DVD & Internet Piracy
- What is the Truth Behind It?
By Nicky Page
DeCSS, DivX, MP3, lets get it straight
for once, these programs have nothing to do with Piracy! Read
It's hard to turn on the news or read a computer magazine these
days without at least something being said about Internet piracy.
There is a huge uproar going on and it is getting more serious as
Internet connection speeds get faster. At the moment whole music
albums can be downloaded as CD quality MP3s in under 10 minutes
with some broadband connections! Movies compressed at near-VHS quality
can be downloaded in less than a few hours! And software costing
thousands of pounds can be downloaded in a matter of minutes!
Considering these facts, its no wonder that there is so much panic!
The truly sad thing, though, is that in the hysteria, huge companies
sometimes start treading on innocent people. There is definately
a lot of ignorance in regards to who is in the wrong and how to
solve the problems. So since this is such a big issue I thought
it was about time I said a few words and cleared up some misconceptions
about piracy and the related issues, of course this article only
represents my own viewpoint on the matter.
this entire article is based on my own personal opinion! It is not
meant as a statement of fact. It is not meant as a statement or
guide to the law. It is not intended to malign others in any way.
I am only exercising my right to freedom of speech and to give my
personal opinion in regards to certain issues that I have read about
in the media.
What is Digital?
First I think it may help to start by defining what Digital actually
is. Digital actually describes a storage method in which any kind
of information can be stored and transferred. Digital storage encodes
all information into a long list of blocks; these blocks are either
on or off, either ones or zeros. You can store just about any information
in digital form, text, video, sound, software and so on. 'The Future
is Digital' is the catch phrase of Digital Digest and I believe
this is very true. The reason the future is digital is because it's
a perfect way to store and transfer information. You remember the
old magnetic audio tapes, every time you copied from one to the
next the audio started to degrade. An audio tape is called analogue
because the copy is "roughly" the same as the original,
but no two copies of an analogue audio tape are the same. DATs and
audio CD's, however, are digital sound and are always absolutely
'perfect' copies of the original! You can copy a digital CD forever
and you will never loose any quality. The copy will always be exactly
the same as the original. Occasionally the smart mouthed techie
will tell you that not all CD copies are perfect, but this is not
a problem with the format but rather a problem with 'inferior' CD
copy software or hardware!
What is DivX?
The original DIVX stood for DIgital Video eXpress and was
a system developed by Circuit City in the Los Angeles entertainment
law firm Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca & Fischer. It was
a little bit like Sky Box Office but with DVDs. You had a
DVD player installed at your home and were allowed to rent
DVDs for viewing.
The DVD player would keep track of how many times you watched
them and send the information by phone line to the company
who would then charge you for it. Since you had to be "switched
on" to watch the DVDs you could only play them in your
player and no one else's player would work. Well, the system
was an expensive and quite outrageous concept in general and
it soon folded.
In October 1998 the Mpeg organisation released specifications
of the new Mpeg-4 codec they had been working on. It was the
most advanced compression system they had built so far and
was designed specifically for high quality Internet streaming
video. Microsoft in a desperate attempt to corner the market
and wanting to give Real Player a run for its money quickly
got their hands on whatever they could about MPEG-4 and produced
a format now known as ASF (Advanced Streaming Format) or WMV
(Windows Media Video). It produced excellent compression and
is still better than anything else at streaming video over
There were some big encoding problems originally with ASF,
many of which have been solved by Microsoft now. Originally
Microsoft wouldn't allow people to use anything but Windows
Media Encoder to make the movies. The bitrate and sizes were
restricted to small Internet streamable sizes and the audio
very often went totally out of synchronisation.
Gej aka Jerome Rota.
In the summer of 1999 Jerome Rota a 27-year-old French hacker known
by his Internet name Gej obtained an early release of the Microsoft
ASF codec. He, along with a German hacker named Max Morice, altered
the program so that it could be used to create standard Windows
compatible AVI files. This allowed whoever downloaded it to encode
their movies using any popular AVI authoring software they wanted!
It also allowed them to choose any size and bitrate they wanted.
