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525 comments

Sorry Charlie (5, Insightful)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733399)

It obviously wasn't for "backup purposes only or home brewing. I say serves him right. Gives everyone else a bad name.

Term? (5, Interesting)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733473)

I basically agree with you, however this does raise the question of length of copyright terms. If the original 14-year term (IIRC) were in effect, those games would now belong to all of us, and this fellow could sell his consoles without being accused of stealing somebody else's work.

So the discussion about this situation should at least include a debate on whether these games should still be under copyright at all.

Re:Term? (4, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733665)

They would have gotten at least extended to 28 years. Hell, Nintendo is STILL selling them. People are STILL buying them. IMO they deserve those sales when they manage to make something that stays relevant for such a long time. Most games just fade into obscurity within maybe 3 years.

Besides, if they were really free for everyone it wouldn't be a selling point to pre-load them on a console.

Re:Term? (5, Insightful)

Estragib (945821) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733743)

Indeed, who would pay for an aggregation of otherwise free software?

Re:Term? (3, Informative)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733867)

... go to any of the font collection websites, and you'll find all their fonts are free. But if you pay them $10 or something, you can download them all at once, instead of one at a time. So... enough people give them money, at least enough to pay for hosting/etc.

I'm just sayin...

Re:Term? (1, Redundant)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733863)

yes, I'm all for copywrite for a decade or 2 and perhaps after that giving the holders the choice to register their intent to keep the copyright for longer by paying a small fee but really things stat under copyright for a stupid ammount of time.
Companies rarely look more than 10 or 15 years ahead to work out how much money they can make off something so making copyrights last until the end of time isn't going to seriously increase the ammount of money the artists get for setting their work.

Re:Term? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733887)

bah! damn my awful spelling
*copyright not copywright
*stay not stat
*amount not ammount

Re:Term? (4, Interesting)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 5 years ago | (#24734069)

I agree. It also raises the very significant question of imposing criminal penalties in relation to what is in reality a civil offence.

This type of penalty is the direct result of the sustained campaign to impose extraordinarily severe penalties in relation to 'crimes' which in reality carry few of the hallmarks of what is traditionally regarded as criminal activity.

When you send someone to prison for that long for a crime which is trivially easy to commit, is of debatable morality, and which has a tenuous impact, at best, on anyone or on "society", then I think there is something very wrong.

Re:Sorry Charlie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733487)

Yes serves him right. What about those who bought it from him?

Re:Sorry Charlie (5, Interesting)

tomz16 (992375) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733561)

He was selling these :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Player_Super_Joy_III [wikipedia.org]

In other words, he wasn't actively producing the pirated systems, or loading the games onto the consoles. He simply bought them wholesale from China, imported them, and re-sold them for profit in local malls. Doesn't make it right, but gives the story a slightly different twist in my mind.

To my knowledge, the games pre-loaded on this set are also currently out of production (but based on current retro-gaming trends may be re-introduced at a later date via online catalogs for existing consoles such as the wii).

In any case, another poster is correct. In my mind, most of these games are 14+ years old now, and not currently being sold by the original author. These two circumstances do lead me to question whether copyright law in this case really serves the interests of society.

Re:Sorry Charlie (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733795)

To my knowledge, the games pre-loaded on this set are also currently out of production

They aren't, some are already on the VC, others are in classic game collections released by other companies. Sure, many aren't but there's still a large number of games that are still sold.

Mario still has a bed time (3, Insightful)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733843)

14+ years? Much of the preloaded stuff he's (re)selling is well over a 24 years, and is easily older than I am. After 18 years my parents lost a lot of the legal control they had over me. Imagine if those laws were treated as copyright is... *shudders*

Re:Sorry Charlie (1)

dj42 (765300) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733931)

How in the hell did he make $400K selling those???? I am obviously in the wrong business (aside from the whole "getting caught" bit).

Re:Sorry Charlie (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24734067)

Well, for one thing he wasn't paying the guys who made the games a dime. And this is stoneage software now, you could run NES games on graphing calculators, so the hardware is pretty cheap. They were selling these from kiosks in malls as well, so no stores to buy. Very cheap. And it sounds like some other guy had already developed it, been thrown in jail, and this guy decided to start selling them.

I can't find it online, but I think I remember they sold these things for a suprising amount, I want to say in the 40-60$ range.

