This article is the result of contributions by people from every facet of the Atari community. Many thanks to all the users, developers, sysops, and others who provided the investigators with information and assistance.
[Note: Stand-alone quotations are framed on the left and right by the "~" character.]
Small Developers, Big Business How Pirate BBSs Impact on the Entire Atari Community by D.A. Brumleve, President, IAAD Copyright 1993 by D.A. Brumleve
The Independent Association of Atari Developers represents over sixty companies supporting the Atari ST platform with commercial software and hardware. Now and then a "pirate" BBS will come to our members' attention. We'll capture the file areas and study them. We'll cringe at the download counts and growl at the messages about our products. We'll download copies of our products and trace the original owner. Sometimes we'll even file a police report, but the pirate board stays up and callers keep calling, downloading, and uploading our programs. And every time we leave this experience further demoralized, less enthusiastic about writing for the ST, less enthusiastic about programming in _general_.
Recently, the IAAD undertook a more comprehensive investigation of pirate BBSs in North America. We solicited information from the public – and the Atari community responded. In spite of some previous experience with pirate boards, I was not at all prepared for the amount of pirate activity we found.
On each pirate BBS, we found numbers for other BBSs, many of which also proved to have copyrighted files. We found concentrated pockets of heavy pirate activity in the Southwest, the East, and the Southeast, but we also found isolated pirate boards in just about every region of the continent. We found small boards with few users and fewer files; we found big boards with hundreds of users offering nearly every commercial program on the market of current interest. We found young teens actively involved in criminal activity – and older, more experienced men showing them the ropes. On every user list, I encountered folks I know: the doting father who bought Super Kidgrid for his daughter at a show, the user group officer who contacted me for IAAD brochures, and many, many others who chat with me from time to time on the major pay services.
Because of the scope and scale of this activity, I feel that it's important to share our findings with the Atari community at large. What follows is the outcome of our investigation.
1. The Damage
~ This BBS DOES NOT support the transfer of any pirated ~ ~ software. ~
~ Rats Nest always had some of the best stuff around… ~
When people pirate programs they would otherwise buy, developers and dealers (and distributors) lose sales. Dealers respond to low sales by closing or supporting another platform. Developers respond to low sales by raising their prices or by dropping the product; either way, the market is damaged.
How badly damaged? Let's take a look at just some of the commercial applications and utilities which were until recently available on the Rats Nest in Loma Alta CA. For the sake of brevity, I've limited this particular list to products of IAAD members and Atari Corporation; thus this list does not include applications and utilities by publishers who are not members of the IAAD, public domain files, or shareware programs.
_ ____ __ / \ / \ / \ \ / \ | | ___ | \ / \ _____ /\ ___ | | __ _ __\ /__ /\ | \| |/ \ / /__\ /__ | / / \/ \/ \ / / | |\ | -- // // \ | \| | \ |\__ __// / | | \ | ___\\ \\__ __/ | |\ | | | | | | \ \ | | \ |\_____/ \ \ | | | | \ | / | | | \ \ | | \_/ / / | | \ / \/\__/\./ \ / / / \ / / / \ / / \ | / \ / / / \ / / / \ \./ | \./ / / \./ \/ \./ | | \/ | | | | . . | . . | . | . .
### | Filename.Ext Size Date Brief Description
| 5 | Maxif_3A.Lzh 55665 01-03-92 MaxiFile v3.3a 13 | Hdsentry.Lzh 33922 01-10-92 HD Sentry... HD optimizer, fixer 18 | Xboot .Lzh 37888 01-18-92 X-Boot, like Desk Manager 19 | Steno .Lzh 28885 01-18-92 STeno, from Gribnif. Sortof Flakey 36 | Gramxprt.Lzh 84265 02-05-92 Grammer Expert 37 | Grnslamc.Lzh 56066 02-05-92 Gran Slam! 48 | Codeke13.Lzh 98427 02-05-92 CodeKeys v1.3 from Gribnif 49 | Mltdsh33.Lzh 217352 02-05-92 MultiDesk Deluxe v3.3 56 | Knife108.Lzh 87757 02-05-92 Knife ST! 71 | Lookpop .Lzh 109631 02-07-92 Look It! and Pop It! from Codeheads 72 | Imagecat.Lzh 290048 02-07-92 ImageCat 2.o
111 | Hpas_A .Lzh 247343 02-22-92 High Speed Pascal, Disk 1 of 2 112 | Hpas_B .Lzh 269757 02-22-92 High Speed Pascal, Disk 2 of 2 150 | Tos_206 .Lzh 77116 03-22-92 Tos 2.06 software vertion 151 | Hyprlink.Lzh 271744 03-28-92 HyperLink 164 | Chem1_2 .Lzh 217327 04-05-92 Chemistry - Arrakis educational 165 | Chm2Sts1.Lzh 222763 04-05-92 Chemistry 2 and Stats from Arrakis 166 | Alg11_12.Lzh 224322 04-06-92 Algebra 1 from Arrakis educational 167 | Alg12_21.Lzh 247109 04-06-92 Algebra 2 from Arrakis 168 | Al3_1Tr1.Zip 239499 04-06-92 Algebra 3 Trig 1 from Arrakis 173 | Neocli .Lzh 66076 04-19-92 NeoDesk Command Line… nice 178 | Tos1_4 .Zip 123342 04-25-92 To let ya run those stubern 1.4 tos soft 197 | Xboot257.Zip 51420 05-06-92 Newest Version of X-Boot (v2.57) 221 | Tw13E_A .Lzh 703536 05-17-92 That's Write 1.3 - English - 1/2 222 | Tw13E_B .Lzh 703536 05-17-92 That's Write 1.3 - English - 2/2 228 | Gen106_A.Lzh 192808 05-17-92 That's Relative 1.06 1/2 ELITE release 229 | Gen106_B.Lzh 130361 05-17-92 That's Relative 2/2 ELITE release 243 | P_Nix15A.Lzh 427252 05-30-92 Phoenix v.1.5 - Disk 1 of 3 244 | P_Nix15B.Lzh 410836 05-30-92 Phoenix v.1.5 - Disk 2 of 3 245 | P_Nix15C.Lzh 410836 05-30-92 Phoenix v.1.5 - Disk 3 of 3 258 | Tracker .Lzh 402564 06-08-92 Rolodex/Client Tracking util 287 | Mint80A .Lzh 503661 07-20-92 MultiTos v8.0 [1/3] 288 | Mint80B .Lzh 181797 07-20-92 MultiTos v8.0 [2/3] 289 | Mint80C .Lzh 263956 07-20-92 MultiTos v8.0 [3/3] 297 | Scanlitd.Arc 33361 08-01-92 Hand Scanner software 308 | Codehed4.Lzh 191763 08-08-92 CodeHead Utilities rel.4 (1991) 317 | Clnup426.Lzh 91942 08-29-92 ICD CleanUP 4.26 Host required 334 | Edhak236.Lzh 43125 09-12-92 Edhack v2.36 (patched from v2.35) 335 | Dmd_Edge.Lzh 149439 09-13-92 Diamond Edge 1.0 ELITE release 352 | Dback250.Lzh 85508 10-03-92 Diamond Back 2.50 latest 356 | Warp9373.Lzh 338270 10-07-92 Warp 9 3.73 Complete Package 374 | L_Rad_E1.Lzh 631730 10-18-92 Redacteur 3 1/4 (english) ELITE release 375 | L_Rad_E2.Lzh 485004 10-18-92 Redacteur 3 2/3 (eng) ELITE release 376 | L_Rad_E3.Lzh 660252 10-18-92 Redacteur 3 3/4 (eng) ELITE release 377 | L_Rad_E4.Lzh 525994 10-18-92 Redacteur 3 4/4 (eng) ELITE release 378 | Icdb604C.Lzh 12971 10-18-92 ICD Booter 6.0.4 (crack'd) by Zaphod 388 | Harleq21.Lzh 360135 11-12-92 Harlequin 2.01 Genesis INC release(old) 392 | Adspeed .Lzh 95744 11-20-92 ICD Adspeed Accelerator Software. 396 | Harl_206.Lzh 354749 11-26-92 Harlequin vrs. 2.06 402 | Spectre3.Zip 446203 12-02-92 Spectre 3.0 software 403 | Xboot300.Lzh 59385 12-04-92 X-Boot v3.00 408 | Cache_Cr.Lzh 33876 12-13-92 Cache 2.56 ELITE hacked/all features 410 | Mvg200 .Lzh 488069 12-13-92 Multi Vue Graphica 2.0 421 | Cardf403.Lzh 186987 01-03-93 Card File 4.03 from Gribnif lates ver 422 | St_Sutra.Lzh 657385 01-03-93 STSutra ELITE release still beta.. 453 | Uvk5_7 .Lzh 276224 02-01-93 UVK 5.7gb latest vr 460 | Falcprgs.Lzh 572035 02-03-93 The Programs included with the Falcon. 470 | Icdpro68.Lzh 528187 02-06-93 ICD Boot PRO 6.0.8! 474 | Tos206B .Zip 148016 02-07-93 TOS 2.06 as a program! 480 | Calpro_2.Lzh 332815 02-18-93 Calligrapher Professional [2/5]. 481 | Calpro_3.Lzh 305163 02-18-93 Calligrapher Professional [3/5]. 482 | Calpro_4.Lzh 406075 02-18-93 Calligrapher Professional [4/5]. 483 | Calpro_5.Lzh 328443 02-18-93 Calligrapher Professional [5/5]. 494 | Mint_81 .Lzh 407624 02-22-93 mint81 502 | Neo303_1.Lzh 354937 03-06-93 NeoDesk 3.03 "MASTER" disk [1/3] 503 | Neo303_2.Lzh 328564 03-06-93 NeoDesk 3.03 "EXTRAS" disk [2/3] 504 | Neo303_3.Lzh 24763 03-06-93 NeoDesk 3.03 Util disk [3/3] 514 | Cali3_2 .Lzh 273959 03-13-93 Calligrapher 3, 2/4 515 | Cali3_3 .Lzh 309849 03-13-93 Calligrapher 3, 3/4 516 | Cali3_4 .Lzh 504895 03-13-93 Calligrapher 3, 4/4 531 | Cali3100.Lzh 290501 03-23-93 Caligrapher 3 Pro 100% disk 1 CO/ICS 535 | Mt101 .Tos 294518 03-24-93 MultiTOS v.1.01 542 | Atariwx1.Zip 285943 03-27-93 Atari Works 1/2 543 | Atariwx2.Zip 701987 03-27-93 Atari Works 2/2
