From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Warez refers primarily to copyrighted material traded in violation of copyright law. The term generally refers to illegal releases by organized groups, as opposed to peer-to-peer file sharing between friends or large groups of people with similar interest using a Darknet. It usually does not refer to commercial for-profit software counterfeiting. This term was initially coined by members of the various computer underground circles, but has since become commonplace among Internet users and the media.
The term "Piracy" is used in this article to refer "unauthorized use of intellectual property", where "unauthorized" refers to a lack of authority granted by the holder of the intellectual property and the use is within the jurisdiction of the legal authority under which a property right requiring such authorization for use is established. 
The word "warez" was coined to indicate more than one piece of pirated software, as "software" is a non-count noun and users found it natural to use a count noun to differentiate between one "ware" (one piece of software [one program]) and multiple "warez" (multiple pieces of software [multiple programs]). Due to the relatively large amounts of time needed to transfer large files over slow telephone modems and bulletin board systems (BBSes), pirates would typically ask for one-for-one trades from other pirates. Hence, software pirates adopted a merchant-like attitude with their software collections and the term "wares" was apt.
Warez is used most commonly as a noun: "My neighbor downloaded 10 gigabytes of warez yesterday"; but can also be used as a verb: "The new Windows was warezed a month before the company officially released it". The collection of warez groups is referred to globally as the "warez scene" or more ambiguously "The Scene".
The Best Warez Site is http://www.warex.us Get all your FREE downloads there.
History of warez
Piracy in its current form began during the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Industrial textile production was one of the important factors in economic growth. Plans for weaving machines were patented and the British government applied strict restrictions on exports of the technology. 
At the time, patent law in the United States limited all patents to US citizens only and, protected by this act, several businessmen such as Francis Cabot Lowell began manufacturing without paying any compensation to the patent holders in Britain. Francis Cabot Lowell's mill was based on technology patented by Edmund Cartwright.  Such acts were condoned by the US government for over a century until the passing of the International Copyright Act.
During the 1980s, and continuing into the 2000s, some of the most famous products targeted were Lacoste shirts.  This type of product counterfeiting was and still is done by organized crime groups often based in Eastern or Asian countries such as China, Thailand, Russia. These groups illegally produce millions of counterfeit copies of clothing, electronics, microchips, music CDs, VHS & DVD movies, and software applications.
While most copies of pirate software are manufactured in Asian factories, their distribution often begins in first-world nations such as the United States and Western Europe, where the largest international publishers of proprietary software are located. These pirate copies are regularly sold on city streets throughout most of South America, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In some countries they are sold at retail price which can be worth several billion dollars annually. While the selling of pirate copies is less common in Western nations, its popularity is growing. In Western nations, pirate products are usually sold in specific areas, such as Chinatown in New York and the Pacific Mall in suburban Toronto. Unlike Asian countries where pirate goods can even be sold in retailers, this kind of distribution is rare in Western nations.
Rise of software piracy
Software piracy has been an issue from the day the first commercial software program hit store shelves. Whether the medium was cassette tape or floppy disk, software pirates found a way to duplicate the software and spread it amongst their friends. Thriving pirate communities were built around the Apple II, Commodore 64, the Atari 400 and Atari 800 line, the ZX Spectrum, the Amiga, the Atari ST among other personal computers. Entire networks of BBSes sprang up to traffic illegal software from one user to the next. Machines like the Amiga and the Commodore 64 had an international pirate network; software not available on one continent would eventually make its way to every region through the pirate network via the bulletin board systems.
It was also quite common in the 1980s to use physical floppy disks and the postal service for spreading software, in an activity known as mail trading. Particularly widespread in continental Europe, mail trading was even used by many of the leading cracker groups as their primary channel of interaction. Software piracy via mail trading was also the most relevant means for many computer hobbyists in the Eastern bloc countries to receive new Western software for their computers.
Copy protection schemes for the early systems were designed to defeat the casual pirate, as "crackers" would typically release a pirated game to the pirate "community" the day they were earmarked for market.
A famous event in the history of software piracy policy was an open letter written by Bill Gates of Microsoft, dated February 3, 1976, in which he argued that the quality of available software would increase if software piracy was less prevalent. However, until the early 1990s, software piracy was not yet considered a serious problem by most people. In 1992, the Software Publishers Association began to battle against software piracy, with its promotional video "Don't Copy That Floppy". It and the Business Software Alliance have remained the most active anti-piracy organizations worldwide, although to compensate for extensive growth in recent years, they have gained the assistance of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), as well as American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI).
