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The Courts Government News

Operation Fastlink Nets 1000s in Pirate Sting 844

Posted by Hemos
from the bad-times-for-file-sharing dept.
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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  • by Chatmag (646500) <editor@chatmag.com> on Monday December 27, 2004 @09:58AM (#11191134) Homepage Journal
    1000's of spammers caught in sting.
    • Substitute "Counterfeiting" or "Treason" instead of spammers.

      *thinks of what Constitution says about federal crimes...
      • Isn't that what 'piracy' is, counterfeiting?

        So the current headline should really say, "Operation Fastlink Nets 1000s in Counterfeiting Sting' or something?

        Or is it because of some obscure cost/packaging/distribution reason that this isn't technically counterfeiting?
        • by b1t r0t (216468) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:39AM (#11191969)
          Isn't that what 'piracy' is, counterfeiting?

          Counterfeiting is when you try to pass something off as the real thing.

          An MPEG2 file named "Gigli.mpg" is not a counterfeit.
          A DVD-R with Gigli.mpg burned to it and "Gigli" written on it in Sharpie marker is not a counterfeit.
          A DVD-R with a scan of the Gigli disc art printed on it with an inkjet printer, in a DVD snap case with a scan of the Gigli cover sheet is a poor counterfeit.
          A DVD pressed in Hong Kong with the Gigli disc art silkscreened on it, and a 4-color printing of the Gigli cover sheet is a good counterfeit.

          The same applies to money:

          A piece of paper with "ONE DOLLER" written on it is not a counterfeit.
          A piece of paper where someone has drawn something vaguely looking like US currency but with no attempt to copy the artwork or face is not a counterfeit.
          A xerox of a $1 bill, trimmed to size, is counterfeit, especially if you attempt to pass it off as such, like by using it in a vending machine.
          A $200 bill with the face of George W. Bush is not a counterfeit. Neither is a $3 bill with the face of Bill Clinton.

    • The lobby against spam is nonexistent. Seriously, unless spam starts to seriously hurt someone with lots of money it's here to stay.
    • by swb (14022) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:46AM (#11191543)
      For example: This priority [usdoj.gov] -- I can't even believe that a group of serious adults gets up in the morning with the idea that they're working to end the vast and dangerous conspiracy known as the "bong industry".

      I can accept that they'd go after commercial counterfeiters and pirates of intellectual property, but given the extent of fraud and other naughtyness associated with spam (ie, selling prescription drugs), why hasn't the FBI gone after that before college kids trading bad movies they'll never watch and probably won't even have five years from now (hard disk crashes, changes in life priorities, etc), let alone wouldn't have bought or paid to see anyway (and despite the fact that the movies have probably broken even or made a profit *anyway*).

      I'm sure if they actually *did* investigate spam via stings, they'd find massive tax evasion, fraud, violations of more substantive drug laws, and a bunch of otherwise legitimate corporations collecting a tidy profit by selling services needed to run a spam operation. Which is probably why they won't make the effort -- whenever big business gets involved, somehow the law doesn't seem to apply.

      Oh well, at least we'll know that "college kids" and "bong makers" can be safely removed from the Bad Guy checklist.

      • It's simple. Follow the money. The **AA have lobbyists. Stupid people who buy things via spammers don't have lobbyists.
  • by atarione (601740) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:00AM (#11191153)
    .... but I'm too busy formatting my HardDrives..Must destroy evidence.....mmmmm evidence

    • You better do more then format your drive all that normally dose is just wipe out the FAT Table. You need to get a program that fills your hard drive with Random Data 1 and 0 and 0 and 1 and do it a couple of times to get rid of any residual data.
      • Residual data is an urban legend. Don't believe the spook-show you read from the FBI/CIA.

        Fill with 254. Filling with 0 or 1 may, on fast fills, leave the other bits. That's the origin of your residual effect.

        If "residual effect" were real, why don't you see random r/w errors on a regular basis?
        • by AviLazar (741826) on Monday December 27, 2004 @12:09PM (#11192224) Journal
          Residual data is pretty real. My friend works for a company that used to do data recovery (they have evolved to selling wholesale lockboxes to financial industry). Everything from formatted hard drives, to hard drives that were in a fire. There are plenty of articles on the web that discuss the different methods of recovering data from a formatted disk. Google it and you should find plenty of articles:

          Dawn of the Undead Data [computerworld.com]

      • by saintp (595331) <stpierre@@@nebrwesleyan...edu> on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:20AM (#11191314) Homepage
        Luckily, I know just the program [amazingmagnets.com].
        • Re:I'd reply to this (Score:3, Informative)

          by dougmc (70836)

          Luckily, I know just

          the program [amazingmagnets.com].

