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Man Convicted For Helping Thousands Steal Internet Access

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the free-web dept.

The Courts 378

angry tapir writes "An Oregon man has been convicted of seven courts of wire fraud for helping thousands of people steal Internet service. Ryan Harris, 26, of Redmond, Oregon, was convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He faces a prison term of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the seven counts."

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DOLLEE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245023)

Comcast done got ya back with DOLLEE. Good job thinking you'd never be caught.

he got rich from fraud (5, Insightful)

ozduo (2043408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245035)

don't to the crime if you cant do the time

Re:he got rich from fraud (5, Insightful)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245245)

I would agree with you on that if corporate CEOs and pretty much everyone who makes over a million dollars a year hadn't set the precedent that defrauding thousands of people at a time comes only with a slap on the wrist and a meager fine despite a huge profit margin.

Shit, that's the definition of how corporate America works. Why aren't they jailing the CEOs of the cable companies instead for charging >5000 times the amount they pay for bandwidth for the average user? Why aren't they jailing the AT&T and Verizon execs for bait-and-switch with the 'Unlimited' plans which are actually limited to single-digit bandwidth amounts?

It's all ass-backward, and this guy just had the balls to do something about it. Do your time, but do it proudly.

Re:he got rich from fraud (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245417)

Why aren't they jailing the CEOs of the cable companies instead for charging >5000 times the amount they pay for bandwidth for the average user?

I bet it'd be a different story if this guy had significant campaign contributions. It'd be a "Misunderstanding" of some sort.

Re:he got rich from fraud (4, Insightful)

Corbets (169101) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245445)

I would agree with you on that if corporate CEOs and pretty much everyone who makes over a million dollars a year hadn't set the precedent that defrauding thousands of people at a time comes only with a slap on the wrist and a meager fine despite a huge profit margin.

Shit, that's the definition of how corporate America works. Why aren't they jailing the CEOs of the cable companies instead for charging >5000 times the amount they pay for bandwidth for the average user? Why aren't they jailing the AT&T and Verizon execs for bait-and-switch with the 'Unlimited' plans which are actually limited to single-digit bandwidth amounts?

It's all ass-backward, and this guy just had the balls to do something about it. Do your time, but do it proudly.

Why aren't they also jailing each of the individual loan officers who sold mortgages to customers who couldn't pay them back? They were, perhaps, more directly responsible than the CEOs, and yet also directly benefited (commissions or bonuses, depending how such things work at each institution).

That question is also your answer. There is a very large chain of people involved in the financial crisis, and it's unlikely that any single one of them can be apportioned enough blame to go to jail.

And what about the people on the end? (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245641)

Those that walked in to various loans, eyes wide shut? Or those who took loans they couldn't afford because they figured they'd just flip the house and make money?

The idea that individuals were completely blameless in the financial crisis is silly. Sure there were some people who were suckered in. They were told one thing and given another. For them I have some sympathy (though really, there's a standard loan terms sheet that comes with every loan, it isn't hard to read). However there were plenty that got greedy and just ignored all good sense.

An example would be my cousin, call him B. He owned a house that he'd had for quite some time, around 8-10 years on a 30 year fixed mortgage he could afford. then things went crazy and he decided he's take all his equity out in a refinance so that he could buy a bunch of new toys like a truck, take an expensive vacation, shit like that. His loan amount went way up because he was taking out more than the original loan had been for since his house was allegedly worth more. He couldn't afford a fixed loan at that rate so he got a cut rate ARM. Then prices crashed, the rate went up, and he lost his house. Not only should have he known better, my dad (among others) told him this was a stupid idea.

Then there's me, I have a house that I had since before things went crazy, on a 30 year fixed mortgage that I can afford. It supposedly doubled in value during the craziness. I could have taken a ton of money out. I didn't, because I knew that was a bad idea. I still have my house, and I can still afford my loan.

We were both in a similar situation, he chose one option, I chose another. Nobody held a gun to anyone's head and forced the issue.

The crisis was caused by failures and greed at so many levels. The government, the bond rating companies, the investors, the banks, the loan officers, and yes the individuals. You can't just act like a certain group were the evil ones who caused everything. There is a lot of blame to go around.

Now if you just want to start locking everyone up, I guess that's a valid position, but you might want to ask how well that's work in, say, the drug war.

Re:he got rich from fraud (2, Interesting)

philip.paradis (2580427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245467)

I would agree with you on that if corporate CEOs and pretty much everyone who makes over a million dollars a year hadn't set the precedent that defrauding thousands of people at a time comes only with a slap on the wrist and a meager fine despite a huge profit margin.

Two wrongs make a right. Gotcha. You must be some kind of rebel freedom fighter.

Shit, that's the definition of how corporate America works. Why aren't they jailing the CEOs of the cable companies instead for charging >5000 times the amount they pay for bandwidth for the average user?

They aren't being jailing them because nobody has proven in a court of law that they've broken any laws. Please feel free to demand charges be pressed if you feel they're warranted. Maybe a few desperate law students can help you figure out a way to trump some charges up.

