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Talk To a Convicted Warez Guy 1404

Posted by Roblimo
from the don't-do-the-crime-if-you-can't-do-the-time dept.
Chris Tresco is one of those evil "software pirates" cybermoms warn you about. He was a sysadmin at MIT, and also a member of "the secretive Internet software trading ring known as 'DrinkOrDie'" who got caught by the DoJ's Operation Buccaneer, got convicted, and was sentenced to 33 months in prison on August 16. Chris has a little time left on the outside before he goes away and has agreed to spend some of it answering your questions, so ask away. (Usual Slashdot interview rules.)
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Talk To a Convicted Warez Guy

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  • Couple questions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BoneFlower (107640) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .llorrow.egroeg.> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:03PM (#4273264) Journal
    1) Are you guilty?

    2) If so, do you feel what you were doing should be illegal?

    3) If so, why did you do it anyways?
    • by glrotate (300695) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:54PM (#4273890) Homepage
      That part about not being ready for federal pound me in the ass prision?

      Do you still think its funny?
      • If it's Federal prison, chances are he'll be in the cushy bunks with bankers, CEO's and other upper crust fools who got caught. They do 'soft time' with a few acres of well manicured golf lawn between them and the rest of the world.

        He'll only have a problem with dropping the soap if Richard Simmons is suddenly convicted of being a flaming homo by the Feds.
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by DrNibbler (547534) <sean&seanreiser,com> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:04PM (#4273272) Homepage Journal
    Does he have a copy of Visual Studio.Net?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:04PM (#4273273)
    Since you got more time than the average rapist, do you wish you'd raped someone instead of 'pirating' software?
    • by ceswiedler (165311) <chris@swiedler.org> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:57PM (#4273941)
      According to the Bureau of Justice statistics (Federal), the average sentence for rape is 117 months, serving an average of 65 months. The stats are below. The first number is the average sentence in months, the second is the average time actually served in months. The average percent of time served for all violent crime (all this document covers) is 48%. Therefore I would guess he will be released (on parole) within 16 months or so.


      Homicide 149/71
      Rape 117/65
      Kidnaping 104/52
      Robbery 95/44
      Sexual assault 72/35
      Assault 61/29
    • Considering Nate Newton was caught red handed TWICE within a month trying to smuggle nearly 400 POUNDS total of marijuana into the country, and is sentenced to three months LESS than you are?
    • Or at least mentioned.

      How does his crime sentence compare to other crimes that involve copying? I wonder how it would compare to, say, wholesale duplication of $100 bills? Everyone always compares piracy to software theft, when in reality, it's much closer to counterfeiting. Both the copyright system and the monetary system rely on government imposed scarcity. The hard question that some people here on Slashdot need to ask themselves, is can the economy survive if that artificial scarcity is removed.

      In my personal opinion, I believe the world would be a much better (and radically different) place if copyright is cut short. In this hectic information age, can anyone imagine a world where copyright only lasted 5 years from publication? I'd love to see a reasoned debate on this issue.

      And, for my question to the convicted pirate... What is his personal view on the politics of copyright, and what his views (if any) are of what life would be like under such a system.

      Bork!
  • by Unknown Poltroon (31628) <unknown_poltroon1sp@myahoo.com> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:04PM (#4273278)
    Lots of things are illegal, a lot of them arent wrong. A lot of them are. Which did you do?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:04PM (#4273282)
    Can you get me a free copy of Office XP before you go?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:05PM (#4273290)
    I occassionly go warez shopping with carracho, should I be worried about a prison term for browsing these servers? Exactly how much software do you need to have to get 33 months in jail?
    • I think this guy and his associated group were doing more than merely "warez shopping". From a quick glance at the Wired article, simple piracy is just the beginning. Cracking apps, setting up servers, distributing apps, etc -- that's what got him (and others?) the jail time.

