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McOwen Case Settled

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the hardly-any-bloodshed dept.

The Courts 286

ewilts writes: "Back in July, you ran a story about David McOwen, a computer adminstrator at DeKalb Technical College in Georgia, who was being charged for installing SETI software on school computers. This case has now been settled. See also the EFF press release on McOwen's web site." Update: 01/18 16:11 GMT by M : It was software from distributed.net, not SETI.

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lick my crotch post (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862416)

all the slashcensors can have a lick!

Fuck the jews (-1)

Ralph JewHater Nader (450769) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862419)

It is time to kill those bean-counting jew bastards!

First Post (-1, Troll)

pull_boy (551212) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862423)

Happy First Post to me, Happy First Post to me, Happy First Post to meeee, Happy First Post to me!

Re:First Post (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862469)

please refer to my actual first post and begin licking my crotch immediately.

I know what you are (-1)

Ralph JewHater Nader (450769) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862479)

Your excessive typing cost you an fp. Since you are really stupid, you are probably a jew. Burn in hell.

Re:First Post (-1, Offtopic)

pull_boy (551212) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862520)

You're both right! Amazing! The two of you must be congenital twins, both possessing deformities in your genitals and cerebral cortex. Wow. Incredible.

Re:First Post (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862548)

we are brothers only in crapflooding. I do not subscribe to the aryan nutlicks propaganda. He is clearly palestinian.

you on the other hand lack both a brain or genitals. However, if you have a tongue, please lick me.

Re:First Post (-1, Offtopic)

pull_boy (551212) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862585)

how does your father taste?

Re:First Post (-1)

Tasty Beef Jerky (543576) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862651)

If you're not banned for 72 hours yet, you will be after you respond to this.

As for his father, he tastes pretty good. Be sure to marinate him often, otherwise he becomes dry. Serve with a full-bodied red wine.

Flaming continental ponce!

I can't stand all this success! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862533)

Somewhere in a European university.

Too many successful conferences, too many high-impact papers, too much acclaim and too much dope alone at home; a burnt out case. Slowly I withdraw from the real world and slip further into my nightmare as I imagine myself as unfeeling demagogue, for whom all that is left is the demonstration of power over his unthinking student and postgrad audience.

Re:I can't stand all this success! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862579)

you are clearly not appreciated in your organisation but in a socialist society that is hardly surprising.

have you considered moving to the united states of america where the real talent is truly appreciated and you don't have to pay a 70% income tax. we need every bit of skill and talent if we are going to win this war against terrorism. just like when we defeated the evil empire. or when we conquered the moon for future americans.

if you have an academic degree and are caucasian there will be no trouble in getting a green card.

Re:I can't stand all this success! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862613)

But he's a dope-fiend! We already have enough addicts here, so why should we import even more from Europe? Have you forgotten the War on Drugs?

Re:I can't stand all this success! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862639)


An excellent point. We don't need no more niggers loitering around here.

--Michael - keeping the Slashdot ideologically pure

troll investigation continued (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862424)

While everyone has now seen the infamous troll research post [slashdot.org] on Slashdot, I fear many less are aware of a much more interesting comment made to the forum. I speak of a post by one Slashdot editor, Jaime. His original comments can be found here [slashdot.org] .

His post is a reply to a disgrunted reader who was claiming editors have unlimited moderation points. If this was the case, it could and almost certainly would lead to abuse.

Jaime states, "We do mod comments, yes, but we're fair about it."

First, thank you Jaime for finally admitting the obvious. One was always curious as to why so much was down at -1, were decent folks actually sitting around modding down score 0 posts to -1? Unlikely. Then came the the day when moderator points weren't being given out as some of you remember. This was over the course of a couple days, when maybe the highest modded comments were 3 for the whole day. But lo and behold, half the comments still somehow managed to get modded down to -1. I guess it was pretty obvous from that point.

Now back to Jaime's point. As a reader, I have a some questions. Why do the editors feel it is necessary to moderate posts with their unlimited priveleges? I think moderation works without them interfering. Let the real users decide what they want to see modded up. Why does it matter to CmdrTaco and company what posts are rated? Oh, that's right, they are now owned by the "premier" open source company, VA Linux.

Also, why should anyone believe the editors are fair about it? Jaime claims he is fair, that's one thing. But giving Michael Sims [sethf.com] unlimited moderator points is like giving John Ashcroft secret military tribunals. Do you really want to trust him?

The rest of Jaime's argument is half-hearted rationalization. Trying to convince the users that for some reason, the moderation system is broken and they are just there to fix it. The argument borders on the ridiculous at times, saying how well the moderation system is working, just saving the users time, and the like. And about letting the users mod the good stuff up, that's a great idea. How about a positive only moderation system? That works wonders on "other sites". I think most people would agree that without unlimited points for editors, things weren't that bad at all. Browsing at +5 yields mostly intelligent comments. So what's the problem? This isn't about free speech or any of that tripe, its just about respect. Users made this site, like it or not. And the least Rob Malda could do is let them know the rules.

sorry to break it to ya (OT) (0, Offtopic)

CptnHarlock (136449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862633)

but most of the "normal" users, i.e. non-editors, prefer to mod down. It's some kind of sadist thing. I know the recomendations are to mod up rather than down, but is you look at how incredibly fast the firs posts (admitedly almost always irelevant) are moded down you'd get the idea.

There are to many CowboyModerators out there (no pun intended to CowboyNeal) who just shoot from the hip. I think that one major reason for this is the fact that many users think the mod system is broken.