So very low to non-existent investment, highway robbery for the final product, that will get you a lot of money quickly.

I also wouldn't be suprised if those kiosks selling the stuff in malls were gullible individuals who had bought the kiosks, idea, and the units from him to sell themselves.

I think it's safe to say he had a nice racket going there.

Re:Sorry Charlie (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733971)

Another issue is then - was he really aware of the fact that the game devices contained illegally loaded games.

Re:Sorry Charlie (1)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733571)

Exactly.

I'm known to download a few games illegally from time to time, and yes I probably shouldn't do that. I've been doing it for almost 2 decades now, though less so these days, because I know what most games are about these days.

But I've never been as much an asshole as to actually put them all on an image and sell systems pre-loaded with them.

Fail all over for this guy. The punishment fits the crime. I, for one, know the difference between downloading a piece of software illegally for just myself vs. outright profiteering. I never even considered that, I'd just feel like a thief at that point.

15 months and $415,900 later... (-1, Troll)

bakana (918482) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733411)

Wow they caught one guy out of thousands that do it. I doubt this will scare others into changing their ways. But it should hopefully force him to change his ways, since he got caught.

Ouch. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733413)

"Conjugal visits? Mmmm. Not that I know of. Y'know, minimum-security prison is no picnic. I have a client in there right now. He says the trick is: kick someone's ass the first day, or become someone's bitch. Then everything will be all right. W-Why do you ask, anyway?"

A Decent Application of Copyright laws. (1, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733435)

OK, so this looks like what almost everybody can agree is a proper application of copyright law -- although I'd actually be willing to argue that he got off light with this sentence. Normally, I'd expect the restitution to be a multiple of the profits. ( granted, IANAL ).

Re:A Decent Application of Copyright laws. (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733575)

Excuse me, but no. Not everyone does agree with you and it's disingenuous to proclaim that they should.

Every game for the NES should now be out of copyright. 100+ copyright terms for these works is just, simply, unjust.

Re:A Decent Application of Copyright laws. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733873)

Every game for the NES should now be out of copyright.

That is not a decision that you have any right to make on behalf of the copyright holder. The copyright holder, NOT YOU, owns the rights to the sale and reproduction of that software. Are you a Communist?

100+ copyright terms for these works is just, simply, unjust.

No it is NOT unjust to imprison and punish software thieves.

-- Don't steal the dream - don't steal music.

Re:A Decent Application of Copyright laws. (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733895)

Actually, as a citizen of a democracy, it is my right to decide what should be law and what should not.

Unfortunately my rights are being stomped on by people buying my political representatives.

But don't worry, sooner, not later, globalization will end these ridiculous restrictions on trade called "copyright" that the western nations are trying to push as beneficial to the rest of the world.

Re:A Decent Application of Copyright laws. (0)

Marrshu (994708) | more than 5 years ago | (#24734055)

I assume you live in the US, in which case, you do not live in a Democracy, but a Federal Republic.

Re:A Decent Application of Copyright laws. (1)

Benaiah (851593) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733939)

I disagree too.
I think that copyright is so totally stuffed at the moment. This is essentially a new product, a new market for an old product or whatever. If he wanted to get a license from nintendo for the games/idea they wouldn't let you.They are as tight assed as apple when it comes to sharing.

So in this case copyright should have expired, and then fairly these guys came up with a new way to make money off an old idea... The exact thing that copyright is supposed to protect. Innovation. Sure they didn't do much, but as stated previously, "Copyright is not a license to print money."

Re:A Decent Application of Copyright laws. (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733829)

A. No, I do not agree that this is a proper application of copyright law. Almost all those games are out of print - even if I wanted to pay someone for most of them, I couldn't. Just because there is a law that says it is illegal does not mean the judge had to apply the law to its fullest extent. I think Nintendo sued mostly to protect its name, not for game copyright reasons; they didn't want their name associated with crappy glued together hardware.

B. Restitution to whom? Many of the companies that made those games don't even exist anymore (at least in their original form.) Eye-for-an-eye justice becomes irrational if applied blindly.