      While owning copies of software illegally isn't the right thing to do, I doubt you're gonna end up in Oz [hbo.com] anytime soon. Start hacking into other people's systems, setting up warez serves, cracking apps for illegal purposes -- well, maybe you'll get to enjoy some conjugal visits from your friendly jailhouse pimp for those "horrific crimes".
      • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @01:06PM (#4274066)
        Cracking apps, seting up servers, distributing apps. hmm sounds like senior year in HS and freshman year in college. I did over 4GB of transfer overnight once, this was back in 97 when a pipe that big was pretty rare. As far as hacking other peoples systems, I never knew anyone in the scene to do something like that. I personally cracked apps for the challenge and the learning experience, I learned all about debuggers, dis-assemblers, check kernals, kernal probes, stack tracing and a miryad of other skills that are usefull for a CS student but boring to learn about in class. I distributed apps because I was a poor college student who couldn't afford the software I wanted and so I became part of the scene in order to get prefered access to the things I wanted. (giving someone leech on you high BW connection was the surest way to get early or rare releases)
        • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @01:26PM (#4274288) Journal
          People like to look down on cracking (of software and computers) as being evil or juvenile once they're a sysadmin/security analyst. While I'm not going to call them wrong, I suspect that a very large number of the more knowledgeable sysadmins, system coders, and whatnot out there, have at one time or another spent some time freeriding, and learned one or two technical skills in a not-so-legitimate manner. I don't think I've talked to a UNIX guy (and I'm talking about serious sorts, not the type churned out with an IS degree and little idea what they're doing) yet who's talked about this and said "No, I've never pirated software/cracked software/broken into someone's server".

          I spent a lot of time cracking software back in the day. Never distributed it, and it did eat up a lot of time. However, I'm now happily using the skills that started there to do systems work. Poking at people's servers, in the same vein, breeds better security types.

          You just have to realize that boys will be boys. Sure, there's mischief when you're a kid. Just because some kid defaced a web page instead of spraying graffiti at some point and the company victimized claimed tens of thousands of dollars in damages doesn't make the defacement worse than the graffiti, IMHO. As long as you learn to grow out of it, and channel what you know into useful areas, things are fine.

          This is one reason I'm kind of sad to see the slow death of the freewheeling, "protect your own computer", wide open Internet. Legalisms, laws, and whatnot are showing up left and right. The laid back, long-haired sysadmins of ten years ago have become suits. The emails that techie friends and I used to regularly spoof to each other, coming from Santa Claus, the President, or others, would now land us in a federal prison. Policy is taking the place of technology, and it makes the world a less fun place.

          Just my two cents.
  • by Kaypro (35263) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:05PM (#4273293)
    What motivated you to pirate software? Was it just because you could? Or were you trying to make some sort of philosophical statement regarding commercial software and the like?
  • by Mdog (25508) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:06PM (#4273296) Homepage
    There's been a lot of talk about DRM being built into Microsoft's next generation of operating systems. XP currently has the major annoyance (especially from a piracy perspective) of registration...do you think these new efforts will be able to significantly reduce the prevalance of Warez?
  • by gotroot801 (7857) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:06PM (#4273302) Homepage Journal
    The popular "pro-warez" argument is that if software companies made big-ticket products (for example, Photoshop) available for a lower cost, the demand for warez would drop. As someone in the know, do you think that's at all true?
    • by kootch (81702) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:19PM (#4273499) Homepage
      Come on, the same people that pirate Photoshop also pirate $30 shareware products.

      Hell, one of the most requested serial numbers requested (in a mac channel) is the sn# for Ircle, the shareware client most apple users use that has a 30 day limit.

      However, the ppl that pirate warez rarely use the products for more than a week (unless it's a game), if in most cases, use them for non-commercial purposes since businesses usually need to be legit.

      Personally, I don't see warez as a huge financial problem for *large* software companies. The people that use them are small-time users who would never be able to afford them, they build a userbase of people that use their products for corporations (that pay for lots of licenses), and retain the marketshare of the product (adobe/quark), (office/claris/openoffice), etc.
  • by jeffy124 (453342) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:07PM (#4273316) Homepage Journal
    In your opinion, how did the each party (prosecution, your lawyer, and most important - the judge) look when it came to their understanding of technology? Did they know every nook and cranny, or seemed lost in a maze of confusion? Do you think an understanding of the issues in question was a significant factor in court proceedings?
  • by cculianu (183926) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:07PM (#4273318) Homepage
    How did you get caught? I pirate warez all the time off UseNet and never managed to get caught. I even had a ratio ftp site running for a while. Was it a case of bad luck, or were your pirating habits getting out of control?

