It's also possible that 'warez' was derived by an example of folk etymology, where multiple software was incorrectly referred to as 'softwares', and a simple abbreviation of softwares gives wares. If this was the case, the connection to the word, and meaning, of Middle English "wares", was noticed after the term had gained popularity. During the bulletin board era, there was a proliferation of terms used to describe broad classes of software, derived from the word 'software' itself, (freeware, shareware, postcardware, donateware, malware, annoyware), these became collectively referred to as "wares", meaing something more akin to 'classes of software' rather than 'multiple pieces of software'. The metaphor of Middle English traders exchanging their "wares" may have helped strengthen popularity of this terminology for software collectors, after the fact.
The fact is, each proposed etymology above is a postulation, and therefore an example of false etymology, as there is no documentation available at this time that clearly describes how the word use actually arose.
In either case, the transition from 'wares' to 'warez' is more clear. It was common at that time, for reasons that may have been purely cultural in the emerging unencrypyted relay mail network, or may have been deliberate in order to evade detection by BBS text filters, for BBSers to swap letters and numbers and symbols into words, such as replacing 'E' with '3', 'l' with '1', 'o' with '0' (zero), or 'S' with 'Z' or '$' (see leetspeek). Hence "warez", and thus: wares (Middle English) -> hardware (1515) -> computer hardware (1947) -> software/hardware (1960) -> shareware/donateware/freeware/etc -> 'wares -> wares -> warez or war3z.
Warez is used most commonly as a noun: "My neighbour downloaded 10 gigabytes of warez yesterday"; or as an adjective "Do you know any good warez sites?"; but has also been used as a verb: "The new Windows was warezed a month before the company officially released it". The collection of warez groups is referred to globally as the "warez scene" or more ambiguously "The Scene".
It was also quite common in the 1980s to use physical floppy disks and the postal service for spreading software, in an activity known as mail trading. Particularly widespread in continental Europe, mail trading was even used by many of the leading cracker groups as their primary channel of interaction. Software piracy via mail trading was also the most common means for many computer hobbyists in the Eastern bloc countries to receive new Western software for their computers.
Copy protection schemes for the early systems were designed to defeat the casual pirate, as "crackers" would typically release a pirated game to the pirate "community" the day they were earmarked for market.
A famous event in the history of software piracy policy was an open letter written by Bill Gates of Microsoft, dated February 3, 1976, in which he argued that the quality of available software would increase if software piracy was less prevalent. However, until the early 1990s, software piracy was not yet considered a serious problem by most people. In 1992, the Software Publishers Association began to battle against software piracy, with its promotional video "Don't Copy That Floppy". It and the Business Software Alliance have remained the most active anti-piracy organizations worldwide, although to compensate for extensive growth in recent years, they have gained the assistance of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), as well as American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI).
Today most warez files are distributed to the public via bittorrent and Rapidshare. Some of the most popular software companies that are being targeted are Adobe, Microsoft, Nero, Apple, Dreamworks, and Autodesk, to name a few. To reduce the spread of pirating, some companies have hired people to release "fake" torrents, which look real and are meant to be downloaded, but while downloading the individual does not realize that the company that owns the software has received his IP address. They will then contact his/her ISP, and further legal action may be taken from the company/ISP.
In the mid-1990s, the average Internet user was still on dial-up, with average speed ranging between 28.8 and 33.6 kbit/s. If one wished to download a piece of software, which could run about 200 MB, the download time could be longer than one day, depending on network traffic, the Internet Service Provider, and the server. Around 1997, broadband began to gain popularity due to its greatly increased network speeds. As "large-sized file transfer" problems became less severe, warez became more widespread and began to affect large software files like animations and movies.
In the past, files were distributed by point-to-point technology: with a central uploader distributing files to downloaders. With these systems, a large number of downloaders for a popular file uses an increasingly larger amount of bandwidth. If there are too many downloads, the server can become unavailable. The opposite is true for peer-to-peer networking; the more downloaders the faster the file distribution is. With swarming technology as implemented in file sharing systems like eDonkey2000 or BitTorrent, downloaders help the uploader by picking up some of its uploading responsibilities. In addition there are many sites with links to Rapidshare and other sites where you can upload files attribute to the growing amount of warez.
A common mistake of early FTP administrators was to permit a directory named /incoming that allows full read and write access by external users, but the files themselves in /incoming were hidden. By creating a directory inside /incoming, this hidden directory would then allow normal file viewing. Users of the compromised site would be directed to login and go to a location such as /incoming/data/warez to find the warez content. Messages could be left for other warez users by uploading a plain text file with the message inside.