          Your link points to a company that sells magnets. A better word than `program' would probably be `product'.

          But no matter. It takes very strong magnets to erase today's high density media. Yes, you can erase (or at least seriously distort the data) a floppy or cassette tape with your average magnet, but to erase a DLT tape requires something much more powerful. As for a hard drive, I'd expect the required strength to be similar to that of a DLT.

          Why do I know th

  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:00AM (#11191154) Journal

    Sounds like somebody's in deep doo doo

    Because our law enforcement is acting on the behalf of private companies (who should be filing civil suits against these people) instead of going after the rapists/murders/terrorists of the World.

    Well in fairness they are still going after them -- this just seems like wasted resources to me.

    • Terrorism -- the perfect invisible enemy for a nation consumed with fear. Do you enjoy being manipulated?
      • Terrorism -- the perfect invisible enemy for a nation consumed with fear. Do you enjoy being manipulated?

        Oh bugger off. Mind you I completely agree with you and roll my eyes at this crap [ready.gov] and all of the public service announcements about "being ready" and I would tend to agree that it does seem to be a scheme to keep the current politicans in office...

        All that said... bugger off. What do you think is a higher priority for our limited law enforcement resources? Going after terrorists (despite my rant t

    • "Well in fairness they are still going after them ""

      Are you sure of that? I thought that building prisons for non-violent drug offenders was the current priority.

    • Well, you're crossing genre's of "crimes" there, but I think you're on the right track. Who the FBI, CIA, NSA, DoD, and the Pentagon ought to be going after is China, Korea, Thailand, and all the other Southeast Asian countries that are costing American companies millions, if not billions, in 'lost revenues' on computer software sales. Sadly, that would require an act of war, and since our government leaders know that this is not a viable solution for saving a select few American companies millions of dolla
    • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:24AM (#11191349)
      The wholesale looting of others intellectual property is a very destructive thing. Of those 13,000 titles you can very sure that among them were titles by the non-industry powerhouses.

      I've worked as an employee and contractor to a number of small niche players who wrote popular useful software but were ultimately forced out of business due to the direct and indirect effects of piracy.

      It is criminal what is being done to some of these companies. When you have a potential customer base of perhaps 5,000 you really need to make sure that you do exactly what your customers want.

      I helped organize a QA and customer satisfaction drive for a niche regional software provider. We surveyed every user of the software. Took suggestions and complaintants and feedback on every bit of the application. All told we collected, ranked, anaylzed and implemented 6,500 changes ranging from minor tweaks to major rewrites. It was an 18-month project. Every issue was documentated, analyzed, and every user, every issue recieved a human-authored note that dealt in depth with the issue.

      At the request of several users the licensing was vastly simplified even though it meant - at best - a 15% decline in revenue. A solid base of the users/sysadmins complained about the technical measures used to prevent licensing violations. They were removed completely and the honor system was instituted.

      After the project, the application won numerous awards within its industry. User satisifaction with the application went from 62% to 98% between the versions. The average site had about 10%-20% smaller licensing costs. Support calls dropped 50% in 3 months. A comprehensive professional written and edited user manual was given to every user, and a robust feature request/enhancement/bug tracker went live.

      It was vastly successful. Yet, within 12 months of that release, the company closed its door, and released the code from escrow to the clients. 40 programmers, QA, and support people lost their jobs, and the owner - a very nice woman - was financially ruined. A number of the customer sites also went belly up - as many as 10.

      The software was an investment to be sure, but allowed you to run an efficent, competitive, and focused organization. When the anti-piracy features were removed competitors with pirated editions sprang up, offering similair services at lower prices - part of which was because the new enterprises could escape making an investment in software that their competitors did have to make.

      The fact is that in this situation everyone knows what happened. A few key employees from one established place took a copy of the server with all the data files and software and all that, and went to establish a competitor in an adjoining state. Same product, 25% cheaper. That 25% is almost entirely made up by the fact that they did not license the software everyone else has to pay for.

      In this case, private litigation is useless and slow. The software company and several established reputable companies ended up being run out of business by a truly awful display of poor ethics.