Causes which have accelerated its growth
In the late 1990s, computers became more popular. This was attributed to Microsoft and the release of Windows 95, which greatly decreased the learning curve for using a computer. Windows 95 became so popular that in developed countries nearly every middle-class household had at least one computer. Similar to televisions and telephones, computers became a necessity to every person in the information age. As the use of computers increased, so had software and cyber crimes.
In the mid-1990s, the average Internet user was still on dial-up, with average speed ranging between 28.8 and 33.6 kbit/s (with a maximum speed of 56 kbit/s becoming possible in early 1999 with the advent of V.90). If one wished to download a piece of software, which could run about 20 MB, the download time could be longer than one day, depending on network traffic, the Internet Service Provider, and the server. Around 1997, broadband began to gain popularity due to its greatly increased network speeds. As "large-sized file transfer" problems became less severe, warez became more widespread and began to affect large software files like animations and movies.
In the past, files were distributed by point-to-point technology: with a central uploader distributing files to downloaders. With these systems, a large number of downloaders for a popular file uses an increasingly larger amount of bandwidth. If there are too many downloads, the server can become unavailable. The same is true for peer-to-peer networking; the more downloaders the slower the file distribution is. With swarming technology as implemented in file sharing systems like eDonkey2000, downloaders help the uploader by picking up some of its uploading responsibilities.
BitTorrent brings a new way of how peers share their files. When one downloads files, one is not only a downloader, but also an uploader. To a point, the more downloaders there are, the faster the file distribution becomes.
Types of warez
There is generally a distinction made between different sub-types of warez:
- appz - Applications: Generally a retail version of a software package.
- crackz - Cracked applications: A modified executable or more (usually one) and/or a library (usually one) or more and/or a patch designed to turn a trial version of a software package into the full version and/or bypass anti-piracy protections.
- gamez - Games: This scene concentrates on both computer based games, and video game consoles, though the latter are more often referred to as ISOs and ROMs.
- moviez - Movies: Pirated movies generally released while still in theaters or from DVDs prior to the actual retail date.
- nocd/no cd/nodvd/no dvd - A file modification that allows an installed program to be run without inserting the CD or DVD into the drive.
- tvrip - Television programs: Television shows generally released within minutes after airing, with all commercials edited out. DVD Rips of television series fall under this sub-type.
- mp3z - MP3 audio: Pirated albums, singles, or other audio format released in the compressed MP3 audio format.
- bookz/ebookz/e-bookz - Books: These include pirated ebooks, scanned books, scanned comics, cartoons etc.
- scriptz - Scripts: These include pirated scripts coded by companies in PHP, ASP, and other languages.
- templatez - Templates: These include pirated website templates coded by companies.
- dox - Computer game add-ons: These include nocds, cracks, trainers, cheat codes etc.
- 0-day warez (pronounced as zero day warez) - This refers to a crack which has been released on the same day as the original.
Software cracking groups delegate tasks efficiently among their members. These members are mostly located in first world countries where high-speed internet connections and powerful computers are readily available. Software cracking groups are usually quite small. Only a few skilled people usually do the cracking work, as the complexity of reverse engineering and patching code requires a deep understanding of the software.
Movie piracy was looked upon as impossible by the major studios. When dial-up was common in early and mid 1990s, movies distributed on the Internet tended to be small. The techniques that were usually used to make them small were to use compression software and lower the video quality. At that time, the largest piracy threat was software.
However, along with the rise in broadband internet connections beginning around 1998, higher quality movies began to see widespread distribution – with the release of DeCSS, ISO images copied directly from the original DVDs were slowly becoming a feasible distribution method. Today, movie sharing has become so common that it has caused major concern amongst movie studios and their representative organizations. Because of this the MPAA is often running campaigns during movie trailers where it tries to discourage young people from copying material without permission. Unlike the music industry, which has online music stores supported by music programs such as iTunes, the movie industry is still currently lacking an alternative against the illegal distribution.