On a related note, I was born in 1981. I probably grew up in the same culture you did, and still have admiration for things like The Conscience of a Hacker [ghostwheel.com] . That said, you sure as shit ain't the guy that wrote that, nor are you really anything to write home about in terms of that culture. I ran a BBS here and there from the time I was a kid into my teens, and did some stuff that I'm pretty glad the statute of limitations has run out on around the same time. Looking back, the shady side of the stuff I did was utterly fucking stupid.

It's all ass-backward, and this guy just had the balls to do something about it. Do your time, but do it proudly.

Nobody does their time proudly, you dumb fuck, aside from people who have legitimately dodged grenades and slit throats for their country only to get locked up in some overseas shithole because they had the bad luck to get caught in the process (or similar scenario; go ahead and try to equate that to the crap you're defending here, I dare you). Have you ever been to a county jail, let alone served a prison term? I've got a brother who's done both; I'll be going to pick him up again when he gets released (again) next month. He's a tough son of a bitch, literally did UFC trial fights and failed to lose before getting his ass locked up again and screwing that opportunity (one of oh so many) up too. He'll be happy to demonstrate the finer points of correctional living to you if you need some help understanding it. I'll bet dollars to your nutsuck you wouldn't last 15 minutes in a drunk tank. Shit, put me in there with you, let's find out just to get it over with.

In short, I think you most likely fall into the wannabe vigilante category, and you probably stopped maturing around 14. Get a fucking life, and go do something about the stuff you're bitching about. Namely, go do something innovative to improve the situation, or shut the fuck up.

Re:he got rich from fraud (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245477)

Well see, first of all, I know something about the internet industry, and I doubt they are charging ">5000 times the amount they pay". Even if they are, they offered it, and someone accepted it and signed a contract. That makes it consensual, and legal. As much as I think that the advertising laws should be changed to require that anyone who uses the word "unlimited" to actually offer fully unrestricted and unlimited access - the reality is that everyone would stop using the term, because even the most lax places (like speakeasy) would get pissed if you started pulling down 300 terabytes a month on a $50 connection. And - again - they put it in the contract, even if it was in the fine print somewhere, that the connection is "reasonable use", and what their definition of that is. If you don't like it, you don't have to sign up, which makes it legal.

This guy going out and stealing internet access? Not so legal.

I might add that CEOs take advice from lower down people in finance, networking, IT, etc., while examining their debt, equity, and competitive situations. Saying they should be jailed because you don't personally like the price they set is a bit much.

Re:he got rich from fraud (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245507)

WTF man! If you really think that people are incapable of making over a million a year without committing crimes such as fraud then you're seriously fucked in the head. Your a fucking moron who doesn't have enough value to make 1/10 of a million a year. Asshole.

Re:he got rich from fraud (5, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245523)

Why aren't they jailing the CEOs of the cable companies instead for charging >5000 times the amount they pay for bandwidth for the average user?

Because thats neither fraud nor any other crime - its not illegal to not base your prices on your costs. The cable companies can charge what they like for their product.

Why aren't they jailing the AT&T and Verizon execs for bait-and-switch with the 'Unlimited' plans which are actually limited to single-digit bandwidth amounts?

Now that's a better example, and one I can't give an answer to.

It's all ass-backward, and this guy just had the balls to do something about it. Do your time, but do it proudly.

Sorry, but that's just a pathetic excuse for this guys actions, he didn't do anything justifiable or the be proud of.

Re:he got rich from fraud (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245593)

They ought to jail Obama for fraud. The forgery he released as his birth certificate wasn't even well done.

Re:he got rich from fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245351)

How did he get rich? The software is free.

Re:he got rich from fraud (2)

dintech (998802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245357)

Information wants to be free and so does Ryan Harris.

Re:he got rich from fraud (4, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245487)

It depresses me that people think that some people it takes material profit in order to make fraud and theft of service immoral. Apparently you can't commit a crime against a rich person, unless you become one in the process.

not necessarily (5, Insightful)

Weezul (52464) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245629)

We should never outlaw creating tools like lockpicks, knives, cable modem sniffers, or CPUs able to run unsigned code. We should only outlaw specific usages of said tool.

A priori, there is nothing wrong with explaining how such tools work either, but aiding customers with the specifics of their particular cable provider could eventually cross the line into conspiracy to commit wire fraud, just like helping a robber a house's door would become conspiracy to commit robbery.

I therefore hope they convicted him on specific instances of technical support he provided which unambiguously made him a conspirator in specific customer's wire fraud. And I hope he wins back his freedom on appeal if they convicted him on any other grounds.

In fact, we should discuss the physical plans for equipment and software which he sold here because I'm sure we're curious what exactly he sold. Anyone got links to DIY kits? We should add this stuff to thepiratebay.se's physibles section : http://thepiratebay.se/blog/203

Re:he got rich from fraud (5, Insightful)

andsens (1658865) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245649)

don't to the crime if you cant do the time

I know, but 20 years?!?! Are they serious? That is an insane amount of time for a non-violent crime!

Information wants to be free!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245037)

Oh, except when someone has to pay for it... or works for a living...

seven courts (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245051)

Courts are an odd unit to measure instances of wire fraud.