Yet another benefit was that they could use MP3 audio and fix the
audio synchronisation problems associated with ASFs. Amazingly it
was discovered that the new codec worked much better than the old
VCD Mpeg-1 format that was used to make VHS quality Video CDs. What
is more, the quality looked better even when used at much larger
resolutions. The picture was sharper and it didn't break up into
so many blocks. The compression turned out to be so good that people
started creating Video CD's that were half the size of a commercial
VCD and were able to fit them on a standard 650MB CD-R!
Gej, in a sarcastic pop at the old Circuit City DIVX system, named
his hacked codec DivX ;-) (D.I.V.X. smiley). This format was soon
embraced by the rest of the Internet as the best quality video format
and people began exchanging video clips using the DivX ;-) codec.
DivX is now considered the MP3 of Internet video because people
with fast enough connections can download whole movies in a matter
of hours with it. According to Jack Valenti, chief executive of
the Motion Picture Association of America: "[DivX]
is moving extremely fast I worry about the possibility that
what happened to music [with MP3] will soon be happening to movies."
Microsoft briefly mention DivX in their Windows Media support page.
They say: "DivX uses the MPEG4v3 codec.
The DivX file format is not support by Windows Media Player".
Microsoft are not too happy with what DivX has become and quite
frankly don't understand its popularity because as they contend
'they made the thing in the first place'. They also say they intend
on taking legal action about it but have not done anything as yet.
In reality I think Microsoft believe they have very little to worry
about and want to see where this thing is going. No doubt, as far
as they are concerned the old DivX codec has been hacked from their
own codec, so it cannot be used by any business or for any moneymaking
scheme because Microsoft would be well within their rights to prosecute
on that basis!
Soon enough Gej came out of hiding (which is why we can now use
his real name etc.,) and has started up his own DivX project known
as Project Mayo. They have allowed the source code for Mpeg-4 to
be used by anyone provided they obey their licence agreements. Licence
agreements? Isn't that what Microsoft wanted for their MPEG4 v3
What is the legality of DivX ;-)?
I'm not a solicitor so I cannot tell you a professional opinion
on this one. I am only speaking out of common sense opinion and
you should not take anything I say in this article as a qualified
statement of the law.
Imagine it like this: You bought a video recorder. One day an electrician
friend of yours comes around and alters the video recorder for you
so that the picture looks twice as good quality! All this fix required
was that you change some internal settings of the video. So you
tell all your friends about it and how it's done and soon enough
everyone was doing the same fix. Is this legal to do? Of course!
But what if you tried to make money selling the fixed video recorder
to other people? Then this would be considered illegal because the
video was made by someone else and you don't have permission to
sell it! What is more, your fix would have automatically invalidated
any warrantees that were given by the video company who built it.
In my mind this is the same as DivX! DivX was a fix for the Microsoft
Mpeg-4 codec that allowed us more freedom and better quality videos.
It would be considered illegal to try and make money selling the
codec or to make money from downloadable video clips etc., because
the bulk of the technology and rights belong to Microsoft and the
We 'prefer' to use DivX even though Microsoft gives us the software
to encode to ASF Mpeg-4 completely FREE! This is our choice and
right. But if we intend on making any money with any business venture
that uses DivX then we are probably stealing money from Microsoft.
But how can we be stealing money when Microsoft are giving us ASF
completely free with Media Encoder you ask?! Simple! Every time
we use DivX for commercial reasons that's one instance when the
ASF format will not be used. If DivX completely takes the place
of ASF Mpeg-4 then all the money Microsoft has invested into it
has been wasted. Ah-ha, you say! But DivX cannot be used to stream
video like ASF; Microsoft's ASF format was designed solely to stream
video content across the internet in real time, like Real Player
does! DivX is only good at making small video clips or Video CDs!
And yes, this may be the case, but that doesn't negate the fact
that it is a technology that belonged to Microsoft and so shouldn't
be used without their permission.
