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News Your Rights Online

Operation Fastlink Cracks Down on Warez 1052

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the this-can-only-get-messier dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Beginning yesterday morning, law enforcement from 10 countries and the United States conducted over 120 searches worldwide to dismantle some of the most well-known and prolific online piracy organizations. Among the groups targeted by Operation Fastlink are well-known organizations such as Fairlight, Kalisto, Echelon, Class and Project X, all of which specialized in pirating computer games, and music release groups such as APC. The enforcement action announced today is expected to dismantle many of these international warez syndicates and significantly impact the illicit operations of others."
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Operation Fastlink Cracks Down on Warez

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  • Some more info. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @03:32PM (#8942289)
    The l33t w4r3z d00dz over at iSONEWS [izonews.com] are discussing this too.
  • Re:How is this YRO? (Score:4, Informative)

    by einnor (242611) <ziroby@ziroby.com> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @03:34PM (#8942320) Homepage
    We don't have the right to distributed pirated works online. How does this story fit in this category?

    Of course it's about "Your Rights Online". You claim that it's not a right. Discussion of rights we don't have, and about whether or not we should have them, belong in YRO.
  • Re:word choice (Score:2, Informative)

    by ckathens (631781) <seekay303NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @03:46PM (#8942523)
    IP also refers to Antitrust but that tends to go along with patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
  • Karma ESCORT, please (Score:3, Informative)

    by abb3w (696381) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @03:53PM (#8942641) Journal
    I suspect the bump was because the earlier post was sent as "Anonymous Coward", giving it an initial score of 0 rather than 1, making it easier for a lazy moderator to see. After that, another lazy moderator didn't care which was timestamped first, and downmodded the other. Not fair, really, but most people with mod points don't bother with the part of the guidelines that says "browse at -1".

    And, according what looks to be an Arizona TV station [kpho.com], the two stories are linked.
  • by mog007 (677810) <Mog007@gmail.cERDOSom minus math_god> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @04:01PM (#8942770)
    FWIW Razor1911 was disbanded a few months ago. Their lead guys were basing their opperations in the United States and scamming Cisco out of routers and software companies for free software by claiming to be a review magazine or something along those lines. The FBI caught up to them and took em out.
  • by Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @04:15PM (#8942949)
    The difference is:

    "10 dogs and one cat" vs. "11 dogs including one cat"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @04:16PM (#8942970)
    With this major bust, the supply of new pirated software titles should drop precipitously

    Hum no... Only Class & Fairlight in the listed groups used to release many, many popular titles some 5 to 6 years ago. The others i have never seen or heard of ( must be decoys ). There are still many many groups out there with many many cover (decoy) names doing whatever they want. The fact that Razor, Class & Fairlight have been busted means shit. Razor came back after a bust in the mid-90s. There are still very large groups like Deviance, Myth and the children of DoD, PWA... they're just less exposed. People learn their lesson sometimes, taking credit for a crack is stupid and today these idiots got busted.
  • by Kenderama (722030) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @04:18PM (#8942994)
    When will people learn that attacking pirates just makes you look stupid? I'll admit to having downloaded games and such, but you know what? The ones I liked and played, I BOUGHT.

    The CD's I listened to after downloading? If I liked 'em, I BOUGHT THEM! (Yeah! I use iTunes Music Store! I buy CD's at Best Buy!)

    The "scene" (aka "International Syndicate") just puts stuff out there for you to check out. Yeah, not everyone is ethical, and maybe software authors / companies do lose money, but they also make money as well, by people who would never have bought the CD/Game/Movie, but who found it online, and liked it enough to go purchase it.

    Smart companies have figured out ways to make this more likely. When Call of Duty came out, you couldn't play the cracked version online, so if you wanted to (and who didn't?!) you went and bought the game. Same with Raven Shield, and many other games.
  • Re:MOVE OVER MAFIA! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @04:19PM (#8943010)
    Yes... 14 year old uber-geeks cracking games and software in mom's basement... yes, that something deserving the title "synicate".

    Maybe it's 14 year olds who do the cracking. It is certainly not 14 year olds who are multiplying and distributing this stuff on hundreds of thousands of DVDs and sell them internationally. I regularly got offered Fairlight and Kalisto DVDs at work. Reasonably priced, you know. Just a good profit for the middle men, since nothing goes to the copyright holders.

    It might be a surprise to you, but these distributors are like the mafia. They have a well-oiled business dealing in stolen goods.

    Sure, the police should pick up violent criminals. But that does not mean they should let financial criminals go until the last rapist is behind bars.

    I, for one, as a professional software developer am mighty pleased with this action. All the time I was thinking: it would be so easy to crack down on these people, why don't they do something about it? And now they did. Good show, I say.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @04:23PM (#8943081)
    fairlight is nearly 20 years old and made history both in the demo and the warez scene, on a wide range of platforms, and operating in many countries.
  • by gabe (6734) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @04:24PM (#8943087) Homepage Journal
    #1 - They're enforcing the laws of our country. The FBI [fbi.gov] is just the police that operate at the Federal (National) level. It is not the FBI's job to deal with foreign matters.

