Twilight (CD-ROM)

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Twilight was the name of a Dutch series of monthly published CD-ROMs and DVDs, containing a collection of popular but often very expensive software, mostly computer games and applications published in the month of its release. The protections of the applications and games were often removed (see warez). Furthermore, in order to be able to store as much as possible on one or two disks, the games and apps were often compressed, as well as deprived of video and audio. The series ran from beginning 1996 until June 16, 2001.[1] In 2003 a man (abbreviation B.G., full name undisclosed) was convicted for copyright infringements related to the Twilight series. The court estimated he had earned approximately 1,678,215 euro with the series in question as well as others.[2] The series was originally distributed from out of the Netherlands, but appeared in many European countries as well .[citation needed]

Historical context[edit]

In the mid nineties, CD-ROM writers were still rare, mainly because they, as well as writable CD's, were expensive. Also, the internet was still ill accommodated for the transfer of large files. The main public used dial-up or ISDN modems, and file sharing and P2P networks were still small and insignificant.[3] Napster for example dates from 1999. In the light of Twilight, the internet was used for distributing information, hearsay and ordering the product. These conditions made it profitable to sell games and applications via physical disks. The original Twilight was often copied and resold by persons not related to the original distribution (something about which the original distributor supposed to have been complaining).[citation needed] There is obviously an inverse proportionality between the trading and selling of CD-ROMs and the speeds of the Internet.

Organisation[edit]

Behind the Twilight series existed a whole organisation, led by two men by the initials of B.G. a.k.a. "De Oorbel" (trans. "the Earring" perhaps a reference to software piracy) from the village of Soest, Netherlands, and the now deceased M.S. a.k.a. "Idi". The organisation also produced and distributed other illegal software packages (Crazybytes) as well as music and films (Moviebox). The CD-ROMs were professionally pressed in large quantities.

Crazybytes were sold from 1996. The persons who sold these packages in Enschede (Netherlands), Gerrit D., Gerbert D., Mark B., Jan W., were reported to the local police in 1997 and later on. Instead of closing the illegal distribution, the person who told the police about it was beaten up in its own house in 1999. Which the police never investigated.

title amount sold price (fl.) total profit (fl.) profit by convicted (fl.)
Twilight-DVD 6,500 27,50 126,025 63,012
Twilight-cd 9,084 30 189,674 94,837

(Prices are in guilders)[4]

Lawsuit & conviction[edit]

In 2002 an investigation was started into the source of the Twilight, Crazybytes and Moviebox series. The official estimation of the Dutch attorney general was that in total around 400.000 copies were pressed and sold.[5] The price of a single release lay between 20 and 40 euros. In 2003, B.G., M.S. and one other person were convicted for physical assault and sentenced five years in prison. They had kidnapped, assaulted and extorted a previous member of their organisation a.ka. "Flappie" and his friend, who had tried to start an illegal software distribution network of their own. In another trial that year, B.G. was convicted for copyright infiringements, constituting "a major disruption of public order." He as well as the general attorney appealed. In 2007 he was finally convicted. It was established that he had to refund 90% of the estimated profits, around 1,5 million euros.[6] Consequently, three students were convicted for copyright infringements and participation in a criminal organisation. Their job was to download the software using the fast University networks to which they had access, as well as breaking the protections of the applications. They were given suspended sentences as well as fines of around 10.000 euros.

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