April 22, 2004 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Operation Fastlight: Piracy Crackdown [2][3] [4] Let the international war on Piracy begin. DOJ rules for computer seizures. Targetted Groups: Fairlight, Kalisto, Echelon, Class, Project X and APC. Overview of the warez scene. Previous anti-warez operation - buccaneer.
posted by srboisvert (31 comments total)
Interesting. Given the distributed nature of p2p stuff now days, I wonder if this will cut it off completely at the source. Were all the projects US-based, or was any of it done overseas? It seems like there are a ton of warez folks in weird russian countries.
posted by mathowie at 2:36 PM on April 22, 2004

A friend of mine (yes, actually a friend, not me) is pretty high up within the 'scene' heirarchy, and from what he tells me Fairlight (the biggest name on that list by a good order of magnitude) had already partially disbanded a year before this went down (relevant thred on ISOnews can be found here. The people the Feds actually caught in this sting were the hanger-ons, the 'dregs' if you will, of the top group.

It's worth noting that since Fairlight imploded - due to a bit of precience on their part regarding just this very thing happening - it's been Deviance picking up their slack - there have been no reported busts of anybody within Deviance. Operation Buccaneer took down Razor 1911 and made way for Fairlight - Operation Fastlight simply mopped up what little was left of Fairlight to make way for Deviance.

Mathowie: to answer your question, most of the raids in Fastlight were centered in the Netherlands, actually. As for cutting it off at the source - hardly, they just pruned one tree in the orchard, is all. Operational security is becoming one of the paramount concerns of every 'established' group in the scene, with complex systems of intergroup vouchers, etc. all being used to ferret out potential moles.
posted by Ryvar at 2:55 PM on April 22, 2004

Man the spelling in that last post was terrible - my apologies, I'm more than a little overtired at the moment.
posted by Ryvar at 2:56 PM on April 22, 2004

posted by homunculus at 3:03 PM on April 22, 2004

I'm glad to see that they've caught all the terrorists, drug dealers and mafiosi, so that law enforcement has nothing better to do than this.
posted by Zonker at 3:28 PM on April 22, 2004

Wow, and they're raiding elementary schools now too. Glad they caught Osama and we can all sleep safe at night.
posted by mathowie at 3:44 PM on April 22, 2004

Ah the evil pirates, they're terrorists aren't they ?

You haven't looked at corporate earnings and balance sheet for 2003, have you ? No probably. Just take one giant, the size of Sony, for an enlightening example

Sony Consolidated Earning 3rd quater 2003 at page 4 you can read, among other info that:

There was decrease of 3% of the value of music sales from the same quarter of the previous YEAR (oh god the evil pirates or maybe our music sucks ? ) yet the operating income raised 50% (yeah 50%) from the same quater of the previous year, netting Sony a nice one billion dollar in sales from music

Let's give a look at Sony's "at a glance" income statement for 2003 here[PDF].

Software looks good too with an increase of 36% of operating profit ! Arrrr ayeee matey the treasure (200 Million software pieces shipped for PS2) chest is ouurrs !

You can see that Sony sales in music sector are substantially the same for the period 2001-2003, they even increased a little. Indeed they report a loss on music operation, but can this be justified by the action of evil pirates ? No sir, as the sales are more or less the same ; piracy in theory should affect sales, yet the change in sales was minimal.

Maybe it's the billions dollars aggregate "lost revenues" that are affecting the income sheet ?

Neither Sir, as the lost revenues mantra always used by RIAA, MPAA and other "terrorizing organizations" are figurative losses. In other words, they can't find a way into a income statement as they're NOT REAL losses, only "virtual losses" or what they THINK they would have earned IF they sold all the pirate copies they again think are in circulation.

Do your homework check other income statements for 2003 for the sector. Oh and don't forget we must remain competitive so, thanks to pirates, you're fired even if our income statement says we're doing good ; nice scapegoat for a nice round of downsizing (one CD manufacturing plant in U.S. was closed)
posted by elpapacito at 4:14 PM on April 22, 2004

And the name of the operation was Fastlink, not Fastlight.
posted by angry modem at 4:41 PM on April 22, 2004

Operational security is becoming one of the paramount concerns of every 'established' group in the scene, with complex systems of intergroup vouchers, etc. all being used to ferret out potential moles.

At some point, with all the effort, you wonder if it just makes more sense to buy the software.

Surely, though, the software isn't always the real point--it's the prestige or something.
posted by tss at 4:45 PM on April 22, 2004

Partly prestige, partly a . . . how to put this? They're intellectual property atheists? I have a lot of sympathy for this mindset (even as someone who has written software for a living) because I see what IP laws have become in their current incarnations - copyrights extended to what is it now 120 years? 140? Patents used to try and prevent people from writing software and just giving it away for free . . . I'm pretty sure that wholesale theft of intellectual property isn't the answer, but I think I understand where the people perpetuating it are coming from. I'm also pretty sure there ISN'T any answer at all within a capitalist system where corporations are allowed to influence government in any fashion, ever.
posted by Ryvar at 5:37 PM on April 22, 2004

I saw a guy wearing a Razor 1911 shirt at an E3. That's ballsy.
posted by NortonDC at 5:47 PM on April 22, 2004

Piracy doesn't seem so ridiculous when windows costs $200k.

But now that we've caught them, I guess we can stop subsidizing the RIAA, MPAA, et al. for their losses. (looked for a link, couldn't find one, got bored..., help?)