I've always been opposed to the notions of "it was better before", "I miss the good old times" and so forth. But now finaly I am too getting there. I've been reading /. since 1998 and will probably continue, but I'm becoming more and more dissapointed.

I miss the time when you could yourself mark you post Offtopic by inserting an "(OT)" mark in the subject and the users mods understood that "Ok, it's marked offtopic" and let it be. If some users were interested they continued the thread, now what is wrong with that!? That was a perfectway to have spin-off discussions. I mean if you are discussing Transmetas Crusoe it's easy to start speaking of other processors and suddendly you are talking Z80-assembly!! What the hell is wrong with that!?

I hope this pos gets through and it will be interesting to see the moderations that will be done on this comment. Let me tell you that I'm NOT holding my breath... I'm starting to care less and less and kindof feeling a Golum-like transformation going on towards... dare I say it... trolling...

Propz to all downmodded Offtopicers...

Re:sorry to break it to ya (OT) *LOL* (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862728)

by looking at you first moderation you are so fucking correct! amen brother!


Powerful implications (4, Interesting)

C4v3_7r0ll (551132) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862437)

Although he got off relatively light, the precident set here is that sysadmins can no longer choose to install software at will. As a sysadmin for a large media congolmerate, I find it more and more difficult to simply administer my systems because all the suits want to know every move I make three weeks in advance. This decision simply adds an element of criminality to an already bad situation.

Re:Powerful implications (2, Interesting)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862472)

This decision simply adds an element of criminality to an already bad situation.

only in the state of georgia, and any other state that has some stupid hacking law like this.....how the heck can you charge a sysadmin with hacking into a system that they have full privleges to in the first place? that is like saying a cleaning crew is breaking and entering a place that gave them a key so they could do their work at night.

Re:Powerful implications (1)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862500)

Remember, Georgia is the place that made/wanted to make it illegal to have an email address of anything other than your real name. Compuserve anybody?

Re:Powerful implications (4, Insightful)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862519)

Hacking in??? What version of the case did you read?!

He installed unauthorised and inappropriate software. Same thing could have happened if he'd installed Quake, but only played it during off hours.

Regardless of the end goal (research?), SETI is effectively entertainment software from the client side. It serves no useful function for the company whose machines he ran it on.

He deserved and got a slap on the wrist. Not a bad settlement all round.

Re:Powerful implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862528)

the LAW is a hacking law retard...that is what he was charged under, that is what he had to be charged with.......god I hate dumb people.

Re:Powerful implications (3, Interesting)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862549)

Regardless of the end goal (research?), SETI is effectively entertainment software from the client side. It serves no useful function for the company whose machines he ran it on.

Just like dnetc, it serves the useful purpose of measuring the load of the machine. Just observe how much CPU time it takes: that's the amount not needed by anything else. However, smart people call it idle, rather than dnetc in order not to needlessly scare the suits ;-)

Re:Powerful implications (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862583)

Because Mikey is a monkey, it was inaccurately reported that the choice of software was SETI. This isn't relevant to your comment but it's important to fight Mikey's inability to read and accurately report any story over 1 sentence in length.

Re:Powerful implications (4, Insightful)

zangdesign (462534) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862565)

It might be helpful to think of the sysadmin as more of a caretaker of the system, rather than as an absolute master of the machine. Owen's job (as I understand it) was to maintain the systems in a running state to provide computing services to faculty, staff, and students. While this occasionally includes installing software, it does not include installing software that is not necessary to the mission of the school.

The presumption that he was the absolute master of the machines was in error. In this case, the System Administrator's job was not to set policy, but rather to advise. You would do well to clarify whether this is the administration policy with whatever company you work for.

Owen's got lucky - and probably got about what he deserved for screwing around with state equipment.

Re:Powerful implications (3, Insightful)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862593)

fine, I understand that he is nor the master of the machine, but for not following company policy, you lose your job, not get prosecuted (unless you steal office supplys ;-)) costing a company money by loss of bandwidth is waising resources, not stealing.....you get fired for making personal copies at the copier, not prosecuted for theft, and in this case, HACKING!!!

Re:Powerful implications (5, Insightful)

Erasmus Darwin (183180) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862736)

"how the heck can you charge a sysadmin with hacking into a system that they have full privleges to in the first place?"

Having full system access (such as 'root' on a *NIX box) does not always translate into having full authority (i.e. direct permission from real humans) to do all actions that are permitted by that level of access. The anti-hacking law he was charged under most likely has a clause about using a computer system in excess of the user's authority.

For example, while a sysadmin may have root access to a system that he must maintain, he may not necessarily be permitted to use that access to snoop through the VP's mail spool. Similarly, a McDonald's employee that has the restaurant keys so he can lock up at night is still trespassing if he abuses those keys to throw a wild party there at 4am. Finally, it's still car theft if a chauffer decides to just drive away with the car that he's got full physical access to.

What it all boils down to is how explicitly defined the sysadmin's authority was in this matter.

Re:Powerful implications (1, Interesting)

Chester Abecrombe (549881) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862482)

Yes, you're absolutely right! You should be able to use millions of dollars worth of your company's resourses in whatever way you see fit. Who cares if it costs your employer money, and they weren't your computers in the first place, you should have free reign of every computer in the building simply because you say so.

Re:Powerful implications (2, Redundant)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862516)

this is a criminal case, not a civil case....since when is it illegal to do things like procrastinate and surf the web at work? those cost companies thousands and thousands of dollors....see anyone going to jail over that?

Re:Powerful implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862575)

Don't worry, we're coming over to your cube right now!

Re:Powerful implications (1)

C4v3_7r0ll (551132) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862619)

You should be able to use millions of dollars worth of your company's resourses in whatever way you see fit.

