Even as much of the Internet has come to resemble a pleasant, well-policed suburb, a little-known neighborhood known as Internet Relay Chat remains the Wild West.I partially agree, IRC is truly were all underground happenings occur. Its that little part of the net that has not been commercialized in any respect and is hard to police. But for that same reason its also a great place to share legitimate ideas and thoughts without too much worry. A place where you can virtually hang out, relax and have open conversations.
IRC is a bad distribution system. Most of the people on IRC realize that fact, but the author(Seth Schiesel) of the article fails to see. It's bad because of its lack of a good transfer protocol... IRC uses DCC which originally was designed for small files and direct chat, its slow, clunky, and requires a fair amount of setup time for just a single file, and no or poor search capabilities; Not to mention the arcane commands and hard to access channels. Modern day P2P systems and protocols such as BitTorrent are considerably more reliable and most definitely faster.
Not everyone on IRC is bad, or wanted to do illegal things, but just like on the Web, Newsgroups, FTP, and P2P, illegal things can and will happen - whatever the technology is.