Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government News

Former DrinkOrDie Member Chris Tresco Answers 888

Posted by Roblimo
from the what-you-going-to-do-when-they-come-for-you? dept.
Okay, former DrinkOrDie member and convicted warez dude Chris Tresco got his answers to your questions back to us, so here they are. (Note: Chris does not advise you to follow in his footsteps.)

1) How clueful are they?
by jeffy124

In your opinion, how did the each party (prosecution, your lawyer, and most important - the judge) look when it came to their understanding of technology? Did they know every nook and cranny, or seem lost in a maze of confusion? Do you think an understanding of the issues in question was a significant factor in court proceedings?

Chris:
That is a tough question to answer considering the organizational structure of the government's side of things. The prosecution works very closely with other units of law enforcement when it comes to technically challenging cases like mine. In my situation, the government prosecutors were very well briefed about how the technical aspect of the warez scene work. They are briefed by law enforcement agents who are very technically savvy and able to sift through all of the data that they are presented with at the time a warrant is carried out. With this data, the agents build a packet of evidence that the procecutors can look through and easily understand. They had a plethora of evidence on which to build a case against me and it boiled down that all the ones and zeros that the agents were able to pick through added up to copyright infringement in the prosecution's eyes.

The judge doesn't really see the technical aspect of the case. He sees a report of the evidence, which is written in clean English, and makes his decision based on that.

My lawyer isn't very technically adept, but lawyers are pretty bright. He was able to grasp the concepts of everything, if he wasn't able to, he wouldn't be my lawyer. :) Besides, I was able to coach him through most of it.

2) "The Bust", WarGames or Matrix?
by msheppard

What was "The Bust" like? Was it like _WarGames_ where they showed up in black vans and confiscated your computers and rifled through your trash? Or was it more like _Matrix_ where they called you in and presented all sorts of evidence they collected online etc.?

Chris:
I would say that it was a cross between the two. I will lay out exactly what happened to me:

I was sitting at my computer chatting with a fellow DOD member on IRC. All of a sudden I noticed my net connection died. When I went to walk out the door, a U.S. Customs agent met me. "Mr. Tresco, My name is XXXXX, I am with the U.S. Customs Department. Would you mind coming with me?" As I turned the corner, there were about 20 law enforcement officials combing the halls of my workplace. We proceeded to a conference room where I answered questions for the better part of the day while the agents proceeded to carry out their warrant. They were looking for specific systems that were on the warrant. They had IP addresses. Technically, they had the authority to take everything on the network that the computers identified on the warrant were on, however they followed the warrant pretty strictly, taking only the stuff on it. It was really the hardest day of my life. I had no idea what was going on most of the time. I felt like I was in a dream.

3) Was there a feeling that DoD was too big?
by crunnluadh

The incredibly large volume of warez DoD was trading must have been staggering. At any point in time did you or anyone else in DoD ever think that the whole ring was getting way out of hand? If so, what ever came from that or those discussions?

Chris:
In terms of percentages of releases put out by DOD in relation to the scene, we weren't doing all that many. We did, however, have quite a large number of ftp sites that were being heavily utilized. One of our private leech sites was larger than a terrabyte of games and movies. It was constantly being uploaded to and downloaded from. This should give you an idea of the amount of trading that was going on.

To answer your other question... I felt on a daily basis that things were getting out of control. There were times that I did actually quit, but only for a day or so. IRC always brought me back online. That was my biggest mistake. DOD was a warez group, yes... but imagine a bunch of guys/gals sitting around talking all day and suddenly you stop showing up... You start to miss that type of interaction.

4) Feelings?
by Sebastopol

Are you scared about going to prison? Do they prepare you in any way before you enter the facility, or do they just throw you in and that's it?

Just typing these questions make me uncomfortable.

Chris:
I am very scared to go to prison. I have never been in any sort of jail in my life. They prepare you in the sense that they tell you where and when to go, what you can bring, and what type of facility it is. The rest is done through books and my lawyer, who has been really great through this whole ordeal. I am fortunate enough to be assigned to a minimum security facility close to my home.

5) If it wasn't about the money, what was it about?
by wackybrit

You were a sysadmin at MIT, so were probably pulling in a pretty good wage.. at least, probably better than 50% of the Slashdot readership anyway.

So if it wasn't about the money, what was it about? Prestige is one option, but people in these groups need to keep hidden, so that doesn't fit. Was it for the ideals? If so, what ideals are there in ripping off software?

I can understand why people who can't afford software rip it off.. they have stuff to do, and can't afford $500 for Photoshop or whatever.. but tell me why someone with a decent salary will work in secret to beat the software companies.. what is the motivation?

Chris:
My motivation had absolutely nothing to do with the software, the prestige, the civil disobedience, or the mysteriousness of it all. My motivation was purely and simply putting technology to work. I have always been a curious cat, like most of you that read Slashdot. I was basically the Sysadmin of DrinkOrDie. I love to make computers work together, build up networks, install services, lockdown boxes... you guys know the drill. I got very carried away with what I was doing and forgot to confide in my moral self. I knew I was doing wrong, and yes... to clear anything up... it is absolutely wrong to steal software from a company. Whether it is ones or zeros or bags of money, it is stealing. If for no other reason, it is wrong because of the license agreement. If you don't agree with the license, don't use the software.

6) questions from a fellow cracker
by Anonymous Coward

I am a cracker from a fairly well known group, living in the US. We take normal precautions (encrypted email/irc), but there are clear vulnerabilities that cant easily be eliminated (topsite accounts and the possibility of trojaned supplied software, etc.). The dod bust stunned all of us with the lengths of the sentences, which seem out of proproportion to the crime. I find myself asking more and more whether the risk is worth the fun. We are all in it for the commaraderie and the friends (and the access to files); of course none of us are making any money from it. My question is, if you had it to do over again, would you stay out of a group, and of the scene? Were there risks you took that you sholdn't have? What were they? Any advice to someone still in the scene who wants to stay but worries about being caught?

Chris:
If I had to do it over again, I would absolutely not get involved with the scene. The scene is technically organized crime... that is it. Mobsters have friends too, but would you want to go to prison for what you and your fellow comrades are doing on the net? Isn't it better to pay for the occasional piece of software you might want than to pay with 33 months in federal prison? I think so... And you say here:

"I find myself asking more and more whether the risk is worth the fun."

That is the wrong way to think about it. You are asking yourself if it is worth something to commit a crime. What you should be asking yourself is, if what you are doing is fundamentally wrong. If it is (and I would say that it is) then stop doing it.

To answer the rest of your question... The only pertinent risk was getting involved with the scene in the first place. You will get caught sooner or later if you continue doing what you are doing. My advice to you is to get out while you still can. Any precautions you take are easily circumvented. For example, email encrypted via PGP is only as strong as the people who get the email. If the government busts 20 people in your group, the odds of one of the people giving up their passphrase is pretty good. from that point, all the mail is readable. Encrypted IRC is not going to do it either. What if one of the people you are chatting with is an informant? Encryption becomes meaningless.

My advice: get out of the scene.

7) Plans for your stay?
by zbuffered

One of the things about jail is that you have nothing but free time. So what do you plan to do? Study for a new career? Work out constantly? Plan your escape? Learn to speak Sanskrit?

When you get out, you will have had 33 months of basically no real responsibilities. If you find a nice, cushy prison, you can get some real work done. Are you going to use this time to make your life when you get out of jail better?

Also, when you get out, what do you plan to do? Something in the computer field, or do you plan to change your path when you get out? If I were in your place, I think I'd just get fed up with computers and become a florist or something.

Chris:
During the time I am in prison, I will educate myself. I will hopefully be able to take some classes towards a degree. Since I love working with systems, I will hopefully be able to school myself in the art of business and compliment my technical skills. My passion lies with IT, I would love to take the education I get from prison (formal or not) and use it to better my career and make me a better person.

8) Rise of P2P?
by Rayonic

How do you feel about the rise of P2P and its affects on the Warez community? Do you think it makes it safer (safety in numbers?) or do you think that it'll bring down the fist of the law even harder?

Which P2P networks did you prefer, if any?

Chris:
In the context of the warez scene, P2P networks don't play any part. They are essentially mutually exclusive members. I think that people in the warez scene used P2P networks just as frequently and for the same purposes as the majority of P2P users. P2P and the warez scene do, however, relate in one fashion. Both networks utilize the internet as a means to illegally distribute copyrighted works. This will affect both entities in that the more illegal activity that goes on in general, the more law enforcement will be trying to put an end to it. This puts more heat on both services. Technology crimes are also a hot topic as of late. So popular that there are many organizations, like the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) at www.siia.net and the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Department of Justice at www.cybercrime.gov, whose sole purpose is to stop them from happening. Software companies really do lose money from piracy, why else would they support these types of organizations?