    Do you feel a little like Johnny Depp in the movie blow? Were you flying high and then one day had a combination of bad luck/overzealousness that finally did you in?
  • Question: (Score:3, Funny)

    by Amtiskaw (591171) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:08PM (#4273329)
    Would you have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for those pesky feds?
  • by rainer_d (115765) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:08PM (#4273330) Homepage
    Will copy-protection in-hardware stop piracy ?
    Or will it just drive consumers to products that are more easy to copy, and with less usage-restrictions ?
  • Why ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theefer (467185) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:08PM (#4273331) Homepage
    Very basic question : Why did you join a "pirate" group ? Was it just for fun ? Did you have some ideology that led you to that ? Or did you like the feeling of making something forbidden ?
  • by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:09PM (#4273336)
    Seeing as how you guys operate in secret allowing only known members into your groups, how did they track you down? Was it from someone on the inside or was it from watching your activities from an outside source (such as ISP log,etc)? What of that did they present in the case? It would be interesting to know how they obtained this information so others may avoid the same fate.
  • Hardest to crack (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HisMother (413313) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:09PM (#4273339)

    What kind of protection is the hardest to crack?

  • Unjust (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:10PM (#4273357)

    33 months seems like an outrageous sentence. It seems unjust. The old guy who has been in charge of the photocopier at my local library for the last 20 years would be on death row if similar criteria were applied to him.

    Do you think that justice in the USA these days is too influenced by corporations?
  • by WECoyoteSooperGenius (318179) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:11PM (#4273370)
    Doesn't the conviction of the DOD principles on traditional copyright infringement grounds negate the "digital is different" theme of the constant call by the (MP|RI)AA for stronger anti-circumvention measures?

    Would stronger anti-circumvention laws or technical protective measure (TPMs) have affect the operations of DOD?

    Do you think the DOD's conspicuous visibility (and the ease of online searches), made DOD easier to target that the street-corner DVD, VCD, and VCR vendors?

    Is there any way to distribute content online that a copyright holder would not be able to find the that content -- assuming that the content was visible enough to have (in the language of fair use) an "impact on the fair market value of the work"?
  • by msheppard (150231) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:11PM (#4273372) Homepage Journal
    Did you get busted for copying from someone else and making available, or by making copies you bought/got from school available?

    M@
    • Did you get busted for copying from someone else and making available, or by making copies you bought/got from school available?

      Along a similar line, what are the various source/distribution routes you used and what were the varying levels of danger for each?

      --trb
  • by RomSteady (533144) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:11PM (#4273377) Homepage Journal
    One of the most common justifications of software piracy is that it doesn't hurt the publisher or the creator. However, there are documented cases of it doing just that.

    Blue Byte released an amazing game called "Incubation: Time Is Running Out," which sold moderately well...but not enough to cover their original expenditure on the product. They then released an expansion pack, "Incubation: The Wilderness Missions," which was the first product ever to use SafeDisc. The mission pack outsold the original game by 1.5x.

    How can you justify piracy when so few titles break even on their development costs?

  • Put on a white hat? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HisMother (413313) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:11PM (#4273378)

    When you get out, if you were offered a high-paying job to do so, would you use your knowledge to help protect software from other crackers?

  • Copyright this! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Foofoobar (318279) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:11PM (#4273379)
    Ok, here is my question: Congress is considering making hacking punishable by life imprisonment, you are getting time that is equivalent to a rapist (as another poster commented).

    Do you believe that this all out attack on the technically knowledgable by the digital illiterati enforcing the bloated bottomline of many of these companies will lead to an eventual electronic revolution or do you see the united states becoming controlled by copyright owners and corporations? And do you see hackers eventually out numbering the number of people in prison on drug related crimes?

  • by Radi-0-head (261712) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:13PM (#4273399)
    Would you agree with the notion that many software companies aren't really losing much to piracy since someone who pirates, say, a copy of Adobe Photoshop would never have purchased it in the first place due to the outrageous cost?

    Personally, there is a lot of software out there that I would find useful, though I couldn't afford to (legally) own it. I think that if Adobe charged half of what they do for, say, a current version of Photoshop, they would likely sell MORE legal copies and enjoy larger market penetration and larger profits. What's your take on this?
  • by msheppard (150231) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:13PM (#4273403) Homepage Journal
    What was "The Bust" like? Was it like _WarGames_ where they showed up in black vans and confiscated your computers and rifiled through your trash? Or was it more like _Matrix_ where they called you in and presented all sorts of evidence they collected online etc.. ?