Actually, I was not referring to the perceived loss of revenue incurred by the University. I was referring to the increase in pressure that this court case (whether it has legal precedence or not) will have on *all* sysadmins. Employers can interpret their "Fair-use" rules in any way they wish. Experience has shown that if you are respected and liked, they tend to bend them in your favor. The opposite, of which most geeks tend to get the lions share of IMO, is that we are scrutinized that much more. It seems that this case will only hurt the Employer-Geek relationships as time moves on.

Re:Powerful implications (2, Informative)

Fjord (99230) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862541)

There is no precedent set because it wasn't a judgement, it was a plea. All the judge did in this case was approve the plea, and laws are not made by the DAs office.

Still at the same time, I very much dislike the aspect of the justice system that scares innocent people (or at the very least people who are not in the wrong) into accepting a sentance because they are afraid and do not want to fight. Oh well.

Re:Powerful implications (4, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862572)

...the precident set here is that sysadmins can no longer choose to install software at will.

And thank god for that.

Production systems are controlled environments - last thing you need is some unaudited, unexpected and unauthorised changes messing them up.


Re:Powerful implications (1)

C4v3_7r0ll (551132) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862682)

And thank god for that.

Amen! However, I think you will agree that it depends on the environment. In a small one-man shop where changes effect very little in terms of production, system changes are less of a problem. It goes without saying that all sysadmins should exercise a modicum of professionalism regardless of their responsibilities. However, what I was trying to convey is that while control and planning are very important, like all things it can be carried too far.

My experience has been that most non-technical managers are extremely gun-shy about change. This places an inordinant burden on the sysadmins to delay patching servers or installing new software versions. Work piles up and eventually the backlog forces us to work long hours doing things that could have been done in much less time. Bottom line, moderation in all things. This decision seems to favor the tech fearful.

Re:Powerful implications (0, Offtopic)

ypoint (551981) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862686)

That is true! . . . (First Post - for me, anyway. No reason to mark me as a foe yet, my postings will improve!)

Re:Powerful implications (2)

rasjani (97395) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862740)

And the suites are the ones doing the auditing, checking for possible changes and all that other stuff ? You know, back in the real world, sys admins are the ones who test things, install things and keep them running.

Saving Face (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862626)

Although he got off relatively light

This is typical of many law enforcment efforts. If they want to save face, even though they know they screwed up, they get you to cop to a lesser plea.

You have seen this in the recent ebook case, as well as in your typical negotiations with other infractions, such as traffic tickets.

You also see the compulsion to save face in death row (and other) cases, where many prosecutors outright refuse to allow DNA testing that might prove a man innocent. It is like pulling teeth to get the tests done. Even though it is often a matter of life and death.

"Saving Face" is obviously more important, even though it makes them look foolish.

Fire 'em (5, Interesting)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862660)

...the precident set here is that sysadmins can no longer choose to install software at will.

Perhaps it's a precedent for telling sys admins to stick to their jobs and keep the best interests of their employers in mind when installing software. This isn't about "sys admins choosing" it's about the appropriate use of someone else's property.

When I discovered that a developer had installed SETI on my co's production ecommerce servers ("but I nice'd it!") I had the loser fired -- after disabling the software. Am I against SETI? No (nor am I "for" it; I don't care). But the purpose of our servers, bandwidth, etc., is not racking up points in the SETI project.

Now, we have other servers that are intended for fun and exploration. But our production servers?

Re:Powerful implications (1)

shepd (155729) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862706)

>I find it more and more difficult to simply administer my systems because all the suits want to know every move I make three weeks in advance.

Well, that's fine. Since that's what they want, make sure you get it written down as policy. I'm sure (as long as you don't mention your upcoming idea) they'll do it in a heartbeat.

Now, when they want something done, you can simply point to their signed policy and say "Not for 3 weeks. I think I'm going to take my holidays now, since there's nothing to do, if there's no problem with that. Just let me whip up a quick presentation for you first."

Problem solved in a very diplomatic way. :-)

Re:Powerful implications - Indeed! (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862724)

This decision simply adds an element of criminality to an already bad situation.

<Cut to courtroom somewhere in the USA>

Defendant: "...and then I installed the application on all the computers."

Prosecutor: "You did this, fully aware that it was vulnerable and subject to attacks, which may paralyze the company email system, compromise data, or worse?"

Defendant: "Yes."

Gallery: *GASP*

Prosecutor: "And what was this application?"

Defendant: "MS Outlook."

The prosecutor, appearing struck, glances at a shadowy figure in the gallery who bears some resemblance to John Ashcroft in a trenchcoat and fedora, the figure quickly draws a finger across his throat and the prosecutor recomposes himself.

Prosecutor: "Your honor, the prosecution humbly requests all charges be dropped and that the defendant be released!"

Re:Powerful implications (4, Interesting)

InsaneGeek (175763) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862749)

But there's installing software to do work which paid for the servers; and then there is installing software that actually is a detriment to the same servers trying to do work. It's almost the equivalent of seeing that your company has lot's of bandwidth free to their customer T3's and the servers aren't that loaded... why not put out our own free porn website.

"Suits" as you say should want to know every move you make on a production system, there deffinetly is a need for change control. Ebay supposedly used to run pretty free and open, and had frequent crashes & outages; they brought a guy in and put in proper procedures, change control, etc. and their reliability increased exponentially. It is a big pain in the ass, I'll be the first to admit it, but so is documentation, getting up from your desk to go pee, etc. but it *is* needed.


Lester67 (218549) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862448)

There... I said it.