      Pirates destroyed the lives of many honest people here. This software package that was cracked and passed around so viciously on many of the big warez networks was the lifeblood of a vibrant partnership of interests. And it was trashed so that a quick buck could be made by a few destructive people (who ended up closing up shop when the easy money was over; they didn't charge enough or save enough to make it through the long slow periods that are inherent in the industry).

      Bottom line is that this was a true shame. And it's not all that uncommon. Government acts on behalf of people, and many times, that means acting on behalf of businesses. It's sure easy to be pissed about the FBI spending moneny on anti-piracy, but it has very real economic effects.

      Law-enforcement, including the FBI, is generally well-funded. There really isn't a great battle for r
      • What was this product?

        "but allowed you to run an efficent, competitive, and focused organization."

        This is a rather vague statement... it could be a calendar application.

        "The fact is that in this situation everyone knows what happened. A few key employees from one established place took a copy of the server with all the data files and software and all that, and went to establish a competitor in an adjoining state. Same product, 25% cheaper. That 25% is almost entirely made up by the fact that they did not
        • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday December 27, 2004 @12:01PM (#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.
      • The fact is that in this situation everyone knows what happened. A few key employees from one established place took a copy of the server with all the data files and software and all that, and went to establish a competitor in an adjoining state. Same product, 25% cheaper. That 25% is almost entirely made up by the fact that they did not license the software everyone else has to pay for.

        This software package that was cracked and passed around so viciously on many of the big warez networks was the lifebloo

        • No source code was stolen: a working copy of the software - which was newly setup not to require activation, and heavy onerus copy protection - was taken.

          And what makes you call that "cracking"?
          There was a small binary hack applied to a copy that was floating around. Certain advanced (dangerous) features of the software could only be executed with a support person on the phone. To control access you had to do a challenge/response with the support person. This was stepped over using a simple decompi
      • You have not actually shown that piracy is what caused the downfall of this company, and your comment was somewhat disjointed (as was your story) but this was nonetheless fun to read. Work more on supporting facts next time! B-.
    • It's the responsibility of law enforcement to enforce all the laws. And when the content being distributed reaches a certain value, it does become a criminal offense.

      There's a big difference between an operation like this and the lawsuits filed by the RIAA.

      First of all, the RIAA stated previously that the people they sue on average are distributing 1,000 titles. The college student mentioned in the story was distributing about 13,000 titles. That's a big difference. I also can bet you that most of the peo
    • Exactly. I can't get anyone to do anything about the people dealing drugs across the street, but these dangerous pirates are locked away now. Maybe if I say the people across the street are selling copied DVDs instead of crack, something would get done...
    • <RANT>

      I agree that this is a total waste of taxpayer money. As of June 2002, 1 in 142 US residents are in jail [about.com]. The average annual cost to incarcerate an inmate in state prison is $22,650 [washingtonpost.com] . This is the country that is supposed to be the world leader in freedom and democracy? Am I to believe that this many people constitute a threat to society, that we have to lock them up? What about the real criminals... those that raid the resources of the world and kill thousands (millions?) of innocent people a

  • Wrong Department (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrollBridge (550878) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:02AM (#11191164) Homepage Journal
    Should read "From the finally-going-after-the-lawbreakers dept."

    We pissed and moaned when the authorities went after the makers of P2P software, crying that they should go after the people doing the infringement.

    Predictably, now that authorities are actually going after the infringers, we have something new to piss and moan about. Let's get consistent, can we?
    • Amen to that! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sgt O (832802)
      It's been said a thousand times in /. and I'll say it again.

      These idiots are stealing other peoples/companies stuff and redistributing

      They know it's illegal but they do it anyway so they get no simpathy from me.

      I speed (allot) normally doing 80-90 mph on the way to/from work. If I get busted, guess what? I got busted! I know I'm breaking the law so you won't see me whine when I get a ticket.
      • Re:Amen to that! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 3terrabyte (693824) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:31AM (#11191422) Journal
        Yea, but you don't get 15 years in a federal prison for speeding, do you?
      • Re:Amen to that! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Diabolical (2110)
        got busted! I know I'm breaking the law so you won't see me whine when I get a ticket.

        Yeah.. but this guy can get 15 years for something which isn't even close to doing a person bodily harm. However, if he did that he would face far less prison time.

        C'mon ppl, these sentences are way too heavy for these kind of crimes. Punishment should be equal to the crime and not public (or corporate) outcry.

