16 pointless years on the net and counting
In April of '97, I read an article on the Warez scene in Wired Magazine. Other than this one article, I have not seen any other information on this topic posted on the 'net, hence this document.
The term Warez, pronounced "wares", is internet speak for software titles that are available for free download from the net via BitTorrent, via FTP sites, or in certain Usenet Binary Newsgroups. You will find everything from cheap shareware to the most expensive software titles, provided you know where to look.
Read the Wired article.
"Don't Copy that Floppy"
The legality of obtaining this software is beyond the scope of this document since I am not familiar with laws in countries other than the United States. In this country a movement is under way to eradicate software piracy.
The CEO's of Microsoft, Autodesk, Adobe, etc., recently visited the U.S. Congress to lobby for stricter internet software pirating laws. The last I heard, Congress was close to passing a compromise bill that would make a federal crime out of possessing an amount of 10 or more illegally copied software or other media, like a VHS tape of your favorite TV show.
The SPA (software pub assoc.), lobbied for a law that would make possession of just one copy of pirated software a misdemeanor. This was originally rejected by Congress, but was added at the last minute with the provision that the copy have a value in excess of $1000(US).
It is not to anyone's surprise that at the same time Congressmen are legislating to imprison the common man, they are scoffing at attempts to make themselves accountable for violating software copyright laws.
Laws that the SPA says the government is in serious violation of. According to the latest audit of Dept. of Defense computers, over 50% of them were found to have software in violation of existing copyright laws.
On Nov. 5th, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the No Electronic Theft Act(NET).
It must still be approved by The U.S. Senate and President Clinton before it can be made law. Since The House of Reps. is controlled by a Republican majority, their attempt at radically changing existing laws to benefit large corporations comes as no surprise.
Read the amended copyright law that was approved by The House on 11-5-97.
The U.S. Senate has also approved the amended copyright bill and now it only awaits the President's signature to be made law.
This bill received special treatment to rush it through before Congress adjourned until next year. You can read all the details concerning this or any other congressional activity at the http://thomas.loc.gov web site.
Learn more about your rights online at cyberlaw.com
The Associationfor Computing Machinery, an international group of computer scientists with 80,000 members, is urging President Clinton to veto the No Electronic Theft Act(NET).
The act would "criminalize the transfer of information that is currently protected under the U.S. 'fair use' doctrine," the association warns in a letter to the president. "We are concerned the bill may...restrict scientists and other professionals from making their research available on the Internet for use by colleagues and students."
U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the No Electronic Theft Act(NET) into law on 12-16-97, without making any statement to the media.
It seems President Clinton gave more thought this week to naming his new dog, than assessing the concerns raised by the academic community over this bill.
Read more on the approval of the NET Act.
Where to Search
I debated whether or not to publish this piece, but the Warez scene is a part of the online community and it is not likely to just go away. I don't have any links to share with you because I am not in need of anymore buggy software.
However, I will tell you the different ways one can go about finding out more in this area.
AltaVista is the best search engine for non-business web sites. Also, with AltaVista you can limit your searches to certain time frames of site creation, like say the previous month, which is handy for warez sites since they tend to vanish unexpectedly. If you do visit web sites be prepared for massive amounts of graphics, mostly lewd and slow to load.
Warning: Most warez sites seem to be authored by teenagers who do their very best to demonstrate to the world just how awful going thru puberty can be. These "webmasters" are armed to the teeth with the very latest, best and most expensive graphics software and they ain't afraid to use it.
I encourage you to get a list of links and then have a spider or agent software program gather up the sites info and deposit it on your HD for later viewing. I can't stress this enough.
IRC (internet relay channel), the internet's giant chat room, has several #warez channels where you can barter with a robot for the software of the day, or find a like minded person and swap software titles in a private chat room of your own making.
At the very least you can pick up the daily list of FTP sites that have been verified to be stocked full with software within the last 24 hrs.
FTP sites are the havens for warez. This software is uploaded to FTP sites all over the world by several warez groups.
Names of some of these pirate groups include:
"Couriers" in these groups send the software they receive on to even more sites.
Like I stated earlier, you may find chasing warez around the world's FTP and Internet sites frustrating if you are not employing agents, spiders and bots to handle most of the searching for you.
Here is my article on surprise, just such a topic.
It is possible to save yourself a lot of time and frustration in the search of warez by utilizing the Usenet Newsgroups. Certain alt. groups receive between 10,000 - 15,000 software posts EVERYDAY! Add in regular messages and you have groups containing an average of 30,000 posts at any given time on any given day.