Re:seven courts (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245099)

I believe 1 court = 1/8 Library of Congress.

Re:seven courts (5, Funny)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245127)

Close, 1 Court ~ 0.1248859302 Libraries of Congress. The SI system never lines up nicely with the US's.

Re:seven courts (5, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245181)

That typo was in the article, too. I'm not sure whether I should snobbily deride the editors for not correcting the mistake or fashionably praise Slashdot for finally reporting on a article accurately.

Re:seven courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245297)

If copy/paste denotes accuracy.

Re:seven courts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245319)

... fashionably praise Slashdot for finally reporting on a article accurately.

... and not just *AN*y article, but *A* article!

Re:seven courts (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245361)

Thank you for quoting me accurately!

hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245055)

Interesting how when it is internet service theft, nobody seems to mind the arrests but when it is intellectual property everyone bawws the fuck out about it. What's wrong? Isn't internet service ~unlimited~?

Re:hrm (3, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245069)

Get your terminology right, please. There's no such thing as "intellectual property", there is a large body of laws and regulations that pertain to patents, trademarks, copyright and other related rights and mostly create various monopolies. "Intellectual property" is a WIPO marketing term for the weak-minded.

Re:hrm (0)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245107)

"Intellectual property" is a contradiction.

Re:hrm (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245143)

My mom said my brain was intellectual Property, so what are you saying?!?

Re:hrm (2)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245233)

probably that your brain contradicts his line of thinking

Re:hrm (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245261)

No, it's not.

Re:hrm (2)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245557)

And along those lines, I don't like the Chicago Cubs, so maybe we can all just pretend they don't exist. Problem solved!

Re:hrm (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245651)

I can't see why I should care about some young animals, even if they are in the Chicago zoo. But what do they have to do with the fiction of "intellectual property"?

Re:hrm (2)

taktoa (1995544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245073)

No, bandwidth requires infrastructure and maintenance, while "intellectual property" can be copied infinitely for a near-zero sum of money.

Re:hrm (2)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245413)

Infinitely copied, yes. Infinitely produced, no; that also requires infrastructure and people's time.

Re:hrm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245081)

Isn't internet service ~unlimited~?

no.

Re:hrm (4, Insightful)

xenobyte (446878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245089)

There a huge difference. You can indeed steal Internet service - you are not making a copy - you are actually taking something someone else paid for, i.e. theft.

When it comes to 'stealing' intellectual property - you are not taking anything away, nor are you taking something someone else paid for. You are making a copy that detracts nothing from the original. Any loss would come from the loss of a potential sale, but as must file sharing either is done by people who would never pay for the stuff they download (no lost sale) or by people that buys the downloaded material later when it becomes available, there's usually no loss involved and thus no theft.

Understand it now?

Re:hrm (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245133)

you are actually taking something someone else paid for, i.e. theft.

Are you sure it wasn't more like a free ride? It's not dissimilar to taking what somebody else invested R&D money to develop.

Re:hrm (5, Insightful)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245195)

It's completely different. Service theft isn't duplicating anything. You're not copying somebody else's internet connection. You're taking their finite bandwidth away from them without their permission. Hence, theft.

Kinda like taking water out of a stream. There's usually a lot to start with, but if you take some, he takes some, and a million farmers take some, soon that river will be pretty dry. Water rights are more complex than internet bandwidth, obviously, but the same principle applies.

Re:hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245537)

You're not copying somebody else's internet connection. You're taking their finite bandwidth away from them without their permission. Hence, theft.

but it was *unlimited* internet access when the target originally signed up....

Re:hrm (2)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245213)

Are you really as retarded as you are making yourself out to be, or do you actually not understand something this basic?

By using an ISP's connection without paying for it, you aren't piggybacking on another person's packets, you're using up the limited* space in the pipe. By not paying, and essentially being an unknown factor to the business providing the pipe, you are lowering the quality of service for everyone else. If not through using bandwidth that wasn't accounted for, it's by delaying their packets with your own, during an especially congested time.

* Regardless of how big the pipes are, the ISPs do need to calculate just how much capacity they have for the amount of people they are serving. Adding a few hundred extra people without accounting for them can be a big difference for their neighbours. Add thousands of unaccounted users, and you can have a massive congestion problem that will be extremely hard to track down, and costly to locate and fix.

Re:hrm (-1, Redundant)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245301)

Are you really as retarded as you are making yourself out to be, or do you actually not understand something this basic?

It's you who's retarded here and asshole as well. Getting a free ride on the bus and not paying for it is actually an apt analogy.

By using an ISP's connection without paying for it, you aren't piggybacking on another person's packets, you're using up the limited* space in the pipe. By not paying, and essentially being an unknown factor to the business providing the pipe, you are lowering the quality of service for everyone else. If not through using bandwidth that wasn't accounted for, it's by delaying their packets with your own, during an especially congested time.

By taking a free ride you're using the service, "crowding up" the bus, not putting in for the maintenance, thus reducing profit. Also if you take someone's invention they spent money developing and sell it cheaply you're robbing them of expected profit.

Feeling retarded yet, asshole?