Re:A Decent Application of Copyright laws. (1)

lamarhornet (977794) | more than 5 years ago | (#24734017)

There is no reason to sentence someone to prison for something as silly as this. Is selling a gaming system destroying the moral fabric of society? I don't think so, but don't complain when "real criminals" are let go on probation because we have to teach a lesson to these copyright violators.

is that all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733445)

Only 15 months - He got off lightly

I'm okay with this. (4, Insightful)

Inominate (412637) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733447)

There is a massive difference between pirating something and selling someone else's copyrighted work. The minute you turn piracy into a for-profit operation is when criminal copyright infringement makes sense.

Re:I'm okay with this. (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733463)

Yeah, how dare he sell games that no-one else is interested in selling.

Re:I'm okay with this. (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733557)

Yeah, how dare he sell games that no-one else is interested in selling.

How do you come to that conclusion?

Re:I'm okay with this. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733589)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Player_Super_Joy_III [wikipedia.org]

That's what he was selling. NES games.

Re:I'm okay with this. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733815)

Contra. Super Mario Bros. Bomberman. These aren't games noone is interested in selling, they ARE being sold.

Re:I'm okay with this. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733855)

NES SMB is being sold? Really? In any case, it was published in 1985, Nintendo has had 23 years to sell it. They've been incredibly successful. That's long enough. It should be in the public domain. Hell, it should have been in the public domain years ago.

Re:I'm okay with this. (4, Insightful)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733591)

Yea, how dare he sell games that he didn't create and collect 100% of the profits that no one else is interested in selling.

FTFY

Re:I'm okay with this. (2, Insightful)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733671)

so if I sell something I didn't create and collect 100% of the profits I'm a criminal?, I guess I won't be able to sell any of my possessions then

Re:I'm okay with this. (2, Insightful)

ranton (36917) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733883)

so if I sell something I didn't create and collect 100% of the profits I'm a criminal?, I guess I won't be able to sell any of my possessions then

Wow, I think you are having trouble with the term Profit. The only way that you can be selling your personal possessions for 100% profit is if you stole them.

Re:I'm okay with this. (2, Insightful)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733957)

or if I had them given to me for free

Re:I'm okay with this. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733999)

Unless he sells them for twice their retail value. Everything after costs is profit... so if you sell a $20 lamp for $40, that's a 100% profit, no?

Re:I'm okay with this. (4, Funny)

Catil (1063380) | more than 5 years ago | (#24734009)

Um, if you buy something for 10$ and sell it for 20$, that's 100% profit, no?

Yes, how dare the Royal Shakespeare Company (1)

phr1 (211689) | more than 5 years ago | (#24734043)

sell tickets to perform the works of Shakespeare that they didn't write, and collect 100% of the profits. Or for that matter, how dare McDonalds collect all that money when it didn't invent the hamburger?

The point the other posters are making is that under the original US copyright law written by the Framers, 14 year old computer games abandoned by the authors would be in the public domain just like Shakespeare's plays, and that the Framers got it right in keep the length of copyright relatively short. The game authors got their recompense through 14 years of government-enforced monopoly, and that's enough.

Re:I'm okay with this. (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733669)

They are not his to sell any more than the games that other people are interested in selling. There is absolutely no difference between the two.

Re:I'm okay with this. (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733675)

The minute you turn piracy into a for-profit operation is when criminal copyright infringement makes sense.

Piracy is always a for-profit operation. It's just that the profit isn't always financial

Re:I'm okay with this. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733837)

By that logic I shouldn't be allowed to help my neighbor fix his car 'cause I know he'll invite me to his BBQ afterwards.

Software Freedom Fighters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733681)

There is a massive difference between pirating something and selling someone else's copyrighted work.

Realize you're saying "piracy" is preferable to "racketeering". You're glorifying the term pirate, when the closest positive metaphor is really Robin (Robbing) Hood. We're splitting the line thinly between stealing-for-no-personal-loss and profiting-by-stealing, which is basically a racket.

You might think that's a massive difference in your ethical universe so that you can sleep at night (and for the record, I do as well), but I don't believe that real lawmakers see it that way, never mind the creators.

I'm reminded of Anime fan-subs. "Fan-for-fan copy." If you bought it, you got cheated, and so did the creators, yadda yadda. Nonetheless, it's the fan-sub itself that's setting the wheels in motion, not the creator's lack of action by not immediately creating a subtitled copy. Those same wheels build demand and create incentive for the creator to meet the demand. The correlation with games is the same... region lockouts, ROM translations, etc.

