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Old 26 October 2014, 06:09   #31
Mark Wright
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Hove, actually
Posts: 205
Lawks! I knew I was going out on a limb by posting views that I know to be controversial as they've been shot down in flames before, but I was hoping for a bit of back up from the respected elders around here. I'm technically an ex-scener, and I'll share some "straight from the horse's mouth" evidence from some surprisingly well-known names (skip to the end, tedium fans), but let me first apologise for any offence caused...

When I suggested that C64-owning Fins, Danes, Swedes, Belgians (and so on) who were denied the chance to purchase and choose from the same readily-available stream of US and UK commercial releases that we so enjoyed over here, via either one of the ubiquitous high-street chains, or the many independent retailers/mail-order advertisers, turned to piracy out of desperation and/or necessity in order to keep up with current trends, I didn't mean it as an insult: I was simply recalling the content of many articles, letters and classified ads featured in UK magazines at the time. Until the late 80s and early 90s, we were told that mainland Europe's only contribution to the "computer scene" was piracy of US and UK software, on a massive scale.

(This was in an era before developers such as Rainbow Arts, Factor 5, Thalion, Digital Illusions, Boys Without Brains, Bloodhouse, Team 17 (etc.) made their mark of course.. despite all of them, incidentally, being made up of members with a connection to piracy.. but that's by the by..)

Anyway.

Casual users of "wares" might ask: wasn't piracy of US and UK software much, MUCH worse in the US and UK itself? Don't misundersand me - in the mid 1980s I was happily reaping a regular harvest of "free" games for my Atari 800XL, supplied on ROB.C or IAN.K boot disks by a friend whose father was a "notorious Atari pirate", without me ever wondering how or why. It was the same when I upgraded to an Amiga in early 1988, a decision I made safe in the knowledge that my Amiga-owning friend who attended a weekly "computer club" would share his wares with me. And herein lies the rub...

In the years 1983 to 1988 I never really paid attention to the text contained within crack intros or screens. Did you? Thinking back though, all of us (irregardless of itchy fingers for mouse-buttons or spacebars) can remember the exotica contained within: "imported by", "PLK", "Poste Restante", "FDR", "Italian Bad Boys", "Danish Gold" ... not to mention the German, Dutch and other languages that would often scroll by. Did no-one in the UK think it strange that the hot game you wanted for free had to bounce half-way across the world before you could have it? Often before it was officially released!?

Is my memory faulty or, beyond supplying original copies of software (either physical or via modem), wasn't it YEARS before a UK game was branded as cracked by a UK cracker for a UK team and released with the UK in mind? I reiterate: all of that hard work done by Chatterbox in Antwerp was not intended to be exploited by Kevin in Derby, selling a UK game deprotected in Belgium to his school chums, taking the credit for "ripping it off" and making a tidy profit...

Harrrrrruumph.

No-one's listening anymore. Never mind. I'll post some quotes for the enjoyment of Galahad and Stingray anyway, as I drop some names from the past and relate stuff I was told or overheard...

IRATA/RED SECTOR (Dirk, West Germany): I had cause to speak to him on the phone in 1989-ish as he was impressed by my music demo disk.. knowing his reputation I was expecting the conversation to turn to "wares" so I thought I'd cut him off by asking what releases he had... his reply (the gist, anyway): "You have an original to send? You want me to send to you - what, cracks?! In England!? Why would I do that? You have everything we can't get, so you send to us and we make it available here and around the world. If we send to you, no-one will buy it and no more soft will be make..."

JESTER/QUARTEX (Colin, England): He was due to make a guest appearance at a "copy party" of "lamers" in the UK, early 1990, which he eventually did. His "wares" were in demand, but he was gradually drip-feeding his offerings much to everyone's impatience. Why the delay? His answer (the gist): "I've got loads of stuff, but I'm not giving you <X>, <Y> and <Z> [big name UK games] - they're for the BBS in Germany and America, so you'll have to buy 'em or buy a modem". He might have then twiddled his moustache.

ACTION MAN/CRYSTAL ETC (Scotland, 1991): Conversation on the phone (the gist): "Nah, we've been told by our supplier [well-known commercial distributor] that they'll only give us stuff now strictly for export to countries they're not selling in, so can you do me some fake addresses and valid numbers for places like Portugal, Spain and Italy when you do the intro.."

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