Re:hrm (0)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245415)

So, you agree with what I said, and you confirm that you're a retard, and you confirm that don't understand the topic at hand in any way, at all?

Re:hrm (2, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245313)

Are you really as retarded as you are making yourself out to be, or do you actually not understand something this basic?

By using research without paying for it, you aren't piggybacking on another person's discoveries, you're using up the limited* funding in the field. By not paying, and essentially being an unknown factor to the business providing the R&D investment, you are lowering the return on investment for every other researcher. If not through reducing sales of a final product, it's by crowding their publishable papers out with your own, in a given issue of a journal.

* Regardless of how big the wallets are, the investors do need to calculate just how much return they will see from the research projects they are funding. Adding a few hundred extra competitors to a market without accounting for them can be a big difference for the feasibility projection of a project. Add thousands of unaccounted clones & derivatives, and you can have a massive marketability problem that will be extremely hard to track down, and costly to locate and fix.

Re:hrm (0)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245399)

Do you see where you went wrong with your failed reply?

Where the things you wrote about don't affect the physical world - they are completely based on a guess, an assumption, or on the imaginary - the issue at hand, of using a finite resource, does affect the physical world.

By stealing Internet access, something is physically taken away from people who paid for it - they are no longer able to use the thing they paid for, because someone else took it from them.

Re:hrm (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245481)

So using a finite resource affects the physical world, but I wrote about things that apparently don't affect the physical world... so am I to understand then that R&D funding is an infinite resource? Please tell me where this endless fountain of funding is, so I can pass it on to my long-shot medical researcher friends.

By copying IP without restraint, something is physically taken away from the people who paid for it - they are no longer able to sell the product they paid for, because the sales market is drastically reduced.

Sure, it's comforting to think of information as being completely free and endless, and we'd all love to live in a world where art and science are pursued for their own sake - but that hasn't happened in the past 3000 years, and it's not going to happen anytime soon, either. There is a cost to producing the information that people want so dearly, and whoever foots the bill is going to expect some kind of return on their investment - be it fame, fortune, or simply the satisfaction of knowing their creation is widely used. Unfortunately, only the former two are easily turned into living expenses, and only the last inherently follows freely-duplicated IP.

Re:hrm (2)

gomiam (587421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245501)

By using research without paying for it, you aren't piggybacking on another person's discoveries, you're using up the limited* funding in the field.

On the contrary, you are actually not using up the funding in the field. You would be, though, if you had to replicate research already done once and again. That's why researchers consider publishing your research a good thing: they get information quite more cheaply than if they had to research everything on their own and they may also get validation/refutation of their own research.

..you are lowering the return on investment for every other researcher.

Only, perhaps, if you don't share back. But if you don't share back you will get sidelined.

...investors do need to calculate just how much return they will see from the research projects they are funding.

Weren't we talking about ROI for other _researchers_? Investors putting money into research and looking at ROI means they don't care about research but its products... and will probably keep research results secret anyway.

Re:hrm (2, Insightful)

brit74 (831798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245257)

Any loss would come from the loss of a potential sale, but as most [sic] file sharing either is done by people who would never pay for the stuff they download (no lost sale) or by people that buys the downloaded material later when it becomes available, there's usually no loss involved and thus no theft.

I'd actually argue that most filesharing is done by people who wouldn't pay for it and there's still a loss involved.

For example, let's imagine a thought experiment: if a company is selling 100,000 copies of some digital media product and then piracy comes along and now 1 million people are pirating it and only 50,000 copies are being sold. We could say that piracy halved the sales - causing a "loss" of 50,000 sales. However, since there are 1 million people pirating it, we could calculate that 95% of them (950,000/1,000,000) wouldn't have bought it. The fact that most of them wouldn't have bought it doesn't change the fact that it caused the sales to be cut in half. Heck, if piracy became the norm, and let's assume that all the sales disappeared (i.e. a loss of 100,000 sales) then we could still truthfully say that "90% of them wouldn't have bought it". My point being: even if you can truthfully say that most of them wouldn't have bought it doesn't mean that it doesn't produce lost sales.

(And just to head-off the "potential sales aren't real they're purely fictional" argument that someone might want to throw my way - if anyone believes that, then they should argue that copyright should never have existed in the first place and corporations should've always been allowed to print all the books they want and sell all the software they want and sell all the movies they can - because it only means a "potential" loss for the creators and corporations should be allowed to pocket all the money for themselves.)

Re:hrm (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245373)

sell the expertise then, not the product.

Re:hrm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245397)

My point being: even if you can truthfully say that most of them wouldn't have bought it doesn't mean that it doesn't produce lost sales.

The reverse also holds, of course: It doesn't mean that it does produce lost sales, either.

Fact: People spend more money on entertainment in various forms than ever. A trend which continues year after year.

Fact: The entertainment budget for people in general is not unlimited.

Conclusion: All the money that could be spent on entertainment is spent on entertainment.

Consequence: No amount of increasingly harsh laws, DRM or other nonsense will have any positive effect on entertainment sales.

Reasonable reaction: Stop inventing silly law after silly law, the only effect of which is to lessen the freedoms of everyone for no positive reason.