    M@
    • by freaker_TuC (7632) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @04:05PM (#4275932) Homepage Journal

      This happened in Belgium:

      I was with a friend that did major warez when a bust happened. They questioned me for 5 hours long while I was only there to go out to the disco that evening. (Apparantly the entire bust spoiled our weekend).

      They take mousepads, monitors, systems, all floppy's and cd-roms and everything that hangs on a PC system. They also take away all money they find that could be as result of trading/selling warez.

      They enter with 3 cops, somebody that notes everything down ("deurwaarder" in dutch) and 2 cops from internal affairs. The "deurwaarder" notes everything down that gets taken. Even stupid boxes get taken away, the rooms where being checked for evidence.

      The guy now has to pay for over 50000 US$ to the BSA and needed to betray friends where he worked with or he would face jailtime (because he could not pay it).

      3 weeks later they tried to check my house though I didn't had anything that was illegal; they did took a lot of writable CD's with them with personal pictures and sourcecode of programs I have written in that time. I am still waiting for them to get them back.

      So far of being legal and still loosing a lot of yourself. They took my backups and personal pictures and never had them back.
  • by bsharitt (580506) <brandon@shari[ ]com ['tt.' in gap]> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:14PM (#4273426) Homepage Journal
    Why isn't there more Mac warez? I had a hell of time finding Office v.X
  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrEfficient (82395) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:15PM (#4273441)
    What's the attraction of "pirating" software, especially with so much Free Software available? By illegally copying proprietary software, in a way you're actually supporting the companies that end up burning you (having you arrested and put in jail). What I mean by "supporting" is that the more people using proprietary software, legally or illegally, means less people using Free Software. Why not pour your time and effort into software which you won't get arrested for using?

  • average guy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dextr0us (565556) <dextr0us@CURIEspl.at minus physicist> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:15PM (#4273443) Homepage Journal
    do you think the average warez kiddie will ever get convicted of "warezing" or do you think that it will always be the release groupz?
  • by Irvu (248207) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:16PM (#4273459)
    What kind of a case did the prosecutor build against you at your trial, and in the court of public opinion via the "news?" And, what do you think of its merits (or lack thereof?) Do you feel that they were unnecessarily harsh or overly light on you? Do you think that they were trying to make an example of you or not?

    Did they call you a "threat to modern society" or just a "guy who'd erred from the straight and true?"

  • Circumstances... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rev.LoveJoy (136856) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:17PM (#4273469) Homepage Journal
    I am sure that a great number (maybe not all, but probably close) of us have at one time or another "permenantly borrowed" a piece of commercial software from a friend / school / employer.

    What, do you feel, is the moral difference between what you have been convicted of doing and what everyone else here has probably done at one point or another?

    On a personal note, 33 months of your life is a horrendous price to pay. Good luck, man.

    Cheers,
    -- RLJ

  • by crunnluadh (588790) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:18PM (#4273487)
    The incredibly large volume of warez DoD was trading must have been staggering. At any point in time did you or anyone else in DoD ever think that the whole ring was getting way out of hand? If so, what ever came from that or those discussions?
  • by dmuth (14143) <doug.muth+slashdot@ g m a i l . com> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:20PM (#4273509) Homepage Journal
    Did the prosecution offer you a "deal" if you would talk and testify against other members of your group?

    If so, did you talk in exchange for a lighter sentence? Or did you stay silent and let only yourself take the rap?
  • Feelings? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sebastopol (189276) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:21PM (#4273521) Homepage
    Are you scared about going to prison? Do they prepare you in any way before you enter the facility, or do they just throw you in and that's it?

    Just typing these questions make me uncomfortable.

  • Stealing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bellings (137948) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:21PM (#4273524)
    Were you stealing bandwidth from MIT to do this? Or were you hacking into other people's boxes to get the bandwidth?

    If you were stealing bandwidth, how much bandwidth do you think you stole from MIT? Did someone there have anything to do with the prosecution, either as a witness or as a whistleblower? Did you feel any moral qualms about stealing from a university?

    If you mostly got your bandwidth through hacking, what do you imagine were the costs to the companies to repair the damage from the hacks? Did you feel any qualms about abusing other people's property?

