with novel ideas such as Afterlife and Strife, which are usually conveniently lying in the $15 bin since nobody else likes them. :-) I get MUCH more satisfaction from these games then I do from Quake 3 at $30-40 or so.

    Copying a game, to me, is akin to "borrowing" a book from a friend, minus the physical inconvenience of having to physically give it back to him. He tells me its interesting, so I try it out for a bit. If I really like it enough, I might even spend some money on it. (Like I have on many books that I own.)

    In fact, "borrowing" this game while allowing my friend to keep the original (i.e. copying it) should even theoretically be legal in this scenerio: Assume for a moment that only one of us is actually playing it at a given time. What's the difference between us swapping it back and forth and us maintaining two copies of it then? None--if you believe that people have a right to transfer their license to play the software to others. It's just that the transfer of the license in this case does not require an actual "physical" transfer of the software.

    Yeah, yeah, I know you're all going to reply and tell me that some programmer out there is starving because I didn't give him any money for his game. That's just not true. If he's starving, it's because his game simply wasn't worth spending any money on--at least, to me.

    Oh, and if he were to stop making games because he couldn't make a living off of them, I wouldn't feel agony over it. I'd just shrug my shoulders and find something better to do. Again, it's not as if I spend that much of my life playing games anyways.

    Now, having said that...

    Puts on flame gear and runs away from angry horde of starving programmers.

  • by messiuh (206505) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @10:07PM (#2690958) Homepage
    Hmmm. Are the FBI *THAT* bored to go after warez kiddies than the REAL threats of the country? Have they caught all of the morons sending anthrax around?

    Take care of the pirates after our REAL threats are neutralized. Is it just me, or is a group of 15-20 year old guys that pirate M$ Word less of a threat than an Osama Bin Laden follower with 5 bars of C4 strapped to his waste?
  • ISPs here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by freeweed (309734) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @10:09PM (#2690970)
    It's really funny, the 2 broadband ISPs here (cable and DSL) are HEAVILY promoting their services this holiday season, and almost invariably with the tagline "download mp3s and full-motion video in a heartbeat" or some such.

    Now, I may be naive and all, but doesn't that pretty clearly imply "buy our service and pirate the shit out of the entertainment industry"? Makes me wonder when the government will go after these guys.

  • by justin_squinky (38349) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @10:40PM (#2691097)
    Wow... The net suddenly got so quiet after the warez busts.

    http://www.internettrafficreport.com/#graphs
  • by Cryogenes (324121) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @11:19PM (#2691279)
    DrinkOrDie is (or maybe was) actually a pretty minor warez group. A search on www.newscheck.cc reveals there were 40865 warez releases in the last 7 months, of which only 411 were by DoD.

    Even if DoD is knocked out completely, every application and every game will still be cracked and distributed within 48 hours of release.

    Do you believe in life after death? - No, I believe in death after life.

  • by Un1v4c (226792) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @12:06AM (#2691551) Homepage
    So what about high school/college students who are interested in Oracle, SQL Server, Photoshop, Visual Studio, etc.? Even at the "discounted" educational price, most apps are way out of budget for most folks (In high school, I was lucky to have enough for a night of playing pool...College was worse).

    Don't ignore the fact that many of these apps cost so much money they make it near impossible for anyone to just "learn the tool." Once they've pirated a copy, they aren't using it to make money, they're learning it so they can get jobs. When they get those jobs, they bring the product to company they work for, and those companies purchase the product and pay up tons of $$ in licensing fees.

    Was that pirated copy worth it to the company? Damn right it was.
    Was that pirated copy worth it to O'Reily and WROX Press? Damn right it was.

    I wonder how many game 3D designers went out and bought Alias or Maya just to see if they had the knack for it? I can't see any of them forking over a few grand just to see, "What does it look like?" That would be a big, resounding, "No."

    Sometimes a short-term loss can mean big bucks in the long run.
  • by alsta (9424) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @01:13AM (#2691847)
    So the software giants go out and claim that N dollars are lost because these people have obtained their software in a fashion not endorsed by these proprietors. This deems the obtaining and posession illegal. If one is intending on further distributing this software, it is even more serious. And perhaps there is a small margin of people that now won't pay for something they got for "free". But I am of the opinion that most of these people would end up buying the software anyway because they like the fuzzy feeling of doing the right thing. The others simply either do not have the money, or don't think it's worth paying for. So the N dollars lost is nothing that was a revenue stream in the first place. Hence not such a big loss.

    But what these software giants DON'T say is how much business they gained from having people obtain their software illegally. Imagine this 17 year old kid who started with Windows 2000 when it started hitting the warez scene. What if he wouldn't have been able to do this? How much less exposure - and addiction - to this product would he sustain as a result? Probably lots. Much of the corporate usage of products such as the various productivity suites and tools is due to the exposure people get to a certain piece of software.

    Did you ever meet some guy/girl who maintains that Lotus WordPro or Corel WordPerfect is superior, or simply that that's what they use? Sure you have, even though they aren't that vast in numbers. These people are most likely honest customers from the very start. They bought a computer and got the software bundled, or they bought the software in the store. And they kept with it because that's what they know. But again, they are few. Now look at all the attention Microsoft has on their Office suite. Is there a coincidence that this particular piece of software seems to be far more trafficked than competitive products?

    Also pay attention to the fact that when a Microsoft OS is in beta stages, these builds seem to fly around on the Internet like crazy. Even "secret" or "leaked" builds do. And people collect and probably install them and use them. Because they want to be the first kid on their block with Windows XL or whatever the next version will be called. Microsoft seems to do nothing about the spread of this software. However, once it is released and stores charge for the software, it's another ballgame.