Oh. and I preferred ftp.

9) What is your opinion of free software?
by Billly Gates

If you plan not to pirate software again would you chose to pay for commercial apps or would you use free software?

Has your opinion changed about free software vs commercial software because of your unfortunate experience?

Do you think strong armed tactics by the BSA and upcoming drm will actually help spread free software?

Chris:
I generally try to run linux on the desktop where ever possible. That being said, I love free software, I used it when I was pirating and I use it now. I am composing this in OpenOffice btw. :)

I think both free and commercial software have their place in the industry. I also think that DRM and the BSA won't really have any effect on free software. People and businesses who pay for software don't have to worry about these features because what they are doing is legitimate. In my mind, I would think that companies who are completely compliant who are targeted by the BSA would be happy about it. They would clear their name and be finally exonerated. With respect to DRM, I think this technology is mainly targeted at media right now. That being said, I don't think it will help spread free software. except for maybe free Ogg codecs and players. and a lot more Ogg-files.

10) Prove me wrong.
by _xeno_

I want you to explain if you disagree with the following and if so, why.

My understanding of this is that you were involved with the illegal distribution of copyrighted works, depriving the potential owners of money for the works (possibly - the reality may be "probably not," but...). You then received 33 months of jail time (or just under 3 years) which seems to me to be rather fair.

Based on the Operation Buccaneer information, you received counts of felony (criminal copyright infringement, probably), and conspiracy (to commit criminal copyright infringement, probably). (Both probablies are guesses based on the document.) This seems to be in line with what one would expect for charges against a ring of people whose sole goal is to steal massive quantities of software and redistribute them to as many people as want them at no charge. (The fact that there was no charge probably reduces the sentence to a degree, but the fact that it required specialized skills and involved a large collective of people acting together to commit criminal copyright infringement probably both outweigh that.)

So... why should I feel sorry for you? You got what you deserved. You stole from people and gave copies to as many people as you could. Based on the MIT press release, you illegal utilized systems you were supposed to be administrating for the purposes of illegally distributing software. As far as I can see, you got exactly what you deserved.

So - prove me wrong. Demonstrate that my understanding is flawed or that I am misunderstanding the crime. Demonstrate that it should not be a crime. Or - accept my view. Explain if you feel sorry for your actions and believe that you did indeed commit the crimes. Or come up with another response that does not fall directly between agree and disagree.

Chris:
Is this flamebait for the interviewee or what? :) I won't bite. Your question seems to start halfway through your rant, so I will start there.

You shouldn't feel sorry for me. I committed crimes that I shouldn't have committed. I stole from innocent companies and now I am feeling the repercussions. I am not asking for pity nor am I looking to be put up on a pedestal for what I have done. I am simply here to tell people what happened and that it can happen to anyone who takes part in this type of thing.

Addendum:

My nickname wasn't mentioned when the call for questions was posted, I guess I forgot to tell Robin. I was known as bigrar, BiGrAr on irc. If anyone wants to ask any questions besides the ones I have answered, you can send me email at nospam@rarcom.com. Actually you can take a look at my website as well, at www.rarcom.com (my hosting company is going to kill me). I am setting up a service there called the "Free Software Mirror Project". Through this site, I hope to start a huge mirror system for free software. When these questions are posted to slashdot, I am going to make the URL all text, so as to not completely slashdot my hosters. The mirror system is unique because it will work the same way the warez scene works. with couriers, suppliers, etc. Drop me a line if you possibly want to help me out with this.

Thanks,

- Chris

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Former DrinkOrDie Member Chris Tresco Answers

Comments Filter:
  • Show of remorse (Score:1, Insightful)

    by vegetablespork (575101) <vegetablespork@gmail.com> on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:06PM (#4387874) Homepage
    Required so that he doesn't get a stiffer sentence. I don't buy it--I don't believe you really think warez is theft, but I understand why you're parroting the party line.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:09PM (#4387895)
    It seems that this is a young man who really has been brought face to face with his crimes, and -- recognizing that what he did was morally and legally wrong -- is ready to atone. (Of course, this interview will be part of the record when applying for mitigration of probationary status and, should he apply for it, pardon, so I didn't expect to see Kevin Mitnick-style answers anyway.)

    Kudos all around.
  • by nenolod (546272) <nenolod.gmail@com> on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:14PM (#4387917) Homepage
    The mirror system is unique because it will work the same way the warez scene works. with couriers, suppliers, etc. Drop me a line if you possibly want to help me out with this.

    Hmm, it seems to me that you're making another warez site, and you are using the phrase "Free Software Mirror System" to cover it up. The other possibility is that you're trying to do warez with free software, which is completely ridiculous and unnecessary. So, before you do that, make sure you absolutely have boundaries set for yourself and know exactly what you're doing, because the feds might not see it as a free software repository but as a warez site. And what do you mean by "Free Software"? Is it software that you got for free and posted to the system, or is it truly GNU software. You have to be sure to make it clear to everyone that it is GNU software, and to make sure that the illegal software doesn't mysteriously appear. So, I would say, it's in your best interests to stay on the ethical side of things right now, and that seems kind of borderline.

  • Thanks, Chris! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mosch (204) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:16PM (#4387935) Homepage
    I must say, I'm extremely impressed by Chris's responses. I find the standard rationalizations pathetic and sad, it's refreshing to see somebody advocating honesty on slashdot.

    The standard rationalizations that I'm complaining about are, in no particular order:

    • I steal because it's too expensive.
    • I steal music because the RIAA is "evil".
    • I steal software because it helps the company I'm stealing from.
    • I steal because I don't believe in intellectual property.
    • I steal music because the CD only has one song I like on it.
    • I steal as a test drive.
    • I steal music and movies because they are just corporate shit, not art.
    • I steal because the artists don't get much profit from purchases.
    • I steal MS products, because MS is "evil".
    and so on and so forth.

    Thank you Chris, for taking the unpopular position that copyright infringement is wrong.

  • Bravery... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Q3vi1 (611292) <sean.radicalmonkey@net> on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:17PM (#4387944)
    I think it takes a fair amount of guts to be able to come out and tell people about an experience that basically changed one's life. I think, given time, he might have chosen to stop working with DrinkOrDie, but he ended up getting nabbed before his morality caught up with his uncertainty.
  • Crock of shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kableh (155146) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:18PM (#4387948) Homepage
    Software companies really do lose money from piracy, why else would they support these types of organizations?

    Prove it. You're telling me that if a high school kid who messes around with with Photoshop occasionally downloads a pirated copy off IRC, that Adobe loses 500 bucks?

    Don't get me wrong, piracy is basically theft. I make it a point to buy software that I find useful, especially in the case of shareware, because I have a moral obligation to myself to do so. But this is the same flaw in logic the music industry uses to brand us all theives and legislate against us for the "good of the artists".
  • Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Master Bait (115103) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:19PM (#4387954) Homepage Journal
    It is so sad that he's going to jail for duplicating data. I don't give a rat's ass about the position that it is 'stealing'. These people never sold their copies.

    The laws have really gone over the line. Copyright violations used to be civil matters, going into criminal if somebody sold copies for financial gain.

    It is a sad time when corporate entities have so many more rights than citizens.

    Good thing for open source software.

  • Re:Show of remorse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by isorox (205688) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:22PM (#4387981) Homepage Journal
    Or (are you ready for this?) Maybe... just maybe.... he really does think illegally distributing software is theft (and wrong).

    No. It's copyright infringment. It's illegal. It may even be wrong.

    It is NOT theft. Theft is:

    (
    Websters [dictionary.com])1. (Law) The act of stealing; specifically, the felonious taking and removing of personal property, with an intent to deprive the rightful owner of the same; larceny."

    Note: To constitute theft there must be a taking without the owner's consent, and it must be unlawful or felonious; every part of the property stolen must be removed, however slightly, from its former position; and it must be, at least momentarily, in the complete possession of the thief.


    Copying is not theft, its plain english.
  • by Deagol (323173) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:22PM (#4387982) Homepage
    When he said "happy about it", the "it" in question was the DRM stuff. If all software were DRM-enabled, and a company was audited, you could basically just say "Hey, it's running, so it must be registered and legeit, so bugger off!"

    A world of DRM software might reduce revenue for the BSA. "Poor, poor BSA!"

  • Re:Show of remorse (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:24PM (#4388006)
    OMG, is it possible for the "sysadmin" of a warez group to have morals and values? I think it is.

