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The Courts Government News

Operation Fastlink Nets 1000s in Pirate Sting 844 844

womanfiend writes "The Iowa City (Iowa) Press Citizen has been reporting the last two days about "'Operation Fastlink,' a multi-national investigation launched in April." Apparently, the investigation has netted a local college student hosting 13,000 titles worth a bundle of money both in simple value and liability for as many times as logs show the titles were downloaded. According to the P-C: "...'Operation Fastlink,' which targeted the underground community's hierarchy with [FBI] agents conducting more than 120 searches within 24 hours in 27 states and 11 foreign countries. At the time, authorities identified nearly 100 people as leaders or high-ranking members of international piracy groups." Sounds like somebody's in deep doo doo."
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Operation Fastlink Nets 1000s in Pirate Sting

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  • FBI searches (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:59AM (#11191143)
    [FBI] agents conducting [..] searches [..] in [..] 11 foreign countries

    Why the bloody fuck are FBI agents able to conduct searches in forgein countries? They have nothing to say outside of the US!
  • College kids? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <> on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:03AM (#11191174) Homepage
    I can imagine that call home

    "Yeah mom, I was expelled. Why? Oh, uh, um, the FBI caught me using my net connection to distribute movies illegally. Yes, yes. With the computer you bought me. What? No. The tuition you paid is not refundable. Books? I'm off campus in under 24 hours, I don't have time to sell them. Another college? This is on my permanent record. BTW you wouldn't happen to have a couple thousand to settle this case would "

  • by paganizer (566360) <thegrove1@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:04AM (#11191181) Homepage Journal
    Is it obvious to anyone else that this person was caught a while back, and has a sealed plea bargain for lesser sentence somewhere whhich he got by agreeing to let them monitor his activities for a while?
    Explains why he rolled over on himself so easily.
  • Just goes to show (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Heem (448667) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:05AM (#11191192) Homepage Journal
    Many have gotten real bold about how they go about sharing things. In the old days it was like you had to be "elite" or "31337 d00d" in order to get to the restricted files on the BBS so you could download them at 2400 baud. Typically this meant that you knew the sysop, or were a friend of a friend. We have gotten too lax in the way that people are just randomly sharing out everything. Want to share stuff and download? I agree, but take it to encrypted tunnels on IPv6.
  • 15 years.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by orion41us (707362) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:06AM (#11191200)
    "Desir, registered as a student at the University of Iowa, waived indictment and pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Des Moines. He faces a maximum 15 years in prison on felony counts of copyright infringement and conspiracy. Sentencing is set for March 18."...

    Ok - I know it was wrong - but 15 years! come on, 2nd degree murder is right aroung the same Sentence for ILLINOIS, anyone else think that this is a bit much....
  • Read the article... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BlackMesaResearchFac (593320) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:12AM (#11191246)
    It's never the college kids that are downloading illegal copies that are busted (unlike w/ music). It's the kids and adults that contribute to the warez community that provides it for download. Granted it's not as if the warez community doesn't use the software they steal, but it's because of them that hundreds of people do not purchase a game or software package. Why anyone should think they ought to get a free ride just because this or that may be percieved as worse does not hold water.
  • time to go wireless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by utexaspunk (527541) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:24AM (#11191350)
    with all the free and open wi-fi points in the world, i guess it's time file sharers went wireless. i suppose that could be a viable defense, as well, if one has an open wi-fi router at home. that is, of course, until the po-po confiscates your computer and finds all your warez on it...
  • Re:College kids? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by randalware (720317) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:26AM (#11191377) Journal

    Parents shouldn't pay the legal bills.
    Let them use the public defender, lose the case & bill the government.
    Then with manditory sentencing, we can have the prisons full of these kids.

    Just think, our own home grown cyber terrorists.

    Another generation lost in the battle of the brain damaged.
  • Re:I'd reply to this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jellomizer (103300) * on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:31AM (#11191419)
    I am sure that was ment for sarcasm. But the extra time it usually takes to format a disk is just checking for bad secotors. and the /Q just skips the scandisk. * For fun dor a format c: and at 99% hit crtl-brake and check it out your data should still be there.

    * I Would sugest that you try in on a system you are not afraid of formatting over in the case that.
    A. You are not using Microsoft Format.
    B. The speed of your computer from 99 to 100 is to fast for you to hit brake.
    C. I am compleatly wrong which I dont think I am. But they may have changed this in a newer version.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:37AM (#11191466)
    And would you just "deal with it" if the punishment for speeding were 5 years in jail? I think not... since that's obviously a punishment that doesn't fit the crime.

