A brief tour of the software pirate underground scene

Antipiracy vendors say no software is invulnerable

"Warez sites" can be Googled, and sites such as 0DayKingz will be found, though DeMarines warned that some are fake sites that will spread spyware or malware to unsuspecting visitors. Software vendors can get a free analysis of where and how their products are pirated at V.i. Labs' Web site.

Pirates hate spammers and malware distributors, DeMarines said. For one, they are bad for business. The download sites operated by pirates or their cohorts charge subscriptions or charge US$50 or $100 for single downloads of high-end application, such as a engineering or CAD. That's still a bargain compared with the several thousand dollars charged for such software at retail.

Mainly, pirates, then and now, are in it for the glory. They agonize over making sure that the warez run smoothly with few problems for users and with all of the promised features. They still create elaborate pages, now .NFO files, out of text or low-resolution graphics.

Pirates "are proud of what comes out of their shop," DeMarines said. "They have a sense of honor."

Pirate groups, which sport names such as The Bitter End, DarkL0rd, and AGAiN, also compete on volume. The Bitter End, according to DeMarines, has released 2,000 cracked warez in the past three years.

The warez that show up on these subscription-only sites eventually make their way to free file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent or LimeWire, sooner in the case of hot games, later in the case of esoteric apps.

Surprisingly, pirates today still work in the same primitive assembly language or machine code to crack software, DeMarines said. That's despite the proliferation of higher-level languages that make programming today almost like writing an essay.

Not as surprising is the fact that many vendors aren't interested in making their products completely pirate-proof. For one, implementing tough anti-piracy technology can have the side effect of interfering with patch and update installation, leading to more technical support calls from legitimate paying users, according to Acresso's Frame.

Also, as even Bill Gates openly admits, piracy can help your product in the long run.

"You have to ask yourself: If some user in a BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India or China) nation is pirating my $50,000 piece of software, would they actually buy it if they couldn't copy it?" Frame said. "Or would they have just gone to a cheaper or open-source product?"

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags software piracy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?