    If he had morals and values previous to this, he wouldn't have done it.

    He's just repeating the values that the people putting him away want to hear.

    A 10-year-old could sound more convincing than he does anyway
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:26PM (#4388022)

    Three years with little or no chance of hetero sex. If I had time that I got to spend outside of prison before going inside, you can sure as hell bet that I wouldn't be spending it reading slashdot.


    I don't know. Based on my perception from reading a lot of the posts here, I'd guess that three years without sex is nothing for the typical slashdotter. Only difference being, this guy has a good excuse.

  • Re:Thanks, Chris! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChannelX (89676) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:29PM (#4388047) Homepage
    Nice rationalization. You most definitely are removing something from someone. The work is copyrighted....not the medium. Walking into a Virgin store and stealing the cd is stealing twice....the medium and the work. If you download an mp3 file that you don't own the cd for you are stealing. Pure and simple. That form of copying isn't covered under fair use.
  • Ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kafka93 (243640) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:29PM (#4388048)
    Everyone, Chris included, has the right to their own opinions. But, to me, this seems a hideous sell-out. One can only wonder whether there was some clause in the guy's plea bargain or whathaveyou that forces him to keep saying "piracy is bad", "stealing is wrong", without any mitigation.

    Quite aside from the arguments as to whether piracy *really* costs anyone all that much, and about whether the industry grossly inflates the figures of the costs of piracy (hint: they do) - the punishment is ridiculously out of proportions with the crime. There are people who torture animals or beat their wives getting smaller sentences.

    The fact is that most people dealing in warez aren't making any money from it. They're often not stealing things which they would otherwise buy. They're not causing anyone any physical pain. They're not taking money directly from anyone's wallet. And yet these people - often, young kids who spend most of their time just chatting with one another - are faced with the risk of *years* in prison. This is ridiculous. Irrespective of whether you think piracy is "wrong", I find it incredibly difficult to believe that anyone genuinely thinks that someone should be *sent to jail* for this kind of thing - least of all when, for example, people who drive drunk often aren't sent to jail. It is *wrong* that crimes that ostensibly affect big business carry a greater punishment than do many crimes against humanity. It is *wrong* that people should be locked up for several years for this kind of thing: who amongst us doesn't have the odd mp3 lying around, the odd tape copied from a friend, the odd copy of Office made on numerous computers?

    The fact that everyone's doing it doesn't mean that it's not 'wrong', of course. But can anyone really endorse having _two years_ of someone's life being taken from them for the sake of something which almost everyone is doing?

    This makes me sick.
  • by Srin Tuar (147269) <zeroday26@yahoo.com> on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:29PM (#4388050)


    Though what he did was illegal, I just dont feel it to be immoral. Sharing information or music or ideas just doesnt raise the sin-o-meter at all.


    The fact is that something which is not naturally immoral (sharing) can be made to give people pangs of guilt through conditioning. The "IP" establishment thinks that if they continue to pound into peoples heads that "Copying is stealing" and "Sharing is evil", then people will actually start to believe it. (In fact it does work to a limited extent) What will actually happen is that the harder they push the party line, the more people will see through it, and the harder they enforce the rules, the more people will protest them (or realize they exist at all).


    At some point in the future, the whole copyright cartel is going to falter. Its not human nature to hoarde information, opinions, or ideas. It is in our nature to share ideas that we have discovered, and hopefully our economies will have enough time to get out of the way and figure out new business models before its too late.

  • by krog (25663) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:31PM (#4388070) Homepage
    sure, it's nice to hear him speak "honestly" about it all, but to me it sounds a lot like an AA member being "honest" about himself -- almost like he's reading off a sheet.

    I don't blame him. if it were *my* sweet virgin ass going into prison, you can bet I'd start racking up my Good Behavior and Remorse early too. but I don't think it's really coming from the heart...
  • by wwest4 (183559) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:32PM (#4388081)
    He did not act from a desire of profit, or even of fame. He did not do anything with an intent to hurt someone

    It is indeed sad, and I personally think the punishment may be a little harsh, but if we measured the seriousness of a crime based on intent, we'd be in trouble.

    "I didn't mean to crash while driving drunk"
    "I didn't mean to hit that little girl while I was randomly firing bullets into the woods"
    "I didn't mean to psychologically ruin that 12-year-old for life when I seduced him"

    A lot of laws are meant to punish people for not thinking about the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, since there is sometimes no way to ascertain intent, we legislate against lack of foresight. These are usually lesser crimes/penalties. 3 years seems long, still... hopefully he'll get out sooner.

  • Re:Show of remorse (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:45PM (#4388169)
    Yeah, no shit. In case anyone doubts this, check out this site [rainn.org] for some statistics on rape sentencing. It's pretty sad.

    From the link: The good news is, the expected sentence tripled from 1980 to 1997. The bad news is, the expected sentence for a forcible rape is still only 128 days (up from 39 days in 1980 and 99 days in 1993). By comparison, the expected sentence for robbery is now 59 days; for murder, 41 months.

  • Re:Show of remorse (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PunchMonkey (261983) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:45PM (#4388176) Homepage
    Or (are you ready for this?) Maybe... just maybe.... he really does think illegally distributing software is theft (and wrong).

    No. It's copyright infringment. It's illegal. It may even be wrong.

    It is NOT theft. Theft is:


    Yeah, yeah. Now you're getting technical. I'm just reusing the phrase from the original argument "I don't believe you really think warez is theft".

    Just because the dictionary defines a word as having a certain meaning, doesn't mean that every human being automatically knows that and uses that word as such. I'm sure you understood the intentions behind both my post and the parent post, no need to nitpick.
  • by thrillbert (146343) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:48PM (#4388195) Homepage
    I know I will date myself with the following comment. And in no way am I trying to flamebait anyone, these are just my opinions.

    Back in the day of Space Quest, Kings Quest, Police Quest, Sierra was a great software company. They had software that EVERYONE wanted, and everyone was willing to pay for; $29.95.

    Then, they came out with sequels for all of their software, improved graphics and story lines, and the user interface. The price remained at $29.95. And everyone still bought their software.

    A little later down the road, they made even greater advances on graphics, more changes to the user interface, and improvements to the story lines (and even came out with Leisure Suit Larry, runoff from Police Quest). But this time they claimed that "Due to piracy, we find ourselves forced to raise our prices to $79.95".

    Saddly for me, at that point, they priced themselves out of my price range (Radio Shack Salesperson making minimum wage + commision).

    The only thing I could do at that point, is either find two other friends to split the cost of the game, or, wait until someone would offer it to me.

    Yes, it was piracy.

    From where I stood at that point in time, the way I saw things was that Sierra was not trying to make $1 off of 1 million people, it was trying to make $100 off of 1000 people. Well, I didn't have that kind of money to help them grow.

    Sure, they're still in business, but it's been since that time that they've come out with anything worth buying. I no longer even have the floppies that I paid for, but I still have that sense of someone trying to get over on me.

    ---
    Net worth of this posting: $.02
  • Re:Show of remorse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Omnifarious (11933) <<gro.suoirafinmo> <ta> <hsals-cire>> on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:49PM (#4388200) Homepage Journal

    Just because people have a different notion of what is moral from you doesn't mean they have no morals.

  • Re:Crock of shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by joshsisk (161347) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:49PM (#4388202)
    I've read that Adobe actually doesn't care so much about individual users pirating their software, since very few individuals would ever be able to afford $500 for Photoshop, anyway.

    The clincher is that all those high school and college kids then get jobs and they all know photoshop... So what software do they pester their employers to keep up to date? You guessed it.

    I know it worked for me. When I was in HS, I most assuredly had a pirated version of Photoshop (2.0?). This led me to convince more than one company I worked for later that Corel Photo-Draw was NOT a professional-quality photo editing program. And now I drop several hundred a year on keeping my Adobe install up to date...
  • by meis31337 (574142) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:50PM (#4388212)
    How can you possibly know how I feel?? I feel remorse for all of the programmers who lost their jobs over the past year because of the economy.... You know what I think eeveryday of my life?? I think... what if I was responsible for just *one* of those people... That is a tough realization that helped me to graveness for what I had been involved with.
  • by EvlOvrLrd (559820) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:55PM (#4388248)
    Really liked the fact that he didn't bitch or whine about the whole thing. He knows that he did wrong and that eventually, he would/could get caught. Which happened.

    Not saying what he did was right or wrong, but as someone that likes to drive fast, I got caught recently. I firmly believe if you are willing to play the game and take the risks, then you have to be willing to accept the concequences. Not bitch and complain about the justice system and what is fair or not. Those are the rules that one is aware of when they play.