Actual reaction: Continue the endless stream of freedom-restricting nonsense, since the actual purpose is control which is something entirely different.

Re:hrm (2)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245421)

You haven't accounted for the pirates who then turn into customers, either.

Or pirates that tell their friends about how great of a program it is, and those friends purchase the program legitimately.

---

No, let's operate off of the assumption that piracy never occurred. Who is to say your program will have as many paying customers? Don't think you can simply say, "HEY LOOK X PAID, BUT Y DIDNT, THEREFORE WE LOST PROFITS!" Which is mathematically wrong. It should be represented as:

x = customers who are customers regardless of piracy
n = customers who are customers because of piracy
p = pirates that who are not customers, but would otherwise be customers
r = pirates who are not customers, but would not otherwise be customers

If you're going to claim damages, please provide proof that x > p, not that x + n > p.

Re:hrm (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245545)

I personally am of the opinion that it doesn't matter whether they were never going to become a customer regardless, they are "enjoying" the product nonetheless.

Re:hrm (2)

metlin (258108) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245653)

You're missing the point. To allow people to pirate because a small portion of them could potentially purchase down the road may be great for marketing, but is poor for revenue.

I am just unable to understand the intellectual lethargy that I find on Slashdot when it comes to piracy. You may disagree with how someone feels about piracy, but if it is their content, it is their prerogative.

Re:hrm (2)

Tim C (15259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245619)

Grammar nit-pick - you use "[sic]" when correctly quoting a mistake in the original, not when correcting one when quoting.

Re:hrm (2)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245277)

What did the customer pay for that these people were stealing? Do terrestrial/cable ISPs still charge per-hour or per-GB for bandwidth?

Last I checked every provider in my area was offering (truly) unlimited high-speed access for a flat rate, and they couldn't tell worth a damn if someone else was using my connection. They certainly didn't charge me more (for example) when my friends would stop by and use my WiFi.

This is no more stealing than using Coffee Shop WiFi, the only difference is how the connection was made.

Re:hrm (2)

kenshin33 (1694322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245389)

the guy did offer software to modify the cable modem firmware to get uncapped connections or clone the mac addr of some legitimate modem to access the nework (yes cable modems are authenticated with mac addr) . he didn't do it himself.

Re:hrm (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245381)

Any loss would come from the loss of a potential sale, but as most file sharing either is done by people who would never pay for the stuff they download (no lost sale)....

The car thief doesn't get let off the hook because he would never would have paid for the cars he stole.

Tell me why again why the geek with a PC and a broadband connection is entitled to freely download movies and games that others must rent from the Red Box or go without.

"File sharing" implies that you are both uploading and downloading files.

The Kazaa client made it explicit by displaying progress bars for both upload and download traffic. There was not so much as fig leaf to disguise that you were engaged in an unlicensed wholesale redistribution.

Re:hrm (1)

bolt_the_dhampir (1545719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245435)

The. Car. Is. Not. Gone. If you have the technology to copy my car, leaving the original intact so I can still use it, feel absolutely free to do so.

Re:hrm (1)

EnempE (709151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245433)

What about the right of the copyright holder to be forgotten ?

Endless copies of a piece of work that you hate and have chosen to stop distributing do detract from your right to not sell something that you own ...

This is getting off topic, apologies.

Re:hrm (2)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245529)

There a huge difference. You can indeed steal Internet service - you are not making a copy - you are actually taking something someone else paid for, i.e. theft.

Do you know how much the artist paid for the copies you take? They have donated both their time and their money into creating it. It's not like they come to them for free, it's just that most of the cost is incurred very early in the creation process.

Re:hrm (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245657)

Can we please stop with the shitty argument that one that has illegally downloaded something is not a lost sale? it is an insult to our minds. Someone who has downloaded and used something is a stolen sale, because that person is using something he/she should have paid for.

Re:hrm (4, Informative)

gomiam (587421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245253)

Obvious troll, but I'll bite: the bits that you receive through my connection detract from the bits that I can receive through my connection for bandwidth is a physical world entity.

OTOH, the bits that you copy from me don't disappear from my hard disk by your copying, for information is being a virtual world entity.

Re:hrm (1)

jdogalt (961241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245337)

Obvious troll, but I'll bite: the bits that you receive through my connection detract from the bits that I can receive through my connection for bandwidth is a physical world entity.

OTOH, the bits that you copy from me don't disappear from my hard disk by your copying, for information is being a virtual world entity.

I'm not trolling, nor the author of the grandparent post, nor interested enough to RTFA. But I kindof agree with your line of reasoning, BUT... You sound like the kind of logical ethicist who might be interested in this followup thought-

Suppose the hacker in question was _so good_, that they managed to write their tools and enabling hacks, such that the only bandwidth 'stolen', was known, with scientific and engineering accuracy, to have gone completely unused. Now that's a very, very big IF. But from skimming these comments, it does sound like this guy may have known the technical nature of the network even better than those who owned and operated it. In that hypothetical, his infraction seems about as ethically dubious as the seemingly less (by your expression) malicious copyright violation of getting a free copy of that tv episode you paid itunes for.