        I can't wait to see the first death sentence spoken out for offering 100.000 illegal software titles.
  • by orangeguru (411012) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:02AM (#11191166) Homepage
    Why are some people so stupid and put everything they collected online - especially when it's pirated? It's like screaming 'get me! get me!'
  • by suso (153703) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:02AM (#11191169) Homepage Journal
    Copy protoction still fails to stop rampant software piracy.
  • The software industry are busy spanking poor college students who couldn't afford over-priced software while not going after companies that use pirated software.. It's everywhere and they can afford to pay for it.
    • 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.
    • Rule number one of operation fastlink: You do not go after entities with $$.
      Rule number two of operation fastlink: Oh, who am I kidding?
    • while not going after companies that use pirated software

      You're kidding, right? The BSA actively [bsa.org] goes [bsa.org] after companies that use pirated software. Canada has CAAST [caast.org] who is also [caast.org] actively [caast.org] pursuing companies that use pirates software.

      So where did you dig up the fact that the software industry is only going after college students and not companies again?
  • by Phixxr (794883) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:03AM (#11191173)
    ...That Floppy!
  • College kids? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:03AM (#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 "

    Tom
    • Re:College kids? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300) * on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:12AM (#11191254)
      Nothing forces a kid to grow up more then multiple lawsuits. The kid was probably figuring that he was above the law and there was no way they could track him and he got more cocky over time. When they are in college they are usually 17 youngest and most likely 18-19 so they are no longer kids and they should know right from wrong by now and just because he was a college student it shouldn't ease his sentence.
      • If by 17 you don't know that copying media and "sharing" it is wrong...

        first off...

        COLLEGE STUDENTS

        So you're saying retarded immature ignorant people go to college? I thought college was for the bright students who were already mature enough to take on an adult learning setting [e.g. no mommy or daddy around].

        second, this kid will probably think he's some sort of martyr. He'll likely get news time as "the kid the big evil corps took down" just like all asshat criminal hackers [caveat being not all hac
      • by krbvroc1 (725200) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:26AM (#11191369)
        Yeah, before you know it, these little fuckers will be ripping the tags off their mattresses! Obviously, P2P is a gateway crime to bigger things.

        I once heard that Bernie Ebbers of Worldcom once shared a copyrighted VHS tape with his neighbors. If he had only been stopped then...
  • by paganizer (566360) <thegrove1@nOSPAm.hotmail.com> on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:04AM (#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.
  • false Math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hhawk (26580) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:04AM (#11191184) Homepage Journal
    "personally responsible for as much as $200,000 in losses to the industry"

    That is making the assumption that everyone who pirated software would actually buy it and if they bought it they would pay full price..
    • I wish to make up fictional losses too. I could get all sorts of grants, welfare, and tax refunds. If I incorporate an some sort of IP company, will that be enough?

      If these are true losses, and can be enumerated so exactly, are they filing them in their taxes or not?
    • Re:false Math (Score:5, Interesting)

      by I8TheWorm (645702) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:51AM (#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:false Math (Score:5, Insightful)

        by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Monday December 27, 2004 @03:00PM (#11193569) Journal
        The big change that accounting needs to incorporate is that traditional rules of economics simply don't apply to intangible 'property'. Economic principles and markets operate on the assumption that goods are scarce, which is false in the case of intangibles. If I build a chair and someone steals it, I'll write that off as an operating loss. If I play a record and someone tapes it, there's no loss. Economists have to bootstrap scarcity into the equation using legal fictions like "copyright".

        To make the distinction crystal clear, if the guy from TFA had stolen a CD from Best Buy, it would be operating loss for Best Buy. If all he stole was the music on the CD (which he borrowed from a friend because he couldn't afford to buy the disc), no loss. The reason I know that there's no loss is that if there were, it wouldn't be claimed by only Best Buy, but also by everyone else who sells the same CD. That doesn't make any sense at all.

        What little I know of basic microeconomics tells me that what's going on here is a black market. People aren't willing to pay full price, so they pay less through non-legit channels. The point is that they weren't willing to pay full price, so you can't count them as customers in the first place, hence no "lost revenue". It was never there to begin with, which is what I think GP post is saying. Again, the reason that this scenario is different from ordinary retail is that the thing being 'stolen' is intangible. If my CD ends up in someone's hands without them paying me for it, I can (and should) nail them for it. This situation is different.

