Anonymous interview with a former participant of the warez scene - 2

Original author: Anonymous
  • Transfer

Almost 2 years ago I did a translation of an anonymous interview with a former participant in the warez scene . Specifically, their group was engaged in films, therefore, both in the interview itself and here, on the hub, people were interested in how things were in other areas of the scene. It turned out that after that incident, similar anonymous interviews were also given by members of groups specializing in music, programs, including people who were directly involved in hacking games and software, and even one "rogue" who transmitted (and for money) releases directly from scenes on trackers, which, as you know, are strictly prohibited.

I’ll start with the shortest and easiest interview, with a former courier of one of the largest groups that made music. The role of the courier on the stage is small, but his view and opinion may also be of interest to someone. The courier distributes releases from the group’s site to other sites around the world. By "sites" hereinafter refers to the scene FTP servers. I also recommend that you familiarize yourself with the history and structure of the scene. The interview was taken in 2009, but despite the fact that they say that “the scene is dying,” now there are still several hundred music releases in mp3 and flac every day.

How did it all start?

An acquaintance with whom we constantly talked at the IRC once invited me to his small site. I think I stayed there for about 3 months (I just sat there, talked on the channel, met people), as someone invited me to other sites. Little by little, I began to transfer data between sites (there was no rating or monthly quota, I did it for fun). Over time, I was able to get to a larger site and go there for a 2-week trial period. And then the sites became more and more.

Have you ever regretted what you did?

Never. And now I do not regret it.

Did you do it from ideals like “information should be free” or simply because you could?

Information on the stage is not free. This is a limited circle of people that is shared among her. There is no idealism here, as well as monetary gain. We wanted to be the best band. This is pride and glory.

What do you think of the artists' right to pay? And what do other sceners think about this?

Most groups urge artists to pay for their work. And most of the people I spoke to buy movies and music, etc., if they like them. I understand that it sounds ironic to urge to pay when they themselves give out for free. But the sceners do it for the sake of the race, and they always did, and the torrents turned everything upside down, there is no competition there, just the desire to download files instead of paying to disk.
Personally, I don’t really think about the rights of artists. I buy a CD, DVD, or vinyl not to support the authors, but to physically own the work, not the files on my computer. In general, I like the way they stand on the shelf.

Why did you leave the stage?

I left because it took too much time. It was a couple of years ago, I already started working, and when I came home, I wanted to take a break from everything and from everyone, there was no desire to fulfill the monthly quota and all that. Not that I couldn't, I just didn't want to.

How much time did you spend there per day?

In the worst times (or the best, how to look), I participated in the process in the morning right from school (through a remote encrypted connection to my home computer), and then when I came home, until late at night. I had two monitors to monitor the transfer on one, and chat or watch movies on the other. Later, when I got an auto trader, I usually just left it on while I was sleeping or studying, and only checked in the morning and after school that everything was going as it should.

What is an "auto trader"?

This is a small script that recognizes text on the site’s IRC channel and issues FXP commands to the client for pumping. For example, a site bot produces:

[SITENAME]  has just started racing  in 

The script automatically recognizes the release and category and issues the desired FXP command. However, the stage is very tough on overlays when using scripts. If you do it twice somewhere, most likely you will be banned on this site. Different sites have different rules. For example, British series are forbidden on some, scripts cannot recognize such a thing, because for them all series in the same category are series.

If you didn’t receive the money, what was the motivation?

Motivation? Win the race. When I wrote this, it seems a little strange, but that was the main reason. And also the feeling of secrecy and the “exclusive club”, with all security measures, was very attractive from the very beginning. And of course, the ability to receive any programs, games, etc. at the speed of light. The motivation for the older sceners was also the following: “we love music and films ... and we love them so much that we can’t just leave them to ourselves.”

Do you still have access to top sites?

Unfortunately not. Sometimes I miss him, but it took too much time.

I remember, about 10 years ago, most large warez groups were almost open. They had open IRC channels on dalnet / efnet. Now, after all the sensational raids, how difficult is it for a person from the outside to get to these channels or gain access to top sites?

I would say that it’s almost impossible for a person from outside to gain access. We need connections, and most importantly, trust.

To what extent was IRC used in you and in other groups?

IRC is the primary means of communication. Most use LinkNet because it was originally oriented towards secure connections. Some use After-All. In addition, we all used FiSH encryption. Large groups usually have their own IRC server.

Which servers use top sites? I heard many of them are in .edu domains. How do they go unnoticed?

Most sceners avoid servers in the US and the Netherlands, and in data centers (you never know who can follow them). Many top sites are hosted on company servers. An IT admin sets up a server if he is sure that he is the only one who can control it. This is true, they visit universities, again, if the admin is confident in his surroundings.

You can find out what hierarchy was in the group, what roles?

Usually in a group there is a leader who works with sources and partner sites, sources give us discs before they go to stores. Then there are those who compress / make releases, and couriers who distribute them. We also had a couple of technical specialists, in case something went wrong.

And how did these “sources” get the music? They worked at a factory where they print discs?