    Sorry to hear that he got caught and convicted, but happy to hear that it isn't as bad as what it could have been. And that he took it like a man.
  • Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gendou (234091) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:56PM (#4388257) Homepage
    It's only "stealing" because Congress passed copyright laws. The Constitution says that Congress CAN pass copyright laws, not that it MUST. Congress could abolish copyright tomorrow, and it would be 100% Constitutional for them to do so, and the "stealing" you describe would be 100% legal. The only reason copyright still exists is because the government is controlled by mega-corporations rather than by citizens.

    Copyright isn't a real right, it's an artificial creation of government that undermines the basic principal of economics (scarcity). Copyright only exists because Congress allows it to exist, and Congress can only allow it to exist because of a couple lines in the Constitution that I consider to be incorrect and invalid.

    In fact, I don't think copyright has any legal standing whatsoever and is in fact completely unconstitutional. When a Constitutional Ammendment passes, any part of the Constitution that it contradicts is legally THROWN OUT. Look through a Constitution, and you'll see much of the original document crossed out, because much of it has been invalidated by later Ammendments. Newer additions to the Constitution ALWAYS supercede older text which conflicts with the newer text. I feel that when the Constitution was ammended by the First Ammendment which acknowledged the right to Free Speech, the clause in the Constitution that authorized Congress to grant patents and copyrights was completely invalidated by the First Ammendment, for conflicting with the right to Free Speech. Thus, all copyright laws are fundamentally unConstitutional.

    What do you do with unConstitutional laws? You ignore them. You pretend they don't exist. If you think that's wrong, call up the family of Rosa Parks, and tell them that she was wrong not to move to the back of the bus.

    When it was illegal for a slave to escape from his owner, was it "morally wrong" for him to do so?

    When it was illegal for a black person to sit at the front of a bus, was it "morally wrong" of Rosa Parks to do so?

    When unConstitutional laws existed that made it illegal to criticize the president (Lincoln's alien & sedition act, Bush's USA Patriot act), was it "morally wrong" to criticize the President?

    When it was illegal to drink alcohol during Prohibition, was it "morally wrong" to drink alcohol?

    When it was illegal for the American Colonies to rebel against the United Kingdom, was it "morally wrong" for the USA to even come into existence?

    Our history is built on brave men and women who challenged that status quo, defied society's expectations, broke us out of the ruts we were in, and even, gasp, broke THE LAW!!! Horror!

    Your thoughts on "rationalizations" are weak. I could just as easily say, "you are trying to rationalize the fact that you are a stupid person", and when you responded "but I'm NOT a stupid person," I could say, "AHA! Rationalization! Did you see him trying to rationalize his stupidity!"

    That's not logic. Present some FACTS, rather than just saying "you disagree with me, so you're wrong and I'm right", or "the government agrees with me, so you're wrong and I'm right." Until then, grow up.

    Closing quote:
    "Those who would sacrifice essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    ~Thomas Jefferson

  • by Eloquence (144160) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:56PM (#4388260) Homepage
    I'd like to point out that it is well possible to disbelieve in the construct of "intellectual property" and, at the same time, advocate the use and creation of open content, while still not morally condemning copyright infringement. The reality is, IP is a dangerous concept. Information is not physical property, it can be reproduced freely and openly without loss to the original owner. If we want to apply the concepts of traditional property to information, we need to build lots and lots of gateposts into all devices that store and transfer information, and there will still be holes. Yet, if implemented to their full extent, these gatesposts will allow the content distribution oligarchy to control what content is acceptable mainstream content (there will always be subcultures) and what isn't. They can decide who uses their DRM systems and who can't, and they can lock content producers into their contracts and technology. This is already happening, for example, in Germany, where the electronics industry (!) is calling for a law that requires content creators to use DRM if they want to get radio royalties for the content they produce. The sad state of DVD playback on Linux (use a free software player and you are a criminal according to US and soon international law) is another good example for this trend.

    In other words, the means it takes to stop copyright infringement will more and more cripple our freedom to consume, to produce, to distribute content as we choose. These same means will (and already are) used for other censorship -- once you have a way to regulate online content fairly effectively, you will want to use it first for regulating child porn, then for normal porn, then for trademark violations, then for libel, nazi propaganda, unlicensed use of cryptography, blasphemy (still a crime in many nations) .. in a world where everyone is a publisher, soon everyone will want to be a censor as well.

    Those who control the gateposts will always err on the site of caution. If someone from the content controllers claims that file X is copyright infringement, it will be blocked, and face it, most people cannot afford to fight this through the courts.

    Copyright violations do, of course, not hurt the industry to the ridiculous extents it claims them to do. This is true for movies, software, music, ebooks. With music the quality difference and the hassle you have to go through is perhaps smallest, yet there has not been a proven effect on CD sales. On the other hand, the music industry has been effectively convicted of price fixing, and their exploitative contracts are well documented. Nevermind the fact that the content they produce is screened for being mainstream compatible as well -- when was the last time to you heard a communist song on the radio? Having different voices, even extreme opinions, out in the open is a good thing, and the current system is very good at preventing that.

    Unlike Tresco, I advocate copyright infringement on a large and massive scale as a good way to discipline the content industry and to protect ourselves from unfair prosecution. Also, to be honest, I don't really care if they lose money -- this will only speed the transition to an open content world. There's nothing morally wrong with industries dying because they refuse to adapt to a changing environment. The position that millions of P2P users are all immoral criminals is so ridiculous that anyone who honestly believes it should have their head examined.

    The more people disobey the oxymoronic system of copyright, the more likely it is that we will sooner or later get reasonable changes. Nevertheless, I also advocate fairness. If a company produces a good product and doesn't cripple it with unfair restrictions, reward them. Support good business practices. I have bought many shareware applications for which cracks were readily available. I'm sure many Slashdot readers have done the same. I use open source software and support it when support is asked for. I try to discover other open content, which is hard, but often worth the attempt.

    And in the long term, I hope we can get this transition to open/free content, through ubiquitous donation and mediation systems that create a direct social bond between content producers and consumers and allow them to treat each other with mutual respect, while not having to rely on a primitive and unworkable concept such as IP. The gift economy is the way to go, baby -- just ask Kuro5hin ($35K in less than a week) or Blender ($100K in a few months).

    But please, spare me the "it's stealing" routine when talking about copyright infringement. You and I know that it's not. It's copyright infringement, and it's part of the transition process when laws don't match moral behavior. Copyright infringement is no less moral than drug "abuse", and the abolishment of copyright will soon be as important a reform as the legalization of drugs.

    Chris Tresco, even if he sees himself as reformed (like so many drug users) is nothing but the victim of unjust and obsolete law. There will always be the leering masses who justify unjust laws, the neighbours who clap their hands when a pothead is sent to jail. That doesn't change the facts.

  • Re:Sure it is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by back_pages (600753) <(ten.xoc) (ta) (segap_kcab)> on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:57PM (#4388271) Journal
    Copyright violations are called "copyright violations" and not "theft" for a reason. Blurring the two is a scare tactic used by copyright holders to inflate the perceived moral injustice.

    By the very same logic, anyone who provides a product that competes with mine and "steals" my business would be guilty of theft. The only difference in this case is whether the potential customer has my software or my competitor's, which appears, functions, and performs similarly. Clearly this is theft!

    Except that it isn't. In the worst case, it's a copyright violation. Unauthorized duplication of software is a copyright violation. It is not theft.

  • Re:Ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kafka93 (243640) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:57PM (#4388277)
    It's a mistake to think that legality == morality. Slavery was legal. If a law is injust, then the law should be changed. Unless individuals complain about and act in the face of injustice, then that injustice will prevail.

    As you say, "don't like the law? Work to change it." By discussing such things, and by decrying what I see as a bad law - or at least, a bad sentencing, I am doing my small part to change the law.

    Whereas, I'm afraid, the repeated parroting of "break the law, pay the price" seems reactionary and unintelligent.
  • Re:Crock of shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jesus IS the Devil (317662) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:58PM (#4388284)
    Prove it. You're telling me that if a high school kid who messes around with with Photoshop occasionally downloads a pirated copy off IRC, that Adobe loses 500 bucks?

    No. Adobe loses the potential to earn 500 bucks from this kid.

    And before anyone tells me that the kid would never have bought it anyways, does that mean anyone should be allowed to pirate software/music as long as they make the claim that they wouldn't have bought it anyways?