$2100 and 80 hours community service (2, Interesting)

Rupert (28001) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862454)

It's a pretty steep fine for installing a non-malicious piece of software.

It's not mentioned in the article, but it seems to me that the $2,100 figure was determined by picking an amount "just a little more than what he would have made had he won".

Re:$2100 and 80 hours community service (1, Funny)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862466)

Won what?

It's seti@home... do you get a free trip to the place where the beings are found?

Lucky you!

Re:$2100 and 80 hours community service (4, Informative)

Hougaard (163563) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862514)

Distributed.net [distributed.net]

He ran the dnetc.exe client on a ton of school PC's in Georgia.

The funny thing, is that it took several "security experts" a lot of work to figure out what dnetc.exe actually was :)

Re:$2100 and 80 hours community service (2)

Rupert (28001) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862562)

I started to say "As I understand the distributed.net scheme", but then I realized I didn't, so here's the cut & pasted version:

RSA Labs is offering a US$10,000 prize to the group that wins this contest. The distribution of the cash will be as follows:

* $1000 to the winner
* $1000 to the winner's team - this would go to the winner if he wasn't affiliated with a team
* $6000 to a non-profit organization, decided by vote
* $2000 to distributed.net for building the network and supplying the code

(from http://www.distributed.net/rc5/ [distributed.net]

Re:$2100 and 80 hours community service (4, Insightful)

Darkness Productions (143908) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862542)

Actually, he was running RC5. The problem the school had with this is that with RC5, there is a change (albeit a very limited one) that you could win money. He had not stated that he would give the money to the school...

Read about it here:
http://arstechnica.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?a=tp c&s=50009562&f=122097561&m=1110950822 [infopop.net]
http://arstechnica.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?a=tp c&s=50009562&f=122097561&m=7450963242&r=5150986242 #5150986242 [infopop.net]
http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.cfm?catid= 39&threadid=518510&start=1 [anandtech.com]
http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.cfm?catid= 39&threadid=518184 [anandtech.com] This was widely discussed among many of the more well known distributed computing teams. Check it out.

Re:$2100 and 80 hours community service (1)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862703)

Don't waste your cycles on the above link by Mr. Darkness Productions, anandtech.com removed the article.

Re:$2100 and 80 hours community service (1)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862718)

infotech links works. anandtech.com links do not.

sorry for the confusion.

Re:$2100 and 80 hours community service (2, Interesting)

CaptJay (126575) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862495)

If I remember correctly, the authorities figured that he somehow had something to gain personally by installing the software, like credit if he ended up being the one who found something in one of the packets analyzed. This was enough for them to label his activities as "for financial gain", and they then proceeded to charge him with just about everything on the book.

Facing 30 years in prison for installing harmless software? That's almost twice as much as the maximum sentence for a single count of rape!!

Rape also gets the book (2, Offtopic)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862617)

Also note that in nearly every jurisdiction there are tons of other laws that could apply, and thus the rapist would get a similarly large number of counts.

California for example says that sodomy (defined as anal penetration) with someone unwilling or underage (2 counts if they are both unwilling *and* underage) is a seperate crime. There are other, similar, laws that make various differentiations between very similar acts, so usually a rapist can still end up with 10+ counts and probably well over 30 years

Re:$2100 and 80 hours community service (1)

klaun (236494) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862628)

Facing 30 years in prison for installing harmless software? That's almost twice as much as the maximum sentence for a single count of rape!!

In Georgia, rape is punishable by death. (Though the death penalty is seldom sought.)

I think ultimately it seems like he definitely did something wrong, i.e. using his employers computers for his (potential) financial gain, but the penalty (even the reduced plea deal penalty) is totally out of proportion to this wrong. Personally, this seems like something you'd get fired for, not prosecuted for.

Re:$2100 and 80 hours community service (2)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862586)

It wasn't SETI@home, it was something like distributed.net (may have actually been), and he WOULD have won a financial prize had he been the one to find the key.

Welcome to the Slashdot Matrix (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862455)

The system is completely rigged and phony. [slashdot.org] The editors are now on a rampage to completely slap down all who dare to question their mighty wisdom in modbombing this thread down. Good users who have stood up to this abuse are getting bombed too. The editors are cutting their own nose to spite their face. How much more foolish can they be before they realize they will lose their best and brightest readers?

Mmmm, I love the smell of /. dupes in the morning. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862457)

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/01/15/203249 &mode=thread

Doobie doobie do...

He got off easy... (2, Informative)

Caball (58351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862458)

He didn't own the computers... they weren't his property. He had no right to install anything on those PC's that wasn't related to work. He got off easy.

Re:He got off easy... (3, Insightful)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862498)

he should have been just ired then.....saying he HACKED a system that he had full administrative rights to is rediculous....its like calling the police on your house keeper for breaking and entering even though she has a key and is contracted to do work in your house.....if she was having parties then you fire her, you can not get her on breaking and entering.

Re:He got off easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862641)

That's a spurious analogy. Arresting the housekeeper for using your pool at 2:00 AM would be a more accurate analogy.

Re:He got off easy... (1)

Caball (58351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862707)

hacked also means without authorization... which he had none.

Re:He got off easy... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862504)

What would you think is a suitable punishment (for this nonviolent, victimless crime)? Anal rape?

Re:He got off easy... (2)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862623)

The number of people who want to become doctors and nurses is declining, as more and more legal precendents are set to prosecute nurses and doctors when they make a mistake or error. Everyone makes mistakes. What this man had to go through, because of, at worst, an error in judgement, is rediculous. If we are all to be held criminally liable for wasting other people's money, time, etc ... shit, we'd all be in the slammer by now.