        Black market transactions take into account the cost of being discovered. This guy is facing 15 years in jail. Usually, this cost prevents black markets unless there is a serious cost/value discrepancy, such as (in this case) artificial scarcity through legal fiction. From what I understand, the reason there's so much piracy is that many people feel that the scarcity is a little too artificial. If the sales price would come down to something actually approaching marginal cost, maybe there would be less piracy. If the music distributors can't sustain at MP=MC, then they obviously can't compete in an open market, and should fold. This is the basic cycle of destruction and renewal brought about by technological advancement, and it's been working fine for several hundred years. Why muck it up now?

  • Just goes to show (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Heem (448667) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:05AM (#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.
    • by BobSutan (467781) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:23AM (#11191339)
      If everybody and their brother wants to share, then doesn't that show that the system is in fact broken? If our laws are supposed to prevent "bad" behavior and whatnot, then what constitutes "bad"? In the past "bad" was determined by a general concensus that it was naughty behavior and needed to be corrected/punished. If everyone is alright with file sharing, then why not change the laws to reflect the shifting idealogy that culture shouldn't be locked up? Besides, copyright is meant to facilitate useful arts and sciences. Just how useful is a movie about someone getting their head blown off anyway (which seems to be the bulk of American action flicks these days)?
      • by I8TheWorm (645702) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:57AM (#11191663) Journal
        The problem is that everyone does not agree that file sharing is ok... and I'm one of them. There are more people murdered every day now, but that doesn't mean the laws should be changed because it seems a larger percentage of poeple think it's ok now.

        Laws are not necessarily made to prevent bad behavior, but to prevent behavior that is considered harmful. Murder is an obvious one. But taking software/songs/movies without paying for them is harmful to the people that put it together. And don't think for a minute it's hurting the label/movie executives. It's hurting the few people they're going to lay off when their revenue dips.

        I think your assumption that everyone is alright with file sharing is way off, given that not even everyone on /. thinks it's alright.
  • 15 years.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by orion41us (707362) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:06AM (#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....
    • Well, to be technically correct about it, the guy doesn't face one count of whatever it is they're charging him with. If he did, it would certainly be less. Similarly, if he faced thousands and thousands of counts of 2nd degree murder, he'd probably have a much larger maximum penalty than 15 years.
      • Re:15 years.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by curious.corn (167387) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:42AM (#11191501)
        Ok but as I said about another guy getting buried in jail for stealing CC off a WiFi network: there's a limit to the cumulability of certain crimes; you can't transform a relatively minor crime in a life sentence by stodgily adding up jail time per act * number of violations. If anything it should have a Log progression and in any case a cap; nothing less severe than loss of life / pain should be punished with more than 10 years. Corp Excecutives get away anyway so being tough of little guys is maximally unfair... On the other hand, a sentence to some socially useful job is way more effective towards social rehabilitation / damage repair.
        • Terrible idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Kjella (173770)
          ...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 pi
    • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:31AM (#11191427) Homepage
      There's got to be some corner of federal prison somewhere we can stuff the infringer gang. Because obviously we don't have enough of our population in jail now that we have to give college students 15 years and remove any possibility of them ever finishing school and doing anything productive.

      This way we can pay to keep them in prison, then continue to pay when they end up going back and back and back because they can't ever get a job anywhere.

      But we sure showed them we're serious about getting tough, didn't we? Ha! Just like getting tough on drugs. That's been a really successful program, too. Got tough on those druggies to where today the cost of drugs is...well,lower than it used to be but that's besides the point. You gotta throw those bastards in jail! Not a grain of common sense, but we're definitely tough.

  • Now we know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mshiltonj (220311) <<mshiltonj> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:08AM (#11191213) Homepage Journal
    ... why our intelligence community can't catch Osama bin Laden -- they are being used as flunkies for the MPAA/RIAA.

    I feel so much safer knowing those dangerous file-sharers are off the Net and no longer threatening the American way of life.

    I can now look forward to the next riveting season of MTV Cribs and see millions of dollars being wasted by morons with good lawyers.
    • Re:Now we know... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AndyChrist (161262)
      Most of the people who would be involved in hunting Bin Laden wouldn't have a lot to contribute to hunting warez groups.

      The other way around, probably still true, but almost certainly less so.