- For more specific information see Movie release types
Distribution of warez
Organized groups operate with strict rule set of what can be released and in which format each release should be. The groups may also have private sites for internal purposes, such as archiving their own releases and transferring the unmodified material between their members. Communication within a group is usually handled through encrypted channels (with Blowfish, AES, or some other cipher & key method), using SSL secured private Internet Relay Chat (IRC) servers. Communication within a group is important in coordinating their releases. Groups usually focus on some specific area of expertise and release material from their field. These groups usually transfer material using topsites.
Disorganized distribution usually consists of average computer users, who are using some form of P2P to transfer material. These users often rely on Usenet binaries newsgroups, BitTorrent or IRC XDCC bots to distribute their material. These new releases typically do not spread far, but since there is no real way to track what was released and where, this is hard to do. Disorganized groups rarely release software, since releasing usually requires a competent programmer to patch the original program. Usually these types of releases are MP3, cloned game images and movies.
There are several methods warez material could be distributed. The methods include, but are not limited to: Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), File eXchange Protocol (FXP), BitTorrent (BT), Peer-to-peer (P2P), Usenet and Xabi Direct Client Connection (XDCC).
The typical warez scene release process is as follows:
- A popular new piece of commercial software is released by the software company.
- A warez group might use one of its contacts to obtain a pre-release copy, steal it from a DVD/CD pressing plant, or obtain it from a retail store before release date or once it has been released.
- It is then sent to a skilled software cracker/programmer to remove copy prevention.
- It is packed in proper format (usually split and compressed using the RAR file format), and it is uploaded to private FTP servers which act as a group's release-HQ.
- The packs are uploaded to topsites, and once they are complete on all the sites, the group PREs.
- It is then moved by couriers to many smaller and possibly slower FTP servers around the world.
Steps 4, 5, and 6 can be used to describe all types of Warez, since the distribution format is defined in standards.
Many, if not all, release groups look down on peer-to-peer networks and protest against users making their warez available on such networks.
P2P release process can be as follows:
- A popular game is released. It has strong copy protection mechanism, and scene groups are working hard to bypass it.
- Some enthusiast has been waiting for hours in front of the store, and as clock turns 8, the doors open, and he rushes in to buy the game.
- He takes his game home, and makes an image of the DVD with CloneCD
- While the torrent generator is calculating chunk checksums, he posts a message on his local forum, telling he has new game and image
- Some people wouldn't believe that he actually has the game, since there is no scene release yet, so he takes a picture of the game DVD and posts it on the forum, along with a link to the torrent file which he already uploaded to his favourite tracker, and where he's seeding the image
- The torrent starts spreading, since many people are reading the forum, and it gets reposted on other trackers as well
- As people complete their downloads, they start other P2P applications to resume or start new downloads, and share the game image to other P2P networks
By now, there are hundreds of copies being spread around in various different networks, and it is relatively easy to find a download for the game, even with www search engine.
File formats of warez
- For more specific information see Standard (warez)
The modern warez scene deals with petabytes of data and thus the need for an efficient system of handling files was apparent. A typical CD software release can contain up to 700 megabytes of data, which presents challenges when sending over the Internet. This was especially true in the early days when everything was done via dial-up connections. These challenges apply to an even greater extent for a single-layer DVD release, which can contain up to 4.7 GB of data. The warez scene made it standard practice to split releases up into many separate pieces, called disks, using several file compression formats: (historical TAR, LZH, ACE, ARJ), ZIP and most commonly RAR.
This method has many advantages over sending a single large file:
- The two-layer compression could sometimes achieve almost a tenfold improvement over the original DVD/CD image. The overall file size is cut down and lessens the transfer time and bandwidth required.
- If there is a problem during the file transfer and data was corrupted, it is only necessary to resend the few corrupted RAR files instead of resending the entire large file.
- This method also creates the facility of downloading from many sources.
File verification is accomplished using SFV files, which is usually integrated into the topsites FTP server software so that files are verified automatically as they are uploaded. Ironically, the distribution methods used by the warez scene are so efficient that they are sometimes superior to the ones used by actual software producers.
Releases of software titles often come in two forms. The full form is a full version of game or application, generally released as CD or DVD-writable disk images (BIN or ISO files). A rip is a cut-down version of the title in which important additions included on the legitimate DVD/CD (generally Portable Document Format (PDF) manuals, help files, tutorials, and sample media) is omitted. In a game rip, generally all game video is removed, and the audio is compressed to MP3 or Vorbis, which must then be decoded to its original form before playing. A nuke is stand-alone version of a game or application, in which the installer has been removed and the program is modified to execute without installation into a particular directory.