Re:He got off easy... (2)

Fjord (99230) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862753)

I'm sorry, but he was granted installation access rights to the machines that he used and his actions were not otherwise illegal (i.e. he wasn't cracking machines he did not have access to). Did he deserve disciplinary action from the company: yes, even to the point of firing him. Could there be a civil suit against him: possibly, but I would still argue no. Should criminal charges be laid: absolutely not, there was nothing criminal about his actions.

If you hire someone, and give them the trust to install anything on your machines, and they screw up against your policy, go ahead and fire them. But don't press criminal charges. The Employee Handbook decribes the conduct you expect from employees, not the law. The law is made by the law makers.


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862462)

Going to McOwen's site causes Gator to try and install on my machine (winNT running IE). Gator is well known slimewar/spyware. avoid it like the plague.

Seems reasonable (3, Informative)

Derkec (463377) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862465)

This generally looks like a reasonable settlement. The monetary damages are a bit dissapointing, though. Remember to ask permission (and get that permission in writing) when you make large, questionable, changes to the systems you are responsible for.

Re:Seems reasonable (1)

the Man in Black (102634) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862494)

Installing a screensaver is neither a large nor is it a questionable change to a system.

It's a screensaver. Listen to yourself.

Re:Seems reasonable (2)

3am (314579) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862587)

Installing a screensaver is neither a large nor is it a questionable change to a system.

It's a screensaver. Listen to yourself.

It uses bandwidth and lots of CPU cycles.

It communicates with an external server.

You can configure it to run all the time, not just when the screen saver is up.

It's not just a screensaver at all. It is a distributed computing client. Pretty benign (especially compared to other apps like AIM or Outlook), but still definitely not just a screensaver.

Re:Seems reasonable (1)

the Man in Black (102634) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862627)

Well then I misread. My mistake.

I agree with professional discipline...but criminal penalties seem a little harsh.

Re:Seems reasonable (1)

3am (314579) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862665)

It's all good - we all make mistakes.

The initial criminal penalties were absolutely obscene... they wanted $.59 per CPU second. Amounted to about $800K, and up to 30 years in prison. I guess in comparison, this is so mild that it's easy for me to lose perspective. He really should've been fired/disciplined if they were unhappy with his work - any criminal prosecution at all is probably excessive.

Exactly (0)

PowerTroll 5000 (524563) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862510)

For all the people whining about electronic freedom and such:

It's not his network to run his own software!

It's one thing to run a small program, or even play Quake on your lunch hour, but to make a change that could cost a bundle on bandwidth, that's not a Good Thing (tm).

Already in Slashback (4, Informative)

UCRowerG (523510) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862503)

This story has been convered in a recent Slashback article: here [slashdot.org] .

Nice Reporting (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862523)

I recall that when this was reported some time ago SETI@Home was not the software installed. Apparently, it's too much to ask that the people posting stories actually read said stories and understand them. Here's a hint: stop being a chimp.

He originally faced 30 YEARS????? (2, Insightful)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862525)

Jesus, folks, Our government needs a head dunking. 30 years for a benign program on a few machines, (I live near there, it isn't a large campus) as opposed to 6-10 for MURDER? Hot damn, he didn't kill anybody....let's just be really glad he got off "light"

Re:He originally faced 30 YEARS????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862683)

30 years for a benign program on a few machines, (I live near there, it isn't a large campus) as opposed to 6-10 for MURDER?

How many whitnesses can testify that he installed the thing? If there were less than 5 (5 * 6 = 30), he should have ...

Re:He originally faced 30 YEARS????? (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862700)

Ok, after reading other posters comments, I see that the program was not as benign as I thought. That still doesn't change the fact that he could have conceivably (sp?) spent more time in jail for a PROGRAM than someone who committed murder, rape, arson, etc. That is still ridiculous to me. Damn I can't spell today.

michael and timothy... (1, Offtopic)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862532)

Mike & Tim. You need to talk to one another on an hourly basis. You guys are the biggest offenders of repeat articles [slashdot.org] . This was covered in the slashback yesterday...

Re:michael and timothy... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862559)

offtopic ... but quite true unfortunately

perhaps some moderator will have sympathy for you and give you that Informative you deserve

did i sleep ok last night? (1, Offtopic)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862534)

coulda sworn I saw this already [slashdot.org]

Michael Gets Score -1, Redundant (0, Redundant)

DCowern (182668) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862543)

It seems michael doesn't read Slashbacks... this was posted yesterday: Slashback: Games, Goats, Galileo [slashdot.org]

Legal Precidence and great disservice to everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862546)

He should have fought this one to the end. This case now sets a precidence for other suits of its kind. He may have gotten off "easy" (so to say) but in the long run he has done a great deal of damage to progress of getting "reasonable" law into the digital realm. Normal laws are impossible to enforce onto the computer world. Perhaps they should start suits against all the students that download any type of software "not authorized on state computers". Perhaps University students in Georgia should be billed for the bandwidth they consume downloading Mp3's on the "States" network. Perhaps if you check your personal e-mail on a state computer you should be arrested. Sounds ludicrous but then again look at the stupidity the state of Georgia now has legal precedence on!

Georgia a backwater? (2, Offtopic)

mmaddox (155681) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862547)

Being a native Georgian (southwest Georgian for that matter...Albany - a REAL backwater), and a comparatively savvy technogeek, I am filled with horror. These idiot lawyers are going to do everything they can to make a name for themselves in whatever context they consider important, intelligence be damned. Of course, if in doing so, they drag the name of Georgia back into the yeehaw days (Gawrsh, Goober, that there computey-thang shor is makin' them nekkid wimmens look purty an' all. Gimme a chaw.), they don't care.

