Crack99 is the story of the hunt by the US government for a Chinese software pirate who was found to be selling high-tech and high-priced pirated software at bargain basement prices. Following the journey over a number of years, from first discovering the existence of the site, through to his ultimate takedown, Crack99 is part memoir, and part discussion of the nature of justice in America.
I guess I had always seen the prosecution of intellectual property thieves as something more of a property, or a commercial interest, rather than it being a national security issue. And that is part of the battle the author has to go through in selling the prosecution of this individual to his bosses. There is a bit of unabashed ra-ra-Murica going on in this book, and while I didn’t necessarily empathise with the man behind the piracy operation, although it is hard not to feel a little pity for him in the end; I didn’t feel much of a connection with the author either.
This is especially true once the whole operation goes down, and he does something of a victory tour mopping up all of the bad guys, and triumphing in their downfall. This isn’t really edge of your seat, gripping reading, much is given over to some of the technicalities of what the pirates were doing, and how the Americans were playing catch up to try to work out how they were accomplishing their work.
It was an interesting look into the operations of how investigations and law enforcement operations and logic works. And while the man behind the operation was certainly ripping off the legitimate producers of these programs, the story lacks the tension and the drama of the story of the takedown of a computer hacker, for instance. From an economic and legal perspective, sure, it is an interesting tale, but it just felt like the every day to me.
An interesting read without being spectacular.