    Also, if you were hacking into other people's machines to open up Warez sites, what is the closest analogy to a physical property crime you can imagine? I envision going through the "house for sale" flyer to find unoccupied and poorly monitered homes in my neighborhood, using lockpick (or breaking a window) to get inside, and then "remodeling" it a little bit on the inside so that I could throw huge parties for hundreds or thousands of people. Is this an accurate description of the type of hacking being done, or would you compare it to something else?
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ish' in gap]> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:22PM (#4273543)
    Some warez seems to involve incredible programming effort, developing custom install tools to e.g. convert MP3'd WAVs back to the originals, deal with movie resampling to save space, etc., not to mention substantial reverse-engineering work to break copy protection schemes. Who does all this? Are they professional programmers with spare time? Bored college students? High school students?
  • by Mustang Matt (133426) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:23PM (#4273545)
    How much money would you say that developers lost because of your pirating ring?

    How much would you say all of the downloaded software was worth?
  • View of Prison (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Angus McNitt (542101) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:24PM (#4273557)
    How do you feel about going to jail? I know that sounds stupid, so let me clarify.

    Do you look at it as a miscarriage of Justice? That the goverment and big buisness are railroading you.

    Or was it the price to be paid? Kind of a personal Civil Disobediance, that you knew what could happen, and did it anyway. And if it was a Civil Disobediance issue, do you think it will have a major impact on Piracy, either positive or negative?
  • Highlights (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Savatte (111615) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:27PM (#4273594) Homepage Journal
    What was the first piece of software you pirated?

    What was the weirdest piece of software you pirated?

    What was the most memorable piece of software you pirated?
  • What kind of time? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xtremex (130532) <[cguru] [at] [bigfoot.com]> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:27PM (#4273595) Homepage
    Are you going to a minimum security prison? A federal Prison? Will you be with white collar criminals (let's hope you do) or will you be with "real" criminals...you know, thieves, rapists, etc.
    • Sadly its the sugar-shack pound me in the ass prison. The vast majority of laws agaisn't piracy I think( feel free to correct me if I am wrong)are federal and not state. I do know that some states have some laws as well but if the FBI was involved, its more likely part of a federal investigation. Pirating is a very big crime thanks to corporate sponsored bussiness espianoge laws. The same one's used to apply the DMCA world wide and throw Jon Johnson in the slammer. My guess is the guy at MIT was charged by lots of federal laws as well as a few state ones. This would apply for federal prison. Also minimium security prison is no picnic either. There are alot of punk kids who just turned 19 who love a good fight as well as many violent gang members.

      My advice to this guy is to agree to get in a staged fight with someone on your first day there. Many people going in would be happy to do so and I will explain why anyone would want to do this.

      What I am about to say may make those reading this uncomfortable but its %100 true.

      Bullies and rapists go after the weakest people and assuming its %90 black/hispanic and he is a nerdy slim white guy, would get alot of attention from guys who would love to make him their bitch. This guy needs to look tough so they will find someone else to beat up or rape instead. People with dissabilities get raped practically on a nightly basis in lots of prisons. ITs disgusting and sick but after you are their, you sure as hell do not want to go back.

      I hate to think what this guy will go through for a several copies of software that he would not of bought anyway.
  • Two Questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Twintop (579924) <david@twintop-tahoe.com> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:27PM (#4273596) Homepage Journal
    1) Why did you do it? Was it for a thrill, for fun, because you knew the software companies were overcharging, or for another reason?

    2) I've heard rumours that some large software companies actually leak software out on purpose because they realize the importance of getting their product out to be used and tested in order to spark intrest in it. Do you believe this is true?
  • by mosch (204) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:30PM (#4273617) Homepage
    Do you think that incarceration is a just consequence to your actions?
  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:30PM (#4273620) Journal
    If you plan not to pirate software again would you chose to pay for commercial apps or would you use free software?

    Has your opinion changed about free software vs commercial software because of your unfortunate experience?

    Do you think strong armed tactics by the BSA and upcoming drm will actually help spread free software?

  • by forgoil (104808) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:33PM (#4273655) Homepage
    Except the personal stuff of course.

    Do you still belive that spreading warez is ok and that you were sacrificed, or will you speak against it and never do it again?

    I am sure everyone that got caught wish that they never did get caught, the question really is if they wished that they had done something else, or that the police had target someone else instead.
  • Guilt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by codemonkey_uk (105775) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:35PM (#4273673) Homepage
    You have been found guilty, but do you feel guilty?

    Who do you think is more responsable for the demise of coutless small development companies - the publishers, the warez community, or the development companys themselves? And why?