Lots of shades of gray, and very very big pictures to consider... I consider it best to reserve judgement, given I'm positive I don't know all the relevant facts, and it does seem incredibly unlikely to have seriously harmed anyone. (but who knows, its just as easy to construct a hypothetical where the interference interrupted 911 emergency services, but if so, the details of such things are for a jury of ones peers to decide).

Re:hrm (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245569)

The thing that people have yet to touch on in this thread is that the bandwidth used does not just affect the end consumer that is having their connection increased or hijacked - and I'm not talking about the effect on other users on the network.

Let's talk peering arrangements. No ISP has access to the entire Internet, so they peer with other networks and backbones to increase their reach - and those agreements are routinely based on an amount of data transferred per period. Go over that agreed amount and the ISP has to pay. Routinely go over that agreed amount and they have to renegotiate the agreement. Routinely stay under the amount and the ISP can renegotiate a less costly agreement.

So yes, there is a real effect here, it's just some way downstream from you.

Re:hrm (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245575)

Suppose the hacker in question was _so good_, that they managed to write their tools and enabling hacks, such that the only bandwidth 'stolen', was known, with scientific and engineering accuracy, to have gone completely unused.

That sounds fair, but only in principle.

Let's say you and I both run a web business out of our homes. You've got your website running on your local Apache copy, I've got mine. On that website, you're selling product X, and I'm selling product X as well.
As part of your at-home business, you pay your ISP for a 2GB/month upload cap, say, $100. You only ever use a maximum of 1GB, however. The ISP's next lower tier is 500MB/month, so you can't downgrade. So 1GB is left over.
I take that 1GB from you. You're not using it anyway, so no harm no foul, right? Except that I'm not paying that $100. I'm not even paying 'my share' of $50.
As a result, I price the items in my store lower than yours - as I don't have that additional expense, or I price them the same and simple take in a higher profit. Suddenly, ham/foul.

Now, this is a contrived example, and when you use other analogies (Food banks getting food for free, letting others eat for free while you had to pay top dollar for that same food. The kid next door using a pirated copy of Photoshop and doing their commercial web design while you paid for your legitimate copy.) the opinion of whether harm/foul comes into play is going to differ wildly even within the same person's mind.

But the point is that it's not a third party's decision whether it's okay or not to take any unused good without permission. In the example, you paid for the right to not use that 1GB. Is it a shame to let it go to waste? Perhaps. But that's your decision - you could give somebody permission to use it, for free or otherwise, but still your decision.

Re:hrm (1)

gomiam (587421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245621)

Suppose the hacker in question was _so good_, that they managed to write their tools and enabling hacks, such that the only bandwidth 'stolen', was known, with scientific and engineering accuracy, to have gone completely unused. Now that's a very, very big IF. But from skimming these comments, it does sound like this guy may have known the technical nature of the network even better than those who owned and operated it. In that hypothetical, his infraction seems about as ethically dubious as the seemingly less (by your expression) malicious copyright violation of getting a free copy of that tv episode you paid itunes for.

_If_ the bandwidth was really unused I certainly would have no problem with his using it. But it would seem the software this guy's company developed was designed to clone other user access information, which would most certainly cause connection problems, as that usually happens when having repeated MACs or IPs in the same network.

Not directly related, but it seems the ISPs could have worked in some better kind of security in their authentication protocols, which would have probably defeated any easy attempt to break it.

Re:hrm (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245303)

Interesting how when it is internet service theft, nobody seems to mind the arrests but when it is intellectual property everyone bawws the fuck out about it.

What's interesting is despite how clearly the general view on piracy has been made around here for YEARS, there's always some dipshit who comes along and tries to raise some artificial hypocrisy and not only demonstrates that he doesn't understand what people have been saying, but that he doesn't understand the topic at hand either.

You would have gotten more mileage out of mentioning the Pringles can articles this site covered. (Do your homework, though, that's still an uphill battle.)

Bad design (5, Interesting)

xenobyte (446878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245065)

If this guy could build a business, complete with websites, forums and so on, it must have gone on for quite a while (6 years it turns out), so it is obvious that:

1) The ISP didn't know enough about their business to realize the giant holes this guy was exploiting.
2) The ISP was incompetent enough to let this guy and his customers steal service (which the ISP's other customers paid for) for a long time.

Any sentencing here should include a heavy fine to the ISP for technical incompetence.

Re:Bad design (3, Insightful)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245085)

Any sentencing here should include a heavy fine to the ISP for technical incompetence.

Theoretically it already has, it's paid the fine in lost customers due to their service being so crappy. I can't imagine that you could pull something like this off without massively degrading the hijacked service.

Re:Bad design (5, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245103)

Worse, actually. He was impersonating modems using sniffed MAC addresses, which is only possible if the network is running without encryption - a feature that should be easily supported by DOCSIS (BPI has been in there since version 1.0), if the ISP were willing to fork out for the equipment. Coax is a shared medium, which means that every customer's data was being sent to every other customer on that segment, in cleartext - the only thing to stop someone from sniffing all the facebook accounts, emails, MMORPG logins and other non-SSL data they could desire would be the firewall in their modems, which is easily broken with a hacked firmware. That's a massive security worry right there - the ISP were lucky he only exploited it for theft of service, rather than sniffing all traffic and selling details to scammers who might use it for ID theft, spam and the looting of World of Warcraft accounts.