  • by pommaq (527441) <straffaren@noSpAm.spray.se> on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:08AM (#11191217) Homepage
    From TFA:
    is personally responsible for as much as $200,000 in losses to the industry
    Business Software Alliance, which represents several software manufacturers, examined the two computer servers linked to Desir and reported that each contained client titles exceeding $2,500 in retail value. The $2,500 value is a benchmark in the federal criminal code.


    This is, of course, complete bullshit. It's like Adobe always trying to claim that 12-year-olds warezing Photoshop are thousands of dollars worth of "losses" when there's no way in hell they would be able to buy the software. In many instances the widespread warezing of their software actually helps Adobe, since in a couple of years those 12-year-olds are going to enter their professional lives trained on Adobe's product, not their competitors'. Doesn't matter, though, piracy is wrong and you shouldn't do it (like doom2 said, if you're playing a pirated copy you're going to HELL) but these claims always strike me as ridiculous. Sure, send him to jail for a couple months or whatnot, but don't yell about how one pirate cost you bullions and bullions of dollars because it just isn't true!
    • it doesn't matter if the people pirating the software are not able to aford it, or never would have bought it anyway, it is still a person using adobe's software without paying for it. had that person paid for it adobe would have gained however much adobe charges for photoshop. so it indeed is a loss for adobe. you can't deny that the person is using software with a retail value of several thousand without paying a single dime. so the person gained something of value without paying for it. technically
  • Shouldn't there be at least a debate on whether or not piracy is really a bad thing?

    I'm trying to think if this is similar to how the alcohol-is-illegal laws were enforced before an actual debate (and other factors) led to the legalization of alcohol.

    It would really suck to go to jail for 5 years for a crime that 20 years from now is not really a crime anymore...
  • by dahl_ag (415660) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:18AM (#11191290)

    When I drive, I speed all of the time. I don't see anything fundamentally wrong or unsafe with the speed that I drive. But I know what the law is, whether I like it or not. And I know that I am breaking it. So if I get a speeding ticket, I deal with it like a big boy. I wish people would take the same approach to illegal file trading. If you want to do it, fine. But you know it is illegal, and there isn't much you can do about the laws. (lets be realistic, there are powerful influences behind these laws) So if you get busted, deal with it. You knew what you were doing.

    • by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:46AM (#11191545) Homepage Journal
      I don't see anything fundamentally wrong or unsafe with the speed that I drive.

      Yeah, nothing wrong with doing 40 in a 25 mph zone. After all, instead of having 5 seconds to react to a kid running into the street you have less than 2 seconds.

      Of course doing 90 in a 65 means you've increased the time it takes you stop by an additional 3 seconds and roughly 90 more feet.

      Yeah, nothing unsafe about speeding.

    • Only difference (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thrill12 (711899) *
      Is: those people get sentences which are the equivalent of the sentence for murder one.
      This you can protest: why not fine them instead ?

      Or, to go along your analogy, why not sentence you to 15 years for speeding, knowing that there is a chance you will hurt someone else ?

      It is the absurdity of the punishment that strikes me odd here.
  • Virus Writers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pawnIII (821440) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:19AM (#11191299)
    I know its alot harder to track virus writers, but why doesn't the FBI, instead of monitoring these type of operations, spend more time trying to track down the latest virus writers?

    It seems to me, that even a middle of the road virus does alot more damage than any p2p group can. Not to mention, there is malicious intent behind the people who write viruses.

    In an age, where the number of viruses released each year continues to rise at an incredible rate. It would seem a better use of taxpayers fund to find the people who are trying to maliciously attack other computer user's computers.
  • time to go wireless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by utexaspunk (527541) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:24AM (#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...
  • In other words.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bannerman (60282) <bannerman@rocketmail.com> on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:58AM (#11191665)
    You're better off just robbing a bank and buying the software, if you can't afford it! Less jail time if you're caught!

    On a more serious note, these guys aren't in big trouble for using/sharing pirated material, they're into mass distribution. The fellow who's looking at a maximum of 15 years is there because he's 1337 and is distributing tons copyrighted material for the heck of it. If you don't want the time, don't do the crime. Pretty easy to avoid this one.

    I'd want the help of law enforcement if someone was stealing things from my place of business. I don't see that it's all that much different to have help with the piracy issue. It's true that the developer doesn't physically lose anything, but surely the developer's license ought to be respected. If you don't like the licensing or cost of Photoshop, use The Gimp. There's really no excuse.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:18AM (#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...

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