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punctum books
Publication date
444 pages
book preview When most people think of digital piracy, the phrases that likely come to mind are “Bittorrent”, “Napster”, and “The Pirate Bay”; the popular manifestations and accessible incarnations of home copyright violation. However, this is a poor reflection of a submerged and elite culture of an underground piracy scene that for several decades has operated on a secretive and hierarchical basis of suppliers, couriers, release groups, and “topsites”. The true “warez scene” as it is known, is undetected by the general public, but well-acquainted with high-level law enforcement. This book offers the first academic study of the gigabytes of digital material surfaced by “The Scene” in the form of ASCII .nfo files and DemoScene executables from the Defacto2 archive, charting the structure, organization, and history of the criminal underground networks that race to release material before their competitors with bleeding-edge technology and connections. Using a combination of traditional and digital reading methodologies, this book presents both the historical structures but also aesthetic strictures of the underground warez scene at the turn of the twenty-first century. As such, this book is also one of the first studies to construct a distant-ethnography from a digital archive, reading from the digital-material traces the contexts and after-images of an otherwise inaccessible digital-cultural sphere. From the technologies of text that it examines, Trading Scenes resurrects a secretive space that has had wide-ranging implications for law, media, and many other areas of contemporary cultural digital life.