Of course there is a problem, it seems most ISP's and all online content providers (i.e. AOL, MSN, Prodigy, Compuserve), censor newsgroups. A lot of internet providers refuse to carry any alt.binaries groups due to the large amount of server space they require.
Some ISP's that carry these groups delete all the files and some delete portions of each post making it impossible to receive the complete software file. The only ISP's I know of that do not censor are AT&T and Mindspring.
I hear AltNet is good but they are not signing new subscribers. You may also find Usenet news only providers such as SuperZippo worth a try.
Mindspring is my 6th ISP this year due to the fact that I am constantly in search of a fast online gaming connection. After perusing the newsgroups with all the other providers I was not prepared for the shock of seeing the difference in both the number of newsgroups and the amount of posts Mindspring carried.
For example Netcom had around 21,000 newsgroups, Mindspring has over 29,000. In one particular warez group, Netcom had 4,500 posts, Mindspring had over 27,000.
One of the main warez newsgroups is named alt.binaries.warez.ibm-pc. Like a lot of newsgroups, this one has a well written FAQ that I would advise you to read before you post any requests in that group. You can download it here. (41 KB)
Learn more about Usenet.
Nothing in life is free!
That basic principle of life is true in the Warez world as well. People have been quoted as saying they incurred great expense buying storage media to handle all the newly downloaded software.
The most common backup method seems to be zip drives/disks. At $100US, after rebate, for the drive and around $12US a disk, the cost can add up fast. Of course, you could opt for a new 5-7 GIG HD, but that would set you back around $400US.
Oh yeah, if you truly intend to try and obtain some of this software, you may have to view your modem and your computer in a completely different way.
A lot of novice computer users I know think that their computer is the same as their T.V. and always turn it off when done using it. They couldn't fathom leaving it alone to run all night or when they aren't home. Still others I know believe that 1 MB is a large download.
This is AOL messing with your mind. Contrary to your experience on AOL, any ISP that carries these newsgroups can stay connected (normally, were still talking the net here) as long as it takes for you to complete the download.
In these times of bloated, reusable software code, the average software title available for download ranges in size anywhere from 10 MB to as much as 150 MB. With a 28.8 modem you can expect to download (5) 1.44MB size files per hour.
So a 50 MB download would tie up your machine for over 6 hours. Forget about using Netscape to read binary newsgroups, it is useless.
I recommend Forte Agent.
Learn more about Forte Agent
Burn Baby, Burn!
From the - Some people are never satisfied Dept:
It seems a lot of files are "ripped" from posts before they get uploaded on the 'net. Most of the purged files are clip art or .avi video files that are not necessary for the program to function.
However, it seems people want what they don't have so a solution was found to the dilemma.
Due to faster connections and CD-ROM Burners, a new group has emerged called alt.binaries.cd.image that features complete, uncut versions of the latest releases. The copy of Photoshop 4.0 that was recently posted would take up nearly 1 Gigabyte of your HD space if downloaded.
UPDATE: 4-10-2013 Today's terabyte hard drives were unthinkable back in 1997.
I had always been a big proponent of the fact that I believed people, on average, were a lot smarter than they are given credit for. The Usenet newsgroups have cured me of this idiotic notion.
Using a newsreader app like Agent is critical to maintaining one's sanity when reading posts. People enjoy flaunting their stupidity and will do anything to ensure you know exactly how mentally challenged they are.
Fortunately, Agent supports kill filters that make it a breeze to remove lamer posts from your screen. One newsgroup, in an attempt to teach wannabe lamers, started posting detailed accounts of the idiotic behavior of some of the groups posters. This would culminate with the election of a Lamer of the month.
The Lamer of the Month post was followed up with a "Lamer FAQ", along with the advisory, "read it or you'll be in it".
Read this hilarious FAQ (19 KB).
In an attempt to weed out lamers, no guarantee is given that any software you download is going to work, or that it is virus-free. A popular term posted in these groups is "you get what you pay for".
On the other hand, read the license agreement you okay every time you install a software purchase. You will find that your in pretty much the same "no help" boat with store bought software.
Since downloading any of this software would not be morally right, and seeing as that I am as pure as the driven snow, I have no firsthand knowledge that the titles you download are actually going to work.
Some things a person must learn on their own.
The lack of a return policy, as well as, the bug ridden nature of most software releases, has just helped fuel the massive growth of the warez scene that has been around since the mid-80's and seems to be still going strong.
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