    Clearly, the same is true for piracy, no matter how massive it is. In the best case (for the companies, that is), money is lost. Of course, as a society whose very soul it seems is the money, I can understand why some people are vehemently against piracy, but let's get real here. Speeding is much more dangerous than piracy, since we're talking about actual people possibly losing their lives. Say all you want about piracy, but it's ultimately benign, and possibly beneficial in a social sense.
  • Viable Defense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TrollBridge (550878) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:48AM (#11191573) Homepage Journal
    Why is it that when someone gets busted for copyright infringement, the Slashbot hive buzzes with the effort of finding the next "viable defense" to justify copyright infringement.

    Wouldn't a better way to preserve P2P fair use be to actively discourage abuse of the tools?

    Or isn't the actual goal here the preservation of fair use?
  • by dahl_ag (415660) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:49AM (#11191581)
    Yeah, I wasn't trying to argue that music sharing warrents the laws and punishments that it gets. I personally agree that it should be LEGAL to share music. It always pisses me off that bands like Metallica who got their fame because of people bootlegging their demo and concert tapes are now so strongly against music swapping. Biggots. I was more trying to emphasize that people know the laws and shouldn't be suprised if and when they get enforced. (of course the need to change the laws is a different matter) Its be a while since I did my sharing. Now I just pay for XM and still save tons of money vompared to my CD buying days.
  • Re:false Math (Score:5, Interesting)

    by I8TheWorm (645702) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:51AM (#11191605) Journal
    It doesn't matter if they would have bought it or not. The fact is they are in possession of the song/movie/software. Possession of the song/movie/software is how the companies that provide it earn revenue. So simply by having it, they have bypasses the revenue piece of the puzzle. That is, in technical accounting jargon, attributable to operating loss.
  • Re:College kids? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <> on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:53AM (#11191619) Homepage
    You bought the media and accepted the copyright. They make it quite clear on the package [hint: learn to read]. So you violated their distribution license.

    Again, stop being an asshat.

    You can still be kind in this world. You just have to actually be kind. There is nothing "kind" with P2P distribution of stuff you don't have rights to.

    If you physically share things [e.g. DVD or CD] that's kind because you are making a sacrifice so someone else can benefit [if not temporarily].

    Of course I guess that's the world I live in. Where "kindness" is measured with thoughtless meaningless gestures...

  • by maximilln (654768) on Monday December 27, 2004 @12:10PM (#11191771) Homepage Journal
    In the meantime, consider the "artificial monopoly" that keeps millions of folks in business.

    Fake. Artists will always make art. Painters will always paint. Musicians will always make music. Programmers will always write programs. Society will always survive. If it were any other way we'd be extinct or living in caves.

    The business plan - relying on licensing and copyright protection - is the most viable one for major software projects.

    There's a difference between the easiest way to do things and the right way to do things. The dividing line is in morality, not legality.

    You simply can't produce works like...say, Doom 3, without having the ability to pay all those folks for their work.

    They could. Too bad we're so far down the "mine! all mine!" patent/copyright route that we don't know how anymore.

    Just because you don't want to pay for the software doesn't mean you have a right to steal it.

    If you leave $100 in the middle of your front lawn don't come crying to me when someone else picked it up. The media companies know they're dealing in a product which has unlimited supply. Why the farcical act of surprise when people copy it?
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday December 27, 2004 @12:18PM (#11191823) Homepage
    Commercial software is good in a way and bad in others. Blah blah blah.

    I like open source stuff. I get warm fuzzies any time I run it for anything I do on a daily basis. I don't waste my time with games... haven't for years... (one day I found myself calling in sick to work because I wanted to play a game... omg... I'm addicted... so I quit... after I finished the mission of course!) But I can see where there are plenty of areas where certain commercial apps are 100% necessary. (Use photoshop because the gimp isn't quite "there" yet...)

    I personally, think "misappropriation" of software for personal and non-commercial use should be "ignored" though it should never be considered "okay." (I think games, if they are good and worthy should be paid for as a means of applause.) But the commerial benefit of misappropriated software is way out there "wrong."

    These college kids are not the users of the software. I remember back in those days myself. It was just cool to try to get the latest "whatever" was out there and share it. When Win95 was new, it was the coolest thing ever to play with. Sleek new UI, came with TCP/IP already and a browser too! MSIE was my favorite back in those days... it was included with the OS! How convenient! And free? Who could beat that?

    Are they really causing a lot of damage to the industry? I just don't know the answer to that question... I just don't know. Do I feel like these kids are "evil" and just want to do damage? Hell no. Should they be shut down? Hell yeah! Should they be allowed to lead a normal life afterward! Hell yeah... the first time only. Do it again and f@ck'em!