Fawlty Towers provides an example of typical desktop publishing products available on such BBSs:
/ / / / / / / / / / /
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/ / / / / / / / /
\\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\\\\\\\ \\\\\\\\\\\\ \\\\\\\\\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ \\\\\\\\\\
### | Filename.Ext Size Date Brief Description
| 1 | Avant .Lzh 171368 02-11-92 ADvant Vector 8 | Dp_E1 .Lzh 343016 03-17-92 Insane!!! Didot-professional DTP [1/2] 9 | Dp_E2 .Lzh 414822 03-17-92 The best! Didot-Professional DTP [2/2] 10 | Siloutte.Lzh 323802 05-11-92 Sillhoutte Vector Graphics/Ray Tracer 11 | Outline .Lzh 193536 05-13-92 Calamus Outline Art 16 | Pgs22_1 .Lzh 322001 07-25-92 Pagestream v2.2 [1/4]. 17 | Pgs22_2 .Lzh 379509 07-25-92 Pagestream v2.2 [2/4]. 18 | Pgs22_3 .Lzh 317627 07-25-92 Pagestream v2.2 [3/4]. 19 | Pgs22_4 .Lzh 428038 07-25-92 Pagestream v2.2 [4/4]. 27 | Ara213 .Lzh 329614 08-06-92 Aribesque 2.13 34 | Sl_Enga .Lzh 370940 12-17-92 Calamus 35 | Sl_Eng_B.Lzh 237849 12-17-92 Calamus 36 | Sl_Eng_C.Lzh 318914 12-17-92 Calamus 37 | Convec20.Lzh 311683 01-05-93 Convector 2.0 38 | Cranach1.Lzh 282850 01-05-93 Cool 39 | Cranach2.Lzh 153775 01-05-93 cool 40 | Skyplot1.Lzh 248536 01-05-93 SkyPlot disk 1/2 41 | Skyplot2.Lzh 205589 01-05-93 SkyPlot disk 2/2 42 | Skyplot3.Lzh 323450 01-05-93 Skyplot disk 3? or 3? 43 | Cfned22 .Lzh 17227 01-27-93 Takes Serial #'s off Calamus Fonts 44 | Slmodul2.Lzh 90489 01-27-93 Some Moduals for Calamus 45 | Genus .Lzh 80305 02-01-93 Genus v1.78 - Calamus Fonteditor. 46 | Touchup1.Lzh 362626 02-06-93 Touch Up disk 1/2 47 | Touchup2.Lzh 230762 02-06-93 Touch up disk 2/2 48 | Calpro_1.Lzh 328402 02-24-93 Caligrapher Pro [1/5] 49 | Calpro_2.Lzh 332815 02-24-93 Cal Pro [2/5] 50 | Calpro_3.Lzh 305163 02-24-93 Cal Pro [3/5] 51 | Calpro_4.Lzh 406075 02-24-93 Cal Pro [4/5] 52 | Calpro_5.Lzh 328443 02-24-93 Cal Pro [5/5]
STampede offers Super Nintendo software, so it's not surprising to find a good many commercial ST games as well:
________ ________ ________ /__ __/\/ _____/\/ _____/\ _______ ______________ \_/ /\_\/ /\____\/__/\____\/ / \/ \ ___/ / / / /_/__ _\__\/ /\ / ____/____ ______/\ /_______/\/_______/\/_______/ / / /\___\___/ /\_____\/ \_______\/\_______\/\_______\/ / / / / / / _ ___ __ _ ___ / /_/_ / / / / //_ /_/ /_// / \____ \ / / / /_/__// / / //_/ SYSOP \__/ /\ / / /_________ ______________ _____ \ PAK / / // / / __ / \/ __ / __/ __ \/ __/\ _____/ / // / / __ / / / / __/ __/ /_/ / __/\/ /_________/ //____/ /_/ /_/_/_/_/__/\/____/_____/____/\/ CO-SYSOP \_________\/ \____\/\_\ \_\_\_\_\__\/\____\_____\____\/ SCYTHE ATARI ST/STE/TT ___ ___ _____ THE THREAT/ICS CONSOLES SNES/SMD / _ \/ _ \/ ___/\ MR.FLY/ICS
U. S. ROBOTICS 14,400 HST / _ / _ / /\/ SLASH/ICS 24 HOURS A DAY //// / BELGARION/ICS \\\\/ JPC/ICS *^* (#1) GAMES! GAMES! GAMES! *^* #### Filename.Ext Size Date Brief Description 1 Ox_Final.Lzh 4958 1-25-93 Crack of OXYD for ALL Tos +codes printer 2 Ace_Boot.Zip 2482o5 1-28-93 Space Ace II [1/6]. 3 Make1.Prg 771554 1-28-93 Space Ace II [2/6]. 4 Make2.Prg 8o174o 1-28-93 Space Ace II [3/6]. 5 Make3.Prg 757744 1-28-93 Space Ace II [4/6]. 6 Make4.Prg 816522 1-28-93 Space Ace II [5/6]. 7 Make5.Prg 773416 1-28-93 Space Ace II [6/6]. 17 Grandad.Prg 121942 2-5-93 Grandad… code revealed ClockWork/ICS 19 Plan9_A.Lzh 446365 2-1o-93 Plan 9 From Outer Space [1/4] -=ELITE=- 2o Plan9_B.Lzh 694644 2-1o-93 Plan 9 From Outer Space [2/4] -=ELITE=- 21 Plan9_C.Lzh 559989 2-1o-93 Plan 9 From Outer Space [3/4] -=ELITE=- 22 Plan9_D.Lzh 46o123 2-1o-93 Plan 9 From Outer Space [4/4] -=ELITE=- 23 Bat2A.Lzh 494437 2-11-93 BAT II- Disk 1/5 in English 24 Bat2B.Lzh 513453 2-11-93 BAT II- Disk 2/5 25 Bat2C.Lzh 453112 2-11-93 BAT II- Disk 3/5 26 Bat2D.Lzh 533968 2-11-93 BAT II- Disk 4/5 27 Bat2E.Lzh 479446 2-11-93 BAT II- Disk 5/5 28 Ics_Bat1.Lzh 519321 2-11-93 BAT 2 Disk 1/5 *german* +-=I.C.S=-+ 29 Ics_Bat2.Lzh 53322o 2-11-93 BAT 2 Disk 2/5 3o Ics_Bat3.Lzh 46437o 2-11-93 BAT 2 Disk 3/5 31 Ics_Bat4.Lzh 542978 2-11-93 BAT 2 Disk 4/5 32 Ics_Bat5.Lzh 5o5595 2-11-93 BAT 2 Disk 5/5 36 Ics_Sp21.Lzh 487641 2-13-93 Space Crusade II 1/2 cracked by -=ICS=- 37 Ics_Sp22.Lzh 39834o 2-13-93 Space Crusade II 2/2 38 Bat_Ii.Zip 1243o 2-13-93 BAT II Complete docs 41 Ics_Dl3o.Lzh 77o5o8 2-14-93 Dragons Lair III The Curse Of Mordead 42 Ics_Dl31.Lzh 585584 2-14-93 Dragons Lair III 2/8 -=ICS=- 43 Ics_Dl32.Lzh 432o33 2-14-93 Dragons Lair III 3/8 -=ICS=- 44 Ics_Dl33.Lzh 451928 2-14-93 Dragons Lair III 4/8 -=ICS=- 45 Ics_Dl34.Lzh 517527 2-14-93 Dragons Lair III 5/8 -=ICS=- 46 Ics_Dl35.Lzh 5o9381 2-14-93 Dragons Lair III 6/8 -=ICS=- 47 Ics_Dl36.Lzh 6o3781 2-14-93 Dragons Lair III 7/8 -=ICS=- 48 Ics_Dl37.Lzh 612524 2-14-93 Dragons Lair III 8/8 -=ICS=- 51 Galaxian.Lzh 163o72 2-15-93 Galaxian 52 Cyberlzh.Lzh 6276o5 2-16-93 Cyber Assult [ZX/ICS] *READ FULL DESC* 56 Ics_Cybr.Lzh 168957 2-21-93 Cyberdome Hoverjet Simulator -=ICS=- 58 Rebelion.Zip 33119o 2-22-93 Rebellion D'Bug release 64 Ics_Nigl.Lzh 763445 2-28-93 Nigel Manesll cracked by Belgarion/ICS 65 Ics_Gob1.Lzh 537814 3-2-93 Gobliins II *THE REAL ENGLISH VERSION* 66 Ics_Gob2.Lzh 65o934 3-2-93 Gobliins II 2/3 -=ICS=- 67 Ics_Gob3.Lzh 6o82o1 3-2-93 Gobliins II 3/3 -=ICS=- 72 Grav2.Zip 247252 3-7-93 Grav II 74 Kil_Mach.Lzh 283892 3-7-93 Killing Machine 98 Ics_Civo.Lzh 322966 3-19-93 Civilization 1/4 cr. by Belgarion/ICS 99 Ics_Civa.Lzh 328o17 3-19-93 Civilization 2/4 -=ICS=- 1oo Ics_Civb.Lzh 33o664 3-19-93 Civilization 3/4 -=ICS=- 1o1 Ics_Civc.Lzh 3o3685 3-19-93 Civilization 4/4 -=ICS=- 1o2 Civiliz.Zip 51863 3-19-93 Civilization full docs 1o3 Civhints.Zip 15878 3-19-93 Civilization hints and tips 1o4 Frank.Prg 1461oo 3-2o-93 Frankenstein CyniX release 1o5 Crys_A.Lzh 23447o 3-2o-93 CRYSTAL KINGDOM DIZZY Disk 1/2 1o6 Crys_B.Lzh 532o62 3-2o-93 CRYSTAL KINGDOM DIZZY Disk 2/2 114 Sleep1.Lzh 781519 3-27-93 Sleep Walker [1/3] *-CyniX!