It was 1988 and Strider had a problem. The first copy of the Commodore 64 game The Last Ninja 2 had just landed in the computer shop in Malmö where he used to work after school. Strider hade an exceptional opportunity to be the first kid on the schoolyard with a cracked copy of the game everybody wanted.
But to do that, Strider needed to pass the game over to his friend Gollum. Gollum was a cracker, specialized in removing copy protection from the games Strider provided him with. But Gollum lived in Ronneby. Mailing the game to him wouldn't do, because then he wouldn't get it until next day. That would give other groups time to get ahead and cheat the two friends of the release. Strider had to think.
The solution became one of the linchpins of Fairlight, the worldwide pirat empire that Strider eventually found himself being the ruler of. A couple of chocolate bars was all that was needed to convince a train conductor at Malmö central station to assist. Strider gave him the cassette with The Last Ninja in Malmö. When the train arrived to Ronneby, Gollum was waiting at the station. A couple of hours later, the game was cracked, signed with a Fairlight intro and ready to spread across the world. Strider could lean back and enjoy all the talk about him. Nobody understood how Fairlight could be that fast.
”That was the secret, a train conductor. Not many people know that today,” says Pontus “Bacchus” Berg.
He laughs as he tells the story. 25 years have passed and we're having a cup of coffee at Slussen in Stockholm. In a couple of hours, Pontus will board the boat to Finland to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Fairlight. Some 30 members of the group will attend. Many of them have been friends for more than two decades, but several have never met face to face.
Did you ever own a Commodore 64? Then you know that Fairlight is one of the world's most enduring and legendary pirate groups. During these 25 years, the group has cracked and distributed hundreds of computer games, starting with the Commodore 64 cassettes of the 1980's through Amiga and Super Nintendo to contemporary lavish PC productions. The group was founded in Malmö 1987 by Tony ”Strider” Krvaric. This was long before the internet became common property. The Fairlight myth grew on BBSes, at demo parties and at schoolyards.
Tony "Strider" Krvaric
In the 1980's, Tony ”Strider” Krvaric insisted on signing his Fairlight releases with the words ”kill a commie for your mommie”. That was a hint on where life would take him. In 1992, the infamous gaming pirate left Fairlight and emigrated to the USA. After becoming an American citizen, he entered politics and made a fast career in the Republican party. Today, Tony Krvaric is the chairman of the San Diego Republicans.
”After personally having experienced the disastrous effects of socialism in Sweden and Europe, he was determined to stand up for the traditional, conservative values that made America so successful,” is how the party web page summarizes his political standpoint.
In 2008, the news site The Raw Story revealed Krvaric's background in Fairlight under the headline ”San Diego GOP chairman founded international piracy ring”. Four years earlier, several members of the group he founded were arrested by the FBI during Operation Fastlink.
Today Tony Krvaric is unwilling to speak openly about his background, and he does not wish to be associated with it. The Fairlight anniversary celebration will be the first time in many years that he meets other members of the group, according to Pontus Berg.
Three demos from Fairlight
We are new (C64)
Legoland 3 (C64)
Only one wish (PC)