    That's my few cents anyway...
  • by leonardluen (211265) on Monday December 27, 2004 @12:42PM (#11191995)
    what gives someone else the right to take something that does not belong to them?

    now, i am not saying i like the current state of copyright laws, i am a strong believer that copyrights shouldn't last forever. i also didn't intend for this to become a debate about them, if it did i would probably agree with you. i agree with you in that you can't hold a monopoly on an idea.

    what this thread is about is all the stupid arguments /.'ers use about how the company doesn't lose any money, in order to justify their own actions. it makes them feel better so they don't think they are harming anyone by using software they didn't pay for. but because of it someone somewhere may be going without a paycheck because the company doesn't have enough revenue to pay them due to all the people using the software without paying for it.

  • Terrible idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kjella (173770) on Monday December 27, 2004 @12:54PM (#11192106) Homepage
    ...we have this in Norway, and it is one of the looniest laws on the books. What it effectively means is that once you've reached a certain "treshold", crime is free. Have I shoplifted 20 times? Well, if I do it a 21st time, I'll get one more, but less for each one so it makes absolutely no difference if I do. It is paradise for career criminals, and does nothing for the rest.

    Argue it how you like, but he does not seem like a casual pirate to me. He seems to have been actively leading a criminal life by piracy for quite some time. I don't see any prinicipally wrong with him getting a much harsher sentence than a casual pirate. I wish it was the same here in Norway (here we have a guy who's convicted of breaking & entering in somewhere between 500 and 600 cabins - he's still walking around, sigh).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 27, 2004 @01:01PM (#11192151)
    Expect lots of piracy justification responses to your post, and expect those replies to get mysteriously modded up. Pirates seem to live in a dream world where they have mentally blocked out the consequences of their actions, often with bizarre justifications ("It's too expensive for me to buy"). They are freeloaders who get bitter when the free ride is taken away. There is a big difference from the free-ness of the OSS world and the free-ness as in the -loader variety. It's as though Linux newbies apply one set of value to the other as though they are related. Just because you get TuxRacer for free doesn't mean you have a right to Doom 3 for free.

    Slashdotters only care when GPL source code is "stolen." In any other situation, however, copyright never matters, and anyone attacking piracy or defending themselves from it is evil, "money-grubbing," and so on. When they go after individual downloaders--the very thing Slashdotters suggested they do during the Napster trial--they get attacked. It's easier to demonize then to address the issue.
  • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@gmai l . com> on Monday December 27, 2004 @01:01PM (#11192155)
    Sorry, I checked with legal, and as I know work for a competitor of the software, I can't really say. The product was a vertical market app used for the medical industry: essentially managed your entire office, billing, insurance billing, scheduling, etc.

    Piracy is going to happen, you have to factor this into any software sales. Even if you hadn't removed the licensing features they would have been worked around anyway given enough time. (Assumming the software was truely popular enough)
    No, not really. Every copy of the software used an active form of product activation, and required regular checks against a master database of legal copies: the client could go to a secure website and get a new pre-keyed version delivered by e-mail. That would only work on one PC - determined by a powerful hash of various system bits - and at one location. Every set of binaries was unique, and it was in daily communication (internet connectivity to a remote server was already required for many features). It was virtually foolproof. There really was no widescale way to fake the system. Maybe you could spend hours and make one copy run wrongly, but really, it couldnt be done on a wide scale.

    Yeah, piracy is bad, but lets be honest here... most companies don't pirate software that is critical to their infrastructure as they need support contracts when something goes awry
    I say no. I see it all the time. Every day actually. Companies - big and small - pirating infrastructure software on a daily basis from both big and small companies.
  • by jlgolson (19847) on Monday December 27, 2004 @01:04PM (#11192172) Homepage Journal
    May I have your address please? I would like to share your eggs. And your television. And your wife.

    This will come at no net financial cost to you, as you are so generously sharing what is yours. There is no profit involved.

    Thanks so much!
  • by Famatra (669740) on Monday December 27, 2004 @01:34PM (#11192408) Journal
    " The wholesale looting of others intellectual property is a very destructive thing."

    Not any more destructive than turning our society into a police state with mandated DRM on everything i'd guess.

    Since I dislike short replies but do like free stories I'll share one with you all :). This maybe one of the few free things we can read in our nice DRM future:

    The Right to Read

    by Richard Stallman

    [image of a Philosophical Gnu]
    Table of Contents

    * Author's Note
    * References
    * Other Texts to Read

    This article appeared in the February 1997 issue of Communications of the ACM (Volume 40, Number 2).