-* 115 Sleep2.Lzh 774173 3-27-93 Sleep Walker [2/3] 116 Sleep3.Lzh 8o4o2o 3-27-93 Sleep Walker [3/3] I must stress that this is just a small sampling of the kinds of offerings we found – and of the boards we investigated. Most boards (pirate and legitimate) have separate file areas for different kinds of products (MIDI, DTP, Applications, Utilities, Games, Docs, Graphic Utilities, etc.). A BBS which offers a wealth of Utilities, for example, is likely to have a strong database in other file categories as well. Please note that these are just partial lists from a single file category on each of these boards. A truly comprehensive listing would make this article intolerably huge. The IAAD's membership total fluctuates, but right now we are holding steady around the 60-member mark. Products owned or distributed by nearly every single member were found on one BBS or another during our investigation; some of our members were victimized by every pirate board we called. The self-confessed pirate Troed says this about piracy: ~ I NEVER buy a program without knowing if it is what I ~ ~ want .. the ShareWare principle .. but how do I check ~ ~ that with commercial software? By pirating them, using ~ ~ them .. if I like them, I want the original + manual .. ~ ~ I buy it. ~ – Troed on the F-Net, ST Report Conference but contradicts himself a paragraph later: ~ I bought my STe for $800 one year ago, if I were to ~ ~ registre/buy [sic] all the soft I use I would have to ~ ~ pay something around $10000 .. I can't afford that. ~ –Troed on the F-Net, ST Report Conference On the one hand, Troed insists that he merely tries out his pirated software prior to purchase – and buys it if he wants it. But on the other hand, he _uses_ $10,000 worth of commercial products and _cannot_ afford to pay for it. I would concede that it is possible that some software thieves do use their pirated downloads in the same way that honest people use commercial demos and shareware…some, but not many. Developers are well aware of "software collectors". These are folks who simply must have a copy of everything, whether it meets their needs or not. The majority of software collectors want the real thing, manual and all. It's our experience that, because pirate board users have to pay with an upload (or with money) for each and every download, few will bother to download programs they don't really want, need, and plan to use. Because of this, the majority of downloads from pirate boards must be viewed as lost potential sales. And those few pirates who are collectors or who find they don't need a particular file will hang onto it and later share it with others in order to earn upload credits. We found Warp 9 on nearly every pirate board we called. CodeHead had purchased the QuickST kernal used for Warp 9 from Darek Mihocka of Branch Always Software, and Charles Johnson worked very hard to refine and extend it in order to deliver to us the indespensible utility Warp 9 has become. Like many CodeHead products, Warp 9 is so easy to use that the manual is not needed for basic use. Warp 9 sells for $44.95; a purchase like this wouldn't put many STers in the poorhouse. But how many people downloading this program from a BBS would go to the trouble of ordering it after "testing it out"? A good example of the speed at which pirates can destroy the sales potential of a new release is shown by the upload date on this entry found on the Rats Nest (the notation "Off" indicates that this file has been removed, probably when a later version superceded it): 336 | Warp9370.Zip –Off– 09-13-92 Warp 9 v. 3.70 - Glendale Release CodeHead released this version on Saturday, September 12, 1992 at the Glendale AtariFaire. By Sunday, before the second day of the show was even over, it was already in distribution by pirates. What about more expensive products? At $795, Calamus SL by DMC is one of the pricier offerings on the North American market. It's a high-end DTP package requiring or benefitting from an additional investment in sophisticated Atari hardware, accelerator boards, graphics cards, and a large-capacity hard drive. ~ It was bad enough to discover Calamus SL on just ~ ~ about every single "pirate" board that was ~ ~ investigated; it was worse to discover a program ~ ~ written specifically to strip out our serialization. ~ ~ But the real kicker was to discover our entire 600- ~ ~ page manual available for downloading in ASCII. The ~ ~ people that run these boards are criminals and deserve ~ ~ to be put in jail. Their "customers", those that ~ ~ frequent these boards, are, at best, petty thieves. ~ ~ What disgusts me the most is how many of these ~ ~ "customers" would never consider themselves thieves ~ ~ even though they are stealing from me, from my family, ~ ~ from my company, and from the Atari community at large. ~ –Nathan Potechin of DMC Since the manuals for such extensive programs are truly required in order to make good use of the product, software thieves will actually go to the trouble of typing them in or copying them with OCR software (which is also conveniently available on these BBSs). Even when a manual is indispensible, the software pirate may have no need to actually purchase the program in order to make full use of it. Expensive products get that way because of development and production costs. While the raw materials in a typical software package may cost only a few dollars, it takes much more than pieces of paper and a disk to make a commercial product. Calamus SL cost DMC hundreds of thousands of dollars for development staff alone, _not_ counting expenses related to the writing and production of the manual, packaging, marketing, duplication, overhead, etc. A share of this expense must be borne by everyone who uses the program in order to recoup costs and keep development going. When people use the program without paying for it, this simply does not happen. Many ST development firms are essentially one-man shows; the programmer is also the accountant, the publisher, the editor, the secretary. Developers like these are apt to take software theft very personally and feel the impact very intensely. One developer's reaction to his product's proliferation on pirate boards began: "I used to be against captital punishment…" ~ …It hurts, and I don't mean that strictly in a ~ ~ financial sense, either. We've tried hard, I mean ~ ~ _really_ hard, to provide quality software at a ~ ~ reasonable price coupled with a customer support ~ ~ policy that is second to none…The pirate mentality ~ ~ couldn't care less about us and our ideals of customer ~ ~ service. And that hurts. ~ –John Hutchinson of Fair Dinkum ~ It's very discouraging to me to see illegal copies of ~ ~ Flash II appear on these so-called pirate boards. I ~ ~ wonder if the folks that steal our program understand ~ ~ the length of time it took to produce it? Flash II ~ ~ ver. 2.0 took 3 years to create and spent another year ~ ~ in beta test. Version 2.1 took close to another year ~ ~ to modify and test. We're practically giving it away ~ ~ as it is! ~ –John Trautschold of Missionware Word Perfect has been public about having dropped future development for the ST and about the reason for that decision: low sales. It can't be a coincidence that Word Perfect for the ST was on many boards we called. I doubt that STers are any less honest than owners of other computer brands, but ours is a small market, and piracy here can hurt developers much more than on more popular platforms. If a platform has 10 million users and 90% of them are pirates, the software developers still have 1 million potential buyers. On a platform like the ST, with only a few hundred thousand users at most by comparison, even if _no_one_ stole software, developers would still only have a few hundred thousand potential buyers. In reality, only the most popular products are likely to sell in quantities greater than 1000 units in North America. In the case of a coveted and respected multi-platform application like Word Perfect, if the program had not been pirated so many times over, the sales figures might well have been sufficient to justify further development for the benefit of ST owners. ~ I talked to a couple of shops…and…asked if they ~ ~ were interested in carrying any music education stuff. ~ ~ They said that they would love to carry some but could ~ ~ not sell any education, music, or game software due to ~ ~ the fact that if anyone wanted a copy they would pirate ~ ~ it…The only thing they have real success at selling ~ ~ is applications due to people wanting a printed manual + ~ ~ phone support…I didn't make a sale. ~ –Jim Collins of chro_MAGIC There's a small profit margin in selling computer hardware; dealers depend on income from software