Motivations and arguments
Software Pirates generally exploit the international nature of the copyright issue to avoid law enforcement in specific countries. In Russia, the copying of software was once explicitly permitted by law when such software was not in the Russian language. This is no longer the case, but prosecutions for copyright infringement are still very rare. In March of 2005, prosecutors in Moscow refused to charge the popular website Allofmp3.com with criminal copyright infringement due to the fact that Russian copyright law apparently only covers physical media .
The production and/or distribution of warez is illegal in most countries. However, it is typically overlooked in poorer third world countries with weak or non-existent IP protection. Additionally, some first world countries have loopholes in legislation that allow the warez scene to continue to operate in a limited fashion.
- For arguments, see List of pro and anti-warez arguments
Warez is often a form of copyright infringement punishable as either a civil wrong or a crime. The laws and their application to warez activities may vary greatly from country to country. Generally, however, there are four elements of criminal copyright infringement: the existence of a valid copyright, that copyright was infringed, the infringement was wilful and the infringement was either for commercial gain or substantial (a level often set by statute). Often public sites such as pages hosting torrent files claim that they are not breaking any laws because they are not offering the actual data, but only link to other places or peers which contain the infringing material.
- For more information, see article about copyright infringement
- Copyright infringement of software
- Crack introduction
- List of warez groups
- .nfo - information on the text file that is almost always included in warez releases.
- Grey hat - includes details on the anti-piracy.se case, alledgly linking Swedish anti-piracy organisation and Swedish authorities to criminal actions.
Warez (intended to be pronounced like the word wares [weə(ɹ)z] but sometimes incorrectly like to the English pronunciation of Juárez [wɑɹɛz]) is a derivative of the plural form of "software". Rarely intentionally spelled juarez to alude in a tongue in cheek manner to stereotypical notions of the U.S.-Mexican border as a place of illegal smuggling.
Piracy like all other words has different shades of meaning. Some denotative, others connotative, some implying social acceptability, others pejorative. Whoever controls access to the discourse is able to pick the words with meanings that frame the reader's response. While the term 'piracy' is commonly used to describe a significant range of activities, most of which are unlawful, the relatively neutral meaning in this context is "...mak[ing] use of or reproduc[ing] the work of another without authorization" . Some groups (including the Free Software Foundation) object to the use of this and other words such as "theft" because they represent a partisan attempt to create a prejudice that is used to gain political ground. "Publishers often refer to prohibited copying as "piracy." In this way, they imply that illegal copying is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnapping and murdering the people on them" (FSF). The FSF advocate the use of terms like "prohibited copying" or "unauthorized copying", or "sharing information with your neighbor."
On the other hand, many self-proclaimed "software pirates" take pride in the term, thinking of the romanticized Hollywood portrayal of pirates and sometimes jokingly using "pirate talk" in their conversations. Although the use of this term is controversial, it is embraced by some groups such as Pirates With Attitude.
- ^ See the analysis about word 'piracy' in terminology section.
- ^ Textile infringments
- ^ Cartwright patent
- ^ The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition "Pirate".
- 2600 A Guide to Piracy – An article on the warez scene (ASCII plaintext and image scans from 2600: The Hacker Quarterly)
- "The Shadow Internet" – An article about modern day warez "top sites" at Wired News.
- The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution
- BSA - Global Piracy Study - 2005 (PDF)
- BSA - Global Piracy Study - 2004 (PDF)
- Ordered Misbehavior – The Structuring of an Illegal Endeavor by Alf Rehn. A study of the illegal subculture known as the "warez scene". (PDF)
http://www.warex.us is a great place to get free downloads of movies, music, cracks, etc.
- Piracy Textfiles – A historical collection of documents released by warez-related individuals.
- Defacto2 – A huge collection of historical piracy and warez files including documents, art, write ups, magazines, BBS captures and cracktros.
- How to Become an Elite Warez Trader – A humorous take on the mid-1990s scene.
- Warez Trading and Criminal Copyright Infringement – An article on warez trading and the law, including a recap of US prosecutions under the No Electronic Theft Act.
- A Guide To Internet Piracy Insider report about "the warez scene"
- The Scene Exposed
- An Internet piracy overview