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Distribution of warez is by far the most commonly known stage that all pirated software goes through. In short, this is the point of no return for the program that has been obtained, cracked, and packaged. Once at this stage, a warez'd program becomes part of the public domain, regardless of any legal issues. Using a seemingly unending supply of methods, pirated software spreads like wildfire: First through the warez underground and then onto the Internet via file sharing program, FTP sites, and even commercial file storage service sites.

When first released, the warez'd program is used by couriers as a bartering power for other newly released programs. This ensures that the major groups all have the latest games, applications, and movies. From here, the warez spreads in several directions. Private FTP sites are typically updated next, with IRC channels soon to follow. After this, file-sharing services such as Direct Connect, KaZaa, and Bearshare are updated with final posts to the alt.binary news groups (see Figure 2 for an example of Warcraft 3 posted in a newsgroup). Once these locations are all spreading the release, the World Wide Web becomes the last in a long string of distribution methods.

Figure 2Figure 2 Warcraft 3 posted in a newsgroup.

If you are wondering why anyone would bother setting up websites and uploading mass amounts of data to the WWW, the answer is two-fold. First, the Internet provides a quick and relatively anonymous playground for warez distribution. The second and most common reason is based on the fact that warez attracts surfers like a hacker conference attacks black-shirted computer geeks. Due to this, most of the popular warez sites are completely surrounded by porn advertisements, which is ironically one of the most popular reasons people get online in the first place. In fact, some warez sites will send a browser into a spastic fit of porn overload as a warez site triggers popup after popup. And if the initial barrage of smut isn't enough to annoy the warez searcher, 10 more popups take its place when the unsuspecting surfer attempts to close a window. In other words, a warez search can quickly become a frustrating power struggle between man and machine, typically resulting in the infamous three finger salute (Ctrl-Alt-Del).

While this is a very annoying experience for the surfer, the deceitful warez provider is happily collecting cash for each window that opens and each click that occurs. In addition to the direct financial rewards, each site is in a competition to get to the top of several "Top ##" lists, which helps to increase the number of visitors coming back into the porn trap. Note that if this ever happens, the quickest and easiest thing to do is hit Alt-F4, which will close the active windows one at a time until order is once again resumed.

Regardless of all the misleading sites, if a person diligently searches long enough, they will eventually find a site that has working downloads. However, even these sites are performing digital sleight-of-hand tricks; if a person looks close enough, they will see that most of the files they are downloading are not actually coming from the site where they are. Using various tricks of the trade—which involve using Java-based proxy programs, sites such as GeoCities and Yahoo, online file sharing services, and even hacked computers—warez distributors can post their files anonymously and without fear of legal repercussion. After all, they are only providing links to the warez, not the warez itself. While these downloads are usually spotted by the true host and taken offline within hours, they still manage to serve up thousands of files a day.

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