Mac Metamorphosis

Software Piracy and the Mac

- 2000.09.18

In the age of broadband Internet access, pirated software (or "warez," as it's called) is easier than ever to obtain and use. Many users these days are getting DSL or cable access and have CD burners, which is all you need to get and use warez from the Internet.

The Wintel platform is the most popular platform to commit software piracy on - because most of the population uses Windows. However, PC warez are like a bad marketing campaign. All hype, no product. If you go to Yahoo and do a search for "warez," you will find tons of listings, often leading you to banner sites - and links to other banner sites. Of course every site will promise that the links you are clicking on contains the best software for illegal download. After about an hour you will feel like a hamster pressing a button for a pellet.

Other methods exist for the PC hobbyist pirate. Some use FTP, IRC, and even AOL to move their warez around. While it's easy to find a pirate who may have a program you need, it is even harder to obtain it because most require you to upload a program to them in return for 5 downloads of your choice. I have seen people spend up to 24 hours looking for a program on various PC warez web, FTP, IRC, ICQ, and AOL warez places. Eventually they just give up and go buy what they are looking for.

The Macintosh community is a very kind, understanding, and generous community overall. This type of thinking also applies to Mac warez. I know of several places on the Internet that deal in Macintosh warez and give it away free, asking nothing in return. If a Wintel warez site operates on the basis that it lets you "leech" from them, it is kept very low key and secret. Macintosh warez sites operate the complete opposite by asking you to "tell your friends" and "spread the word." If you have a problem with the warez you just downloaded, they will even attempt to help you understand what the problem is - and correct it.

A perfect example of this type of generosity is Mac OS X: Public Beta. While the keynote was being conducted, I knew of ten different leech sites getting the beta uploaded from France. Other software titles I have seen floating around are Mac OS X Server (which I have purchased legally, in case you are wondering), and preview editions of Microsoft Office 2001.

In the age of broadband Internet access, it is very easy for someone to download a 650 MB CD image in under an hour, and then spend another 20 minutes to burn the software to CD using Adaptec Toast (the choice burning software of most Mac warez traders). Some images don't even need to be burned, and if you have a big hard drive, you can simply mount the CD image and run. Most Macintosh applications and games cannot tell the difference between a mounted CD volume and a mounted volume that is really a disk image sitting on your hard drive. Some programs do check to see if you are running from the CD; if you're not, they will simply tell you to insert the CD. Hacks for those programs usually exist, and can be obtained just as easily as the program itself - sometimes the hack is even included.

PC warez proprietors would eat their hats if they knew how easy it was to take a Macintosh program on CD and transfer it to a compressed image. Most PC warez has to be downloaded in sections - one compressed file for the program, another for sound, and one more for various add-ons. It can become quite confusing - the PC world normally is - and a complete waste of time in the end should you be missing one package.

From what I can see, the Macintosh community keeps it's code of honor of keeping things easy, not taking advantage, and just being plain nice even when it comes to downloading commercial software for free. Whether or not that is a good thing, I leave for you to decide.

The use of warez is a violation of copyright law. Low End Mac does not condone software piracy. We even register shareware.

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