    #2 - The responsbility for tracking down Bin Laden lays with the NSA [nsa.gov] (It coordinates, directs, and performs highly specialized activities to protect U.S. information systems and produce foreign intelligence information.) and the CIA [cia.gov] (Providing accurate, comprehensive, and timely foreign intelligence on national security topics.). The Department of Defense (the military) are the ones who carry out the work to actually find him.
  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @04:37PM (#8943292) Journal
    It is a question of resource usage. While they are going after these group of law breakers, they are not going after others who cause far more harm.

    It's kind of like the DoJ restarting porn prosecutions during the middle of the War on Terror (tm)(c)(r)...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @04:54PM (#8943532)
    Check your facts, idiot [go.com]
  • Without piracy... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:37PM (#8944016)
    If it weren't for piracy I never would have bought games like COD and BF1942. After discovering the enjoyment of single player gameplay I decided to buy the full versions. As is often the case. Not always though, obviously a majority of games blow, so they just get deleted.

    Had I not played the pirated games I never would have bought them. So the pirating of Call of Duty led directly to sales. Had it not been for the copy of COD I played you developers never would have rec'd my $50. I can think of almost a dozen games I own where that has been the case.

    And demos can be very misleading. Splinter Cell for example... after playing the demo I decided I would never buy it cuz it sucked ass. After playing multiple levels via an FLT release, I found the game very enjoyable, went to Gamestop and picked it up.

    I imagine this is very often the case as a large group of my friends do the same thing.
  • by Khazunga (176423) * on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:35PM (#8944506)

    Although most of the piracy apologists follow your reasoning, you fail to concede that there is a middle-ground. The internet has opened new ways to make business. However, for the last ten years, the music industry establishment has done nothing but try and keep the old business model. Why?

    I'd wager that current publishers think they hold the middle-man spot because they have a strong grip on product exposition. The internet makes product exposition a lot easier, and has the potential to downgrade the middle-man value, therefore causing the whole industry to 'deflate'. This deflation is overall good, for public and artists, but is obviously bad for the editors.

    In the end, give or take a couple of years, alternative music selling models will break through the barriers. Then, middle-men (editors) will have to excel in the role they are really needed for: weeding out bad artists, so people don't have to listen to every band out there. Then, only then, we'll again see great bands. Bands that really innovate the way music is created. The last ones, for me, were Nirvana, the pilar of the grunge movement. From then on, no really great global movement came out from the music scene. (The boy-band, girl-band movement fails on the grounds of musical quality).

    I finish the comment with a glimmer of hope: Magnatune [magnatune.com]. Magnatune is clearly a small shop. However, it's a small shop, almost a one-man stunt, with a really innovative business model [magnatune.com]. And you know what? It's currently profitable [linuxjournal.com].

  • by shark72 (702619) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:57PM (#8944719)

    "They have? That's news to me. When I got my first CD player in 1985, the average price of a new CD in a record store was $12. In 2004, the average price of a new CD in a record store is $18. Now, granted there are bargain-basement $5.99 CDs these days, as well as sale-priced new releases at the $12 or $13 price point, but as a whole, CDs aren't cheaper today than they were nearly 20 years ago."

    Per NPD MusicWatch [npd.com], the average price of a new release has dropped to $13.42. That's the mathematical average, which means that some retail for more, and some for less, and geographical differences will apply. If the average price of a CD in your area really is $18, consider shopping on Amazon, or using an online service like iTunes, where an entire album can be had for $12 or so.

    I also got my first CD player in 1985, and I remember CDs being $18 or so, but I probably lived in a more expensive part of town than you, figuratively speaking. Let's use your $12 number to save time. $12 in 1985 dollars is about $20 in 2004 dollars; if prices hadn't gone down, we'd be paying $20 per CD today.

    As you know, when you spend money on a CD, some of it goes to the artist, some of it goes into a record company's bank account (if they're profitable), but most of it goes to somebody's salary, whether they work at the CD pressing plant, or they're behind the counter at the record store, or they're one of the many people in between. As the cost of living has risen in the past 19 years, so have salaries, and the cost of physical goods have risen accordingly. If what you really meant is that CD prices haven't dropped enough, remember that it could be worse -- look at what's happened to the price of automobiles during the same time.

  • by JimmytheGeek (180805) <jamesaffeld@yahoo . c om> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @07:30PM (#8945004) Journal
    Ashcroft sets the priorities for the FBI.

    If you are unaware of the state of enforcement of computer crimes against networks, you are ignorant. Here's an exercise left to the reader: run a network or even just a website. Antagonize a skript kiddie clan. Watch as they obliterate your net presence with bandwidth attacks. Contact the FBI. Watch them do nothing. Contrast with 1) being a big campaign contributer - watch them allocate resources to stupid, trivial shit.

