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Thread: How computer hacking laws make you a criminal

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooglin View Post
    I'm really a bit surprised this keeps coming up... why do you people think you're entitled to enter and do anything you want if a door isn't locked? If he was entering someone's unlocked dorm room on this same "open campus" and stealing their stuff it would be ok because the door wasn't locked? WTF?

    No, he wasn't granted access. He snuck into a network room in the basement, connected his laptop to a network switch and then hid the laptop, and snuck in again later to retrieve it. This room is not a public network access point, and he knew that.
    There is no need to use the term 'you people' when discussing this with WAB members. I for one find it patronizing.

  2. #17
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    Oh, please. Tell me, what do you think of the following hypothetical situation?:

    I) Anybody here name whatever article in whatever scholarly journal you can find in JSTOR, Google Scholar or whatever other database you can think of. I've got access to plenty databases using my Uni account, and I can use the remote access proxy to get the articles from anywhere in the world using one of my laptops, so there's a decent chance I can find the full text somewhere.
    II) I'll read a part of the article, journal, whatever in order to enlighten and educate myself, further broadening my horizons.
    III) I will then transfer it to whoever asks, with the email subject saying: "Hey, look at how cool this is, I think it will interest you!"

    Have I broken any laws, really?

    Any requests?
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  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    Wikipedia

    If he had access to this data, how was it stealing? It was misuse of his access, and most likely was a violation of the terms and conditions.




    Where did someone say he did nothing wrong?
    He wasn't using his account. He was using a hidden laptop with a spoofed address connected to a basement network switch to grab millions of documents that are provided by JSTOR as a paid service, allegedly for the purpose of putting them on a file share. I'm not sure what else to call that.

    If Granny makes a living by selling cookie recipes over the internet, and one of her customers walks through her unlocked front door and hacks her router to intercept all her data to get the recipes and post them for free, is that ok?

    What's the difference here?

    As for doing nothing wrong, I'm not sure how arguments about an unlocked door are otherwise meaningful, or what the relevance would be.

  4. #19
    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooglin View Post
    He wasn't using his account. He was using a hidden laptop with a spoofed address connected to a basement network switch to grab millions of documents that are provided by JSTOR as a paid service, allegedly for the purpose of putting them on a file share. I'm not sure what else to call that.

    If Granny makes a living by selling cookie recipes over the internet, and one of her customers walks through her unlocked front door and hacks her router to intercept all her data to get the recipes and post them for free, is that ok?

    What's the difference here?

    As for doing nothing wrong, I'm not sure how arguments about an unlocked door are otherwise meaningful, or what the relevance would be.
    Well, these are published articles, not granny's secet recipe and it wasn't a private home, it was a public building and the room was unlocked. I don't see the point of your arguments. Most of the posts are about the unnecessary severity of the punishment. You seem to be focused on whether what he did was wrong, when every response agree's it was wrong to do what he did.
    "If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
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  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigross86 View Post
    Oh, please. Tell me, what do you think of the following hypothetical situation?:

    I) Anybody here name whatever article in whatever scholarly journal you can find in JSTOR, Google Scholar or whatever other database you can think of. I've got access to plenty databases using my Uni account, and I can use the remote access proxy to get the articles from anywhere in the world using one of my laptops, so there's a decent chance I can find the full text somewhere.
    II) I'll read a part of the article, journal, whatever in order to enlighten and educate myself, further broadening my horizons.
    III) I will then transfer it to whoever asks, with the email subject saying: "Hey, look at how cool this is, I think it will interest you!"

    Have I broken any laws, really?

    Any requests?
    But that's not what he did, is it? See above.

    JSTOR may be free to use for you if you have an account given to you by an institution, but it's not a free service. The institutions pay for that service. He wasn't just taking documents otherwise free to anyone anyway.

    Aaron Swartz: MIT surveillance shot that ruined tragic Reddit co-founder's life | Mail Online

  6. #21
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    I'm making the argument (maybe not too successfully) that we need to change the way we look at the internet.

    If like you said, it was an unlocked room in a public building and the man had access to the database, why is what he did any different than what I did, especially when you consider than anyone with access to ANY university library around the world could also get access to JSTOR using uni computers for little to no charge at all? You can walk into one of half a dozen libraries at Tel Aviv University, paying an admittance fee (if you're not a student and if someone bothers to check), and have the same JSTOR access all students have. Once again, following the same hypothetical as before, you could download and share any single journal or article out there, especially since they're already in the public sphere.

    It's like charging someone for lending him your Time or Newsweek magazine, and then getting pissed off when he copies an article and mails it to his friends. He was given permission to use the magazine, he returned the magazine to you in it's original shape and form with nothing missing, and it's nothing that his friends couldn't have gotten by walking down to the local library and reading there. Nothing was leaked or stolen, so what's the problem aside from some authors' work getting more publicity?

    Here's another question: artists (and I'm talking about multi-millionaire, big-name artists) frequently upload their original material to YouTube and Vevo. YouTube allows you to create a playlist of whatever videos are on YouTube. Essentially, you can make a playlist that's available anywhere, from any computer, tablet, mobile device, etc.... and available to anyone to use and see, of your favorite music, all without breaking a single shred of copyright law.

    Now, how come if I download the audio part (Hell, download the audio AND the video!) from that same YouTube video and save it on my computer (for personal use, without even sharing with my friends), I'm now a criminal? What was so different about the two scenarios? In both cases the artists put the music on YouTube/Vevo. In both cases I used the artists' own videos to create my playlist. In both cases the music is available with me wherever I go. In one case the music is available for others to hear without paying, in the other scenario I'm the only one that hears without paying. And yet, in one scenario I'm a regular internet user, in the other scenario, my desire to simplify things and make them more convenient for myself makes me a criminal.

