“Drink or Die” Software Cracking Gang – Professional Pirates or Stupid Software Swappers?

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A group of British ubergeeks calling themselves the “Drink or Die”, or “DOD”, gang has found itself on trial through the trials of several Drink or Die members, with the last – that of Drink or Die members Alex Bell and Stephen Dowd – wrapping up this week. Bell and Dowd were but two of sixty DOD members who were arrested in a sting operation spearheaded by the United States, but leading back to England, where Drink or Die was headquartered.

By nearly all accounts, including some by the prosecution, the Drink or Die members were a group of professional men working primarily in IT or other related jobs, whose sole purpose in their Drink or Die life was to crack software – not for any nefarious or pecuniary purpose – but for the sheer challenge and joy of cracking what many might consider to be uncrackably tight software. Accounts vary as to what the members did after cracking the software, with the defense saying that they simply shared it among themselves for what amounted to a clinical dissection, and the prosecution saying that they repackaged the cracked software, added their own names in a display of proprietary pride, and then make it available for free distribution on the Internet.

The one thing on which both sides mostly agree is that Drink or Die did not sell the cracked software, and did not profit from their actions. This, according to the DOD defense, means that they are not technically software pirates.

The prosecution disagrees. And the British courts apparently agreed with the prosecution, as Bell and Dowd were found guilty, and will be sentenced in May.

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One thought on ““Drink or Die” Software Cracking Gang – Professional Pirates or Stupid Software Swappers?

  1. IF they did not make it available for distribution outside their group, then this is a bad decision of the “cripple progress” sort.

    BUT if they did make (some) of the “cracked” code widely available, then even if they did not sell it they did wrong – although I do not think a heavy sentence is necessarily in order. Not “software pirates”, not exactly, and perhaps no expectation/intention of harm, but as long as the un-cracked version was being sold under copyright it was illegal.

    Note that last caveat. I freely admit to downloading some music and other stuff that is technically under copyright but is not [easily available] for sale – largely 1890-1955 rags and jazz. EG, an MP3 someone made of a piano roll cut by Scott Joplin of the Maple Leaf Rag. Joplin playing Joplin! Yes, it is still under copyright (as performed by others), but try to but this version folks!

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