I personally use DivX for making backups of movies I legally own
and I also record video clips with a video capture card. Why? Because
I like to play them on my computer, its as simple as that. I do
not trade them with other people or sell them. If I bought a DVD
and decided to use it as a coaster for my coffee that is my business!
Just because that DVD wasn't designed to be used as a coaster doesn't
matter, because it's my house. In the same way I have the right
to use 'hacked' codecs such as DivX provided that I am not making
any money out of it or giving them to others.
Does DivX & MP3 make Piracy Possible!?
Many would say "yes" without even thinking! But lets
talk about DivX again. They say a whole DivX movie can be downloaded
in an hour on a really fast Internet connection. Assuming this is
true, that doesn't make piracy possible! Lets assume DivX
didn't exist and there was only MPEG-1 VCD movies. Since a VCD is
on average about twice the size of a DivX for similar quality, then
at the same Internet connection speeds it would take only two hours
to download. In fact, there are still many IRC groups who prefer
VCD download because when burnt to a CD-R they can be played on
a standard DVD player. Two hours is nothing to someone who wants
to watch the latest movie release. In fact eight hour downloads
are sometimes considered quite reasonable. Most people with fast
connection speeds are unable to turn off their Internet connection
and could leave the movie downloading all night long! Fact is, if
DivX didn't exist people would use VCD. In fact, they were using
VCD long before DivX. If neither DivX nor VCD existed they'd use
ASF or Real Player!
Originally ASF was a much more popular format than VCD when
it first came out because it was such a small size for the quality.
You couldn't possibly say to Gej: "we are going to take legal
action against you for contributing to Internet piracy!" That's
totally ridiculous! If you accuse Gej of contributing to piracy
because of a video compression you may just as well accuse Microsoft!
Because, if DivX didn't exist, pirates would be mainly using ASF
and that was Microsoft's baby. The same goes for MP3. Mp3 was created
by the MPEG organisation. No one could possibly get away with taking
legal action against the MPEG organisation for creating an audio
Ah-ha! But what about taking action against Gej for stealing ASF
and making his own format from it? This is yet another crazy suggestion!
Many companies, including Microsoft, have copied someone else's
"idea" and made their own version of it. You cannot copyright
an "idea". Gej has never tried to sell DivX, he only seems
to have made it as a "fix" for ASF. He never intended
to sell it to anyone. The new Open DivX project has little to do
with the ASF hack we all knew as DivX. Gej is now doing what Microsoft
did originally, namely, getting the Mpeg-4 specifications and making
his own completely legal version of Mpeg-4. I very much doubt Gej
ever had plans on making his own video format until he found out
how popular DivX had become.
By now I think you are beginning to realise that neither DivX,
MP3, MPEG-1, 2, 4 or any other compression format have anything
to do with helping piracy and I can prove this with one final piece
of reasoning: What if there was no such thing as audio and video
compression? Pirates would still be able to download whole music
albums in uncompressed digital format in under one hour with the
fast internet connections!
Of course movie downloads wouldn't be very common because they
would take up many gigabytes of information! But again there is
a serious flaw in this kind of reasoning too! Internet connection
speeds are getting faster all the time! In ten years time it is
more than likely, if not certain, that Internet download speeds
will be so fast that whole movies could be downloaded completely
uncompressed! And I'm quite confident that in only a matter of a
few years speeds will get so fast that whole DVD will be able to
be downloaded without too much trouble!
You simply cannot base the accusation of piracy solely on how well
a format can be compressed. If you did you'd have to outlaw every
compression format including WinRAR and WinZip because their software
makes it easier for pirates to exchange software!
What is DeCSS?
"[If the MPAA win] DeCSS will become the first computer
program in history to be declared illegal!" - Jon Lech
15-YEAR OLD NORWEGIAN CRACKED THE DVD-CODE! That was
the headline posted all over the world in the year 1999! They
were, of course, referring to a young man named Jon Lech Johansen
(who sometimes goes by the nickname MNX).
An interesting headline wouldn't you say? That is, considering
Jon had nothing to do with the actual cracking of the DVD
code! Jon was, however, a member of the German Reverse Engineering
group called MoRE (Masters of Reverse Engineering) and tells
us: "the encryption code wasn't
in fact written by me, but written by a German member. There
seems to be a bit of confusion about that part".