sales to sustain their businesses. In every area where large pirate boards flourish, Atari dealers have closed their doors in spite of a comparatively large installed base of users. "It got to the point where I sold only magazines," one former dealer complained. "They'd buy the magazines to find out what programs were worth downloading." Honest users in these areas are likely to grumble about the loss of the dealers; pirates grumble, too, because their link to new hardware, service, and magazines has been lost. Every dealer lost means fewer hardware sales for Atari, fewer software sales for developers, fewer new members for users groups, fewer vendors and attendees at fewer shows. With the Atari user base in serious decline, it is more important now than ever that piracy not be tolerated. Make no mistake about it: pirated software is _not_ free. ~ Wait-wait-wait… There is nothing positive piracy does ~ ~ for a computer company. Nor is it anything BUT negative. ~ ~ I look at it like this…We can always blame Atari for ~ ~ not advertising, but if there were no Atari pirates, ~ ~ more software would have been sold, making the computer ~ ~ more viable for software companies, which in turn makes ~ ~ the computer more desirable for a user. So, basically ~ ~ what I'm saying is, the people who love Atari the most, ~ ~ (us) are the same people who have been killing it for ~ ~ years. And there was a time when Atari was big ~ ~ EVERYWHERE…There was even an Atari dealer here in my ~ ~ little town of Lake Wales! That's where I bought my 400! ~ – Fruit-WARE Man on Excalibur II BBS Ultimately, we all pay for piracy one way or another: Atari, developers, dealers, and users – even the pirates. 2. How it Works For the uninitiated, let's define some terms. A "pirate board" is a Bulletin Board System (BBS) on which copyrighted commercial files are offered to users for downloading without compensation for the copyright holder. Some pirate boards are devoted to this activity almost exclusively, and sysops running these boards accept only fellow pirates as users. Other pirate BBSs have pd/shareware files areas in addition to hidden commercial areas; honest users of such boards may have access only to the pd/shareware sections and may be completely unaware of the pirate nature of the board. Software pirates have a unique lexicon to describe their activities. Users allowed into the commercial areas have been granted "elite access". The commercial files are referred to as "warez"; elite file areas on some BBSs include sections on such related topics as pornography, defrauding long distance carriers, and creating one's own Super Nintendo Entertainment System cartridges by burning the software into EPROMs. Callers who take without giving back (download without uploading) are called "leeches", and downloadable files may be referred to as "leechables". Defrauding the phone company by using illegal techniques to make long distance calls is a mainstay of the art of "phreaking". "Cracked" versions of programs have the copy- protection and/or registration and serial numbers removed. "0 day" is the day a commercial product is officially released. Many pirates have also adopted a manner of writing which flaunts the rules of our language, such as swapping lower and upper case, substituting "z" for "s" and "ph" for "f", etc. Successful software theft has two basic requirements: a dishonest person willing to give away a copy of a program he has purchased – and another dishonest person willing to accept it. When this activity takes place on a Bulletin Board System, a given copy can be distributed rapidly from BBS to BBS, from user to sysop to user, all over the world. One person's willingness to give away that first copy can lead to its possession by literally thousands of others. Pirate boards succeed because there are many people willing to give or take the copies – and because the sysop uses strategies calculated to maintain and escalate their involvement. The pirate sysop sets up his BBS, invests in a high-speed modem and phone lines, and advertises his number on other BBSs. When the calls start coming in, the sysop scrutinizes each would-be user and decides whether or not to validate the new account and what level of access to allow. ~ I've seen credit applications that made more sense. ~ – Sandy Wilson on GEnie, describing a brief encounter with the new user questionnaire on a BBS running RATSoft ST ~ Do you believe in the free distribution of software be ~ ~ it copyrighted or not? ~ – Fawlty Towers BBS, from the new user questionnaire The sysop has two major responsibilities: to keep the board running and to ensure security. He requires full disclosure from his callers. He wants his callers' real names, real addresses, real phones, but he is not likely to reveal his own name or location. There is usually an elaborate questionnaire. The sysop may call the new user's voice number to check its authenticity. He may do thorough background checks with other information the caller has provided. He may keep a blacklist of uncooperative or non-productive callers (leeches) and share it with other sysops. ~ NEW USERS: IF YOU DON'T DO A NEW USER UPLOAD YOU WILL NOT ~ ~ GET ACCESS. IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT A NEW USER UPLOAD IS ~ ~ YOU DON'T BELONG ON THIS BBS. ~ – PAK on STampede BBS The callers themselves supply the warez which keep the board active. They earn credits for uploading, and apply those credits toward future downloads. Pressure to upload a file often begins immediately after a new user's account is validated. It may even be part of the new user questionnaire prior to validation. Typically, a New User Upload is required before the new user is given full access, including the ability to download. Sometimes the sysop will allow the new user to view the files area on the BBS in order to entice the caller into uploading a commercial file. On other boards, the commercial files area will stay completely hidden from the new user until after he has proved his worthiness – and incriminated himself – by sharing a commercial program of his own. Like a kid in a candy store, the caller wants one of everything, but to get it, he must pay the price. So he looks at his collection and chooses a program he hopes will meet with the sysop's approval. Merely uploading the program may not be enough to gain elite access; the upload may be judged on how new it is, whether the board already has a copy, or even whether the program chosen is useful or well-reviewed. ~ You Understand that you MUST keep a 'reasonable' file ~ ~ Upload/ Download ratio And "K-Byte" ratio or your ~ ~ Access WILL be Lowered and maybe Deleted!! ~ – Gold Nugget BBS, from the new user questionnaire ~ Donate! King Arthur has a very reasonable donation ~ ~ policy that makes it easily affordable to have ~ ~ unlimited download credits…It's so much fun on the ~ ~ Atari (and soon to be Falcon) scene now that there's ~ ~ no excuse for you to miss out! ~ – Little Flea on Excalibur II BBS ~ …I started caring, and so the users that DID not post, ~ ~ called within 30 days, and sent new files, got kicked ~ ~ off.. YOU DONT [sic] GET NOTHING FOR FREE!!! ~ –The Conjurer, sysop of Outer Planes BBS, on the F-Net, Elite Underground Conference The sysop uses his warez to entice callers, but he may also perfunctorily ax callers who violate his rules or confidentiality requirements. The threat of being cut off from the source keeps the callers uploading on a regular basis. The BBS software keeps track of a user's download/upload ratio; ratios that are unacceptably high on the download side may result in censure by the