The minute you turn piracy into a for-profit operation is when criminal copyright infringement makes sense.

Buh? I'm assuming you mean "enforcement" not infringement. Ask any real pirate/kidnapper and I'm sure they'll admit their activities are for profit.

Similar to how "hacker" has an unpleasant double entendre, I really want a word to use other than pirate.

Besides, we all know ninjas are cooler. Nobody ever accuses ninja of these things.

Re:Software Freedom Fighters (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24734065)

Besides, we all know ninjas are cooler. Nobody ever accuses ninja of these things.

Which is why ninjas are ruling the coast of Somalia at the moment...

Re:I'm okay with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733765)

There is a massive difference between pirating something and selling someone else's copyrighted work.

And there is a massive difference between shareing your something you own, copying it for backups and pirating.

Some piracy is as bad as theft (2, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733453)

Okay, one of you people that claim piracy is always okay, riddle me this. If this person profited by selling a piece of software that took money, time, and labor to make, how did he not deny someone the money they should have made? And don't pretend that the people who bought these systems thought the games were so cool they had to go out and buy a copy.

This is not giving a copy to your friend, this is a direct theft of value from the software writers. Call it "copyright violation" or call it "selling someone's work without paying them for it" this was wrong.

Re:Some piracy is as bad as theft (1)

Legion_SB (1300215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733527)

Okay, one of you people that claim piracy is always okay, riddle me this. If this person profited by selling a piece of software that took money, time, and labor to make, how did he not deny someone the money they should have made?

I don't know how good of an argument that is for this particular case. I think the guy's about 20 years late to deny the makers of 10 Yard Fight any money.

(To anyone unclear on what precisely was being sold, it was these [wikipedia.org] . You know, the Poor Kid Nintendos you see at the swap meet, packaging written mostly in Spanish...)

Well... (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733577)

I (would like to) believe it'll be pretty difficult to find anyone who actually thinks that infringing upon another's copyrighted work for profit is NOT wrong.

The argument from 'pirates' is extremely varied, but it usually involves no profit, in which case, it becomes less black and white. If you 'pirate' something that you wouldn't have purchased anyway and don't share it with anyone, then no one is really hurt. I can actually sympathize with that. BUT, people LOVE free stuff and 99% of the time, that just isn't the case and it is unprovable (arbitrary figure, but I'm sure it is high).

In this case though, we're talking about getting something that should have been paid for for free, intentionally profiting and wittingly depriving potential sales of the involved works. There are a couple of levels of wrong here.

One could argue though, that if none of his customers had planned to purchase the original work, then not much harm was done. But that's unrealistic and impossible to *prove*... Not to mention that profiting on another's work without compensation is pretty scummy in itself. But it is worth looking at that point of view in his defense... I guess.

Re:Well... (3, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733649)

'One could argue though, that if none of his customers had planned to purchase the original work, then not much harm was done. But that's unrealistic and impossible to *prove*...'

In the US justice system the burden of proof is SUPPOSED to be on the one claiming harm, not the one claiming there was no harm. I would argue that it is not unrealistic that the people purchasing from him would not have purchased from the vendor but likely.

Most of the people I know who consume pirated material have thousands of songs, hundreds of movies, dozens of games, etc. Those same people would NOT have bought tens of thousands of dollars worth of content if they had to pay for it. That collection might turn into one game, two movies, a few CD's, if that.

Burden of proof. (4, Interesting)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#24734033)

Good point and I do agree with it overall. However, to assume that not a single customer would have purchased the original works - even if it does fall within the spirit of the law - is equally unlikely. Well, its very much an improbability for any recent game system at least. But you know, this case deals with the Power Player [wikipedia.org] ... So yeah, you are probably right. :D

And again, we're dealing with old games, none of which (I'm assuming) are in production or even for sale anymore. So did this guy REALLY cut into the profits of the copyright holder(s)? Probably not. His crime was really using another's work as the cornerstone for his own product. I wonder if that's how the case was looked at, or if it was viewed as though he had deprived the copyright holder of sales also?

Really though, I think the only way to be fair about this is to ask the customers whether or not they would have purchased any of the 75 titles and which ones. Heck, some of them may have even owned them... We're talking about Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, etc.. I guess the copyright holder could pass the time/cost of collecting that information to the defendant in the final settlement. That seems like a relatively fair way of doing things, although pretty tedious.

