Warez is a common computing and broader cultural term referring to pirated software (i.e. illegally copied, often after deactivation of anti-piracy measures) that is distributed via the Internet. Warez is used most commonly as a noun, a plural form of ware (short for computer software), and is intended to be pronounced like the word wares, The circumvention of copy protection (cracking) is an essential step in generating warez, and based on this common mechanism, the software-focused definition has been extended to include other copyright-protected materials, including movies and games. The global array of warez groups has been referred to as "The Scene", deriving from its earlier description as "the warez scene". Distribution and trade of copyrighted works without payment of fees or royalties generally violates national and international copyright laws and agreements. The term warez covers supported as well as unsupported (abandonware) items, and legal prohibitions governing creation and distribution of warez cover both profit-driven and "enthusiast" generators and distributors of such items. [more...]
Software cracking (known as "breaking" in the 1980s) is the modification of software to remove or disable features which are considered undesirable by the person cracking the software, especially copy protection features (including protection against the manipulation of software, serial number, hardware key, date checks and disc check) or software annoyances like nag screens and adware. A crack refers to the means of achieving, for example a stolen serial number or a tool that performs that act of cracking. Some of these tools are called keygen, patch, or loader. A keygen is a handmade product serial number generator that often offers the ability to generate working serial numbers in your own name. A patch is a small computer program that modifies the machine code of another program. This has the advantage for a cracker to not include a large executable in a release when only a few bytes are changed. A loader modifies the startup flow of a program and does not remove the protection but circumvents it. A well-known example of a loader is a trainer used to cheat in games. Fairlight pointed out in one of their .nfo files that these type of cracks are not allowed for warez scene game releases. A nukewar has shown that the protection may not kick in at any point for it to be a valid crack. The distribution of cracked copies is illegal in most countries. There have been lawsuits over cracking software. It might be legal to use cracked software in certain circumstances. Educational resources for reverse engineering and software cracking are, however, legal and available in the form of Crackme programs. [more...]
A No-disc crack, No-CD crack or No-DVD crack is an executable file or a special "byte patcher" program which allows a user to circumvent certain Compact Disc and DVD copy protection schemes. They allow the user to run computer software without having to insert their required CD-ROM or DVD-ROM. This act is a form of software cracking. No-CD cracks specific to a variety of games and other software distributed on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM can be found on the Internet from various reverse engineering websites or file sharing networks. No-CD cracks have legal uses, such as creating backups of legally owned software (a user right by law in many countries) or avoiding the inconvenience of placing a CD or DVD-ROM in the drive every time the software is being used, although they can also be used to circumvent laws in many countries by allowing the execution of full versions of non-legally owned applications or time-limited trials of the applications without the original disc. In addition to cracked executable files or byte patchers, CD protection can sometimes be thwarted by producing a mini image containing only enough of the software's CD-ROM contents needed to bypass protection. This image can then be mounted with a disk image emulator such as Daemon Tools to "trick" the user's computer's Operating System (OS) into believing that said disk image is a physical optical disk inserted into a physical optical drive attached to the computer. As a side benefit, data from mounted disk images generally load much faster than a real disk would because the data is stored on the hard drive. Some programs, however, attempt to discover such disk image emulators and will refuse to work if one is found. Other programs exist that attempt to hide the presence of disk image emulators from such protected software. However, if some of the software was running in a virtualization suite such as Windows Virtual PC or VirtualBox, the guest OS will further be confused into thinking it is the "physical" disc. See the below excerpt from United States Copyright Law in regards to computer software.
117. Limitations on exclusive rights: Computer programs
(a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy. Not withstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
(1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
(2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.
* U.S. Copyright Office - Copyright Law: Chapter 1