sysop or loss of access. If a user has no files of value to offer the sysop, he may be able to gain privileges by sending in a "donation". Some sysops forego the euphemisms and announce flatly that they charge for greater access. ~ Does anyone have Trump castle? Im [sic] starting to run ~ ~ thin on other boards for credits. I would rather save ~ ~ them for the 0 days stuff. If you have it could you ~ ~ please u/l it. ~ –Shadow Master on London Smog BBS In order to keep his account current, the user may be forced to call in every few weeks; each call results in a deduction from the user's credit total, so he's back looking for new files to upload. If the caller gets those files from another BBS, he'll get caught up in a never-ending cycle of uploads and downloads in order to keep his accounts active on all the boards he calls. Occasionally, he may have to buy a program outright in order to upload it. The caller is reminded of any deficit in his credit total every time he calls and may be denied access to certain areas until the total is in the black. ~ Well, after being away from the BBS scene for awhile, I ~ ~ have finally found an Elite BBS! (Thanks PAK! :). Anyhow, ~ ~ please send me BBS #/NUPs for boards that carry elite ~ ~ Macintosh or SNES console stuff. ~ – Nostrildomus on STampede BBS Some pirate-only BBSs won't allow any but the most serious of callers. They may require all users to have 9600-baud modems or greater. They may limit 2400-baud callers to less desirable calling hours. Some require would-be callers to announce their first upload before being allowed access; the sysop then decides whether or not this caller will be a valuable contributor on that basis. Some require referrals from other pirate boards. A twist on this is the New User Password, spread from user to user. Boards like the Computer Connection will ask for this "NUP" in the new user questionnaire. If the caller cannot provide it, access is not granted. Most boards ask at the very least for the names and numbers of the boards the new user already calls; a new user who provides incorrect numbers or fictional board names – or who lists only legitimate BBSs – may be denied access. The sysop's users provide his warez, and the sysop is a direct beneficiary. Like a golden goose, a single program keeps giving and giving. One user paid for it once, but the sysop can distribute it to other users in trade for additional warez or money again and again. The current callers spread the word about the BBS's offerings to others, thus increasing the number of users frequenting the board and providing uploads. Some boards encourage this by offering download credit for user referrals. While operating a BBS is the least labor-intensive way to accumulate warez, it may not be the most efficient way to make money. After all, there's a whole market of non-modem users out there just waiting to be tapped. For a tidy fee, sysops may sell copies of their warez via mail order; through schemes like these, users can obtain pirated software without the costs of a high- speed modem and long-distance calls and the pressures of the upload/download ratio. 3. Paranoia Strikes Deep All BBS sysops, even the most responsible, put themselves at some risk of legal complications due to messages, e-mail, and files posted by users. It takes a special motivation for a sysop to actually promote and encourage an illegal activity which increases his risk and liability. For some, money or software may be sufficient motivation. Others may make up for social inadequacy in their offline lives by taking a leadership role online. And many of these seem to enjoy the power they have over their users. Like schoolyard bullies, they control and police their turf with heavy-handed threats and zero-tolerance judgments, all with the protection afforded by their anonymity. On their own BBSs, they call the shots – and no caller can challenge them on that. ~ """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" ~ ~ " Happy Hideaway BBS is protected under the " ~ ~ " FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS ACT of 1986 " ~ ~ """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" ~ ~ Duplication, Re-transmission, or Distribution of any ~ ~ part(s) of this BBS is forbidden without the expressed ~ ~ written permission of the sysops. ~ –Happy Hideaway BBS ~ Re-transmission of material from this BBS is strictly ~ ~ forbidden without written permission of the Sysop(s)!!! ~ – The Ghetto! BBS Some sysops are very protective of their warez. They want their boards to be the best, to have the most highly-prized files, to attract the greatest number of active users. The sysop may claim that his board is protected by international copyright laws; that is, he has a copyright on the _collection_ and he has a right to control the distribution of any part of it. A user may download from his BBS, but he'd better not find that user uploading the same program to a competitor. In other words, the sysop contends that he has exclusive rights to the black-market product! ~ "I agree with these conditions, and I am not a ~ ~ member/employee of ANY authority like the Police, or ~ ~ anything like that, nor am I an employee of ANY type of ~ ~ non-public domain software company, Telephone company ~ ~ security or some anti-software piracy organization. I ~ ~ hereby legally bind myself to this, by answering YES ~ ~ in [sic] at the prompt". ~ – The Ghetto! BBS ~ This BBS is a PRIVATE SYSTEM. Only private citizens ~ ~ who are not involved in government or law enforcement ~ ~ activities are authorized to use it…access to this ~ ~ system by ANY law enforcement agency ( Federal, State, ~ ~ Local or other), software company, telephone company, ~ ~ government agency, or anyone affiliated with the above ~ ~ is not allowed. ~ –London Smog BBS ~ Are you registering on this BBS with the sole purpose ~ ~ of entrapping or aiding in the entrapment of the SysOp? ~ – DarkWorld BBS ~ "I am not part of ANY law enforcement agency or an ~ ~ employer/employee of any NON-Public Domain software ~ ~ company, or software publisher." ~ ~ ~ ~ * By typing YES at the PASSWORD prompt you LEGALLY * ~ ~ * BIND yourself to the provisions listed above. * ~ ~ ~ – Outer Region BBS Sysops are well aware of the illegal nature of their activity, and they may go to great lengths to protect themselves from legal action. Most boards post disclaimers about the sysop's responsibility for the activities which take place there. Others try to compromise the submissability of legal evidence by requiring investigators to reveal themselves. ~ You have failed to answer a security validation ~ ~ question properly. ~ –Paris BBS In the midst of such paranoia, it's not surprising that most pirate BBS callers and sysops use pseudonyms. Frequently a user goes by the same pseudonym on every board he calls so that his online friends can identify him, send him e-mail, etc. We've identified many pseudonym-users in spite of their attempts to hide their identity. Here are a few examples of the thousands of aliases used by callers on pirate boards. They know who they are. And you may be surprised to find that _you_ know who they are, too: RAHMAN Clockwork Orange Stsoft Elof Zaphod Beeblebrox Troed Hack-Hack KG mr.fly/ics Looms Hanzon Horizon Sparky Yellow Lightning PAK slash/ics The Piper The Parsec The Shamus Mouse Master Overlord RoadKill The Missing Link Nightmare Deadhead Ed Little Flea the threat/ics jpc/ics belgarion/ics Disease Factory Frosty Sledge Archiver Spy Guy Traveler The Dragon Lord Frogger Shadow Skinhead rhys/ics Sparky KRS-ONE Ice Pirate Clueman Arthur Dent DANE Goat Slayer Norstar Speed Demon