    So how do we find out who's telling the truth and who's lying?
  • by GigsVT (208848) on Friday October 04, 2002 @01:59PM (#4388290) Journal
    this would go a long way toward getting me an innocent-til-proven-guilty approach,

    I think this pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with the system.
  • by fafaforza (248976) on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:00PM (#4388298)
    First, no one seems to be confused by the Free Software Foundation. Why would that be the driving factor here?

    Second, the guy sounds pretty intelligent, and coupled with his recent ordeal of being drilled by prosecutors and his own lawyers, parents, friends, slashdot, as well as his warez experience, so he might know the difference between pirated software, and free software.

    Third, he has a vision for a distribution system that he wants to create. What business is it of yours? You do not have a stake in whether it succeeds or not. In my eyes he wants to draw on his experience in the warez scene and transcribe the system of distribution into distributing files (whatever it may be) online.

    What if the music/movie industries decide to distribute media online? Conceptually, the system he is envisioning might some day be viable to those companies, and he might end up living the high life. So quit bitching and putting down others' efforts and creativity.
  • by chrysrobyn (106763) on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:06PM (#4388361)

    That is the wrong way to think about it. You are asking yourself if it is worth something to commit a crime. What you should be asking yourself is, if what you are doing is fundamentally wrong. If it is (and I would say that it is) then stop doing it.

    I wonder how fast his lawyer can type, or if his lawyer just dictates slashdot responses to his secretary.

    I'm married, have a paid-for car, a good job, and share a house with the bank. I've got responsibilities. At this point, I'm using 100% paid for (or free or Free) software. Please allow that fact to color my response.

    Everything in life is a cost-benefit analysis. Sure, the MBA people will tell you they came up with it, and they're the only people who truly understand how it works, and now I wonder if they're right. There's a risk in driving to work every day. Is it right? Well, it puts money in the grubby hands of a greedy corporation that cars about the environment to the extent required by the EPA. I could get killed. Therefore I shouldn't drive? Certainly are downsides to working, not to mention risks. Flying home for Christmas to visit the in-laws? Well, that involves the pollution of the airplane, more money in the hands of terrorist supporting oil barons, and again, that risk of death on my part.

    Everything in life is a trade-off. Just sticking with what's right isn't enough -- few things are inherantly right. Just sticking with what's legislated isn't right. Now, say I am interviewing students for a job that involves using windows on a daily basis. I'll choose the candidate who pirated windows to get practice over the candidate who did the "right thing" and has honestly never seen windows because he can't afford it. Explain to me what is right there? Those who are too poor to "do right" shouldn't take risks?

    Take a survey of college students. Some will certainly agree, but many won't. Don't bother asking attorneys, or people worried about their next parole board, but ask people with little money and a great concern for their futures.

    Now, back to Mr. Tresco's situation. Is it "right" to hijack Institute computers to violate copyrights? One could easily argue the "Robin Hood" perspective; less easily, one could attempt to learn how much software enters MIT illegally then compute a net flow.

    Let's assume that Mr. Tresco, or someone like him, is single, and has very few obligations. What's the risk??? Get caught, stripped of your job, sent to jail for almost 3 years. No freedom. Potentially unkind things happen there. If done well, someone could take advantage of the free room and board, earn a GED, BA or BS, and put together an outline on your experiences and sell the book/movie rights on how you're a better person. There are a lot of people out here for whom jail is not a punishment, but rather a new place to live with new opportunities. "What's right" is for the ethicists. Cost benefit analysis for the rest of us.

    Clean record, time with my wife, commute to work for me, please.

  • Re:Thanks, Chris! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Triv (181010) on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:07PM (#4388369) Journal
    I agree with you, wholeheartedly. But check this senario:

    I have tens of gigs of mp3's on an external harddrive and a cd-rw. A friend of mine browses my collection, sees a CD he wants and asks me to burn it. What do I do?

    The honest answer for me is "it depends on who the artist is and what album it is." If it's...let's say, Dave Matthews, I'll burn it without thinking twice. He doesn't need to be promoted and he doesn't need the record sales.

    If the album's out of print due to a record label's stupidity or is an unavailable indie print(like Elvis Costello's "The Juliet Letters" for the first example or Judy Aron) I'll burn it - they can't get it any other way.

    But. If the cd's from an artist that's out there, easily available but unknown, I'd tell him to suck it up and buy the damn thing. It's not about the pennies they'll get from the sale, it's for the sales stats.

    I don't know about you, but I think that's fair.

    Triv
  • Re:Thanks, Chris! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by antis0c (133550) on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:07PM (#4388373)
    I completely agree, there isn't an excuse for stealing.

    However, what I don't quite agree with is how software companies and the government compare stealing computer programs with stealing physical products. Stealing computer programs doesn't deprive the company of any actual cost. Stealing a physical product does, that physical product consists of materials which cost that company money. It doesn't cost the company to make more 0's and 1's.

    So does that make it OK to steal programs? Of course not. But copyright infringement shouldn't be compared to stealing physical products. 33 months doesn't sound too bad, but it's the fact he now has a criminal record that is bad. People are going to equate the fact he was in prison for 33 months to those of people who rape, armed robery, drugs, money laundering, and other crimes that deprive others of basic rights. His crime didn't deprive anyone of any rights, because of those people that used the programs he copied, I'm willing to bet no more than 1% of them would have actually purchased the software.

    I'm not going to lie to you either, I've "warez" in the past. Thanks in part however to Linux, GNU, and the entire Open Source movement I don't use many commercial applications anymore. And of those I do use, I've actually purchased. Why? Because I actually use these applications. I need them to be legitimate. Applications I've "warezed" in the past, I only ever ended up using for a handful of days only to end up not running it for years and eventually removing it. You could say that falls into one of your excuses, but I'm serious. This is especially true to companies. Most companies purchase software. Plain and simple, it's easier to purchased software than pirate it and worry about not having up to date copies, and all the other stuff that goes along with it.

    Then we get into the BSA. "But the BSA says a large percentage of companies are using illegal copies of applications!" Yes and no. Most of those companies probably aren't intentionally using illegal copies. Most likely the company has so many applications, employees, computers that keeping good track of all the licenses, and what employees to do with their computers is very difficult. Those companies that can afford it purchase site licenses. Others end up purchasing more licenses than they have computers just to be "on the safe side."

    This practice is what I think is at the heart of whats wrong with software, licensing, warez, and all that. I remember when I worked at my previous employer. They had about 200 employees, about 300 computers (including servers), and one IT Manager and one IT Tech. I was in charge of the servers, and since they all ran Linux, FreeBSD or OpenBSD licensing wasn't an issue. However all those workstations were. Managing the employees was difficult. We used all kinds of applications, Office, XMetal, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. One day a manager would ask one of his employees to fix something in XMetal or Photoshop. If they didn't have it, they'd ask their buddy across the cube for a copy. They'd usually give them a copy of one of the applications on a CDR they got originally from the IT Manager for backup purposes. The employees don't really think they're doing anything wrong, they install the software but don't have a reg key. They'd end up hitting up Google for one to get it working. The employee didn't really think what they are doing was wrong. They'd either assume we had a site license, or assume that since we had a CD that it could be installed on any computer. People that still new to computers don't grasp the concept that you're legally only allowed to install that application on one computer at a time. And who can blame them? There is no other kind of product like that. If I purchase a toaster, your damn right I'm entitled to take that toaster from kitchen to kitchen if I want to. Why can't I do the same with softare? Anyhow, before I digress further, the this practice at my previous company went on for years. Until one day the BSA started going around our area picking out companies to "audit." I remember that fateful day, the IT manager running around to everyones computers asking them what programs they had, running around gathering boxes of purchased software, licenses, etc. Eventually at the end of the week, she sat down, counted all the computers and ordered 2X the licenses for all the applications we used. So we had 600 Windows 98SE licenses, 600 Photoshop Licenses, 600 XMetal Licenses, 600 Illustrator Licenses, 600 Macromedia Flash Licenses. It was easier for her to order them then figure out how many we had, how many we needed and be certain it was correct. All it takes is the BSA to find one unlicensed application and the company gets a major fine.

    Right there. Thats what's wrong. Managing all that software, employees, computers, all that is a major task, and can't ever be done perfectly without imposing unrealistic restrictions on employee computer usage. That doesn't make them criminals. It makes them human. A person can see the moral flaw in stealing because it deprives someone of property or right to use property. If I copy a CD from Microsoft, Microsoft is never deprived if anything, especially if I would have never purchased that software in the first place.