    Thad
    Games Developer.
  • 33 Months (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaytonCIM (100144) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:35PM (#4273677) Homepage Journal
    I am assuming (and hoping) that you are being sent to a "minimum" security facility.

    33 months, I'm sure you'll have some free time; do you plan to study anything in particular? (I.e. Programming, hardware, philosophy, art, etc...)

    Second question, how is your family taking your (future) incarceration?

    Take care... I do hope that you don't have to serve the full 33 months.
  • Fair (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:40PM (#4273726) Homepage Journal
    Was it a fair trial?
    why or why not?
  • by wackybrit (321117) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:42PM (#4273758) Homepage Journal
    You were a sysadmin at MIT, so were probably pulling in a pretty good wage.. at least, probably better than 50% of the Slashdot readership anyway.

    So if it wasn't about the money, what was it about? Prestige is one option, but people in these groups need to keep hidden, so that doesn't fit. Was it for the ideals? If so, what ideals are there in ripping off software?

    I can understand why people who can't afford software rip it off.. they have stuff to do, and can't afford $500 for Photoshop or whatever.. but tell me why someone with a decent salary will work in secret to beat the software companies.. what is the motivation?
  • Jail not an Option (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SubtleNuance (184325) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:55PM (#4273905) Journal
    When considering the crime youve been 'convicted' of; my question is simple: Why goto jail at all? If you are presently on the outside, why not skip out of the country altogether?

    Ive considered it in the past, going to jail is simply not an option for myself -- Why dont you go down to Mexico and get out of North America?

  • Friends. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rayonic (462789) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:58PM (#4273946) Homepage Journal
    Plan to keep in contact with your friends in the Warez biz, even if you yourself never re-enter it?

    I've been under the impression that the warez "scene" is more about status and human interaction than anything else.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @12:58PM (#4273948)
    I am a cracker from a fairly well known group, living in the US. We take normal precautions (encrypted email/irc), but there are clear vulnerabilities that cant easily be eliminated (topsite accounts and the possibility of trojaned supplied software, etc.). The dod bust stunned all of us with the lengths of the sentences, which seem out of proproportion to the crime. I find myself asking more and more whether the risk is worth the fun. We are all in it for the commaraderie and the friends (and the access to files); of course none of us are making any money from it. My question is, if you had it to do over again, would you stay out of a group, and of the scene? Were there risks you took that you sholdn't have? What were they? Any advice to someone still in the scene who wants to stay but worries about being caught?
  • by Subcarrier (262294) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @01:00PM (#4273971)
    In prison you will have to barter for every little luxury. Having something of value to trade can be a matter of life and death.

    Do you think your experience with swapping things will help you fit in?

    What are your strongest assets on the prison market place?
  • Rise of P2P? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rayonic (462789) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @01:04PM (#4274030) Homepage Journal
    How do you feel about the rise of P2P and it's affects on the Warez community? Do you think it makes it safer (safety in numbers?) or do you think that it'll bring down the fist of the law even harder?

    Which P2P networks did you prefer, if any?
  • by Nelson (1275) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @01:08PM (#4274083)
    I'll also ask the same question as everybody else. Why? Let me qualify that, you're clearly a sharp guy being at MIT and all. We're definitely beyond the "economic argument" becuase you were wholesale stealing far more software than you could possibly use. It's kind of a bs argument anyways. Is there some philosophy under it? Do you try to convince yourself that there is? Do you even think you did something wrong?


    MIT has just about everything a student needs, you didn't need all of that stuff. Are you a kleptomaniac? I'm not trying to beat up on you, I'm just curious how you slept at night or what you told yourself to sleep at night. And if you didn't have any problems sleeping at night do you stay awake at night now wondering why your sense of right and wrong didn't or doesn't conincide with the laws of your country?

  • Prove me wrong. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _xeno_ (155264) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @01:27PM (#4274296) Homepage Journal
    I want you to explain if you disagree with the following and if so, why.

    My understanding of this is that you were involved with the illegal distribution of copyrighted works, depriving the potential owners of money for the works (possibly - the reality may be "probably not," but...). You then received 33 months of jail time (or just under 3 years) which seems to me to be rather fair.

