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ExtraTorrent.cc > Articles > Source Code Theft Isn’t Offence

Source Code Theft Isn’t Offence

Source Code Theft Isn’t Offence

Added: Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Category: Recent Headlines Involving File Sharing > Current Events
Tags:ET, p2p, Torrent, Piracy, Peer To Peer, Network, Hackers, Internet, BitTorrent, Google, utorrent, bitcomet, extratorrent, 2010, www.extrattorrent.com
An American court has ruled that software can’t be regarded as property that may be stolen. The ruling in question was delivered in the case of Sergey Aleynikov, a Goldman Sachs programmer. He was accused of downloading source code for the investment company’s high-speed trading system from the company’s servers. Local media reports say that Aleynikov was wrongly charged with theft of property since the code wasn’t a physical object and therefore the defendant didn’t gain control of anything when he downloaded it.

In addition, the three-judge panel in New York decided that the programmer was wrongly charged with espionage, as the source code wasn’t software designed for interstate or foreign commerce. The court decision explains why the judges have handed down such a surprise ruling that reversed the defender’s conviction and sprung him from an 8-year jail sentence.

Sergey Aleynikov had admitted that he did violate the bank’s confidentiality policy when he took the source code from the firm’s servers. However, he pointed out that it wasn’t a criminal act, since the code was never used in interstate commerce. The federal appeals court has agreed and reversed the Aleynikov’s conviction.

Meanwhile, one of the things standing against Goldman Sachs’ source code as an object that could have been stolen was that the company went to great lengths to keep the source secret. The matter is that the company made huge amounts of cash by not allowing anyone else to have the source code. However, this meant that Sergey Aleynikov’s theft of source code of the company’s system wasn’t an offense.

Sergey Aleynikov earned around $400,000 annually as a vice president with Goldman Sachs. Now the company claims that he has siphoned the source code for its valuable software on his way out the door to get a job with another firm. As for Goldman Sachs, they only uncovered the theft when they started to monitor HTTPS transfers and noticed a large volume of information leaving its network. Although Sergey Aleynikov did acknowledge taking the source code, he told the federals that he only wanted to collect open source software files on which he had been working. This case can be considered a precedent for the source code thieves all around the globe.

April 26th,2012

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Date:  Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Comments (10) (please add your comment »)

posted by (2012-04-26 19:16:40)
No avatarI seem to remember a ruling that said a World of Warcraft sword being hacked/stolen was considered a real item because of the time and effort that went into earning it. How is this any less of a crime than a video game item?

posted by (2012-04-26 20:14:02)
TrojanMouse avatar@soxfan93,

That story involved a child being 'mugged' (essentially) at knife-point and forced to drop (something like) a sword and an amulet in the game. The main reason that went to court (and a conviction was obtained) was because of the use of a weapon and because the judge ruled the 'objects' had required time and effort to acquire and the child had been deprived of them, whereas (presumably) Goldman Sachs still have a copy of the code...

posted by (2012-04-26 20:43:22)
Brynn217 avatarOnce again we prove that making a copy of something does not equal theft! This time by 3 Judges!!

posted by (2012-04-26 20:48:02)
No avatarAh, that's right. Thanks for clearing that up, TM.

posted by (2012-04-26 22:21:27)
No avatarsee i told you if you shake it! it will wake up (that`s the law)

posted by Blocked (2012-04-27 00:51:45)
menahunie avatarDidn't Goldman Sachs screw allot of people out of allot of money and they are not in jail?

posted by (2012-04-27 10:22:36)
No avatarlol so when we download a movie or mp3 it's THEFT, when we use a pirated version of windows it's THEFT, when some local book shop organize readings for some kids it's THEFT, no matter how many times we make the clear argument that it's not THEFT as the owner still have the original (I'm not saying it's not illegal, it usually is in most countries - but it's not THEFT as defined by most dictionaries)

but when the case has nothing to do with online piracy, suddenly the judges see it clearly ? They even SAY IT AT LOUD : "was wrongly charged with theft of property since the code wasn’t a physical object and therefore the defendant didn’t gain control of anything when he downloaded it"

If I wouldn't know better, I'd think there is some kind of outside influence on the courts and lawmakers sometimes, especially when talking about "copyright infringement" ...

posted by (2012-04-27 12:45:16)
No avatarTheft is when you take something from someone and they no longer own it. So basically downloading music, games, software isn't theft. Copyright infringement as I understand is when you copy someone elses work (game, software or music) and sell it for your own profit. So if you download a movie, music track or game and never sell it then how can you be charged with either offense then?

posted by (2012-04-27 12:47:38)
No avatarAgain I go back to the what is I let my neighbor borrow my Blu Ray movie. He gets to watch it and never has to go to the store and pay for it. SO are you going to make sharing physical copies with others illegal? There is no difference except the internet allows meighbors/friends share over the internet from far away. If people like the game, movie or music they usually WILL buy it.

posted by (2012-04-27 12:58:48)
No avatarCopyright holders frequently refer to copyright infringement as theft. In copyright law, infringement does not refer to theft of physical objects, but an instance where a person exercises one of the exclusive rights of the copyright holder without authorization. Courts have distinguished between copyright infringement and theft, holding, for instance, in the United States Supreme Court case Dowling v. United States (1985) that bootleg phonorecords did not constitute stolen property and that "interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright... 'an infringer of the copyright.'" In the case of copyright infringement the province guaranteed to the copyright holder by copyright law is invaded, i.e. exclusive rights, but no control, physical or otherwise, is taken over the copyright, nor is the copyright holder wholly deprived of using the copyrighted work or exercising the exclusive rights held.

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