Georgia is full of intelligent, growing technologists - startups, academics, and all-around geeks. These barristers' motives are pure old-fashioned power plays, making a name for themselves and wielding power over those who don't respect them. Please don't consider all of us Georgians hicks; we geeks live in a meritocracy separate from these backwater jackasses we elect or appoint to office.

Re:Georgia a backwater? (2)

3am (314579) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862631)

Why are you giving lawyers a bad rap? They need a client - if the school acted responsibly, they would not have pursued litigation... don't blame a lawyer for doing his best to represent their client...


The jews and their lies (-1)

Ralph JewHater Nader (450769) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862553)

I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that these miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them. I would not have believed that a Christian could be duped by the Jews into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself. However, the devil is the god of the world, and wherever God's word is absent he has aneasy task, not only with the weak but also with the strong. May God help us. Amen.

He did not call them Abraham's children, but a "brood of vipers" [Matt. 3:7]. Oh, that was too insulting for the noble blood and race of Israel, and they declared, "He has a demon' [Matt 11:18]. Our Lord also calls them a "brood of vipers"; furthermore in John 8 [:39,44] he states: "If you were Abraham's children ye would do what Abraham did.... You are of your father the devil. It was intolerable to them to hear that they were not Abraham's but the devil's children, nor can they bear to hear this today.

Therefore the blind Jews are truly stupid fools...

Now just behold these miserable, blind, and senseless people.

...their blindness and arrogance are as solid as an iron mountain.

Learn from this, dear Christian, what you are doing if you permit the blind Jews to mislead you. Then the saying will truly apply, "When a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into the pit" [cf. Luke 6:39]. You cannot learn anything from them except how to misunderstand the divine commandments...

Therefore be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheer self-glory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practiced most maliciously and veheming his eyes on them.

Moreover, they are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury. Thus they live from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as arch-thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.

However, they have not acquired a perfect mastery of the art of lying; they lie so clumsily and ineptly that anyone who is just a little observant can easily detect it. But for us Christians they stand as a terrifying example of God's wrath.

If I had to refute all the other articles of the Jewish faith, I should be obliged to write against them as much and for as long a time as they have used for inventing their lies-- that is, longer than two thousand years.

...Christ and his word can hardly be recognized because of the great vermin of human ordinances. However, let this suffice for the time being on their lies against doctrine or faith.

Did I not tell you earlier that a Jew is such a noble, precious jewel that God and all the angels dance when he farts?

Alas, it cannot be anything but the terrible wrath of God which permits anyone to sink into such abysmal, devilish, hellish, insane baseness, envy, and arrogance. If I were to avenge myself on the devil himself I should be unable to wish him such evil and misfortune as God's wrath inflicts on the Jews, compelling them to lie and to blaspheme so monstrously, in violation of their own conscience. Anyway, they have their reward for constantly giving God the lie.

No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.

...but then eject them forever from this country. For, as we have heard, God's anger with them is so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!

Over and above that we let them get rich on our sweat and blood, while we remain poor and they such the marrow from our bones.

I brief, dear princes and lords, those of you who have Jews under your rule-- if my counsel does not please your, find better advice, so that you and we all can be rid of the unbearable, devilish burden of the Jews, lest we become guilty sharers before God in the lies, blasphemy, the defamation, and the curses which the mad Jews indulge in so freely and wantonly against the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, this dear mother, all hristians, all authority, and ourselves. Do not grant them protection, safe-conduct, or communion with us.... .With this faithful counsel and warning I wish to cleanse and exonerate my conscience.

Let the government deal with them in this respect, as I have suggested. But whether the government acts or not, let everyone at least be guided by his own conscience and form for himself a definition or image of a Jew.

However, we must avoid confirming them in their wanton lying, slandering, cursing, and defaming. Nor dare we make ourselves partners in their devilish ranting and raving by shielding and protecting them, by giving them food, drink, and shelter, or by other neighborly

Therefore we Christians, in turn, are obliged not to tolerate their wanton and conscious blasphemy.

Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death.

What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blaspemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God we must pratice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengenance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice:

First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly - and I myself was unaware of it - will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.

Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuternomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: "what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord." Thoses villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people's obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], "You are Peter," etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the righ to teach.

Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home. (...remainder omitted).

Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God's blessing in a good and worthy cause.

Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]}. For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.

But what will happen even if we do burn down the Jews' synagogues and forbid them publicly to praise God, to pray, to teach, to utter God's name? They will still keep doing it in secret. If we know that they are doing this in secret, it is the same as if they were doing it publicly. for our knowledge of their secret doings and our toleration of them implies that they are not secret after all and thus our conscience is encumbered with it before God.

Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is:

First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss in sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire. That would demonstrate to God our serious resolve and be evidence to all the world that it was in ignorance that we tolerated such houses, in which the Jews have reviled God, our dear Creator and Father, and his Son most shamefully up till now but that we have now given them their due reward.

I wish and I ask that our rulers who have Jewish subjects exercise a sharp mercy toward these wretched people, as suggested above, to see whether this might not help (though it is doubtful). They must act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set in, proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone, and marrow. Such a procedure must also be followed in this instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish. They surely do not know what they are doing; moreover, as people possessed, they do not wish to know it, hear it, or learn it. There it would be wrong to be merciful and confirm them in their conduct. If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs, so that we do not become partakers of their abominable blasphemy and all their other vices and thus merit God's wrath and be damned with them. I have done my duty. Now let everyone see to his. I am exonerated."