Re:Well... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733835)

Should be added that the "wouldn't have bought it anyway" argument is in part based on the current perception of value, the value of a game is seen as very low when one is used to downloading games for free. Of course it seems way too expensive to get a 50€ game when all the others one "gets" are for free.

Re:Some piracy is as bad as theft (2, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733629)

'how did he not deny someone the money'

The only way he denied them money was if the person paying him would have purchased the game from the copyright holder instead of the pirate. Unlikely.

Re:Some piracy is as bad as theft (4, Interesting)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733697)

The only way he denied them money was if the person paying him would have purchased the game from the copyright holder instead of the pirate. Unlikely.

Or if the copyright holder didn't want these games on the market because they have newer games that they want to sell, which will now not be bought because people are buying these older pirated games instead. Likely.

It's a form of "opportunity cost" (1)

dj42 (765300) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733849)

The cost of old product selling (at any price) has its potential in the lost sales of new product (at any price).

Many people don't recognize opportunity cost in the whole "piracy argument" when it comes to actually buying pirated goods, since that money could have gone towards anyone (those pirated from or otherwise) that is legit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_cost [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's a form of "opportunity cost" (1)

dj42 (765300) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733921)

Just to clarify this, if your name is Joe and you spend $100 of your annual $30,000 salary on a pirated DVD with Windows XP and Photoshop CS3 on it, you have removed "$100" of income that could be used for legit software purchases, game purchases, etc. So even though the assumed victims are Microsoft and Adobe, it could also be Bungie, or EA, or Sony, or Apple, etc.

Therefore, paying for pirated items will nearly always an appreciable opportunity cost, since most people do not have unlimited or virtually-unlimited money. If you had unlimited money, the decision to pirate instead of buy legit wouldn't matter either way.

Basically, you allocate a small slice of your "money pie" to illegitimate business when you pay for pirated software/games/music/movies. When you simply download them (but had no intention of ever paying for them), there is no real loss to anyone except perhaps your ISP and there are incremental gains in the popularity of the item downloaded.

Re:Some piracy is as bad as theft (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733993)

Why is it unlikely? The person had money and was willing to pay it for the game. The buyer might even have assumed everything was legal and considered it a better deal than the official one.

Re:Some piracy is as bad as theft (5, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733773)

Okay, one of you people that claim piracy is always okay, riddle me this. If this person profited by selling a piece of software that took money, time, and labor to make, how did he not deny someone the money they should have made?

Because these games are old enough that they should be in the public domain. More than a fair return for them has already been made.

Copyright is supposed to be an incentive to create new works, not a license to print money.

Re:Some piracy is as bad as theft (1)

dj42 (765300) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733949)

I don't really think this is an acceptable line of thought. I think once you purchase something, it should be yours ongoing. That is, if you purchase Pink Floyd - Dark Side of The Moon on record in the 70s, you ought to be able to have it in ANY format you want. That means, if you want the MP3s someone else has recorded from their record, you deserve them. As to remastered versions for new media, it makes sense if you want those (vs the old) to have to pay for them.

BUT, being legally challenged for shit you own or have paid for (albums, games, movies, etc.) is absolutely ridiculous.

Re:Some piracy is as bad as theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733975)

Do people still buy Beatles CDs? How about 70s and 80s movies and tv-series re-released on DVD?

I think you need to consider carefully if you were a person in the 70s or 80s involved in a project and someone is suggesting you don't deserve anymore money because it has been 30 years since you made it.

Wouldn't that piss you off? You made it. Who gives a fuck if it has been sometime?

Pretend you made a thing that collects water and washes clothes in the 1700s. Absolutely brilliant and people bring you their clothes and you wash them. Then, 12 years later someone says, "Oh, sorry! Your rights to that device are up! Ours now bitch!" and hauls it away.

Some isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733827)

His systems had game on them like Donkey Kong Jr. Math - Released 1983.

It seems doubtful to me that Nintendo would have sold any copies of that game and others if he were not selling them packaged with his system.

oh noes! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733457)

Let's see the idiot piracy apologists defend this one.

"Copyright infringement is NOT theft. No one is being deprived of a game...blah blah blah"

or

"It's his right to sell the games! He went through all the work of putting them on the system!"

etc.

