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`Warez` sites earn bad reputation as cyberspace pirates

Posted March. 12, 2001 20:07,   


``Isn`t the philosophy behind the Internet `sharing of information?` Warez is an independent movement by netizens that befits this aim.`` (Warez protection site itbye.com chief executive officer(CEO))

``Warez site is a malignant entity that infringes on intellectual rights. We will make efforts to get rid of such elements.`` (Microsoft Korea official)

Warez has become a source of controversy in the cyberworld. It is a place to receive and send X-rated pictures, play games such as Diablo 2 and Kingdom Under Fire, view Japanese animations and download MP3 files of famous songs. Even movies currently showing such as ``What Women Want,`` ``Family Man`` and ``Clear in Tokyo`` can be viewed there. To the industry, however, Warez is definitely a major headache. A game developer pointed out that because of Warez, domestic sales are only 1/10th the level overseas and that his company is considering abandoning the local market.

Status of Warez:

Warez is a global phenomenon but in Korea it has advanced significantly. Because of the distinct characteristics of Warez, no official figures on the number of its sites can be ascertained. But experts say there are thousands of Warez sites in operations locally. When Warez is searched through Empas, more than 1,400 Warez-related sites can be found. Moreover, several hundred new Warez sites surface every day.

Among local Warez sites, the most famous is www.haejuk.co.kr. Software, MP3 files, animations, movies and adult-oriented items are linked to the site. Sites like www.korean21.cc and www.cooltown.co.kr are well known while i.am/orangeland is notorious for having a large number of music files.

Warez`s shadow:

Software developers are the direct victims of Warez. When software which has been developed through years of arduous work appears on Warez sites, revenues fall precipitously. Namo Interactive, maker of Web developers, spends more than 5 billion won to develop a single product. However, Namo estimates that 70% of users download pirated products from Warez sites. The damages from Warez is deemed to exceed 40 billion won. Game developers such as Tap System, Wizard Soft and Softmax believe the figure is probably much higher.

The Ministry of Information and Communication and related authorities know of the seriousness of the illegal copying of software through Warez sites but no specific measures have been introduced to deal with the problem. Ministry official Kang Seok-Joo remarked, ``There are no relevant laws to control the situation and owing to the fact that Warez sites proliferate so quickly, there is no way to take action.``

Support for Warez:

The operator of the Warez support site `itbye.com` said, ``If there were no Warez sites, would Internet technology or computers have advanced in the domestic market. The development of information technology was possible because of the wide sharing of programs between people.``


Warez is a shortened form of ``What is it,` which is meant to signify `We will give you any information you want.` This chatting slang but has evolved to mean a downloading site for illegal software. Generally, Warez sites begin as personal homepages where individual netizens make available illegally copied software. These Warez sites are linked to other Warez sites. Henceforth, the multi-linking of Warez sites has brought on a geometrical increase in the number of such homepages.

Kim Kwang-Hyun kkh@donga.com