    And this is without even getting involved in file sharing, which studies have shown has actually increased artists' sales and income as well as creation of new artists.
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  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    Well, these are published articles, not granny's secet recipe and it wasn't a private home, it was a public building and the room was unlocked. I don't see the point of your arguments. Most of the posts are about the unnecessary severity of the punishment. You seem to be focused on whether what he did was wrong, when every response agree's it was wrong to do what he did.
    So they were published articles... that means he wasn't stealing them? I don't see the point in this argument.

    So the door was unlocked... that means he was authorized to be there and connect his laptop to a network switch to steal documents? I don't see the point in this argument either.

    You seem to be suggesting that these points somehow makes what he did ok (otherwise why do they matter?), then acting surprised that I'm focused on it????

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooglin View Post
    So they were published articles... that means he wasn't stealing them? I don't see the point in this argument.

    So the door was unlocked... that means he was authorized to be there and connect his laptop to a network switch to steal documents? I don't see the point in this argument either.

    You seem to be suggesting that these points somehow makes what he did ok (otherwise why do they matter?), then acting surprised that I'm focused on it????
    It's like charging someone for lending him your Time or Newsweek magazine, and then getting pissed off when he copies an article and mails it to his friends. He was given permission to use the magazine, he returned the magazine to you in it's original shape and form with nothing missing, and it's nothing that his friends couldn't have gotten by walking down to the local library and reading there. Nothing was leaked or stolen, so what's the problem aside from some authors' work getting more publicity?

    Once again, what's the difference?
    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

    Abusing Yellow is meant to be a labor of love, not something you sell to the highest bidder.

  9. #24
    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooglin View Post
    So they were published articles... that means he wasn't stealing them? I don't see the point in this argument.

    So the door was unlocked... that means he was authorized to be there and connect his laptop to a network switch to steal documents? I don't see the point in this argument either.

    You seem to be suggesting that these points somehow makes what he did ok (otherwise why do they matter?), then acting surprised that I'm focused on it????
    I've repeatedly stated that it WAS wrong - you repeatedly ignore what I say, even when half my post is saying it, and then mis-state what I've said. This isn't a discussion, you are ignoring what I said and having a strawman argument with a statement you claim I've made.

    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    Well, these are published articles, not granny's secet recipe and it wasn't a private home, it was a public building and the room was unlocked. I don't see the point of your arguments. Most of the posts are about the unnecessary severity of the punishment. You seem to be focused on whether what he did was wrong, when every response agree's it was wrong to do what he did.
    Last edited by USSWisconsin; 28 Mar 13, at 02:38.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigross86 View Post
    It's like charging someone for lending him your Time or Newsweek magazine, and then getting pissed off when he copies an article and mails it to his friends. He was given permission to use the magazine, he returned the magazine to you in it's original shape and form with nothing missing, and it's nothing that his friends couldn't have gotten by walking down to the local library and reading there. Nothing was leaked or stolen, so what's the problem aside from some authors' work getting more publicity?

    Once again, what's the difference?
    Technically, he wasn't given permission to use it. Only Time or Newsweek could give them permission, which they're usually happy to do as long as proper credit is given. Now, how about if you take all the contents of that same Time magazine that you borrowed and make 5 million copies to give to people for free? Legal? Should it be legal? You think Time might have a legal claim to make there? No difference?

    That's was he was doing. He was taking JSTOR's pay to access collection (directly and covertly), to create his own JSTOR. You don't think there's a difference?

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    I've repeatedly stated that it WAS wrong - you repeatedly ignore what I say, even when half my post is saying it, and then mis-state what I've said. This isn't a discussion, you are ignoring what I said and having a strawman argument with a statement you claim I've made.
    What a bizarre exchange

    I haven't mistated or ignored anything, so take a breath and calm down. I said "you seem to be suggesting" because you keep bringing these details up about an unlocked door and published articles but won't address why they matter or what point you're trying to make. Instead of an answer as to why they matter I get lambasted about him being wrong again.
    Whatever.

  12. #27
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    And for what it's worth, I think almost all of these publications should be free to access by anyone since almost all of them, directly or indirectly, are publicly funded.

  13. #28
    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    Here is Aaron Sartz blog, interesting. The more I read about him, the more interesting the case seems to get.
    Raw Thought: Aaron Swartz's Weblog

    Aaron Swartz is gone, but his story refuses to fade away. Why? - latimes.com
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  14. #29
    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooglin View Post
    What a bizarre exchange

    I haven't mistated or ignored anything, so take a breath and calm down. I said "you seem to be suggesting" because you keep bringing these details up about an unlocked door and published articles but won't address why they matter or what point you're trying to make. Instead of an answer as to why they matter I get lambasted about him being wrong again.
    Whatever.
    My point is the penalty that he faced was out of proportion to the crime he committed. That serving six months in prison for copying a database of journal articles that can be veiwed in a library at any time is a lessor crime. What he might have done with the data is irrelevant, all he did do was copy it. I have previously mentioned my opinion on the appropriate punishments.
    "If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
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  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    My point is the penalty that he faced was out of proportion to the crime he committed. That serving six months in prison for copying a database of journal articles that can be veiwed in a library at any time is a lessor crime. What he might have done with the data is irrelevant, all he did do was copy it. I have previously mentioned my opinion on the appropriate punishments.
    The legal system disagrees with you. What your intent is matters very much, whether you were successful or not. It's very relevant.

    Anyway, I found a really good write up of the whole affair by a law professor who specializes in computer crime law, and it also debates the appropriate penalty

    The Volokh Conspiracy The Criminal Charges Against Aaron Swartz (Part 1: The Law)

    The Volokh Conspiracy The Criminal Charges Against Aaron Swartz (Part 2: Prosecutorial Discretion)

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