These hackers would also use known software bugs to illicitly gain full administrative remote control over a computer, and install a hidden FTP service to host their warez. This FTP service was usually running on an unusual port number, or with a non-anonymous login name like "login: warez / Password: warez" to help prevent discovery by legitimate users. Information about this compromised system would then be distributed to a select group of people who were part of the warez scene.
|Example list of warez FTP servers, from a Jan 27 1997 usenet post:|
It was important for warez group members to regulate who had access to these compromised FTP servers, to keep the network bandwidth usage low. A site that suddenly became very popular would be noticed by the real owners of the equipment due to their business systems having become slow or low on disk space, resulting in an investigation of system usage which inevitably results in discovery and removal of the warez, and tightening of the site security.
In order to advertise the existence of the compromised site, the IRC software would join public IRC #Warez channels as a bot and post into the channel with occasional status messages every few minutes, providing information about how many people are logged in to the warez host, how many files are currently being downloaded, what the upload/download ratio is (to force users into contributing data of their own before they can download), which warez distributor is running the bot, and other status information.
Note that this functionality still exists and can still be found on IRC #warez channels, as an alternative to the modern and streamlined P2P distribution systems. The opportunity to find and compromise poorly secured systems on which to create an illicit warez distribution site has only increased, with the popular use of broadband service by home users who may not fully understand the security implications of having their home computer always turned on and connected to the Internet.
However, along with the rise in broadband internet connections beginning around 1998, higher quality movies began to see widespread distribution – with the release of DeCSS, ISO images copied directly from the original DVDs were slowly becoming a feasible distribution method. Today, movie sharing has become so common that it has caused major concern amongst movie studios and their representative organizations. Because of this the MPAA is often running campaigns during movie trailers where it tries to discourage people from copying material without permission. Unlike the music industry, which has had online music stores available for several years, the movie industry has moved to online distribution only in 2006 with the launch of Amazon Unbox
A CD software release can contain up to 737 megabytes of data, which presented challenges when sending over the Internet, particularly in the late 1990s when broadband was unavailable to most home consumers. These challenges apply to an even greater extent for a single-layer DVD release, which can contain up to 4.7 GB of data. The warez scene made it standard practice to split releases up into many separate pieces, called disks, using several file compression formats: (historical TAR, LZH, ACE, UHA, ARJ), ZIP and most commonly RAR. The original purpose of these "disks" was so that each .rar file could fit on a single 1.44 MB 3 1/2 inch floppy disk. With the growing size of games, this is no longer feasible, as hundreds of disks would need to be used. Most groups will now release a title with disks sized 15,000,000 bytes (14.3 megabytes) or 50,000,000 bytes (47.7 megabytes) in bigger release.
This method has many advantages over sending a single large file:
With the rise of modern peer-to-peer programs, which automatically break files up for partial downloads, compression via RAR, ZIP, and KGB is still commonplace but the breaking up of files is less so.
Releases of software titles often come in two forms. The full form is a full version of a game or application, generally released as CD or DVD-writable disk images (BIN or ISO files). A rip is a cut-down version of the title in which additions included on the legitimate DVD/CD (generally Portable Document Format (PDF) manuals, help files, tutorials, and audio/video media) are omitted. In a game rip, generally all game video is removed, and the audio is compressed to MP3 or Vorbis, which must then be decoded to its original form before playing. These rips are very rare today, as most modern broadband connections can easily handle the full files, and the audio is usually already compressed by the original producer in some fashion.
The production and/or distribution of warez is illegal in most countries. However, it is typically overlooked in poorer third world countries with weak or non-existent IP protection. Additionally, some first world countries have loopholes in legislation that allow the warez to continue.
In addition, nearly all Web providers do not permit the hosting of warez, and will delete any site found to be hosting them.
Depending on the country, in some cases, software piracy might become legal and encouraged. As a dispute between Iran and USA over membership in WTO, and subsequent blocking of Iran's attempts at full-membership in the organization by the USA, has led Iran to encourage US software piracy. Subsequently, there has been a surge in Iranian "warez" and "crackz" websites, as unlike other countries, the Iranian laws do not forbid hosting them inside Iran. See: Iran and copyright issues
On the other hand, many self-proclaimed "software pirates" take pride in the term, thinking of the romanticized Hollywood portrayal of pirates and sometimes jokingly using pirate talk in their conversations. Although the use of this term is controversial, it is embraced by some groups such as Pirates With Attitude.
DDL Sites or better Direct Download Sites are sites where warez is submitted. It indexes the warez & gives links to the pages where the download links are available. These often contain massive advertisement and may contain spyware and trojans. They often just infinitely redirect users to other sites.