Re:Bad design (4, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245423)

He was impersonating modems using sniffed MAC addresses, which is only possible if the network is running without encryption

Are you sure about this? Many encryption schemes only encrypt the payload, not link-level headers, such as the MAC address. Or how else would the modem be able to figure out which packets are for itself, and which aren't? Attempting to decrypt every packet (including those not intended for it) would be a huge performance drain.

Re:Bad design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245519)

Here I thought it was pretty well known that cable service basically sucks because it works like a giant Ethernet segment where everyone is on the same hub. Nobody encrypts anything they don't have to, so expecting it to be encrypted is a bit unrealistic. Only the ISP's payment pages will be encrypted - and that by HTTPS.

Since you should already be using HTTPS, SFTP, and/or VPN if you want to be secure anyway, there is little added benefit to the cable company adding another layer of encryption to their network, which will make things easier to break, and probably slower.

Re:Bad design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245639)

wow passwords are encrypted when sent.

Re:Bad design (1)

Vegemeister (1259976) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245671)

Anything going across the public internet is in cleartext unless you take steps to encrypt it yourself. It is foolhardy to assume otherwise, or to increase the cost of modems by speccing enough CPU grunt to encrypt all traffic.

Re:Bad design (4, Interesting)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245209)

Well, from the description it appears the guy was selling modified cable modems to sniff data on the coax line and enabling the user to change MAC addresses etc. This [coaxthief.com] would seem to indicate that the device would operate with several configuration sets - maybe switching those on the fly depending whether they were already in use. This way the users' modems would be able to replicate the access data of other users.

That could be prevented by using encryption for exchanging login data, but it's pretty hard to detect: You can't easily tell the difference between unauthorized access of user B with user A's login data, and user A who just happens to use the internet a lot. Also you wouldn't notice a few users doing that in one particular segment, the guys customers could be distributed all over the US:

Re:Bad design (3, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245291)

Cable modems actually solved that a long time ago. The modems themselves are the authentication token - they each have a unique private key embedded in them, and the network uses that. Or rather, should use that - the type of impersonation attack that the article describes is only possible if the ISP has disabled encryption on their network (I'm assuming it's some version of DOCSIS), which is just really stupid of them.

Re:Bad design (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245379)

The network should be able to detect this. The end user too.

Why I say so: let's say the thief, T, tries to go online. One way or another T intercepts the authentication codes of user U. Well maybe several users over time. Then when T wants to go online, he uses U's authentication codes to authenticate his modem to the ISP. So now T is online with U's authentication.

Some time later, T still connected, and U wants to connect her modem to the Internet. Now there are suddenly two modems with the same authentication trying to connect - this should not be possible. One or the other will have to be kicked off. The ISP now has an authentication request, and a request for an IP address (assume DHCP), for a user that has logged on already. This in itself should raise a red flag: something is wrong on the network.

The same for the end user. U may experience problems logging in to the network, as her account is connected already - two modems fighting over the same connection. Resulting in calls to the help desk, and an investigation should be able detect strange entries in the connection logs.

Even if the network allows the same user account to log in twice at the same time, and get two connections (and two IP addresses), this still is easily detectable: every end user is supposed to have only one modem, and having the same modem logged on twice, on two different connections (same network segment, presumably) should set off a warning.

Now detecting where (physical location) the offending modem is connected, that's probably going to be a different matter.

Re:Bad design (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245217)

3) Due to the 'hacking' / under-the-radar nature of the theft (on the network that is, not that the guy was advertising it) the ISP didn't know or realize how much bandwidth was used by paying customers, and how much by non-paying ones.

One might group that under 2) "incompetent", but perhaps it really was difficult from the ISP side to know what exactly was going on & how many people were doing it. Just that someone provides tools that make it easy to abuse a service, doesn't automatically mean those tools are used on a large scale.

I'm ok with that so long as... (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245235)

You are ok with a fine on you if your house gets broken in to and it is found you didn't do a good job securing it. After all, if we fining people for not doing security properly, then it needs to apply to physical security too, and to individuals too. So if you are like most people and have a cheap lock that is vulnerable to bumping and picking, single pane windows with no security screen or coating, no security locks on your windows, no alarm system, and so on then if you get broken in to, you get fined too.

After all, it is something you can fix. You can get high security locks from someone like Medeco or Assa that can't be bumped, and key controlled, hard to pick etc. You can have your windows replaced with coated glass and screens that are very difficult to break through. You can buy friction security locks for your windows that you take on and off when you want to open them and so on.

You probably don't choose to. Few people do. It costs more and is inconvenient. However it does make it much easier for someone to break in to your house.

Now if you aren't ok with that, then I have to ask why it is ok to fine the ISP. Could have the had better security? Most certainly. However they chose not to and that doesn't make what was done to them right. Same shit with you. You can choose to have better security. Just because you don't, doesn't make it right for someone to break in.