For the most part, they worked in stores, some on the radio. I know, there was even someone from the top of the music business. We talked on some trivial topics, but of course, it was impossible to ask where exactly who works.

And yet, how did you persuade them to transmit music to you, because they took risks, could lose their jobs and all that?

Many came through a friend who knew someone, who knew, etc. Many are ready to give us discs in exchange for access to a huge amount of material that is on stage. In addition, they knew about the security measures that cover this whole thing, and everyone could choose whether they only wanted an account to download, or join us, chat on the channel.

Where did your group distribute their releases (torrents, rapidshare, IRC, usenet)?

We did not distribute them anywhere. Releases are only sent by couriers to the scene's FTP sites. Any public release of releases is considered a security risk, and any scener seen in such activities will immediately be banned in all groups and on all sites with which it was associated.

I still don’t understand, for whom is all this done? It turns out that the scene makes releases only for itself? Why take such a real risk? Maybe it's not the result, but the process itself?

People dedicate themselves to the scene because of what they get from it: access to multi-terabyte release archives, a thing of the past until God knows what year. But access is not everything. Community. Enthusiasm. Consider it a hobby. Compare with torrent trackers: people invest so much energy for free, risking being arrested, and they (unlike the scene) do it openly. What motivation do they have? (note translation: obviously here we mean closed foreign trackers that really work for free and without advertising)

How is the process of “numbing” the release? Have you had such cases?

Yes they were. Not many, but there were. People may be wrong. And the process is this: some dude finds an error in the release (violation of the rules or some technical problem), he goes to the pre-channel and writes something like

! nuke <release> <nuke reason>

and then the bot adds an entry to the database, and transfers the information to other channels, and there the bots transmit it further and further, until the whole scene receives a message that such a release was nuked for some reason.

So the scene is completely only for the scene? Just to be the first to make a release?

Yes, being the first is the main thing. Groups compete in who will release the album first (film, well, or what specifics of the group), couriers compete in who will quickly transfer the release to other sites. The one that overtook more files from the release won the race. For example, in the release of 40 RAR files. If I surpassed 25 of them, and you are 15, it means I won.
A scene is a competition. Of course, sceners also download for themselves, but in NFO files you can often see messages from groups where they encourage people to buy this CD, and not just download it. This is because the scene has nothing to do with “file sharing” or “sharing is caring”.

You always say “overtake”; Does this mean uploading files to the site?

Not. To overtake means to transfer through FXP. This is a direct transfer between sites. FXP == File eXchange Protocol. The file doesn’t get onto the courier’s computer; it simply instructs the FTP site to start transferring to another FTP site, hence the high speed.

Suppose I’m on sites A and B, and I’ve just been offered a trial period on site C. They tell me that if I want to stay with them, I have to surpass 20GB in 2 weeks. And now, if I see that someone is announcing a release on the IRC channel of site A, I immediately start to transfer it from site A to site C. And while I do this, someone else joins the race, trying to overtake the same release from "their" sites. If I find myself faster than others, that is, I’ll transfer more files to the end of the race, then I won, and the C site IRC bot will display something like this on the channel:

    -------- Top 5 Racers on  --------
    1. technofencer --- 6 Files / 386mb --- 2919kb / s
    2. etc.

And now these 386MB, which I was able to overtake on release, are deducted from my 20GB quota and there will remain 19.6GB. If the speed between sites A and C is too low, and this release is also announced for the race on site B, I can decide to switch to site B on the go.
There is one more factor: on site A, where I get the release from, it’s also does not appear immediately, his back too, someone overtakes. And if that person’s speed is low, then no matter how good I am, I will lose, because I simply will not have the necessary files.

I don’t understand why site A simply does not transfer files to site B automatically? According to your answers, it turns out that they transfer files between themselves, and not through your computer, then why do you need to do this manually?

(another person answered)
It happened historically. Each site belongs to someone, everywhere its administrators and users. Initially, the groups had sites, there they laid out their releases. There is no money on the stage, but the site owners wanted to get something in return, so they entered ratings (for every X bytes you can download Y bytes from the site). Then people (usually also sceners from other groups) began to upload their releases there in order to get strangers. Then there were people who did not belong to any group, but had access to several sites, so they began to exchange among themselves so that there was something to gain a rating in order to download what they wanted. There were more and more of them, and they began to compete among themselves, so races appeared.

No one receives releases for no reason (with the possible exception of the owner of the site and his friends), and if the sites somehow automatically exchanged files, all this would lose its meaning. Why would the owners run the risk of going to jail if they would give everyone access for no reason? And if you do not give access to anyone, then why do sites? In addition, if the transfer were automatic, probably in the case of the capture of the owner of one site, they would all sprinkle like a house of cards.

Why is the music on stage released in mp3, and not in other formats: AAC or even FLAC?

On stage, everything is done according to the rules. In my time, MP3 was the standard. I understand why people want flac, but you can listen to mp3s too. Seriously, I doubt that you ever came to a disco, and thought like this: "yuck, they have all the Mouzon here in 192!"

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