Software Pirates promoted the Universal Truth that information should be free, and also amazed me because they unraveled sophisticated and clever attempts to prohibit that Truth--and most of them weren't old enough to drive a car yet and knew nothing of conventional programming techniques. Back then (before 1985), most pirates were one-man productions--the same guy obtained/stole the software, stripped it of its protection, modified the graphics to put his signature on it, then spread it around. They were distributor, cracker, and courier all rolled into one. Sometimes they even managed to improve the software by fixing bugs or making it more compatible across different hardware variations--all without the original source code. Nowadays, cracking groups (the term "pirate" has fallen into obscurity) have at least three distributors, crackers, couriers, organizers, ANSI artists, PR, etc. per group, which turns it from a hobby into a machine. It's all about 0-day warez, which, as a cultural philosophy, is just pathetic. It's lost about 95 percent of its culture. It's rape, pure and simple.
There is piracy and then there is piracy. If the whole
point of swapping software is to propagate tools independently of their
worth in a capitalist marketplace (which, to me, it certainly is--a sort of
black market version of the Free Software ethic itself, although Stallman
would strongly disagree). And if the whole point of making MP3s out of your
fave CDs is just a way to turn on your fellow humans to music that you
think is groovy (which it also certainly is--even big record companies have
realized that these files make swell gifts that keep on giving), then what
the fuck is up with the info-leech culture that is growing like so much
icky mold on the cogs of the Great Network?
I suppose it is only natural that profiteering rear its ugly head. What I am talking about is this: Various otaku of mysterious origin collect, remanufacture and propagate illegal data--generally pornographic image files, commercial software (plus cracks and serial numbers for same), and MP3 files of pop songs. They establish websites that act as cagey front-ends to either to an FTP server or Hotline Tracker that actually stores their collection of goods. You, the seeker of this illegal data (being of questionable morality to begin with), are asked to perform a series of stupid net tricks in order to gain access to the inner sanctum. Often you can look, but not touch--all the fruits of iniquity in plain view. Tantalus never had it so bad. So you crack, you give in. You begin to follow the intricate instructions for obtaining the Holy Grail: the username and password you need in order to download.
Usually, this involves clicking on banner ads and visiting porn sites to harvest the fourth word of the sixth sentence after you get there. It is incredibly annoying. To wit:
Salon article: "Hotline to the Underground"
www.oldskool.org: 1980s PC nostalgia/resources
Hotline Connect, formerly Hotline Tracker
Mp3z - BabyBlue This Site is NON-Ratio Supporting this Site will only benefit You !!! Giving You more Selection of Mp3 Music !!! Port: 1000 IP Address: 188.8.131.52 Username: mp3z Password: ?? (2 letters) To get the PASSWORD follow these 2 Steps below: ** Step 1 ** 1. Click on the LINK below to go to BANNER #1.... Click here to go to BANNER #1 2. Then click the BANNER and then click JOIN NOW 3. The 1st Character of the Password is from the first letter of this missing word from this phrase: BEST XXX ________ PORN ** Step 2 ** 1. Click on the LINK below to go to BANNER #2.... Click here to go to BANNER #2 2. Then click the BANNER and then click ENTER 3. The 2nd Character of the Password is from the first letter of this missing word from this phrase: Private Hardcore _________ The Password is LOWERCASE. (Password is just 2 letters)
Of course, about half the time, when you have finished debasing yourself and assembling
this chintzy Grail, the username and password do not work. Always a pleasurable
irony. The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. And on to the next site to
repeat the process. It is a rich punishment: the subculture that passes on
the inequity from the superculture, creating a somewhat more petty version
of the same thing. Here is where Stallman's truism that commercial software
cannot interoperate with free software becomes glaringly obvious. The black
market generates criminals.
So I finally get a password and there I am, downloading the motherlode. The final, final irony is usually that the the download craps out partway through, that there are "too many users" at the ftp site anyhow, or that it just takes an eternity for your goods to trickle through the pipeline. Ha ha.
But you get what you bargain for when you being these transactions with the capitalist pirates. The only honorable thing is to give and take freely, to give it up for the scene, to honor leeches as your intended audience, rather than as a user who owes you. And fuck the brigands who say otherwise.