    Now that I'm done my ranting, what does that mean? I don't know. I really don't know where we go from here. But something has to change. What Chris Tresco did was wrong, but it wasn't as wrong as rape, robery, stealing, money laundering, or anything of those. He never hurt anyone, but now he has the reputation of being a criminal for the rest of his life, and the average person isn't going to go "Oh he only stole software, he's not -really- bad."

    Good luck in prison Chris. To quote Office Space, "Kick someone's ass or become someone's bitch, and then you'll be alright."
  • by ergo98 (9391) on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:08PM (#4388382) Homepage Journal
    Why is it that so many of here either use dictionary distinctions to clarify whether something is theft/stealing, but when that fails they switch to legal definitions?

    "Stealing" and "theft" are generic terms that apply to anything that deprives someone of something that is rightfully theres, directly or indirectly. Copyright violations deprive the copyright holder or agents of the payment that is rightfully due to them, just as the GPL requires copyright "payment" in the form of derived works being under the GPL, openly distributed, etc. (I presume that every single person who yaps about software theft not being theft has no problem with Microsoft taking GPL code and copy out with Microsoft Winux?). Copyright violations are _theft_, and dictionary distinctions ring a little ridiculous.

    Counterfeiting, like copyright violations, is easy to justify: I mean, where's the victim if you print off $100? Of course the victim is society as a whole, but that is hard to comprehend for the simpleton thought process of "Theft is stealing my bike" that we see on Slashdot.
  • Re:Thanks, Chris! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Graff (532189) on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:13PM (#4388431)
    To clarify something:

    Downloading an mp3 is stealing, if you never bought the music you don't have the right to copy it for any use. This is covered under the distribution clauses of copyright law.

    Taping a song off the radio is not stealing. It is covered by fair use law and it is called "time shifting". Under the idea of time shifting, you can record a radio or tv program for later personal listening or viewing. The idea here is that the broadcast, which presumably was made legally, may have been performed at a time not convenient for you to enjoy. You therefore have the right to enjoy the broadcast by recording it and playing it back later. You still do not own the broadcast and you can't redistribute it or play it for a large audience. It is just for your own personal use. This is why PVR devices like Tivo are legal.

    It may seem like downloading music is a "victimless" crime, but if everyone who wanted the song got it for free online then the song would never sell and the artist would not get paid. An artist that doesn't get paid for their work is not going to be an artist for long. Remember, you are "voting" for them to be kept by their label with every album you buy. If you like the music, buy it so that the record labels and the artists know what is good and what is not.
  • Re:Thanks, Chris! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChaosDiscord (4913) on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:17PM (#4388464) Homepage Journal

    I'm against copyright infringment. Copyright is a value tool for encouraging the creation of new works. I purchase my music, movies, books, and video games. That said, you're playing into the hands of copyright based industries. You're using inaccurate and dangerous sounding words. This sort of dialogue is giving the RIAA, the MPAA, and other copyright based industries ammunition to take our fair use rights away. Copyright is a balance, not a one way street.

    Nice rationalization. You most definitely are removing something from someone. The work is copyrighted....not the medium.

    If I engage in illegal copying, I have engaged in illegal copying, nothing more. Illegal copying is very distinct from theft of physical objects. "You most definately are removing something from someone." And what would that something be? The original author still has all of his copies of the work. The record store still has all their copies. The person I copied it from still has their copy. I have not taken something from anyone. I have infringed upon the copyright holders exclusive right to distribute copies, but that's different. I might have eliminated the sale of a legal copy, but it's hard to know.

    Walking into a Virgin store and stealing the cd is stealing twice....the medium and the work.

    That's just surreal. Copyright does not grant the author any sort of control over legally made copies. The CD in the store is legal. If someone steals the CD, they have stolen that copy, nothing more. The copyright holder has lost nothing, only the copies own (the store) has lost anything. Copyright law is completely irrelevant, the thief will be charged with good old fashioned shoplifting.

    If you download an mp3 file that you don't own the cd for you are stealing. Pure and simple. That form of copying isn't covered under fair use.

    If you download an mp3 file that you don't own the CD for, you are infringing copyright. Pure and simple. The copyright holder has lost nothing. He might fail to sell CD that he otherwise would have, but you're not allowed to count potential failed sales as a loss. Things are all the more complicated by people who sample CDs through MP3 and end up purchasing the CD.

  • Re:Crock of shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeMon'ess (160583) <flinxmid@@@yahoo...com> on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:29PM (#4388572) Homepage Journal
    An AC said this already but I'll say it louder. Adobe doesn't lose $500, but JASC loses $90 on Paint Shop Pro the kid could have bought. If the kid pirates something by Norton, Panda which sells comparable software for less, looses a potential sale because the kid could have afforded theirs.
  • Re:Crock of shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dubiousmike (558126) on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:30PM (#4388583) Homepage Journal
    Having worked for a number of software companies, both in audio and video, piracy isn't really of the hugest concern, albeit when the pirate is a "home user" or enthusiast. The bottom line is that the more users you have, the more popular you are, the more revenue in the long run. Why?

    If I pirate Photoshop and am able to get my chops up, I can then utilize those skills in the marketplace. When I go for a job, it is HIGHLY unlikley that my workplace will provide or condone illegal copies of Photoshop. Rather, they will purchase copies, upgrades, plugins, ect.

    Software companies don't really care if indiviual users pirate software. They could try to sue individuals until the cows come home, and in the end, would only serve to piss off much of their paying customer base who WILL feel a sense of pity for those getting fined, inprisoned, ect.

    In the end, most folks who use priated versions of popular software end up using it professionally in an environment where the copy they are using is perfectly legal.

    Software piracy, in many cases, actually increases revenue in the long run.

  • Re:Crock of shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jhines0042 (184217) on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:36PM (#4388638) Journal
    Lets take a comparative look at something somewhat similar, toll roads.

    Why do toll roads exists?

    Two reasons.

    1) to pay for the initial building of the road
    2) to pay for the continued maintenance of the road

    Which do you think is more expensive? You guessed right, the initial building of the road/bridge/tunnel, whatever.

    Rather than Tax Everyone in the State/Country etc... they only charge the people who use it.

    Now then, if you drive on the toll road and you don't pay are you stealing? Yes. What are you stealing? The money that you were supposed to pay for the use of the service. Why were you supposed to pay it? To cover the cost of building the road.

    Why should you buy software that you use? Because people spent time writing it and a company paid them to write it. That company raised capital to build the software (road) and if you use it without paying for it then you are gaining the benefit of the service without paying what the builder is asking for.

    Do toll roads make a profit? Sure. Welcome to captialism.
  • Re:Thanks, Chris! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hobophile (602318) on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:46PM (#4388717) Homepage
    If you photocopy a page out of a book from the library, is that _stealing_? No. But it is copyright infringement (unless you have permission), and copyright infringement is illegal.

    Whether or not it is copyright infringement depends on a number of factors, even in your hypothetical example:

    • The length of the book. One page out of 4,000 would be more likely to be considered fair use, one page out of three not so likely.
    • Your purpose in making the copy. Academic research, review, and several other purposes are specifically excluded from being considered copyright infringement on the face of it, although there are certainly limits.
    • Finally, the copyright status of the book is important. Shakespeare's works have long since passed into the public domain, so a photocopy of a few lines from one of the Bard's plays is not copyright infringement. Copying the footnotes, on the other hand, might be, since those were likely written much more recently.

    Notice that for any of these fair uses, I don't have to contact anyone for permission at all. Your attitude, that any copying without the copyright holder's express consent automatically equals copyright infringement, is the same mentality that the RIAA and MPAA are trying to promote.

    But presently this is not true, at least for non-digital works, and our fair use rights are important enough that we should not willingly adopt the notion that any "unauthorized" use is automatically infringing and illegal.

  • by Srin Tuar (147269) <zeroday26@yahoo.com> on Friday October 04, 2002 @02:54PM (#4388793)


    Ahem. I've no love for the despicable copyright barons, but I've no love for mindless circular arguments either. If you copy my software, you've devalued what I do for 60 hours a week.


    What you do is work speculatively, expecting that people will pay for copies of what you do. If nobody wanted your software at all, then you couldnt complain, obviously, that by not buying your software they are devaluing what you do for 60hrs a week.


    Similarly, if only a few people bought your software, but they were very effective in sharing it without making additional copies (perhaps by loaning the CD around, or whatever) you have simply miscalculated the market in your speculation, like a farmer who tills the desert, you cannot complain that noone will pay for your nonexistant crops.


    If copy restriction goes out of favor, as it should, then you will have to find a new way to earn money (just as will I). Perhaps working on a contract basis, where you get paid up front, would be a good idea.