Bastards.

Thieves belong in jail (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733465)

This includes all the movie pirates as well. I'm disappointed that the Bush administration has not put all the effort needed to shut down The Pirate Bay, for example.

The steal U.S. innovation and hard work for their own benefit...

This and child pornography are the only down sides of the internet.

Re:Thieves belong in jail (1)

Xiph (723935) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733511)

trolls are pretty annoying too

For once they got it right (5, Interesting)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733475)

Aside from trying to scare the ever living crap out of Joe Public, I can't see why the RIAA and MPAA bother going after the poor idiot who's sharing five songs from the new Brittany Spears album instead of going after the people like this who are actually making a profit violating someone else's copyright. Not only is it easier to track down the people who are doing it for profit, but you don't look like complete dicks when it turns out the anonymous person you tracked down through an IP address turns out to be a handicapped woman or someone who doesn't even own a computer.

I really don't mind the concept of copyright (although I do feel as though the duration should be significantly shortened to something of at most fifteen years.) and don't have a problem of not consuming any copyrighted media that has an asking price too much for my likes. I've never produced anything that I'd consider charging people to consume myself, but like the idea that if I ever did and decided to charge for it, I'd appreciate it if it wasn't spread across the internet or various other channels without my consent.

I don't really blame the casual infringers either. I understand that most of them are young and poor like I once was and usually can't afford the going rate for most works. I'd be fairly hypocritical of me to want them brought to justice when I've done exactly the same thing. I think that most people on slashdot feel the same, but there are a few people who have differing opinions. I think we should all draw the line when someone is actually taking your work and turning a profit through selling it without your permission.

I really wish the **AAs would take this kind of approach and train the killer legal dogs on the assholes that really deserve it instead of some poor college kids. I don't mind them releasing a commercial telling the casual file sharers who are distributing their copyrighted works that they suck, but the hardhanded legal action against these people is ridiculous.

Re:For once they got it right (4, Insightful)

mshomphe (106567) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733693)

I can't see why the RIAA and MPAA bother going after the poor idiot who's sharing five songs from the new Brittany Spears album instead of going after the people like this who are actually making a profit violating someone else's copyright.

People who make a profit have the money to fight back. Casual infringers tend to be easily cowed into settling.

This guy pled guilty to 1 count (1)

phr1 (211689) | more than 5 years ago | (#24734061)

and his name sounds Muslim. I wonder what they threatened him with, to get him to plead.

To spook the commoners (1)

dj42 (765300) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733869)

Obviously, it is to terrify Mom's/Dad's/Grandma's/Grandpa's/Un-Techies. I suspect their campaigns have made millions think twice about downloading music and movies.

Rough up 100 people, make some money to pay for your lawyers--at least partially--and frighten thousands to millions into not downloading. Or, at least cause people to not sit 24x7 saturating their bandwidth archiving all music that has been made.

Re:For once they got it right (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733963)

I can't see why the RIAA and MPAA bother going after the poor idiot who's sharing five songs from the new Brittany Spears album instead of going after the people like this who are actually making a profit violating someone else's copyright.

You have it backwards, in the eyes of the copyright holders it's the downloaders/endusers that are the criminals because they're the ones not paying, going after the distribution chain is just a means to an end. If they managed to wipe out all commercial copyright infringement and got everyone on thepiratebay, would they be happy? Of course not, they're not getting paid either way. They're not nearly as concerned about how much money others are making as how much money they're not making.

Fair cop... (4, Interesting)

Fleeced (585092) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733497)

In this case, I'd say the fine is a fair cop - though the jail term is a bit steep... it wasn't a minor copyright infringement - and it certainly wasn't for personal use.

As for the jail term - I'm generally uncomfortable with jailing people for anything but violent crimes (though I acknowledge it might sometimes be necessary in other cases too).

Re:Fair cop... (2, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733543)

I mostly agree. As far as I know, the guy is not a threat to anybody, so jail time should be light; these are economic crimes, and the penalties should probably be mostly economic. But fifteen months is not a huge amount of time. I'm sure at the first hint of jail overcrowding, this is the guy that will get the early release.

What always makes me wonder about these crimes... what did he think was going to happen? I guess this sentence is good if it stops other, completely clueless, individuals from doing this same thing.

