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Johny Mnemonic got caught... Will you?


   The computer software industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world today. 1998 saw a dramatic increase in revenue for the software field; a whopping 6.4 billion dollars was reported spent over the year on games, applications, and operating systems. This figure overtook a long time heavyweight in the entertainment industry; movie income was substantially behind at 6.0 billion, a difference of 400 million dollars. With the explosion of the computer industry and the online community growing in leaps in bounds, it is only natural that more products are introduced into the market to take advantage of the increasing number of people buying computers. The software industry seems to know no bounds, more people are joining the ranks of PC users and owners; in fact, being "online" has become somewhat of a social status in society. Those that do not have a connection are seen as the unfortunate masses that are missing out on something wonderful. With all this goodness, is there really any stop to the growing amount of money spent and earned by the software industry?

The answer is, of course, yes. Enter "the computer hacker". With such an increased interest in computers over the years, a growing deviant element has come to exist within the computer industry. While software giants churn out incredible quantities of programs, equally talented hackers take a certain pride in demonstrating the ease these programs can become the property of the public - without the ludicrous price tag attached to software today. Despite encryption, passwords, hidden files, embedded code, and a multitude of other safety features, the program is often "cracked" before it is even released for commercial sale! A cracked program is one that is stripped of any security features but still gives all or most of the functionality of the commercial version. For example, Half-Life was a game voted by many game developers and reviewers alike as the game of the year for 1998. This wildly popular game had you take on the persona of Gordon Freeman, a scientist at Black Mesa Labs and one of the only survivors of an experiment gone horribly wrong. Copies of this game now litter the Internet, newsgroups, and ftp sites all files intact, the game containing everything the full version boasted of in the stores. However, the version largely available online has been cracked in so many ways, it is funny to think of why the security features are there at all. CD-check protection is gone, executable files overwritten with hacked versions, repacked files that avoid any security measures originally programmed in. In other cases, software demands key-codes often found on the CD case or the CD itself. There are entire newsgroups devoted to collecting and posting key codes and passwords.

Needless to say, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The online community and the affordable cost of computers and hardware as well as the introduction of CD-copiers (or CD-burners in computer lingo) have made Software Piracy into an industry all on its own. The average computer user may be aware of computer piracy but by and large, do not know how or what it means. However, like the computer industry itself, how long until piracy grows into a veritable monster? As more and more people become computer educated, software marketing will definitely be fighting to hold its own against the growing juggernaught of software piracy.
Beware, the future is dangerous...
Prepare yourself by reading the following links!

Encryption             Software Piracy          Copyright Laws

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