On a more personal note, I've appreciated the efforts of the warez kids since there was a "warez" chat room on AOL... this fight is even more futile than the drug war. I fail to see how warez trading hurts for-profit software developers.
posted by headless at 7:37 PM on April 22, 2004

Razor 911 comes out with pretty good stuff, but I always liked Deviance more. There is something to be said about having DOS based 3d shoutouts with your cracks.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:27 PM on April 22, 2004

By the way, are you sick of reading your .NFO's through Notepad? Theres a much nicer way. Damn NFO Viewer is what I use, it is not freeware.... ;)
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:35 PM on April 22, 2004

Man, I remember cracking old Int 13 protections back in the 80's, and that's child's play compared to the schemes they've got these days. I've got so much respect for crackers operating today.

A sad day, indeed.

-Civ [THG | iCE]
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:13 PM on April 22, 2004

This is really depressing. First ACiD retires, now this. Sure, warez groups are obviously breaking the law, but that does not diminish the contribution they make to the Internet culture as a whole. Every group needs outcasts, rogues and thieves to add flavor and shake things up. The Internet, as it becomes one giant shopping mall/personal diary, will be that much more boring for the lack of groups like Fairlight.

I think this quote from Gibson's Neuromancer is relevant:
"But he also saw a certain sense in the notion that burgeoning technologies require outlaw zones, that Night City wasn't there for its inhabitants, but as a deliberately unsupervised playground for technology itself."
posted by mmcg at 10:34 PM on April 22, 2004

To follow up on Matt's question...wouldn't things like bit torrent make it impossible for the feds to raid anywhere? There's no centralized server, and thus no location to raid.
posted by dejah420 at 10:46 PM on April 22, 2004

Next up: Operation Canute, the first strike in the War on Tides.
posted by snarfodox at 12:13 AM on April 23, 2004


Bit Torrent networks in fact DO have centrality to them: The torrent file itself. This is a file on a host machine that is given out to everyone, detailing the IP addresses of all machines sharing, with other information.

There is a saying in Bit-Torrent: If its a public share, beware. This is because there are two different types of Torrents: Public and Private. Public can be found on websites such as while private sites are usually forums or college hook ups that keep the host torrent privately known, reducing the odds the feds will check your IP in the public torrent file.

Now, if you go to Suprnova and download some simpsons episodes, odds are good you wont get busted. Keep in mind that even though the odds are very slim, they are still odds. Private torrents have this problem, but since the cat was never out of the bag in the first place, how will 'they' know without a mole?

Does anybody here "have stairs in their house"?
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:10 AM on April 23, 2004

Sorry, let me reiterate to the second paragraph: reducing the odds the feds will check your IP in the public torrent file should read reducing the odds the feds will even find the private torrent in the first place.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:12 AM on April 23, 2004

Keyser, I wasn't going to mention that site by name, but I feel it's best to put out a general warning to all MeFites that my friend has mentioned that said site is very, very closely monitored by the feds.

Caveat Pirata and all that (I am protected).
posted by Ryvar at 2:16 AM on April 23, 2004

Or should that be Caveat Pirator? Ethereal, a little help?

Dejah420: the one that really sticks in the fed's craw is Freenet - because it goes to great lengths to encrypt everything, cloak source and destination, is truly decentralized, etc., etc. Also worth mentioning: WASTE.
posted by Ryvar at 2:27 AM on April 23, 2004

OT: fascinating link honculus. Thanks.
posted by Goofyy at 3:44 AM on April 23, 2004

The thing about WASTE that would keep it from angering the feds at all in my eyes is that it's very small-scale. Once you hit 80 users (which I've only seen once), the network is bogged down by its own protocol. However, for small networks of people who need security, it's relatively awesome.

Freenet, once it stops being slower than shit (at least the last time I tried it), will be a very powerful and wonderous thing.
posted by angry modem at 5:56 AM on April 23, 2004

Torrents not only have to be hosted by someone, but once you connect to your peers, all anonymity is lost. If you're running Windows, open a command prompt and type NETSTAT the next time you're downloading a torrent and take a look.

The feds don't care about people downloading warez. Or rather, it's simply too daunting a task to try and indict every person downloading something they shouldn't be (though the RIAA seems to think otherwise). Much like the "War on Drugs", the feds target the distributors. Legally, it offers a better case for prosecution (and is more effective at stopping illegal trafficing).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:17 AM on April 23, 2004

Have there been any prosecutions for distributing? I have only seen them for cases where money changed hands or other illegal activities took place.
posted by srboisvert at 7:28 AM on April 23, 2004

I wasn't going to mention that site by name

posted by yerfatma at 10:06 AM on April 23, 2004

And thanks by the way: I just wasted 10 minutes figuring out what was going on here.
posted by yerfatma at 10:16 AM on April 23, 2004

yerfatma: Here is where it started and I am protected.
posted by ambirex at 12:35 PM on April 23, 2004

Hey, CD, does Slothy ring a bell? Worked with him a while back.
posted by NortonDC at 7:31 PM on April 23, 2004

Sounds familiar -- I decided to look up the 'nic on Google and found out that iCE still has a lot of back-art from days of old. Though they don't have a lot of my best stuff, I was always fond of this advertisement.

Man... the good 'ol days...
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:33 PM on April 24, 2004

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