US agencies move against warez dudes

I was intrigued to read about a 15 count indictment against 19 people in the US who are alleged to have conspired to pirate more than $6.5 million in copyrighted computer software, games and movies.

Now that's a lot of pirated software, to say the least, but the case gets more intriguing still when you realise the defendants come from the US, Australia and Barbados.

This was no ordinary (alleged) piracy gang. It was a group of warez dudes, a term given to a loosely-knit team of pirateers that I first encountered in the early 1990s.

Warez dudes actually date back to the days of the bulletin board systems (BBSs) in the 1980s, when online users shared pirate software and the like using unlisted number BBBs.

Once the Internet really got rolling in the early 1990s, it was a given that they'd move on to the Net, and now, I gather, the warez `underground' has many tens of thousands of members.

Which is why the various agencies in the US have been gunning for the warez dudes for some time,

According to US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, whose staff are reported to have worked with the FBI on the investigation, "online thieves who steal merchandise that companies work hard to produce and protect might think that cyberspace cloaks them in anonymity and makes them invulnerable to prosecution, but we have the ability to infiltrate their secret networks and hold them accountable for their criminal conduct."

The FBI claims that the defendants were members of an underground group known as the `RISC-ISO'" Warez community, which was founded back in 1993.

If convicted, the 19 defendants could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge, and up to three years in prison and a further $250,000 fine for the copyright infringement charge...