    Based on the Operation Buccaneer information, you received counts of felony (criminal copyright infringement, probably), and conspiracy (to commit criminal copyright infringement, probably). (Both probablies are guesses based on the document.) This seems to be in line with what one would expect for charges against a ring of people whose sole goal is to steal massive quantities of software and redistribute them to as many people as want them at no charge. (The fact that there was no charge probably reduces the sentence to a degree, but the fact that it required specialized skills and involved a large collective of people acting together to commit criminal copyright infringement probably both outweigh that.)

    So... why should I feel sorry for you? You got what you deserved. You stole from people and gave copies to as many people as you could. Based on the MIT press release, you illegal utilized systems you were supposed to be administrating for the purposes of illegally distributing software. As far as I can see, you got exactly what you deserved.

    So - prove me wrong. Demonstrate that my understanding is flawed or that I am misunderstanding the crime. Demonstrate that it should not be a crime. Or - accept my view. Explain if you feel sorry for your actions and believe that you did indeed commit the crimes. Or come up with another response that does not fall directly between agree and disagree.

  • Decide your fate: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dr_dank (472072) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @01:31PM (#4274325) Homepage Journal
    If you were the judge, what kind of sentence would you have handed down to yourself?

    (Lets be reasonable, no 100 hours of "community service" breast exams at the Ford Modeling Agency)
  • My Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jack Wagner (444727) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @01:44PM (#4274433) Homepage Journal
    Did you think that you were somehow above the law or do you view stealing as something that's okay as long as you are the one doing it and you don't get caught?

    Also:

    Did you ever think about the money that you were taking away from honest people who work hard and rely on the profits they generate from software sales or did you only think about yourself while committing your crimes?

    Warmest regards,
    --Jack

  • by pruneau (208454) <(pruneau) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @01:59PM (#4274623) Journal
    I'm just curious about one thing:

    How did you get caught, from your point of view ?

    Because that involved the FBI and a lot of people worldwide, there should have been some indications that troubles where coming, or did they manage to stay in stealth mode until they hit?

    From what us non-insiders know of, a hacker group is somewhat organized with different isolated layers, and very few connections between those layers, but the one needed to make it works. This ends up beeing a kind of CIA-like organisation, more or like.

    Of course, the very nature of internet greatly help that, but i'm wondering : from an insider point of view, did this kind of organisation just "emerge", or where you briefed by someone else?

    Of course, the lwa-enforcment greatly over-estimated the importance of DrinkOrDie. They need to justify the tax-payer money they are throwing out of the window: see some interesting file [cryptome.org].

    But overall, how was your oragnisation preceived by its peers cracking groups?
  • Plans for your stay? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zbuffered (125292) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @02:14PM (#4274785)
    One of the things about jail is that you have nothing but free time. So what do you plan to do? Study for a new career? Work out constantly? Plan your escape? Learn to speak Sanskrit?

    When you get out, you will have had 33 months of basically no real responsibilities. If you find a nice, cushy prison, you can get some real work done. Are you going to use this time to make your life when you get out of jail better?

    Also, when you get out, what do you plan to do? Something in the computer field, or do you plan to change your path when you get out? If I were in your place, I think I'd just get fed up with computers and become a florist or something.
  • by dogfart (601976) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @03:27PM (#4275522) Homepage Journal
    In hindsight, were there things happening in the days or weeks prior to your arrest that should have tipped you off that something was not right?
  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:17PM (#4276519) Homepage
    Can you tell us about the whole process of getting busted and interrogated? How was the DOJ able to learn about all the members and execute simultaneous busts?

    How hard did the DOJ interrogators push to get names of accomplices and if you cooperated, did that reduce your sentencing?

    What advice would you give to someone who finds themselves in a similar situation? e.g. ( Hire a good pre-trial lawyer. Flee the country. )

    I assume that the DOJ confiscated all your servers and went through the logs and examined all the user accounts and IP addresses. What happened to the "small time users" or did the DOJ not bother to track them down?

    Lastly, in hindsight if you had to do it all over again. What would you have done to stay under the radar and not get busted?
  • by beanerspace (443710) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @03:27AM (#4279730) Homepage
    Obviously, a move to prison is going to be a very difficult and probably distrubing cultural change from what you're used to.

    Have you taken any steps to help yourself assimilate? Meaning, anything physical (e.g. self defense), thing mental (prepared a reading list) and/or things spiritual (e.g. Chuck Colson's pfm.org) ?

    Have you set any goals for what you want to accomplish while you're on the inside? How about goals for when you're released?

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead

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