|Purpose||Quality deprotections / Demo|
(via Internet Archive)
PARADOX (PDX) is a warez–demogroup; an anonymous group of software engineers that devise ways to defeat software and video game licensing protections, a process known as cracking, which is illegal in most jurisdictions. They distribute cracks (software patches), keygens (key generators), and pre-cracked versions of entire programs. Over the years, distribution methods have changed, starting out with physically transported floppy disks and BBS distribution. Today most of their files reach the public over various peer-to-peer file networks.
Paradox was originally formed in late 1989 by members of the Danish group Trilogy (Bad Boy, Black Hawk, Tas, Pcsu, QRD) and the French group M.A.D (Olivier, Stinger, The Surge, Clash, Tagada). They began by cracking Amiga software. The original group shut down voluntarily in 1991 when the most active members joined Quartex, but was later reborn under the leadership of 'Maximilien' in 1993, with ex-Quartex members Black Hawk and Paragon as co-founders. Then it moved into the Sega Genesis and SNES console scenes. They started cracking PC software in 1994. At the end of 2000, they cracked PlayStation game Spyro: Year of the Dragon, notable for the stringent anti-piracy measures programmed by Insomniac Games. Due to the extensive measures, the game's protection was initially not fully defeated, resulting in certain deliberately-programmed "glitches" to appear; Paradox released a fixed, working version for both NTSC and PAL versions two months later. In 2001, they released their last cracked game for PlayStation, and it was the popular video game Final Fantasy IX. In 2002, the team recruited computer black hat Evilgood, who is alleged[by whom?] to be one of the most qualified crackers of the time. His identity is still unknown. They have cracked games for other consoles and hand-held devices like the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube, Wii, and Xbox.
Paradox has been noted to crack challenging dongle protections on many debugging and software development programs. The team also successfully found a method of bypassing activation in Windows Vista. This was accomplished by emulating an OEM machine's BIOS-embedded licensing information and installing an OEM license. However, with Windows Vista Service Pack 1, this crack no longer works correctly; later crack tools exist that could remove Paradox's cracking method. In 2009, Paradox was first group to release SLIC 2.1 details and a working crack for Windows 7. In July 2020, the group released an up to date crack for Monster Hunter World: Iceborne for PC, a game protected by Denuvo Anti-Tamper, a protection widely known for being hard to crack.
- First place in the Wild Compo category at Euskal 2001
- First place in the Amiga 64 category at Saturne 1994
- First place at Alcatraz Pentcost 1990
Raids and arrests
One of their members going by the alias 'Rokman' was arrested in 1990 for using stolen credit card numbers to make $1 million in long-distance calls to other Paradox members for the purpose of file transfers. Nearly all Quartex members in France, including Olivier, Clash and Tagada, were busted in 1991 in the Blue Box affair. Max 'MAXiMiLiEN' Louarn was arrested in the Nintendo copiers affair in 1993 and was held in preventive custody for three weeks before fleeing to Spain. Less than one year later, in 1994, Secret Service agents caught him while on trip to Washington in a vast calling card fraud affair. He was sentenced to 5 years and 8 months by a US court. Louarn was arrested again in October 2020 for taking part in creating and selling various circumvention devices for consoles such as the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo 3DS. Another of their members, alias 'tyson', was raided in 2001 as part of Operation Buccaneer.
- "SUBCULTURE OF THE SUBCULTURES". 25 July 2011. Archived from the original on 14 February 2003. Retrieved 18 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Dodd, Gavin (17 October 2001). "Keeping the Pirates at Bay: Implementing Crack Protection for Spyro: Year of the Dragon". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 30 December 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Paradox releases first warez for Wii". Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Paradox beats Vista activation". AfterDawn. 3 March 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Bannan, James (4 March 2007). "It's official: Pirates crack Vista at last". APC Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 March 2007. Retrieved 4 March 2007. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Windows 7 Ultimate Cracked and Activated Permanently with OEM SLP Master Product Key (with SLIC 2.1) « My Digital Life". Mydigitallife.info. Retrieved 18 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Monster.Hunter.World.Iceborne-PARADOX - Crackwatch.com". crackwatch.com. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
- "EUSKAL 9". Euskal.org. Retrieved 18 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Suturne 1993 Results". pouët.net. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Alcatraz Pentcost 1990". pouët.net. Retrieved 18 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Paradox member arrested in New York State". Archived from the original on 13 May 2007. – archived version of 1990 Washington Post article
- Petitjean, Gérard (12 January 1995). "Super-Mario et les pirates". Le Nouvel Observateur. Archived from the original on 31 October 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Noland, Terrance (1 April 1997). "The ring leader". Business North Carolina. Archived from the original on 12 October 2010.
Secret Service agents in Washington nabbed Frenchman Max Louarn in a sting for another calling-card scheme.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 May 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Phone card scam figure sentenced". The Free Lance-Star. 13 February 1995.
- "Hacker Sentenced". The Washington Post. 12 February 1995. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.
- "Telecommunications Fraud Leader Sentenced" (PDF).
- "Two members of notorious videogame piracy group "Team Xecuter" in custody". www.justice.gov. 2 October 2020. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
- "US Indicts Members of 'Piracy' Group Team-Xecuter, Two Arrested * TorrentFreak". Retrieved 3 October 2020.
- "Scene Busts". Archived from the original on 17 March 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)