    (from "The Road To Tycho", a collection of articles about the antecedents of the Lunarian Revolution, published in Luna City in 2096)

    For Dan Halbert, the road to Tycho began in college--when Lissa Lenz asked to borrow his computer. Hers had broken down, and unless she could borrow another, she would fail her midterm project. There was no one she dared ask, except Dan.

    This put Dan in a dilemma. He had to help her--but if he lent her his computer, she might read his books. Aside from the fact that you could go to prison for many years for letting someone else read your books, the very idea shocked him at first. Like everyone, he had been taught since elementary school that sharing books was nasty and wrong--something that only pirates would do.

    And there wasn't much chance that the SPA--the Software Protection Authority--would fail to catch him. In his software class, Dan had learned that each book had a copyright monitor that reported when and where it was read, and by whom, to Central Licensing. (They used this information to catch reading pirates, but also to sell personal interest profiles to retailers.) The next time his computer was networked, Central Licensing would find out. He, as computer owner, would receive the harshest punishment--for not taking pains to prevent the crime.

    Of course, Lissa did not necessarily intend to read his books. She might want the computer only to write her midterm. But Dan knew she came from a middle-class family and could hardly afford the tuition, let alone her reading fees. Reading his books might be the only way she could graduate. He understood this situation; he himself had had to borrow to pay for all the research papers he read. (10% of those fees went to the researchers who wrote the papers; since Dan aimed for an academic career, he could hope that his own research papers, if frequently referenced, would bring in enough to repay this loan.)

    Later on, Dan would learn there was a time when anyone could go to the library and read journal articles, and even books, without having to pay. There were independent scholars who read thousands of pages without government library grants. But in the 1990s, both commercial and nonprofit journal publishers had begun charging fees for access. By 2047, libraries offering free public access to scholarly literature were a dim memory.

    There were ways, of course, to get around the SPA and Central Licensing. They were themselves illegal. Dan had had a classmate in software, Frank Martucci, who had obtained an illicit debugging tool, and used it to skip over the copyright monitor code when reading books. But he had told too many friends about it, and one of them turned him in to the SPA for a reward (students deep in debt were easily tempted into betrayal). In 2047, Frank was in prison, not for pirate reading, but for possessing a debugger.

    Dan would later learn that there was a time when anyone could have debugging tools. There were even free debugging tools available on CD or downloadable over the net. But ordinary users started using them to bypass copyright monitors, and eventually a judge ruled that this had become their principal use in actual practice. This meant they were illegal; the debuggers' developers were sent to prison.

    Programmers still needed debugging tools, of co
  • Re:I second that. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by toxtothogrady (765950) on Monday December 27, 2004 @01:41PM (#11192474) Homepage
    I presume most spammers pay taxes, therefore represent a nice little revenue stream for Uncle Sam. Why would the U.S. government bother spending its resources squashing profitable spam companies just because we peons (or our ISPs) complain about a little extra email? Answer is, they wouldn't.

    It's more fun and rewarding for them to work high-profile "piracy" cases, busting the evil "pirates" and "hackers" of the world. And face it, the major ISPs and the citizens of this country don't have the lobbying power of the RIAA or MPAA, so nothing much gets done on our behalf. I think we'll see more and more cases like this in the near future, while spam continues to gobble up bandwidth and fill our mailboxes.
  • by hesiod (111176) on Monday December 27, 2004 @05:01PM (#11194228)
    > Did the system work? Kinda.

    NO, not at all. If you were innocent and had ANYTHING adverse happen to you (excluding work time missed to be in court, and I don't even agree with that) the system did not work. You were bullied into paying $5000 that you should not have. THAT MEANS THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN.

    I can't see how you aren't totally pissed off about that. I don't know what kind of job you had in college (or if your parents are/were wealthy), but many college students don't have 5 grand to their name, let alone able to shell it out suddenly due to a wrongful accusal.

    Of course, I have my own reasons to believe the system doesn't work. I was accused for possession of pot, although they had no proof that it was mine -- it wasn't on my person or in my car. They said "no charges will be filed," 1 year probation, then it gets expunged, so I took your stance (although I was not fined) -- sure, nothing bad will come of it, so I'll just play along.

    Two years later, I have an FBI record and am almost denied a job because of that (I explained the circumstances and our HR director said a similar thing happened to someone else there and basically ignored it). That was the only time I've ever encountered the police for anything other than traffic violations. Certainly not worthy of an FBI record, but there you have it. I'm on par with an international terrorist because I liked smoking pot when I was 23.

Adapt. Enjoy. Survive.