DrinkOrDie was founded in 1993 in Moscow by a Russian with the handle "deviator" and a friend who went by CyberAngel. By 1995, the group was global. One of its earliest major accomplishments was the Internet release of Windows 95 two weeks before Microsoft released the official version. It is also known for its DoD DVD Speed Ripper released in 1999 shortly before DeCSS. The activity of the DoD group diminished after 1996, and were not considered major players in the warez scene by 2000. The DrinkOrDie network is considered criminal for copyright infringement. As a rule, they made no financial profit from their activities.
In 2001, DrinkOrDie had two leaders, one in the United States and another in Australia. Members include Dezzy, Hackrat, and ForceKill (who Customs agent Allan Doody claimed was a top software cracker). The network primarily consisted of university undergraduates, but was supported by software company employees, who would leak copies of software and other digital media. DoD most likely received such files indirectly, from other networks. Among the people targeted were also corporate executives, university employees, and government workers.
The DrinkOrDie archives, like most other warez archives, included business software as well as movies including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Behind Enemy Lines, Monsters Inc, and Spy Game.
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On December 11, 2001, in an international operation known as "Operation Buccaneer", law enforcement agents in six countries targeted 62 people, with leads in twenty other countries.
U.S. law enforcement agents, led by the United States Customs Service, raided M.I.T, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Oregon Duke and Purdue, as well as several software companies. Raids were also conducted in Britain, Australia, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Many computers were seized and people questioned.
Five people were arrested in England; in the United States, no arrests were made on the day of the raids, pending review of materials seized.
In the United States, 56 search warrants were served and approximately 130 computers, each holding an average of a terabyte of data, were seized.
The DrinkOrDie website, where the software could be downloaded for free, was also shut down that day.
The raid at MIT was in the economics department; the University of Oregon raid at an off-campus location; the Duke raid in the campus dormitory of a male undergraduate. The universities themselves were not considered targets of the criminal investigation.
In October 2002, the tech website Slashdot posted an interview with former DrinkOrDie member Chris Tresco (see link below).
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