My essay, I hope, will furnish a Christian (who in any case has no desire to become a Jew) with enough material not only to defend himself against the blind, venomous Jews, but also to become the foe of the Jews' malice, lying, and cursing, and to understand not only that their belief is false but that they are surely possessed by all devils. May Christ, our dear Lord, convert them mercifully and preserve us steadfastly and immovably in the knowledge of him, which is eternal life.


mirror incase it gets slashdotted (2, Informative)

booyah (28487) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862554)

Update - January 17, 2002 Georgia V McOwen Case closed!

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
For Immediate Release: January 17, 2002


Lee Tien
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
+1 415 436-9333 x102 (office), +1 510 290-7131 (cell)

David Joyner
Kenney & Solomon
+1 770 564-1600

Distributed Computing Prosecution Ends with Whimper Not Bang

Georgia Man's Ordeal Ends

San Francisco - David McOwen can finally see the light at
the end of the tunnel. After about two years of facing the
prospect of years in prison and more than $400,000 in fines
and restitution, the former DeKalb Technical College systems
administrator has accepted an offer by the state of Georgia
that will bring his legal nightmare to an end.

Since February 2000, McOwen has been the target of a
"computer trespass" investigation and then prosecution. His
crime? In 1998, he installed a distributed-computing client
(like the SETI@home screensaver) on the college's PCs in
order to participate in a distributed decryption contest. In
early 2000, the school administrators threatened McOwen with
criminal charges and called in the Georgia Bureau of
Investigation. The threat of more than $400,000 in liability
was based solely on the use of the school computers, valued
at 59 cents per second.

Under the terms of the deal, announced today, McOwen will
receive one year of probation for each criminal count, to
run concurrently, make restitution of $2100, and perform 80
hours of community service unrelated to computers or
technology. McOwen will have no felony or misdemeanor record
under Georgia's First Offender Act.

"David never should have been prosecuted in the first place,
but we're glad that the state decided to stop," said Senior
Staff Attorney Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF). "This is a very good result for David. He
very likely could have won if the case had gone to trial,
but trials cost money and you never know what will happen."

Tien explained that much of the case against McOwen turned
on whether he had fair notice that installing the
Distributed.net client software was prohibited. Under the
Georgia computer trespass statute, criminal liability may
only be imposed if the person uses the computer or network
with knowledge that the use is unauthorized. "From what I
can tell, the state would have had a hard time proving
beyond a reasonable doubt that David knew he wasn't
authorized to install the software," Tien said. "I can't
help but feel that this was a face-saving deal for the

"The state's claim of up to $815,000 for computer time seems
to fit an old pattern that we've seen before," Tien said. In
one of the first cases championed by EFF, a man faced years
in prison for obtaining and publishing an internal BellSouth
document initially valued at almost $80,000. The case was
dropped after evidence was introduced that it was publicly
available for $13.

The issue raised by McOwen's prosecution isn't an isolated
one, Tien added. Distributed computing is an important
scientific tool that can harness the spare cycles of
numerous personal computers into the virtual equivalent of a
supercomputer. The SETI@home screensaver, for instance,
allows computer users all over the world to aid in the
search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Last year,
however, the Tennessee Valley Authority banned the SETI@home
program from its computers, declaring it a risk to computer

While McOwen's legal problems appear over, they've taken a
serious toll. He resigned from his job at DeKalb soon after
the school threatened him. And he was fired from his next
job at Cingular Wireless last August because of the bad
publicity surrounding the case.

EFF wishes to praise and give special thanks to David
Joyner, McOwen's attorney at Kenney & Solomon, for all of
his hard work. Thanks are also owed to McOwen's supporters
at FreeMcOwen.com and MachineThoughts.com for publicizing
the case and raising money for his legal fund.

Legal defense fund for the McOwen case:
http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.cfm?catid= 39&threadid=593069

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil
liberties organization working to protect rights in the
digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and
challenges industry and government to support free
expression, privacy, and openness in the information
society. EFF is a member-supported organization and
maintains one of the most-linked-to websites in the world at

59 cents / second?? (4, Insightful)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862647)

Wow! I'm sitting on a friggin' gold mine. Who in their right mind would ever pay upwards of $35 for ONE MINUTE of time on a PC?? You can buy a good system that's paid for itself in just one hour of time!! Lets see, going by the usual inflated legal dollers, this 1.5Ghz P4 I've been burning in for the last two weeks has just wasted $713,000. boggle.

The Irony is... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862580)

The State was seeking 8 Felony convictions, which carries a maximum up to 120 year prison sentence and $50,000 fine for each Felony count plus $ 415,000 in restitution and damages for a total of $815,000!

And when all is said and done of the Enron fiasco, a few people will spend a few years in a country club prison, like Michael Milken, the junk bond king who left retirment accounts in ruins while he put hundreds of millions out of reach, in his wife's name.

and explain to me. (1)

body_parts (318354) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862640)

How come they never use the laws about Recieving stolen goods against the wives of multimilionaire fraudsters when they get all the money transfered into their accounts?

Punishment. (5, Funny)

AnalogBoy (51094) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862589)

Now, of course, he gets off light from the government.. but jeeze, think of the internet traffic charges he's gonna rake up from being slashdotted. YOU MEAN HEARTLESS PEOPLE! Have you no decency? Give the man a break.

Where's SETI's comment? (0)

MungoBBQ (524032) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862601)

I haven't seen any comments from the SETI project - what do they make of all this? Are they afraid to lose a lot of computing power from afraid sysadmins now? What about other distributed computing projects?

Re:Where's SETI's comment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862676)

Maybe they have no comment... because he didn't install SETI!!!!!