Time Warp Snow Queen Mr.terry Who are the people who go by these aliases? Who calls pirate BBSs and who runs them? A 16-year-old high school junior whose supply of British games multiplied out of control when he added a high-speed modem to his system? Yes. A 32-year-old father of two who in all other ways is the very model of integrity? Yes. The good old boys who bring crates of software to swap at your users group meeting? You know it! A 50-year-old con artist who makes thousands of unreported (i.e., tax-free) dollars every year by convincing others to give him programs to sell? Absolutely. Several hundred software thieves are so active and on so many BBSs that it's hard to imagine that they have time for anything else. The thousands of more casual pirates may have access to only a few boards and call only a few times a month. And whether a specific pirate BBS has 50 regular users or 500, its phone lines are constantly busy. 4. Organized Crime As with other criminal activity, the big players in software theft have formed alliances to share files, blacklists, message networks, and other information. There are dozens of these organizations, some international in scope. For example, The Elite, with world headquarters in the Netherlands, is headquartered here by the Outer Region BBS in Colorado and Dragon's Pub in Quebec. The Syndicate (TSC) has representative BBSs on three continents and in both hemispheres; the Happy Hideaway in Florida serves as its Eastern US headquarters and Outer Region as its Western base, while the Shire BBS in Chile and the Eagles Nest and Slime City BBSs in Sweden provide an international link. Cracking organizations are devoted expressly to undermining copy- protection and registration strategies used in commercial programs. Outer Planes in Ohio is the world headquarters for the cracking ring known as CyniX. STampede, in Plant City Florida, is the International Cracking Society's (ICS) US headquarters and features its cracked warez, but these rapidly spread to other BBSs across the country and so can be found on many other boards as well. Cracking rings are often multi-platform in scope; individual crackers will work on getting around the copy- protection on the platform of their choice. They'll share cracking tips with and seek advice from ring members working on other platforms. The Pompey Pirates cracking ring, headquartered on the Paris BBS in New York City, reportedly has just one cracker, who goes by the name of Alien, working routinely on the ST, while cracking rings like ICS include many ST enthusiasts. ICS, MCA, Section 1, CyniX, and other crackers are very well- connected, using ultra-high-speed modems and multi-frequency dialers to call all over the world without long distance fees. It's not unusual to find a cracker from one ring visiting the headquarters of another and sharing warez. Cracking rings compete vigorously for the first crack of "0 day warez" (brand new releases), for the most successful crack, for the toughest, etc. Pirate boards have aligned themselves with legitimate networks as well. Many of the BBSs on which we discovered commercial files areas are linked to the F-Net – and, of course, so are plenty of responsible BBSs. For example, according to a CrossNet Conference Node Listing, The Time Warp BBS (F-Net node 99) serves as the lead node for the "Elite Underground" F-Net conference, which also includes Starlight BBS (node 287), Darkworld BBS (node 305), Outer Region BBS (node 469), Steal Your Face (node 489), Outer Planes (node 558), Gold Nugget BBS (node 622), London Smog BBS (node 632), Million Dollar Saloon (node 639), Speedy's Raceway (node 689) and H.B. Smog (node 712). According to another CrossNet Conference Node Listing, The Gold Nugget serves as the lead node for The "Pompey Pirates Elite" (not directly associated with the Pompey Pirates cracking ring mentioned above) F-Net conference; The Prairie Chip II BBS (node 45), The Blackhole (node 612), The Temple of Doom (node 595), and Spider-man's Web (node 711) are among the 9 BBSs involved in this conference. The "Upper Echelon" F-Net conference ties US and Canadian boards by serving callers on the Gold Nugget in Ohio, Steal Your Face in New Jersey, Space Station BBS (node 248) and London Smog in California, Million Dollar Saloon in Texas, Paybax BBS (node 307) in Delaware, and Aardvarks from Mars (node 38) and Dragon's Lair (node 87) in Ontario. Conferences of this kind allow pirates from great distances to "get to know" each other, to exchange files as well as messages, to solicit calls to their favorite BBSs. Participation in these conferences establishes an online identity; a pirate recognized from his posts on one node of a conference is likely to be accepted without question when logging on as a new user on another node in the same conference. There are also smaller F-Net-related conferences for pirating discussions. For example, according to a CrossNet Conference Node Listing, a Local Area Private Elite Conference with a lead node at the Outer Region links with three other BBSs in Colorado, including RingWorld (node 643), The Grave Diggers Tomb (node 186), and BILINE BBS (node 423). Outer Planes is the lead node for the 4-node "Console" conference, a message thread devoted to topics related to pirating SNES and other game console warez. 5. Ill-Begotten Goods, Fawlty Filez… Pirating hurts the entire ST community by discouraging third- party development, closing down dealerships, and raising software prices. But is it a "good deal", at least in the short run, for the pirates themselves? Let's ask 'em: ~ Mock me not! Civilisation is great.. Except it is ~ ~ cracked poorly…Can't win with the Cynix crack… ~ –Mark Anthony on Outer Planes BBS ~ …ok, then how do you save????? I love this game, but ~ ~ I dont know how to save it.. ahhh ~ –The Conjurer on Outer Planes BBS ~ Bad news… using UVK, just found out that the disk has ~ ~ a VIRUS on it called the 'DIRECTORY WASTER'. After ~ ~ twenty copies of it are made, it wipes out your disk. ~ ~ Use UVK to kill the virus, and be careful with swapping ~ ~ disks around this one. ~ –Sparky on Outer Planes BBS ~ Has anyone set up Speedo GDOS , I seam [sic] to run ~ ~ into probles .. [sic] ~ –The Mixer on Time Warp BBS ~ Can someone please send me a working ASCII import ~ ~ module for pagestream. I cant seem to get TEXT files ~ ~ to import correctly. Either the text doesnt [sic] ~ ~ fill the full width of the screen or I get no ~ ~ paragraphs(ALL run together) ~ –Red Dragon on Time Warp BBS ~ Has anyone got it to work? I tried to get it to run on ~ ~ a Floppy based 520ST (1meg) and on my TT030 and on both ~ ~ I got 4 bombs! ~ –The Parsec on Rats Nest BBS ~ Has anyone gotten this to load? My install disk just ~ ~ freezes. Any ideas? ~ –Bullshot Xxx on the F-Net, Upper Echelon Conference ~ …my UTIL_2.PRG doesn't work, it was corrupt in the ~ ~ original download… ~ –Jason Elite on the F-Net, Upper Echelon Conference ~ For some reason I can't get other vers. of TOS to boot ~ ~ from the HD without sticking a disk in with the HD boot ~ ~ in the Auto folder. ANYONE know how I can get TOS 1.4 ~ ~ and 1.0 to off the HD and recognize the hard drive ~ ~ without sticking a disk in?