    What you cannot support, morally, is that a transaction between two third parties, which involves niether you nor any physical materials that you own, can devalue any materials that you own. (They can make speculative decisions you have made less lucrative, but you are responsible for your own choices)


    Also, 60 hrs work/week sux :)

  • by Xeger (20906) <slashdot@tracker ... t minus language> on Friday October 04, 2002 @03:07PM (#4388915) Homepage
    You need to be very careful when you ask if it's "wrong" to do something. In all cases, if the cure for cancer is patented/copyrighted, and you do not have permission from the owner of the rights to redistribute the cure, then yes, stealing the cure for cancer is "wrong" in the sense that it is illegal. By stealing the cure for cancer, you're depriving the owner of his rights.

    However, it is "wrong" for the owner of the cure to withhold it from the world in the first place, in the sense that it is immoral.

    So here we have a sticky situation: he's doing something wrong, you're doing something wrong in order to counteract the effects of his doing something wrong. Do two wrongs make a right? No; they don't cancel each other out. But your wrong cures the world of cancer, whereas his wrong prolongs human suffering.

    Given the choice in this situation I would steal the cure for cancer every time, and damn the jail sentences. Ultimately, the effects that your actions have on the world matter much more than whether they weigh as right or wrong on someone else's moral scales.

    Of course, warez are not a cure for cancer. They're a relief valve, a way for people who cannot afford the exhorbitant price of commercial software to obtain the benefits of that software without selling a testacle to do so. Warez are wrong, but that has never stopped me from engaging in light warez trading, and it never will. I'll buy the games and apps I think are worth the price, but if I can't afford it then I wouldn't have bought it in the first place, and I'm not hurting anyone by stealing it.

    Marijuana is illegal, despite the fact that it is neither wrong nor harmful, and would save countless lives if legalized--from medical marijuana users, to people who smoke deadly cigarettes because they are "right," to the thousands of people who are killed or exploited every year in the underground drug trade.

    Until recently, the perfectly normal act of homosexuality was illegal, despite the fact that it is a naturally occuring biological phenomenon.

    The Patriot Act and DMCA have made free speech illegal in circumstances, despite the fact that our nation was founded on the belief that free speech is an inalienable right.

    Right and wrong have nothing to do with legal and illegal. By diluting the lawbooks with meaningless rubbish, legislators are depreciating the value of the judicial system in the eye of the common citizen. I cannot abide by a system of laws that I do not respect. If you wish me to follow the reasonable laws, then get rid of the unreasonable laws, and show me that the legal system makes sense.
  • Third Option (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Redline (933) on Friday October 04, 2002 @03:08PM (#4388923) Homepage Journal
    The only thing I could do at that point, is either find two other friends to split the cost of the game, or, wait until someone would offer it to me.

    Yes, it was piracy.


    Hello? You have the third option of not stealing it, and going without. How can you make the case that you *need* an $80 computer game enough to steal/copyright-infringe it? It's not a loaf of bread for your three starving children, it's a damn game!
    The economy has hit me pretty hard, and I don't buy as many movies/CDs/games as I used to buy, but I refuse to let my financial shortfall turn me into a thief/copyright-infringer for over-priced consumer entertainment.
  • by darkPHi3er (215047) on Friday October 04, 2002 @03:09PM (#4388933) Homepage
    without taking a position on the DOD case(one way or the other, i don't know the specifics of the case well enough)

    It's a ***FELONY*** because it's a combination of a variety of PROPERTY crimes, including THEFT, FRAUD and DISTRIBUTION of stolen property.

    Would we argue the nature of this if someone had broken in an electronics warehouse or a bookstore or a Costco and taken an equivalent dollar amount of goods and given them out to their friends?

    I doubt it.

    However, because software is "intangible" in nature compared to a frozen cheese pizza or bottle of Jack or Sony Walkman, some of us look at it differently.

    However, the manufacturers of the software have to pay ALL those same expenses that Sony does.

    They have to pay executives, engineers, marketing staff, assembly workers, packaging, warehousing, shipping, et al.

    When you distribute a stolen copy of a piece of software and by so doing, reduce the numbers of copies that will be sold, you make it harder for a company to survive.

    While it's easy to imagine that every s/w company is a MS, Oracle, IBM or Sun, it's not true.

    Most s/w companies are much smaller and are fighting for their survival on a daily basis.

    And we all have to wonder what would have happened to our entire marketplace, if their had been less piracy.

    What would have been the fate of WordPerfect Corp, Lotus, Novell, and many other dead products if there had been less piracy?

    What impact on Apple's conversion from a $10BN a year company to $1+BN company?

    There have been many jobs lost, products destroyed and careers sidetracked in our industry by sales declines.

    Sone of these SURELY have been as a result of warez.

    If you lost your job and maybe your family, and knew warez had been at least partially responsible, how would you feel about warez?

  • Re:Crock of shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sweetleaf (128859) on Friday October 04, 2002 @03:15PM (#4388978)
    It doesn't cost Adobe $500, but it does
    potentially limit the emergence of lower-priced competitors.

    If there was a larger market of people who would pay $50 / title but not $500, then perhaps another
    product would emerge to fill that niche. Similarly, products already in that market might have more funds to improve.

    Perhaps piracy contributes to the lack of
    competitors in a market - this might be its most
    severe impact.

  • by IceDiver (321368) on Friday October 04, 2002 @03:18PM (#4389007)
    "Stealing" and "theft" are generic terms that apply to anything that deprives someone of something that is rightfully theres, directly or indirectly.

    Wrong. Using a specific term generically does not make it less specific. "Theft" implies the removal of a physical object (or pseudo-physical, such as money in a bank account) depriving the owner of its use. Illegal copying, while it deprives the owner of the copied work of compensation for the use of his work, does not deprive him of the work itself. That is why it is not theft. It is illegal copying, and is wrong, but it is not theft.

    The BSA (also MPAA & RIAA) deliberately use the inaccurate terms "stealing" and "theft" because peoples' gut reaction (such as yours) is based on their experience of the true nature of those crimes. If they correctly used the terms "illegal copying" and "copyright ingringement" their case would arouse much less public sympathy. Their arguments are misleading in other ways, as well. It has been pointed out in other posts that they assume everyone who obtained an illegal copy would have paid for the software if the copy was not available. This is obviously misleading, and it is not the only example.


    I presume that every single person who yaps about software theft not being theft has no problem with Microsoft taking GPL code and copy out with Microsoft Winux?

    Of course I have problems with anyone who illegally copies someone else's work. But it is not theft. Software theft would be me shoplifting a copy of Windows from a store. This would deprive the store of a physical item (which they paid for) which they can no longer exchange for money (or something else of value). If, however, I work at that store and make a copy of the Windows CD, putting the original retail box back on the shelf, the store still has the copy for sale. My action in that case is illegal copying, not theft. The only thing the store (and MS) are out is the possibility of a sale. It is not certain that I would have bought a copy of Windows if I hadn't copied it. Thus, while making an illegal copy is wrong, it is not theft and does not have the same impact on the victim. It has some impact, but not the same. That is why equating "illegal copying" with "theft" is misleading and should be avoided.


    I mean, where's the victim if you print off $100?

    There isn't one. There is only a victim if I then represent the fake $100 as real and use it to purchase something. In that case I am guilty of fraud, but it is still not theft (though it is closer to it than copying is).


    dictionary distinctions ring a little ridiculous

    No. Dictionary distinctions are what keep us from talking about everything as if it is the same thing. Rape != Murder, though both are violent. Blue != Purple, though they can be close. Theft != Copyright Infringement, though both are wrong. Talking about things using the correct terms is important if we are to properly understand them and their consequences. Without proper understanding we can not create a proper response. It will likely be either excessive or inadequate. Right now I think it is excessive, and will remain so until the discussion is couched in the proper terms.

    This is my .sig! Get your own!

  • Re:Show of remorse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HyperbolicParabaloid (220184) on Friday October 04, 2002 @03:46PM (#4389262) Journal
    Also not true. On the same page, in the paragraph before the one your quote is:


    The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 abolished parole eligibility for federal offenders - except military offenders -- who commit offenses on or after November 1, 1987.


    So there is no longer any parole in the federal system.
  • Re:Draw the line (Score:2, Insightful)

    by woobieman29 (593880) on Friday October 04, 2002 @03:48PM (#4389276)

    Yes as a matter of fact, it is wrong.