Nevertheless, Jon had put on his webpage a program called
DeCSS which could be used to remove the CSS encryption code
from a DVD. The following is the famous newsgroup message
he gave when he was arrested:
Jon Lech Johansen
"The National Authority for Investigation
and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime in Norway raided
my home today and seized my Linux box, FreeBSD/Win2k box and Nokia
cellphone. Not only I, but also my father has been indicted, since
he owns the mmadb.no domain (webhotel) where my homepage(s) have
been located. They also took me in for questioning which lasted
6-7 hours. It's 2 am CET now (I just got back), I haven't eaten,
and someone's definitely going to pay for this. I have shut down
my old email account, and I'm now using firstname.lastname@example.org - More
information coming tomorrow, once I've talked to my lawyer."
Later the GILC, a coalition of civil rights groups throughout the
world (notably including the EFF), condemned the action as a violation
both of the Human Rights Accords of the United Nations and the First
Amendment of the US Constitution.
Taking the Nokia cellphone may seem overkill but strangely enough
Jon later admitted, "I did have, in
fact, a backup of the [DeCSS] source on it".
Despite the headlines claim that he single handily cracked the
CSS code Jon comments: "I never told
the media that I had cracked the DVD encryption. What I told them,
was that we (MoRE) had made an app called DeCSS which would decrypt
DVD movies and let them be played off your HD, or off DVD-Rs if
you have a DVD burner. I always used "we" and "MoRE"
when talking to them. I never said anything about me or my position
in the group. Now that the storm is over, I see that all they [the
news reporters] were after, was to get a big story. They even included
some of "my" quotes, which I never said. When media starts
making up stuff, it's really sad. I know that this has been done
before in Norwegian media, regarding the co-operation between a
computer group at my school and the school people in charge of the
network. All I can say is that I'm very sorry that the media twisted
my words, and even lied, to make it appear as I had done the cracking
myself. I'm pretty sure that I will do everything to avoid the media
in the future, but if I'm forced to talk with them, I'll have to
get them to sign an agreement. Again, I apologize on the behalf
of Norwegian press, and I hope that this document will make everything
clear. The truth shall set you free."
In regards to the police actions Jon says: "IMHO,
the only reason they seized my computers was in order to try to
track down the two other members of MoRE But I don't have the
identity of any of them. I only had the nicks that they used on
Internet Relay Chat they have been changing nicks from time
to time. So I gave one of the nicks they had used before. They are
both a lot older than me and they are employed. So I guess they
just didn't want the publicity, and they were perhaps afraid of
Surprising as it may sound, DVDs were being decoded to Hard Disk
long before DeCSS had appeared. There was a hacked version of the
Xing DVD player that could save the data rather than just playing
it. This didn't require knowing the CSS code because Xing had it
built in. I think it was called DVDRip but that name doesn't sound
correct? Anyway, MoRE were not even the first to actually crack
the DVD code! This was done by a hacking group called DoD (Drink
or Die also called dEZZY), they produced DoD Power Ripper. Power
Ripper had a few bugs in it to begin with and it couldn't extract
complex titles such as The Matrix. Soon enough DoD found out what
the problems were but hadn't, as yet, made a new version. It was
at about this time that MoRE were working on DeCSS. Baffled by the
same bugs DoD had, the German member of MoRE found out how DoD fixed
their problems and this allowed the completion of DeCSS. DeCSS was
officially the first utility to decode all DVDs including the Matrix.
Then followed the second release of DoD Power Ripper, which was
the second DVD ripper. Just before DeCSS was released MoRE had already
sent the source code for the decryption to their contact in the
Linux DVD community, Derek Fawcus. This is the reason why one of
Wired's news reporters was put on the case.