See his resume? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862605)

http://www.mcowen.com/davidres.htm [mcowen.com] [www.mcowen.com]

Refers to himself in third personDavid is a Telecommunications, Computers and Electronics experienced Engineer specializing in Hardware design, Testing, software configuration and Computer Instruction.

Check out his Hobbies/Interests:

Husband and wife team mobile Disc-Jockey/MC Entertainers since 1975.

Go DJ!

It wasn't SETI@home! (5, Informative)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862611)

A lot of people seem to be under the impression that the client he was running was SETI@home and was therefore innoculous.

Well, he was running some distrubuted.net-type decryption client where he would have WON MONEY had he been the one to find a key.

Not so humanitarian and innoculous now, is it?

Years in prison and a $400,000 fine are extremely way beyond reason, but I can see how this was a crime as he stole company resources for personal gain.

The $2100 fine does seem reasonable as I think he would have won $2000.

Re:It wasn't SETI@home! (5, Interesting)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862699)

>he stole company resources for personal gain

I hope you're not at work today! You're stealing bandwidth and CPU power to post to slashdot, for the personal gain of .. well, posting to slashdot!

Honestly, what, you wanna start counting electrons .. which ones make my company how much money, and which ones lose?

distributed.net does have a goal that benifits those who believe in privacy and ecryption. it's not some sort of time-sharing scam or anything. in fact, if anything, distributed.net has a far higher likelihood of affecting our world (while we're still alive) than the seti project. like, sure, if his college didn't want it, I understand .. but to have been criminally charged instead of simply reprimanded? thats simply ludicrous. i'm liable to believe that someone in georgia does not believe in high encryption and privacy ..

it was rc5 (1)

xavii (92017) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862650)

the project he was running was rc5.

the damn link [slashdot.org] in the article says rc5.

80 hours and $2100 for unused computer cycles is uncalled for. These judges and lawyers dont understand computers. in legal speak, i cant imagine what the prosecution was saying.

now poor david dnetc will be in an orange vest on the side of the highway picking up trash with joe shmoe robber and drunken steve who beat up a guy at a bar. good luck.

xavii aka bob

Tied Hands (1)

raumdass (210351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862653)

It frustrates the hell out of me to think that instead of a case like this, that could serve to temper a law with rediculous penalties for a broad range of actions, making it to court, get settled for a meager sum and leaves a fellow with a criminal record and gives companies that much more leverage in treating employees like criminals.

There should be criminal penalties for criminal activity. Using corporate computers to smuggle out trade secrets? Yeah, I can see why someone should spend time in jail for that, but should someone doing something as relativley innocous as installing SETI on a few machines face a 30 year in jail penalty for doing so?

I can totally understand why the defendant chose to settle. Trials cost money and you don't always win the good fight, but it is sad to see a chance for bonehead laws like these to face some challenge.

Re:Tied Hands (2)

3am (314579) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862717)

Just so you know:

Under the terms of the deal, announced today, McOwen will receive one year of probation for each criminal count, to run concurrently, make restitution of $2100, and perform 80 hours of community service unrelated to computers or technology. McOwen will have no felony or misdemeanor record under Georgia's First Offender Act.

he DID get off easy... (1)

ekephart (256467) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862662)

It was not part of this guy's job to donate CPU time on behalf of his campus. Granted any calls to the processor would have halted the software he installed immediately, but consider an analogy.

Your car is under warranty at a given auto dealer. As such when it has problems the mechanic there fixes it. Even if this mechanic could instantly return you car when you walk outside to go somewhere, would you want him keeping a copy of the key and using it without your permission for personal use. Even if that personal use involved bettering society (taking meals to elderly folks or providing a taxi service for kids of working parents)?

Re:he DID get off easy... (1)

recursiv (324497) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862751)

The flaw in your analogy is that cars have moving parts which wear out. The reason I would not want him using my car is that after a certain amount of use and friction between all these moving parts, something will break. The car will wear out.

CPUs don't move. I suppose they can "wear out" by overheating, but it doesn't seem that they overheated, so they were no worse off after crunching rc5 packets for McOwen.

All Hail The First Troll Post Investigation (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862692)

Why don't we just start crapflooding Slashdot? Every story, we'll post 300 comments about how the moderation is unfair, the trolling results, etc.

Nothing like fixing a problem by... um, making it worse, I guess...

All Hail The First Troll Post Investigation

Read at -1 to get the info. [slashdot.org]

Another typo dumbing down the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2862712)

Splash right in the middle of www.mcowen.com is:

Prayers to those that have lost there lives on September 11, 2001

Uhh hello, perhaps that should read "their"??! Can people not take 1 minute to think about what they publish/proofread it?

what is going on (1)

SexyLinuxMan (541640) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862729)

What bothers me is this guy could have faced more jail time than some rapist and murderers, If they didn't like what he did all they had to do was fire him. This seems like the work of a blood sucking lawyer. He should erased all the computers and installed linux, that would would have sent them into a bender.

Just a thought (1)

ISPTech (76854) | more than 12 years ago | (#2862739)

Isn't it time we realize that more lawsuits are coming soon. This is how we grow a profession as a society. For example, do you think Doctors aren't sued most of the time? A lot of the quirks medical professionals have to go through are to prevent legal action against them. I can already hear the "but they deal with lives" arguement, but it's a developed profession. I think we could all learn to chill on how many lawsuits we file. Be prepared for system administration to turn into a bunch of red tape saying exactly what we are allowed to do and how we are to do it. This is a good thing in some ways. It means our field is maturing even more.

I'll shut up now. :-)
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