    If for instance a cure for cancer is developed by a research team at WhiteHat Pharmaceuticals, don't they deserve to be compensated for their years of effort in R&D? Say that BlackHat Pharmaceuticals, a rival company that doesn't have the talent and knowledge to develop this on their own "just steals the formula" and releases their version of the drug for 20% of the price that WhiteHat charges (they can make money at this price point after all, since they don't have to pay for R&D) effectively destroying any possibility that WhiteHat will ever be able to make a profit, let alone recoup the money they spend on R&D. Do you think that WhiteHat is going to invest anymore of their time and talent in developing other drugs if this is allowed to happen? Absolutely not. This certainly does NOT advance our society! Now these "People that cannot afford it" that need other drugs are still up shit creek because the drugs that they need will never be developed. Even if the people that stole the formula gave their version of the drug away for free, the overall impact of this action would be extremely negative if it serves to discontinue the further development of new drugs.

    Yes, sharing of intellectual property has many benefits to society. The key to this however is that everyone must decide for themselves what they are willing to share, who they are willing to share it with, and under what terms. The Open Source community is a stellar example of the wonderful things that can happen when the fruits of intellectual labor are shared. Just realize that this is not the perfect solution for all cases, and that it is ultimately up to the owner/creator of intellectual property to decide how it should best be used.

    Respectfully submitted, The Woobman
  • by dspeyer (531333) <dspeyer AT wam DOT umd DOT edu> on Friday October 04, 2002 @04:04PM (#4389444) Homepage Journal
    A lot of nearly-ubiquitous software packages have audit-terms in their EULAs. Here's term 2c from Flash Player's EULA [macromedia.com]:
    You agree that Macromedia may audit your use of the Software for compliance with these terms at any time, upon reasonable notice.
    Macromedia is one of the BSA's founders, IIRC, so the permission probably carries over (these things usually include the company's "agents"). Flash player is not the only common program to have such a term, but it's one of the few that may even find it's way onto a Debian system,

    Just another reason to be paranoid, another reason to use exclusively free software, and another reason to avoid Flash.

  • by ebyrob (165903) on Friday October 04, 2002 @04:13PM (#4389486) Homepage
    While I applaud the government in catching this group and meting out something approaching justice in this case, I cringe every time I see the DMCA mis-applied to squelch criticism or competition.

    Perhaps when we can get those making the laws to begin a sane discourse about the future of copyright, people's opinions won't seem quite so stigmatized in this area... Is it wrong to share a copy of your favorite game with your best friend? Probably not (at least it didn't used to be illegal and you'd be able to do it with a book). Is it wrong to share a copy of your favorite game with 10,000 of your closest friends? Absolutely.

    Copyright has been chosen by the current establishment. But it is optional. The more IP infringes on important things (like free speech) the more likely it is to be thrown out by the next generation. I am a voting member of the population, and I currently wonder if a reasonable set of IP laws can ever be reached. If not, I'd much prefer no IP over the alternative [gnu.org].

    I write software because I love to. If you compete with me using dirty tricks instead of technical merit you devalue not only what I do for 10-20 hours a week. You devalue the usefulness of computers everywhere.
  • by ebyrob (165903) on Friday October 04, 2002 @04:27PM (#4389592) Homepage
    This kid didn't write this stuff himself.

    I can seem him feeling that what he did is wrong and going a little over board toward the copy infringement is theft camp, but somebody had to put those words in his mouth. The BSA are closer to customs agents at the Mexican boarder than they are to any useful policing force.

    Lost your printed license documents? Oooh that's gonna COST ya!
  • by asscroft (610290) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:12PM (#4390036)
    sounds pretty interesting.

    Not that I want to become a cracker, but it's a lot more complex than I ever thought.

    I'd love to learn more. I've never really had that mob-obsession the rest of America has (sopranos, godfather, etc..) but this on the other hand is fascinating.

    hell, I'd even read a Katz book on the topic.

    Chris, you should write a book in prison. I'd buy it. Then I'd scan it and upload it to a DorD server in your honor.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdavidb (449077) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:13PM (#4390043) Homepage Journal

    Our system of capitalism only works because of copyright.

    I think you're accepting this as an axiom. There are other ways to generate revenue besides creating intellectual property. One can create the old fashioned kind of property, for example. Or provide services.

    I'm a laissez-faire capitalist. I waffle back and forth on the matter, but it usually seems to me like "intellectual property" (caveat emptor: as RMS says, lumping copyright, trademarks, patents, etc. all together under the banner of "intellectual property" is a gross generalization that usually leads to wrong thinking) laws are an artificial construct of the state. So what if there's nothing preventing people from sharing information? Go get a job that doesn't depend on the state to regulate that sharing.

    What do you think about the United States enforcing its intellectual property laws in other countries? Even when I am feeling favorable towards IP law, I am never favorable to such affronts to the principle of national sovreignty. If Ukraine, China, Mexico, or Dmitry Sklyarov in Russia don't want to follow our laws, why should they have to? (I believe we used to have a saying: "No taxation without representation.") [By the same token, if two nations want to enter into an agreement to enforce each other's laws, more power to them on that. I just object to the U.S. bullying other countries into accepting our laws.]

    Basically, nations can compete against each other without a central, superior authority commanding them to observe mutual IP laws. And by "compete," I mean profitable capitalism and competition, with all that entails. If nations can compete on this level, I think it's reasonable to speculate that individuals can, too.

    No advertising - fine, so who's going to pay for prime time television?

    I recently started buying an older television series on DVD. I get the whole season to watch when I want, with no advertising. I'd pay higher prices to get whole seasons of brand new shows on DVD. (The thought of never missing an episode of Smallville or the District, and never having to "pay for them" by watching commercials, has me almost salivating.) It's a sustainable market. Or people can come up with something else. I don't care for having government regulation to make the entertainment industry profitable.

    Who would create music with no compensation?

    I think Eric Raymond's libertarianism FAQ [tuxedo.org] says it best: the label of "artist" confers no special right to a living at public expense. It's legitimate, though harsh, to say, "Go get a real job." (Meaning I don't think the government has an obligation to guarantee you an income through legislation just so you can make your hobby your job. My dad writes music; but he has an unrelated job. I'm sure he'd certainly argue the music is more important, but that doesn't mean he thinks it needs to be his career.)

    How long do you propose that musicians have to do live performances before they can retire?

    What, you want a government mandate telling them how long to perform? :)

    Our founding fathers correctly realized this.

    You knew those guys had some dissension in the ranks about that, didn't you? Thomas Jefferson, in particular.

    In summary, I'm way into capitalism, just like you, but I think you're selling its potentials short if you think intellectual property is the only way for it to work.

  • Re:Show of remorse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by isorox (205688) on Friday October 04, 2002 @05:30PM (#4390150) Homepage Journal
    Theres no way to proove that someone wouldnt buy it, however theres no way to proove someone would.

    If I have a copy of lightwave 3D that I am not licensed to have, would I have bought this $5,000 product. BTW I'm a student with an annual income of arround a $5,000 loan.

    No. Thats right. Lightwave inc. havent lost out.

    I then buy a $40 book on how to use lightwave, the book publishers (and lightwave inc. via royalties), gain money.

    Later (10 years) I have the skills to use lightwave, and therefore when I choose a 3d package for a company, I'll choose lightwave as I know it. Lightwave inc. gets money.

    I will say that the makers of "cheapo lightwave", for only $100, may lose out. In my experience It's unlikely though.
    At uni we couldnt install a dodgy copy of photoshop because they do audits and tell us off. Instead of buying paint shop pro, we installed the gimp. If you cant have the best, then why not have something for Free?
  • How about... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Haeleth (414428) on Friday October 04, 2002 @06:54PM (#4390710) Journal
    ..."I steal software because its publishers won't sell it to me"? - when it's out of print, say?
    Or other infringements of copyright, such as translating something without authorisation, because the company that owns the rights refuses to exercise them?

    Certainly the rationalisations you quote are pathetic, but do you really believe copyright law is perfect?

    Civil disobedience is usually illegal, but that doesn't mean it's *always* wrong.
  • by Gerry Gleason (609985) <gerry&geraldgleason,com> on Friday October 04, 2002 @06:54PM (#4390715)
    Everything you say may be true, but it is really beside the point. Just because a company has bad practices, or in some cases has suffered from turnover (whether self inflicted or not), doesn't mean they should have to worry about the BSA auditing them. Unless they have a solid legal basis to claim a violation has taken place, the BSA doesn't have any right to make anyone prove they are in compliance. Lots of organizations just don't have the time or talent to do every administrative task (IT, or otherwise) completely right, but they manage to focus on their customers enough to stay in busingess.

Administration: An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. -- Ambrose Bierce

Working...