…It's just a hastle [sic] ~ ~ to use the Hard Drive when you have to boot from disk ~ ~ first… ~ –Ice Pirate on Rats Nest BBS ~ I have the two lharc's of Epic, and after lharc, they ~ ~ come out to 900+K MSA files… Well, MSA won't format ~ ~ a disk large enough to put them on.. What kind of ~ ~ formatting program can I use to format my disks that ~ ~ large.. Or can I? ~ –Cronos on Fawlty Towers BBS ~ I was wondering if anyone else has been messing with ~ ~ the latest Cubase 3 crack. I've had some success and ~ ~ have even used the SMPTE options via my C-Lab ~ ~ Unitor-N box, but when I try to use the "edit" functions ~ ~ more than a few times (sometimes even the first try), ~ ~ I get an "Internal Error" message and the program locks. ~ –MIDIMUCK on Fawlty Towers BBS ~ I wouldn't use it if your [sic] working on a paying gig, ~ ~ Just cause It's unreliable, especially when in SMPTE lock. ~ ~ I've had this same problem recently, I ended up x-fering ~ ~ the stuff over to another sequencer. ~ –KG on Fawlty Towers BBS, replying to MIDIMUCK about the cracked version of Cubase 3 ~ Yes, there are 2 different cracks of version 3.x, none ~ ~ of them working properly. The best Cubase crack I know ~ ~ is version 2. I heard though that it gives problems ~ ~ when you use Midiex… ~ –X-tian on Fawlty Towers BBS ~ yeah, I would [sic] do any real work on it. I lost 2 ~ ~ songs with it. ~ –KG on STampede BBS, replying to a message about a cracked version of Cubase ~ Has anybody had a problem with the Cynix crack of ~ ~ Frankenstein? I haven't been able to get it to work on ~ ~ either of my computers. It bombs badly. ~ –PAK on STampede BBS ~ I've been having problems with some files I D/Led ~ ~ (Ultima 6 is flaky and Lost Vikings doesn't work at ~ ~ all). ~ –Nostrildomus on STampede BBS ~ I sure wouldn't even attempt any 'serious' work project ~ ~ with that 'crack'… ~ –Sparky on STampede BBS ~ Do you have a version of NEW ZEALAND STORY which works ~ ~ past the first city? ~ –The Shamus on STampede BBS ~ HEY!! Will someone PLEASE UPLOAD a FULLY working version ~ ~ for KOBOLD 2 I've had so many different version from ~ ~ different people and they are ALL bad !!! ~ –Sidewinder on Outer Region BBS ~ I have an elite copy of Calligrapher and it doesn't ~ ~ support ASCII text files, so you can only work with ~ ~ .CAL files (files made by Calligrapher) Also it doesn't ~ ~ have keyboard equivalents (a pain) ~ –Frogger on the F-Net, Elite Underground Conference Pirates aren't entitled to support from commercial developers and are often working without any documentation, so they are very likely to encounter problems with their warez. The real version of Calligrapher, for example, has several import and export options, including ASCII. It has configurable keyboard commands. Frogger's version might have been hacked in a way which destroyed these capabilities, or he simply might not know how to take advantage of them because he has no documentation or support. When pirates spread disinformation about the warez they use, people may think they are speaking out of knowledge of the actual commercial release. In this way, a pirate's ill-informed comments about products can discourage sales to others. The software they use – like the sysops and other pirates with whom they associate – cannot be trusted. Cracked software is prone to be flakey. And the same type of people who think it's acceptable to crack and steal software are also the type who write viruses and unleash them on others, so even files which haven't been cracked must be viewed with suspicion. In addition to the fear of loss of access, the pressure to upload or pay, lack of official and informed support, an online environment of suspicion and paranoia, and abandonment of ethical principles, pirates must also contend with software that is unreliable and potentially dangerous. The pirate pays a heavy price. Pirated software is _not_ free – for anybody. 6. Phreaking, Copyright Infringement, Pornography, and the Law The users pay the sysop of a pirate board, either by sending a check for greater access or by offering up files they've purchased in exchange (or both). Heavy users must invest in expensive hardware, such as high-speed modems. And for many callers, there's a long-distance charge. ~ If any of the USA callers has MCI you can put this bbs ~ ~ on you [sic] Friends and Family list and save yourself ~ ~ about 3 cents a minute. Just say that the phone number ~ ~ is for a data line and they usually don't ask anymore ~ ~ questions. ~ – PAK on STampede BBS ~ …there are high speed users around, and considering ~ ~ other really good Atari boards are out of state, $.25 ~ ~ per call is as cheap as anyone could ask for. I'm ~ ~ starting to think "elite" is dead in the Tampa area, ~ ~ as far as Atari is conserned [sic]. ~ –PAK on Master Lazarus BBS, explaining the poor attendance rates by local pirates on local BBSs ~ Wanted… original suppliers ~ ~ graphic artists ~ ~ another support bbs ~ ~ calling card suppliers ~ –Quattro of the CyniX cracking ring on the F-Net, Elite Underground Conference ~ When I hit a special key, my Bluebox plays a little ~ ~ melody….. ~ – STampede BBS ~ I call the whole world for the same price. ~ – Troed on Rats Nest BBS Not all those living far from a BBS pay long distance charges, however. Some boards share calling card numbers (belonging to innocent victims, presumably) so that the phone company will charge the users' calls to someone else. Sometimes users as far away as Chile or Sweden manage to make calls at no cost by fooling and defrauding their long distance carriers. In the old days (defined here as the 70's), this was achieved by building a "bluebox" and installing it in one's phone line. Today, it's easily done in software. The caller's ST simulates the tones recognized by the telephone system. Calls are routed all over the world and back, typically through South America, in order to confuse the system and avoid detection. This activity is just as illegal as copyright infringement, and it's also better understood as a crime by police. Many times a pirate board is closed down not because of the illegal transfer of software, but rather because information on blueboxes was available for download. ~ Word is around town that there are feds looking for ~ ~ Pirate BBS's. I know weather to belive [sic] it but ~ ~ it could be time for another big bust like there was ~ ~ four years ago. Supposedly a Big BBS in OHIO just got ~ ~ nailed real bad!. Freaky as hell. ~ –Mind Eye on Thieves Guild BBS There are, in fact, many approaches to shutting down pirate boards. Copyright infringement is one obvious track. The Software Publishers Association is a watchdog agency which works with the FBI to shut down large-scale BBS operations. There are legal departments at major computer, game machine, and software companies devoting time and effort to this task. There's the IRS connection for unreported caller "donations". Some boards come down because of the availability of pornography. There are a variety of criminal laws related to activities common on pirate boards, and, especially in cases of copyright infringement, civil law may offer the most effective route to compensation for the victims. When a board is busted by the authorities, the related equipment and property is usually seized. Any records of callers, caller donations, etc., are seized along with that equipment. Callers could be charged with conspiracy. For this reason, it's not wise to have one's real name, address, and real phone show up in the records of a pirate board, even though the sysop adamantly insists upon it and uses verification checks to enforce it… 7. Spotting a Pirate Board ~ Many people may not realize that software pirates cause ~ ~ prices to be much higher, in part, to make up for ~ ~ publisher losses from piracy. In addition, they ruin ~ ~ the reputation of the hundreds of legitimate bulletin ~ ~ boards that serve an important function for computer ~ ~ users. ~ –Ken Wasch, Executive Director of the SPA, as quoted in STR #915 I recently logged on to the Polish Hideout