Re:I'm ok with that so long as... (1)

rdebath (884132) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245503)

I dunno about the exact rules for high security locks and so forth, but insurance companies will refuse to pay out if you left the door unlocked.

Plus if you've already been broken into they will not insure you unless you've increased the security since then.

So yes, most people will "get fined" even if they don't know it yet.

Re:I'm ok with that so long as... (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245611)

Same deal for the ISP's insurance, and yes they have insurance of many types.

So why again should they be punished by the court system? Just because smart ass geeks think they could do better?

Re:Bad design (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245627)

Any sentencing here should include a heavy fine to the ISP for technical incompetence.

I wasn't aware that was illegal.

Nothing is worth jail time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245161)

Life moves really fast. If people are a vhs tape, jail time is like hitting fast forward through a huge chunk of it.

Why would anybody give up that time? I just don't get it.

So say this guy got $50 from each stolen internet setup. Times a few thousand, and that's maybe up to $100,000.00. Is 140 years in prison worth six figures? I don't think so. If you do the math, it only comes to $714.29 per year (I'm assuming he's not paying taxes on these figures, and lives through the entire 140 year sentence). That doesn't sound like a good return on investment to me.

Re:Nothing is worth jail time (2)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245201)

Generally the assumption is that they'll never be caught and thus never have to pay. If they knew for sure that it was going to cost many years out of their life I believe they might choose otherwise. It's some of that "It can't happen to me" kind of thinking that results in so many bad ends.

Writing tools to configure cable modems (4, Interesting)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245177)

Writing tools to configure cable modems is what he got convicted for. He just wrote some tools so you could BOOTP your cable modem with a "valid" MAC and uncapped access speed. The cable companies knew they were putting the security in the dynamically configured end user device. They didn't fix the security flaw after it was publicly known. All the guy did was write an exploit for a publicly known bug, others (end users) were the ones that abused it.

Oh well, at least now there is jurisprudence to put gun manufacturers into jail. After all, they make the tools that others use to commit crimes, which is what this guy is going to do hard time for.

Re:Writing tools to configure cable modems (4, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245251)

It is slightly different in that he did provide customer support in cracking the network. Even so I wonder how this will do on appeal.

Re:Writing tools to configure cable modems (2)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245375)

Oh well, at least now there is jurisprudence to put gun manufacturers into jail. After all, they make the tools that others use to commit crimes, which is what this guy is going to do hard time for.

Only if they're selling their weapons with full knowledge and intent that it will be used to commit crimes, but then this was the case prior to this guy anyways...

Re:Writing tools to configure cable modems (1)

EnempE (709151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245411)

There is a specific law that applies to the creation and distribution of tools for wiretapping. Unfortunately there isn't a similar law on the creation and distribution of tools for capping.

Gives you an idea of the fine line that the makers of the pnyplug are walking.

His software is still available (2)

Cito (1725214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245179)

Tcniso uncapper to remove bandwidth restrictions http://www.cable-modem.net/dcforum/DCForumID5/205.html [cable-modem.net] lot of interesting software still available by googling tcniso and on the torrents... stuff is really interesting how he wrote it

Re:His software is still available (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245203)

http://www.haxorware.com/ [haxorware.com] is also still up seems they didnt do any takedowns... interesting

What an idiot. (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245249)

With all the effort and work that went into this thing, he could have built a legitimate business offering legal goods and services.

Re:What an idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245287)

You say that like the Market Overlords would have allowed him to do it.

Re:What an idiot. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245305)

Doing what? Competing with the millions of others who are just as skilled?

What the hell is up with your justice system? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245343)

I mean -- 20 years for a simple financial fraud thing. In other countries, murder is less.

No wonder you have a considerable fraction of your population in jail [wikipedia.org] .

Scary.

Restitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245465)

I mean -- 20 years for a simple financial fraud thing. In other countries, murder is less.

What's the point of spending money to incarcerate someone? That takes away the convict's productivity and costs money!

This restitution thing is not even applicable to around 25% of the US prison population who are in the can for victimless "crimes".

Re:What the hell is up with your justice system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245603)

It is indeed telling that a guy who beat the dhit out of a stranger with a golf club, leaving them with disfigured and disabled would be very unlikely to see a longer sentence. Will thus be mitigated by the guy in this case being sent to wealthy white man federal prison, while "Happy Gilmour" goes to ass pounding penitentiary? Even still, it's a messed up way to run a judicial system.

Redmond, OR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245459)

Geez, dude, just because your town's name is Redmond doesn't mean you have to conduct an IT business by illegal means, okay?

Not the secret service? (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39245475)

How come Kevin Mitnick gets helicopter fucking triangulation but this guy gets a slap on the wrist?

1970s vs 2012 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245571)

You make a Blue box in the 70s, you later become billionaires.

You steal internet in the 2012, you get charged.

My, how the times have changed!

sounds overly hefty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39245633)

$1,750,000, 140 years... that's harsh unless he was actually hurting someone.
i agree with a serious fine, he shouldn't profit from selling criminals tools for crime. but that jail term is in my opinion over the top. 15 years total with parole set at 10 and no computer privileges is what i'd say is fair. i mean you have to weigh this against 25 years for killing someone

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