DeCSS and Power Ripper soon had their downfall. The manufacturers
of DVDs caught on to DeCSS and changed the main key codes used for
them. This made DeCSS and Power Ripper almost useless at decoding
all but early DVDs. Nevertheless, soon enough another application
appeared called VobDec. VobDec didn't use Reverse Engineering or
stolen codes like DeCSS and Xing. It was merely a DVD code-breaker
that hit the DVD with a cryptographic attack until it found the
correct key! Since the DVD CSS code was so weak VobDec was able
to break any DVD code in a matter of seconds! For this reason VobDec
is technically a legal tool to use for backing up DVDs in most countries.
Why Were DVDs Encrypted with CSS?
CSS stands for Content Scrambling System. The movie data on every
DVD is encrypted so the information on a DVD cannot be copied or
played in any player except the ones specified by the CSS code and
DVD region codes. It blocks all the skip and fast-forward commands
on all DVD players so adverts and copyright notices cannot be skipped.
Ever wonder why you cannot skip past the DVD disclaimer? That's
CSS at work! In fact, the DVD CCA's license for CSS explicitly forbids
its licensees from making a DVD player with an ability to skip such
Hackers laugh at the CSS encryption scheme because it is
so amazingly easy to break! In spite of what the Motion Picture
Association of America (MPAA*) say CSS encryption was not
initially designed with hackers or pirates in mind! DVDs do
not need to be decrypted in order to be pirated; it's just
a matter of copying the whole DVD with all the CSS encryption
intact like you would copy something on a photocopier. Don't
believe me? If you have a DVD CD-Rom put in your DVD and press
play on PowerDVD (or any DVD player you have). That's it!
You can now copy all the contents from the DVD to your hard
disk in its fully CSS scrambled form. This is common knowledge,
and, if you knew what you were doing, and had a DVD-R writer,
you could just burn that DVD without ever cracking the CSS
code! In the past big time pirates have used expensive professional
video recorders with AGC gain correction to get around VHS
Macrovision. In a similar way big time offshore pirates would
no doubt invest in the same "presses" DVD manufacturers
use to produce DVDs.
* the MPAA is the Motion
Picture Association of America, it includes Sony, Universal, MGM
and Warner Bros.
The Real reason for CSS!
The CSS system is not a copy protection system because it does
not prevent copying. So what was it designed for? In short, to corner
the market! The main reasons are twofold, first to ensure that DVD
prices are always as high as possible in every country and secondly
to monopolize the DVD player market.
Let's take the first reason: to keep prices high. The CSS system
uses region codes, these are:
United States, Canada Zone 2: Europe, UK, Japan, South Africa, Middle East, Greenland
Zone 3: Hong Kong, East & Southeast Asia Zone 4: Australia, Pacific Islands, New Zealand, South America,
Caribbean Zone 5: Russia, Indian Subcontinent, North Korea, Africa,
Mongolia Zone 6: China
These zones prevent anyone from importing DVD's from other countries,
because unless the DVD CSS region code is set for that country the
DVD will not play! Since the MPAA usually control the release of
movies so that they are released half a year later to the rest of
Europe than they are in the USA, they are able to control the prices
people pay for their movies.
Believe it or not we are actually being charged much more than
a DVD costs after normal profit margins. In fact DVD production
is quicker and easier than the old VHS tape! So, instead of giving
people a fair deal they want to charge them as much as they think
they will pay. This means poorer countries, such as India, are only
charged a fraction of the price the rest of Europe are. Unless a
CSS encryption system was incorporated into the DVDs it would be
possible for someone in Europe to import a load of Indian DVDs and
not need to pay the extra money! Such price fixing practices are
known as 'price discrimination' and are considered illegal according
to U.S. and international law. But if the movie industry
can convince the world that CSS is only to stop PC pirates
then this smokescreen would prevent anyone from noticing it!
Not only are the European DVDs more expensive to buy but the quality
is often much less than the original USA versions. They are often
either bad conversions or without many (or any) extra features.
Normally I'd urge you to combat this trend by buying only region
free DVD Players to play your DVD CD's. Region free DVD players
can play any region of DVD and ignore region codes completely. But
this is a little more complicated nowadays!
Since manufacturers have been trying to make region free "world"
zone DVD players the whole movie industry is trying to force them
to stop. One new trick is to make use of the CSS properties again.