BBS in Southern Illinois. What a contrast it presented to the pirate boards I've been investigating! The questionnaire asked only for my name, contact information, and type of computer. Validation was immediate and I was granted access to all message bases and file areas on that very first call! I wasn't under any obligation to upload before downloading. There was no pressure to compromise my principals nor temptation to indulge in criminal activity. The messages from the sysop were friendly and inviting. The Polish Hideout is _not_ a pirate BBS. It can be tough to differentiate a pirate board from a legitimate one if one has not been granted access to the elite areas. Sometimes non-elite discussion or file areas can provide hints, but it's not sure-fire. For example, although many pirate boards can boast of extensive pornography collections, some BBS sysops who wouldn't tolerate commercial files will nevertheless offer pornography; the existence of pornographic files does not in and of itself indicate a pirate board or clientele. Even the existence of an isolated commercial file in the downloads is not evidence of intentional piracy. From time to time, every BBS receives a commercial upload or two; sometimes the sysop overlooks the file or doesn't recognize it as commercial and leaves it in the download area. Such oversights and accidents do not even remotely correspond to the kinds of activity we have encountered on BBSs where software theft is encouraged. A typical pirate board includes a highly aggressive (and often hostile and suspicious) new user questionnaire. It is often necessary to provide referrals of some kind, and the questions are likely to assume dishonesty on the part of the new user. Pirates, as a rule, are not nice guys, and the new user is usually made to feel very uncomfortable. The new user may be required to "sign" disclaimers. The Other BBS list is likely to include some other pirate boards. If the users adopt the lexicon of piracy ("elite", "warez", "philez", etc.), If ThErE aRe LoTs Of PhRaSeS wRiTtEn LiKe ThIs, if the board associates itself with a pirate syndicate or network, if it has numerous known pirates as callers, if there is aggressive insistence on the maintenance of download/upload ratios, if deadbeats are threatened with loss of access, if phreaking files are available online, chances are very good that the caller has stumbled onto a pirate BBS. There are legitimate reasons why a BBS sysop might want accurate contact information from his callers. There are also good reasons in many cases for offering a few private file and message areas. Most BBSs, pirate and legitimate, require validation, usually by phoning the caller's number. Such features are not unusual, but if combined with heavy-handed warnings and threats, they tip the user off to the nature of the board. It should be noted that legitimate pd/shareware BBSs far outnumber the pirate boards. The confusion between the two is most unfortunate. ~ I…have callers uploading commercial software and ~ ~ giving me a hard time because I don't have an "elite" ~ ~ area, even though they see a message when they log on ~ ~ as a new caller that this board does not support ~ ~ piracy…It's a _risk_ to run a BBS, and not many ways ~ ~ to protect the investment. ~ –sysop of a legitimate BBS If a board you call has an occasional commercial file, be sure to point it out to the sysop for his own protection; a responsible sysop will avoid commercial offerings. PD/shareware BBSs perform a much-needed service in supporting our Atari community; the IAAD applauds and encourages this effort. If you suspect – or _know_ – that a board you call offers numerous commercial files, however, please bring it to the attention of the IAAD (online addresses are available at the end of this article). Your anonymity is assured. We are already intimately familiar with dozens of boards, but additional information is always welcome. 8. The Moral Toll: As the Twig is Bent… ~ Right and wrong now seem the same ~ – Rats Nest As a parent, I'm concerned about the numbers of young people logged on to pirate boards. These kids put themselves in a very vulnerable position. In earning their right to download, young callers are implicated in the illegal activity. The adults who run and participate on these boards set an example which could, by extension, lead to ignoring the laws which govern other areas of their lives. Do these kids also shoplift, steal from other kids' lockers, buy termpapers to submit as their own? Children learn to run and to use pirate boards from adults whose character is questionable by definition. When a child has such a sysop as a role model, what does that spell for his future? Like the proverbial stranger who offers candy, these criminals lure teenagers and young adults with promises of free software in exchange for their services. The service, of course, is to provide more free software – which the sysop can then use to lure more callers and to keep his current clientele calling back. The first step is to inspire fear; this is achieved right off the bat with a new user questionnaire threatening denial of access if caller doesn't provide just the right answers. And the second is to force the caller to incriminate himself with his initial upload. Once the kid begins downloading and playing commercial games he could never afford to buy, the pressure cycle of upload/download counts begins. ~ GENESIS COPIER (super magic drive) ~ ~ My son is selling his copier for the Genesis for: ~ ~ $275.00 That includes the copier, drive and power ~ ~ supply. ~ –Little Lulu on the F-Net, Pompey Pirates Elite Conference While many of the software thieves we've encountered are young, in their teens and early twenties, others are old enough to be parents (or even grandparents!). Few pirate boards have an "educational warez" category in their files areas, so my own products are rarely found, but parents do download plenty of games. I wonder about the children who use the programs that Dad or Mom has stolen. Do they know that the program could be purchased with a manual? Do they learn about hidden features from friends who have the real thing and then wonder why their parents never told them they could do that? If and when these children do learn that Dad has stolen some software they've enjoyed, do they respect and trust their father less – or do they simply adopt his dishonest character as their own? ~ Pirating is dishonest. Honorable people don't do ~ ~ dishonest things. If you want to publicly proclaim your ~ ~ untrustworthyness [sic], go right ahead. But don't ~ ~ expect anyone to ever trust you. Or respect _your_ ~ ~ rights. ~ – Myeck Waters, responding to a pro-piracy post on the F-Net, ST Report Conference ~ BYE! (Click) ~ ~ NO CARRIER ~ – Computer Connection ___ The author takes no responsibility for errors in spelling, punctuation, judgment, or logic in quotations; these are reprinted as written.
Copyright 1993 by D.A. Brumleve
This file may be transmitted only in its entirety, with all portions unedited and intact. The author reserves _all_ rights regarding distribution and republication, with the exception that this file may be posted in its entirety and without additions on BBSs everywhere, especially on pirate boards. If you find it already posted on your local pirate board, please upload a second copy, and a third…
Editors and others wishing to republish this article are advised to contact the IAAD and the author on the major online services:
GEnie: PERMIT$ CIS: 76004,3655 Delphi:DABRUMLEVE
The IAAD welcomes tips about pirate activity. Please contact us at the online addresses listed above.