Re:Fair cop... (2, Funny)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733787)

What always makes me wonder about these crimes... what did he think was going to happen? I guess this sentence is good if it stops other, completely clueless, individuals from doing this same thing.

He probably spent too much time posting on Slashdot, arguing about how IP should be nobody's property, got modded +5 Insightful so many times that he thought he could use the same arguments in a court room.

I'd like to think that, anyway :)

Re:Fair cop... (1)

Fleeced (585092) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733811)

But fifteen months is not a huge amount of time. I'm sure at the first hint of jail overcrowding, this is the guy that will get the early release.

I dunno, it seems like a long time to me... especially since they it's not the safest environment (though maybe I've just been watching too much tv? Are prisons safer than we think?)

And it's too many people being locked up that causes the overcrowding in the first place. Alternatives to jail could include home detention (something I certainly don't like for violent crims, but makes sense for others), or weekend detention.

Re:Fair cop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733783)

I'm generally uncomfortable with jailing people for anything but violent crimes

What about theft? Or fraud (the kind where people lose their retirements)?

Not your average bedroom piracy. Serves him right (3, Insightful)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733501)

If those NES games had been songs, however, he'd be several million dollars in the hole and jailed for two-digit number of years, not months.

Prison? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733513)

I don't know why you'd imprison him though. I mean, it's a "white collar" crime and there's no threat posed to society by him simply through physical contact.

I'd say enough people are in prison already without adding copyright related criminals into the mix. I agree he should be fined (since his crimes were essentially financial ones) but I don't see the point of prison.

Re:Prison? (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733653)

I don't know why you'd imprison him though. I mean, it's a "white collar" crime and there's no threat posed to society by him simply through physical contact.

There is a threat of him committing the same crime again, isn't there? Not likely to do so while he's in prison. I don't know where this idea comes from that any crime involving physical violence is necessarily worse than any non-violent crime. Perhaps this doesn't apply in this case, but lets say you have a guy who steals $1,000,000 through "white collar" financial crime, compared to a guy who steals $50 by grabbing a purse from a woman, perhaps even punching her in the face in the process. It seems bizarre to me that most people seem to consider the second crime to be worse of the two and would have no problem locking him up, where in the first case they might have second thoughts. It seems to be just a visceral reaction to violence and not a rational evaluation of the actual harm done to the victims or to society.

Re:Prison? (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733761)

You've clearly never been the victim of a violent crime.

Punching a woman in the face to take her purse really can ruin her life.

Taking a couple of hundred dollars from a few thousand people is unlikely to have much lasting effect beyond the financial cost. Give them a big enough financial punishment, and they might start questioning the expected outcome of future crimes.

Sure, it's different once you start talking about white-collar criminals that take their victims' entire life savings, but that's not what we're talking about here.

jail != prison (5, Insightful)

Yold (473518) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733529)

Ahh, the wisdom of Florida's courts. This is probably the most harmless white-collar crime ever, and yet the man gets 15 months in prison. No better way to turn an ordinary citizen into a hardened criminal. If it was jail, it would be a little more understandable, but since he is going to a Florida prison (among the worst in the country), may God have mercy on him. Minimum security prisons (if DOC is nice enough to send him to one) aren't a cake-walk either.

Seriously, fine the man, put him on probation with a suspended sentence before sending him to prison for an utterly victimless crime.

Re:jail != prison (5, Funny)

Legion_SB (1300215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733567)

Seriously, fine the man, put him on probation with a suspended sentence before sending him to prison for an utterly victimless crime.

Excuse me, sir, but this wasn't a "victimless crime". I was credited for Additional Audio Programming on NES Slalom, and the $0.0000015 I have been denied from this man's activities puts an immeasurable strain on my personal finances. Have you noticed the economy we're in?

Re:jail != prison (1)

mxs (42717) | more than 5 years ago | (#24734051)

How on EARTH did you get a gig that wasn't work-for-hire ?!?

Re:jail != prison (5, Insightful)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733581)

Welcome to US of A: Where illegally copying a game gets you jail time while driving intoxicated gets you community service.
The land of free, where anyone with enough money never needs to goto jail for any crime.

Re:jail != prison (1)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733831)

(...) where anyone with enough money never needs to goto jail for any crime.