I've never seen a DVD like this, but apparently when you put these
new type of DVD CDs in your 'region free DVD player', the CSS code
sends all region codes to it at once. If the DVD player accepts
them all then the CSS mechanism will stop it from playing!
If the player rejects all but one then it will continue to play.
This means that it would be impossible to play any of these
new DVDs in a region free DVD player! In short, you may find that
buying a region free DVD player results in you not being able to
play any DVD!
This whole marketing scam alone is destined to give rise to greater
DVD piracy (if it exists yet) because people always want to get
a copy of the newest releases from America. Movie piracy would be
cut very dramatically if all movies came out everywhere at the same
time! The prices would be cheaper and people would not see the need
to buy them from pirates. The only common pirate movies then would
be those taken from the conspicuous people in the dark raincoats
who sneak into the cinema to record the movie before it comes out.
And even then, if people did get these pirate movies, they'd still
want the high quality DVD when it came out. So that is the first
reason that DVDs have the CSS code.
The second major reason is to do with: DVD players. This brings
us back to the story of Jon Lech Johansen, the kid who was said
to crack the DVD code. Even after being arrested he said:
"I do not regret posting DeCSS. It's
very important that we stand up against these multibillion corporate
interests who seek to dominate with their proprietary standards.
It's in consumers interest to be able to make a free choice from
whom or where to buy products."
"My father used to be a politician
and has among other things fought against communism and suppression
in Poland, 10 years ago. In his opinion, the large multinational
corporations are as great a threat to people's freedom as communism.
He supports me 100 percent."
What were Jon's reason for creating DeCSS?
MoRE wasn't a known warez group like DoD. Jon tells us the reason
MoRE wanted to create DeCSS was to help make a DVD player that could
be played on a Linux machine. This is a believable story considering
the fact that at the time no DVD player existed for the Linux. And
since Microsoft were the monopoly no player seemed to be planned.
Without DVD support Linux would soon become less and less popular
as an operating system and so would increase the popularity of Windows.
The only hope for anyone to play a DVD on their Linux was to try
and decode it themselves.
The MPAA obviously completely refute this idea and say that it's
easy enough for anyone to buy the rights to create their own "legal"
DVD player for any OS system. A valid argument of course! But how
easy was it 'really' to get a license? It was already known for
some small "unknown" companies to be denied a license.
But assuming a license was agreed a licensee must pay a security
payment of between $750,000 and $1 million bucks, which would be
forfeit if the license was ever breached. Additionally, it is said
that the DVD CAA (a supposed non-profit industry association) would
also require a 6% royalty fee on all sales! At the end of the day
the chances seemed very very slim for a Linux DVD player anytime
The MPAA say this is besides the point and that "the
De-CSS utility was written for Windows-based software, not Linux".
Jon Johansen had answered this question a while ago when he said:
"While this [DeCSS] was being worked
on, Linux did not have UDF support [the filesystem used on DVDs].
It was thus natural to implement it under Windows in order to test
if it actually worked. Yes, I've used Windows, nobody's perfect".
This is obvious to any programmer. If you are going to reverse
engineer a DVD you need to be able to read it! And since Linux OS
cannot even read a DVD how was it possible to create a DVD player
on Linux?! Of course the MPAA could easily say that he was lying
and it was their word against his. But regardless of who is telling
the truth, this issue has been the catalyst to what has exposed
some of the 'slightly-dodgy' dealings of the movie industry. And
perhaps that is why they are really so angry?!
American law seems to indicate that the MPAA shouldn't have taken
any action against poor old Jon anyway. Accoring to the 1998 United
States Digital Millennium Copyright Act section 1201(f) 'reverse
engineering of a copy-protection encryption system is legal
for reasons of "interoperability" between computer systems.'
[italics mine]. Which was exactly the reason Jon needed to reverse
engineer the code. But what fear inspiring power the MPAA possess
to be able to attack someone who was not even in their own country!
Nevertheless, this seems to illustrates the situation perfectly.
