A warez group is a tightly organised group of people involved in creating and/or distributing warez such as movies, music or software ("warez") in The Scene. There are different types of these groups in the Scene: release groups and courier groups. Groups often compete, as being the first to bring out a new quality release can bring status and respect – a type of "vanity contest". The warez groups care about the image others have of them.
ANALOG Computing observed in 1984 that software piracy did not make sense economically to those performing the software cracking. The primary motivation of warez groups is not monetary gain, but the excitement of breaking rules and beating competitors, although at least two Scene groups have been asking for bitcoin donations, PoWeRUp and spamTV. Individual members of these groups are usually also the authors of cracks and keygens.
There are warez groups publishing new content outside of the Scene, often referred to as P2P groups. They are a lot more accessible for people with access to new movies and are not limited to a set of rules and regulations.
The FBI have been combating warez groups with Operation: Cyberstrike, Operation Buccaneer, Operation Fastlink, Operation Safehaven and Operation Site Down. Similarly, the P2P group IMAGiNE has been disbanded due to law enforcement actions.
Release groups are responsible for making warez releases. For example, they rip a movie from DVD, encode it to a video file and chop it up in smaller pieces before sharing it. They are at the top of the warez world. An announcement of the release shows up in pre databases after making the release available on their affiliate sites. Access to the original software products is necessary to write cracks and keygens so they share original media among each other, usually using private sites and servers. Communication between members happens with IRC.
Warez groups typically add NFO files with their releases. Due to the nature of the scene, not much is known about these groups. Most groups follow one of the different warez standards to prevent being nuked. Most groups are focused on a single category (music, movies, television, ...) or genre (e.g. metal music or graffiti).
The group members have different roles. Most groups have one or more group leaders, aided by people with assignments such as supplier, cracker or ripper.
Couriers are a specific class of topsite users who earn their access by uploading new releases and filling requests. When a courier gains access to a topsite, they are often required to pass a trial test such as uploading a certain amount in a short period of time.
Couriers compete (race) against each other for respect, credits, access to other topsites, and fun. Private couriers often operate as independent (iND) couriers. Some couriers band together to form courier groups which provide support and friendship through camaraderie. Although it may be noted that Couriers/Racers are looked down upon more than ever by affiliates and topsite staff with the increase of scripts that perform the couriers tasks automatically.
- Craig, Paul; Ron, Mark (April 2005). Burnett, Mark (ed.). Software Piracy Exposed – Secrets from the Dark Side Revealed. Publisher: Andrew Williams, Page Layout and Art: Patricia Lupien, Acquisitions Editor: Jaime Quigley, Copy Editor: Judy Eby, Technical Editor: Mark Burnett, Indexer: Nara Wood, Cover Designer: Michael Kavish. United States of America: Syngress Publishing. doi:10.1016/B978-193226698-6/50030-1. ISBN 1-932266-98-4.
- Harberg, Allen (January 1984). "Software Piracy: A Survey". ANALOG Computing. pp. 64–66.
I continue to be amazed by the tenacity of the pirates. There are software publishers who market disks which contain 500 unformatted disk sectors. To make an illegal copy of such a disk, you would have to search a sea of unformatted sectors to find a single sector of binary zeroes. Yet I know that there are individuals who will spend untold hours listening to their drives make the most horrifying sounds imaginable while they search for an oasis in a desert of unformatted tracks. Eight hours and 1000 I/O errors later, they've created a back-up of a program which retails for a $29.95! I guess that using leisure time effectively, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
- Kammerstetter, Markus; Platzer, Christian; Wondracek, Gilbert (2012). "Vanity, cracks and malware" (PDF). Proceedings of the 2012 ACM conference on Computer and communications security - CCS '12. p. 809. doi:10.1145/2382196.2382282. ISBN 9781450316514. S2CID 3423843.
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- Enigmax (2011-09-13). "Reports: Feds Bust IMAGiNE Movie Release Group". TorrentFreak.
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- Howe, Jeff (January 2005). "The Shadow Internet". Wired.
- Plischke, Sascha (2010-06-21). "Die geheime Welt der Raubkopierer" [The secret world of pirates]. T-Online (in German). Retrieved 2013-07-06.
- Wilson, Steve (1999-07-29). "Online Piracy: From Music to Film". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
Like the pirates, the couriers do this largely for bragging rights, not money.