    The FBI can't investigate everything. It is investigating prostitution in New Orleans, peace groups, and warez doodz. And with what is left, it allocates to organized crime and terrorism. Yeah, they do more than one thing at a time, but they shouldn't spend any time on economically insignificant copywrite violations against politically connected corporations until they have done a much better job against the serious shit.

    Sorry your attempt to burst the bubble was so lame. Try again?

    I'm not especially anti-Bush. It's just that anyone with a grip on reality looks that way.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @07:52PM (#8945167) Homepage Journal

    Song of the piracy apologist:

    Refutation follows.

    (1) I don't personally believe in copying CDs illegally-- but I think we should avoid using unkind words like "piracy" to describe those that do -- instead, we should describe it as an "infringement", much like a parking infringement.

    The above idea is presented as if it's prima facie absurd, without bothering to explain why it might be absurd, Since no justifications or reasons are supplied, we must set this argument aside. Next.

    (2) I don't believe in the record companies emotively abusing the word "theft," but I do believe in emotively abusing words like "information," "sharing," and "Copyright Enforcement Militia."

    "What's good for the goose...," etc., etc. People who indulge in histrionics ("piracy", indeed) to make their point should expect to receive the same in return. It's certainly not the fairest way to conduct a meaningful, enlightening debate. But I don't see intellectual property adherents abandoning their rhetoric any time soon, so we're kinda stuck here. Next.

    (3) I believe that piracy is driven by "overpriced CDs" even though CDs have dropped in price over the years.

    Inaccurate. Retail price of CDs has remained almost flat for the last twenty or so years (unless you're talking in Constant Dollars, in which case the price has fallen). However, manufacturing costs over the same time period have fallen precipitously (today, less than USD$1.00 per CD, silkscreened, in a jewel case with liner). Traditionally, this means a corresponding reduction in consumer pricing. This hasn't happened in the music space. No justification for this has been presented. Did everything else suddenly get more expensive?

    Since the music labels refuse to afford consumers the cost benefits of advancing technology, the consumers have opted to take matters into their own hands. See Smith, Adam; and Hand, Invisible.

    (4) I believe that piracy is driven by overly long copyright duration, even though most pirated works are recent releases.

    The first problem with this is that it is a tautology, and therefore invalid. The copying would be legal had copyright terms not been extended, and extended again, and extended yet again.

    The second problem is that no one is claiming that long copyright terms are "driving" unsanctioned copying. It has long been self-evident that the copying is being driven by a marketplace demand that has yet to be met by the record labels. People wanted their music in a compact, easily-moved, unencumbered form that lent itself well to external data processing and manipulation (e.g. build a "jukebox" on your own laptop). Since the labels didn't move first on this, the marketplace did. Now the labels find themselves fighting the First Mover's Advantage. If they wanted to define the marketplace, they should have moved earlier.

    (5) I believe that illegitimately downloading music is giving the author "free advertising". I don't buy any of the music I download, of course--but lots of other people probably do.

    The statements are juxtaposed to suggest they are related. This is a false association. Music downloads can be "free advertising" and still be worth paying for (in higher-resolution format), or drive the sales of something else.

    Also, consider the converse: Suppose I downloaded and saved every Web banner ad I saw, then made them available on a P2P server for people to download for anthropological study, or just to laugh at. Ads are most definitely provided for free, and are meant to be viewed by the widest audience possible. Yet I would still be smacked down for copyright infringement. So the idea of copyright existing primarily to protect a revenue stream doesn't hol

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @08:56PM (#8945585)
    I refuse to give sierra any more of my money. I signed up a steam account, and didn't play for like a year. Went online to play and had to get a new version of steam. It didn't import the old account, which I've now forgotten.

    Sign up a new one? Says the key is in use for another account.

    Go to their website figuring it should be easy for me to provide my key and they can send an email to the address the account is registered to. Nope. You have to send them the BOX with the key on it. I don't have that anymore! That was 4 years ago!

    Oh! But you can buy counter-strike from them online through steam! Only $49.95... Fuck you you greedy goddamned pricks. You will never see another dime from me. I will pirate the fuck out of half-life 2 and not feel an ounce of regret.

    I don't really give a shit about online play much anymore either, since 90% of the players are a-holes who'd rather tk you than give you the time of day.
  • by Fweeky (41046) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @09:03PM (#8945620) Homepage
    That's MagnaTune.com [magnatune.com]. It is good.
  • by hotspotbloc (767418) on Friday April 23, 2004 @01:48AM (#8947100) Homepage Journal
    All active members of the US Armed Forces stationed anywhere in the world are bound by US Federal law. No exceptions. If caught something like this would get noted in your service jacket and could put a minor bump in a military career.

    Clearly though unless someone finds out (oh say, the New York Times [nytimes.com]) nothing would happen. I suspect there's a hard drive hiding in someone's stuff waiting for the heat to cool down.

    When it comes to doing illegal shit in the military always remember rule one: "What you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here let it stay here" (Once posted on the road out of Los Alamos) aka "Shut the fuck up".

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