Although the CSS encryption allows heavy control over DVD prices,
CSS' primarily reason for existing seems to be to prevent anyone
from making a DVD player without a license from the MPAA. Everyone
who makes a DVD player must pay money to them and abide by their
region zone regulations. They get royalties not only for every DVD
we purchase, but also for every DVD player produced, be they hardware
or software based players. The movie industry will continue to put
the fear of god into anyone who mentions DeCSS because it could
give rise to a whole influx of "rogue" DVD players like
the one that was planned by Jon Lech Johansen and MoRE. The MPAA
seem to be in a sticky situation now because they didn't even consider
the possibility that the reason someone would crack the DVD code
would be an honest one! As I meantioned before, copyright law doesn't
allow the copyright of an "idea". And now that the DeCSS
has been posted so much in the public domain, there doesn't seem
to be much that can stop DVD players from being produced without
a MPAA license!
Napster, IRC & Other File
Napster is a utility that connects people's computers
together and lets them exchange audio files. If you have Napster
it will take a list of every MP3 file on you computer and let everyone
else who has Napster installed see them and download them. Likewise,
you are able to see the list of MP3 files found on everyone else's
computers and download them. Other popular file exchange programs
were made soon after Napster but the big ones were CuteMX and Scour
Exchange. These applications did exactly the same as Napster, but
instead of just listing MP3s, they listed anything! Zip, rar, exe,
all video formats, audio formats etc., anything you had on your
Most consider Napster to be the big evil beast! But in fact IRC
has been the most responsible application when it comes to exchanging
pirated Movies, Audio or Software! People were trading MP3's on
IRC many years before Napster existed, and IRC will probably still
exist long after Napster and all these other small programs have
been shut down!
IRC, for those who don't know, stands for Internet Relay Chat.
The most popular free IRC application is called mIRC. mIRC is a
little like "AOL in a box"; anyone in the world can chose
a nickname (called a nick) sign on with mIRC and bring up lists
of chat rooms. When they see a chat room they like they can double-click
on it and start chatting. But mIRC also has an option where you
can send files to each other directly via the Internet.
The main difference between Napster and mIRC is that Napster is
advertised as: A file exchange program that allows you
Whereas mIRC is advertised as a: A chat program that allows you to exchange
What a minute! What did I just say?! Don't both adverts describe
"exactly" the same thing?! Well, that's why there is so
much confusion. While some are trying to annihilate Napster and
Scour because they are, quote: "file exchange" programs.
No one (as far as I know) has attempted to destroy mIRC, which has
done almost exactly the same thing for years! Yes, on mIRC you can
go into Warez or MP3z chartrooms and use a search command (such
as @find or @locator) and find any music, video or software that
anyone is offering for exchange!
Now, to be fair, Napster and Scour have from the get-go been a
fair bit easier to use than mIRC. But do you think its fair attack
small companies like Napster because they are somewhat more user-friendly?
Let's take CD-R software as an example. Adaptec Easy CD Creator
is much easier to use, at least for the average person, than Golden
Hawk's CDRWIN! It is absolutely amazingly easy to pirate music CDs
using Easy CD Creator. This is not a skill but a basic function.
A 12 year old could figure it out without any training. I know this
for a fact because I have a young cousin who knows how to use Easy
CD. But most will be totally confused by CDRWIN.
Now, according to the same mentality, we must assume that it's
perfectly fine to destroy a reputable company such as Adaptec because
they make piracy so easy, but to leave CDRWIN alone because their
software is harder to use! How can you attack Napster because its
so easy to use while ignore mIRC because its slightly harder.
Lets assume the music industry decided to attack Adaptec because
of Easy CD creator for contributing to piracy. What would they say?
Something like: 'we just make software that is able to copy CD's
or let you make your own. It's the people who use them for piracy.
If we made kitchen knifes we couldn't be held responsible for a
man who uses them to kill others!'
In the same way, IRC is a "chat" program. No one wants
to do anything about it because so many people use it for chatting.
They will not speak out against a chat program even though it's
used to exchange pirated music, videos and software.
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