You've been coding for too long; take a lil' break.

Re:jail != prison (1)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733927)

He would have gotten a base sentence of three years and similar fines in, say, India. (S. 379 of IPC)

It also appears that country keeps trying to completely prohibit booze..

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/435/indiacourt.shtml [stopthedrugwar.org]

Perhaps you should experience freedom and move to the country in your name, thus escaping the cruel, upside down nature of US law. ;)

Re:jail != prison (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733965)

Booze is really not good for health.
Having been in India, i have been charmed by their villages and ubiquitous rail, but have seen the binge drinking they do.
Two bottles of hard alcohol which would shame even a russian are the daily rations of many a laborer.
Plus as you say the constitution prevents it, so the court is just upholding it; just like US courts uphold the constitution however bad the law is (15 yrs for stealing games, versus suspended sentence for DUI).

Link, so we know what it's about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733545)

This is what he sold, I think: Wikipedia reference of power player [wikipedia.org]

It also seems (that's what wikipedia says, at least), that this is not the first prison term for selling power player, nor the worst (5 years in 2005).

Doubtless there would be any argument here (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733579)

I think even the most "software should be free" person out there would agree that this is proper if all of the reported facts are accurate.

But then again, I don't think it's particularly mysterious as to what the general consensus here is on the subject -- individual, not-for-profit sharing is okay. Making money from it is not. It is the very definition of "software piracy."

What were the games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733593)

The article seems a little light on detail.

If they're recent games I reckon fair enough, if they're super old (like NES or even SNES) games then he's adding value by packaging them and I don't think those games should still be covered by copyright. I know they are, this is just my opinion speaking

What, no Jack Thompson comment? (1)

BulletMagnet (600525) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733603)

I'm sure JT is happily dancing somewhere in Florida as well, just on his twisted principles.

Still sounds steep! (0, Redundant)

shaitand (626655) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733607)

Microsoft was fined $20mil in coupons that further entrenched their monopoly for a crime that made and continues to make them hundreds of billions of dollars.

Profits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733609)

I guess his profits were 390,900?

Re:Profits? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733655)

$390,000.01

http://www.trickway.blogspot.com (-1, Offtopic)

ananthannair (1350747) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733667)

good punishment for those who kill software industry.http://www.trickway.blogspot.com

Wish I read about the "Power Player" before... (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733677)

...it sounds like a neat little device. Come to think of it, I may have seen a few of these things in malls and flea markets or something similar not long ago. I believe one version of such a device offered a bunch of really old games like Atari 2600 games, and there have been others.

This man did not make these devices. He did not load the software onto the devices -- they shipped to him that way. He sold devices he imported. While for many people born and raised in the US, it would seem very obvious that such devices would be of dubious legality, to this guy it's hard to know whether or not he knew it was wrong to begin with. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" -- okay... especially if you're the President of the United States violating the nation's Constitution. But seriously, this guy just bought and sold. He may not have had a full understanding of what he was selling and that it wasn't legal in the U.S. (It this device legal in other countries? That would be interesting to know!) Supposing this guy had no knowledge that these devices were actually illegal in the U.S., and had no prior offenses, don't you think it would be more fair to simply have the profits seized?

jail time though? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733689)

well done america, another dangerous criminal behind bars.

seriously aren't your jails over flowing with enough non violent criminals. 390,000 amounts to pocket change for the game industry, so much so i'd argue it's petty cash. it should be enough that he has this huge debt to pay, top it off with 15 months community service every weekend (cleaning the freeway verge or some shit)

if it wasn't for the jail time (1, Insightful)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733691)

It would nearly be no effective punishment. Now that would be the crime for me :) I mean it would be like you could rob a bank and the worst that happened if you got caught was you had to give the money back, hehe.
I think the sentence is fair, the financial reward of the crime was removed and the guy deserves some time. I mean this is above and beyond lending your friend a copy of your stuff for "off site backup". He was out to make a profit and doing pirating in large scale.

A slap on the wrist (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 5 years ago | (#24733747)

No, it doesn't seem steep. Rather, it seems like a slap on the wrist. Piracy for profit isn't even comparable to what the rest of us do.

Meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733821)

3 rapists are paroled due to overcrowding.

Nintendo is like Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24733845)

They are always right on slashdot, even when - no, especially when, they are wrong.
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