    I would put more credibility in the reports if they were accredited an estimate on how much sales increased just because of piracy. Of course I am just speculating, but to me it makes sense.
  • Ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeffphil (461483) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @01:57AM (#2692014)
    "Warez" pirates accused of breaking the law get their computers seized, publically criminalized before a trial when Commerce undersecretary Phil Bond said, "This is a serious crime. These people should do some hard time." because their accused activities are supposedly causing billions of dollars of damage and putting companies out of business.

    Yet Microsoft has been found guilty in two courts for anti-competitive behavior, and stealing billions from it's consumers and competitors, and putting several of their competitors out of business; and they have never had a single computer seized and will only get a slap on the wrist as opposed to this "hard time" that Mr. Bond talks about.

  • by philg (8939) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @09:56AM (#2692893)
    When the big companies whose whining prompted these raids actually finds out who these people are, they should pay them. Piracy has been the friend of big software for years.

    Consider two scenarios:

    Scenario 1: Adobe releases Photoshop. No one ever makes an illegal copy of it. So kids who want to goof around with pix they got on the Internet don't use it; they use a shareware Paint Shop-type app instead. If the bug bites him, he'll probably spend a lot of time on that piece of software, getting better and better with it. A small percentage of these kids might get their parents to spring for a copy of the real thing for Christmas or something, but don't count on it.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Graphic Design Company CEO needs a tool to use in his design shop. Does he go with Photoshop? Maybe -- it has a lot of options. Big problem, though -- he'll have to train people to use it. Of course, there are some real hotshots out there with Paint Shop experience. Hmmm...maybe I only use Paint Shop, and outsource to a specialty company when I need Photoshop work. In fact, maybe I don't _need_ Photoshop; these guys are getting a lot of the same effects using the more primitive shareware tools.

    Scenario 2: Adobe releases Photoshop. Individuals, mostly people who can't afford personal copies (students, kids at home, pros or amateurs at home) pirate it. They develop proficiency in it. Companies (who can be easily audited) more or less always buy licensed copies -- and they do buy it, because their employee base is all fluent in Photoshop!

    Thanks, software piracy!

    phil
  • by pyramid termite (458232) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @10:29AM (#2693048)
    ... against yesterday's pirates. Now, when anyone can just use a p2p program to share a program they've ripped, cracked or made an image file out of, why would warez groups follow the old model of distribution at all? Oh, so they can be 3l33t and stuff. Look, except for very expensive programs, all you need is a copy, a skilled cracker or two, and a p2p program and the net will take care of the rest.

    By the way, if the feds let all the pirate groups copy their releases and the pirate groups distributed them to all others, how many warez owners are there who've just gotten a little extra from their government this year? Isn't this a lot like if the government grew pot, sold it to 50 people, let the 50 people sell it to all their friends and then got around to busting the 50? Ohh, they got 50 drug dealers! Wow! Meanwhile, a couple of thousand hippies are stumbling around high on government pot.

    Makes you wonder how they're fighting the war on terror, doesn't it?
  • by Pope Slackman (13727) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @01:18PM (#2693812) Homepage Journal
    Ever notice that a lot of piracy is of big-ticket, high-end software packages (Maya, Lightwave, Photoshop, Visual Studio, etc)?
    And that a lot of it is done by college students?
    People that, by and large, like to play with things, but don't have much money?

    No college student or tinkerer is going to drop $2500 on a software package that he/she is only going to play with.
    Many companies offer "educational" licenses, but usually the discounts are only a couple hundred bucks off the retail, so legal software is still out of reach of most people, not to mention the discount is only applicable to students.

    My solution?
    Non-commercial use licenses.
    Sell licenses that basically just offsets the cost of the media, with the restriction that the software can't be used for commercial purposes.
    Corporations (the main market for high-end software) still pay full price, but students and tinkerers get the software for virtually nothing.
    The software companies lose nothing (since people that can't afford the software at retail prices won't buy it anyways) and create a huge base of (mostly young) people that will potentially become commercial customers in the future.

    Enforce non-commercial use the same way we enforce educational use now, with EULAs and, when necessary, feds.
    Yes, there will be cheaters, but there are cheaters now, and I don't see the software industry suffering.

    The way I see it, everyone wins.
    Big companies pay big money, kids making weird flash movies in their parents' basement, don't.

    C-X C-S
  • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Wednesday December 12, 2001 @01:27PM (#2693879)
    Maybe this raid was a result of post sept 11 international cooperation. Maybe it was a result of increased police powers. It's nieve to assume that these enhanced powers will only be used to fight terrorists. Leaders are increasingly doing intelligence on their adversaries. Clinton looked at his opponent's FBI files. Bush Senior was head of the CIA for chrissakes (yes, I know they're not the FBI but they are an intelligence organization)

    It should be assumed that any new powers granted to the police will eventually be used for whatever the hell the state wants to use them for. In the US, this means continued dominance of the two major political parties.

    Warez are just a secondary issue in all this. Personally, I've used them since I've gotten tired of being dicked around by software companies. For example, I bought a macromedia suite of software as a student. When I installed it I got the message that it was for 'educational use only' and could not be used for commercial projects despite the fact that I had paid somthing like $200 for it (can't remember the exact figure). I tried to return it, as the EULA said that I should do and the store refused. I tried contancting Macromedia and they gave me the run around. " fax the information to us." "Our fax is broken" etc.

    Microsoft did the same for Frontpage (yeah, my fault for buying the *$%&). They refused to remotly enable the software and wanted personal information before they'd let me use it.

    Somehow I doubt the FBI is going to raid Macromedia, and the government seems to be calling off it's 'raid' on Microsoft.

    The legitimacy of the law comes from the fact that it's applied equally to all people. Without that, it's just a bunch of men in blue with riot gear.

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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