The Shadow Internet
They start with a single stolen file and pump out bootleg games and movies by the millions.
From a Wired Article:
Just over a year ago, a hacker penetrated the corporate servers at Valve, the game company behind the popular first-person shooter Half-Life. He came away with a beta version of Half-Life 2. "We heard about it," says 23-year-old Frank, a well-connected media pirate. "Everyone thought it would get bootlegged in Europe." Instead, the hacker gave the source code to Frank - it turned out that he was a friend of a friend - so that Frank could give Half-Life 2 to the world. "I was like, 'Let's do this thing, yo!'" he says. "I put it on Anathema. After that, it was all over."
Anathema is a so-called topsite, one of 30 or so underground, highly secretive servers where nearly all of the unlicensed music, movies, and videogames available on the Internet originate. Outside of a pirate elite and the Feds who track them, few know that topsites exist. Even fewer can log in.
I have always wondered how excellent quality rips land up on P2P file sharing networks. I naively assumed that someone would purchase a DVD, rip the movie and then share it with friends. Looks like that is NOT the case.
In this excellent article, Wired takes us inside the pirate networks that are terrorizing the entertainment business. Article covers the whole value chain: from Topsites to Dumps, from the Insiders and the Packagers to the Couriers and the Distributors.
A fascinating read for everyone.