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Bittorrent Creator A Digital Pirate?

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the arrrr-lawsuits-off-the-port-bow! dept.

The Courts 386

Alex_Ionescu writes "According to an article in Wired, the old webpage of Bram Cohen contained a manifesto stating that his goal for creating software was to 'Commit Digital Piracy'. Cohen argues that the quote is taken out of context and represents a parody. He argues having written it in 1999, 2 years before even coming up with Bittorrent. You can find the archived copy of his site at archive.org. From the article: "Cohen has never publicly encouraged piracy, and he has consistently maintained that he wrote BitTorrent as a legitimate file-distribution tool. That would seem to make him and his budding company, BitTorrent, safe under the Grokster ruling. But legal experts worry the newly discovered manifesto extolling 'digital piracy' could put him on less certain legal ground."

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We are held to different standards? (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962240)

Cohen said he's unhappy that the Supreme Court's decision is forcing him to confront something he wrote more than five years ago.
"The way they talked about intent is so vague that it can cause people to pay attention to things that they wrote years and years ago, having nothing to do with what they're doing right now," Cohen said.


If the President of the United States, the Governor of California, and various other politicians can hold political office regardless of what they did in their past (I won't even go into the difference between actually *doing* something illegal and just writing about it), then there should be no reason why this should even be a minor concern for Cohen or BitTorrent.

My views since 2002 have changed drastically on numerous subjects including ones I speak about in daily conversation, on Slashdot, and elsewhere. My views in 1999 were even more radically and misguided. I was in my early 20s, in college, and intoxicated (in some form) about 99% of the time. I certainly do not want to be held to what I said then and I certainly don't want to be held to what I say right now 5 years from now. Lots of life changing events occur in a short time now (moving to different areas of the country, encountering new people with different viewpoints, access to more and different information from many different angles).

It disappoints me that this is even an issue at all. If we are going to make a huge deal out this then I really think that we should have taken more time to consider what ass smacking and coke snorting does to our future. Yet, the problem is that people on that level get held to a different standard than the rest of us. Sadly, the levels are exactly the opposite of what they should be.

Re:We are held to different standards? (3, Funny)

eyeye (653962) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962298)

He should just say it was a typo and he meant digital privacy ;-)

hey I just thought something, if he is now at risk of arrest for saying something what happened to free speech (if it ever existed).

Re:We are held to different standards? (2, Insightful)

scum-e-bag (211846) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962518)

hey I just thought something, if he is now at risk of arrest for saying something what happened to free speech

Soon people will be afraid to even speak for fear of being locked up... remember when people used to laugh about the old USSR and how people there would be locked up for speaking about something, remember nazi germany when neighbours would just "vanish" overnight, never to be seen again. American citizens, this is why the rest of the world has problems with your country. Go on, mod me a troll, but you know... its really true.

Re:We are held to different standards? (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962323)

If the President of the United States, the Governor of California, and various other politicians can hold political office regardless of what they did in their past, then there should be no reason why this should even be a minor concern for Cohen or BitTorrent.

Arguably, there's nothing preventing Mr. Cohen from continuing his work. And in fact, it's still likely that a court would find in his favor considering the materials that have been published relevant to the case. (Which is to say, any and all promotional materials about BitTorrent.) The key is that Mr. Cohen is now a public figure, and just like Presidents and Senators who get their pasts drug out as a "reward" for being in the public eye, journalists are also dragging out Mr. Cohen's past.

Just sit tight. This entire thing will blow over and life will be fine and dandy again. Unfortunately, Mr. Cohen will need to stay on his guard about what he says or does, because there are quite a few people who'd like to see him shut down even though a lot of us users DO use BT for legal purposes. :-/

Re:We are held to different standards? (1)

egypt_jimbob (889197) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962377)

If we are going to make a huge deal out this then I really think that we should have taken more time to consider what ass smacking and coke snorting does to our future.

There is a difference here. GWB is a home-grown, red-blooded American. The Governator is adored by his state like a puppy at a family reunion.

But Cohen is a subversive commie pinko hippy bastard because he isn't already ridiculously wealthy or from a family that is. And he doesn't own any oil wells.

Re:We are held to different standards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962624)

He didn't marry a ketchup heiress either or bomb another country to attempt a coverup of an affair or dozens of other crimes [chuckbaldwinlive.com] .

Unfortunately for Cohen he probably doesn't have the money it may take to defend himself in court even if he is in the right. There is no justice system, only a legal system where generally (s)he who has the most money wins.

Re:We are held to different standards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962394)

Lets ask Mary Jo Kopechne.

Oh wait, we can't.

Re:We are held to different standards? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962490)

If the President of the United States, the Governor of California, and various other politicians can hold political office regardless of what they did in their past...

and later

I was in my early 20s, in college, and intoxicated (in some form) about 99% of the time.

Are you trying to say you are a good candidate for president?

Re:We are held to different standards? (1)

BRSloth (578824) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962519)

I certainly do not want to be held to what I said then and I certainly don't want to be held to what I say right now 5 years from now.

Welcome to life, where people will always try to find something you did in the past to put you in a bad situation.

And this will happen every day...

Re:We are held to different standards? (3, Insightful)

doctormetal (62102) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962536)

It disappoints me that this is even an issue at all.
It is indeed very sad. Looking at a quote from the article:

But von Lohmann said if the Motion Picture Association of America wanted to go after Cohen, it would have done it a long time ago.

But it looks perfectly in line with the current 'bittorrent is evil' campaign. Isn't this a perfect way to spread FUD about bittorent?

Re:We are held to different standards? (1)

currivan (654314) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962553)

Not only that, but be careful what you mod as insightful. Could using mod points to indicate you approve of a comment be used as evidence that the poster's views are representative of your own?

Perhaps in the brave new world, the *AA will subpoena server logs to find out who agreed with the AC who said intellectual property isn't really property at all.

Re:We are held to different standards? (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962610)

What it tells me is that the 'advocating piracy' standard is perilously close to being a violation of the first amendment.

Re:We are held to different standards? (5, Funny)

databyss (586137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962611)

I admit it! There was a time in my life when I used to shit on myself.

Also, there was a time when I was illiterate!

I feel so much better that I got that off my chest. Feel free to prosecute me as you see fit!

Watch what you print.... (5, Insightful)

Willie_the_Wimp (128267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962241)

This really is just more evidence of how careful you have to be about what you post on the Internet. Many of us first started out on the Internet back in college; back when we had the skills to post and code, but lacked the wisdom to self-moderate.

Current Internet younglings, take note. Be prepared to defend everything you ever put on a web page. I still cringe when I read some of the stuff I posted 10 years ago...

Willie

Re:Watch what you print.... (1)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962271)

I look at the things I posted 10+ years ago and am surprised that I don't come off as stupid as I was back then. Fortunately, I lost a lot of email from those days where the same wasn't necessarily true. =)

Re:Watch what you print.... (4, Interesting)

idontgno (624372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962311)

It goes much farther back than this new-fangled web thing. This is ancient Usenet wisdom. I still find my flames and n00bness from the early 1980s mortifying, but there they are, courtesy of Google News. (Sheesh. Google news f's up everything good about Deja News, but they can't lose the embarrassing skeltons in my Usenet closet.)

I found an interesting article [jdlasica.com] from a journalistic perspective about the persistence of stuff YOU disseminate on the net.

Re:Watch what you print.... (1)

Hachey (809077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962322)

Why stop 10 years ago when you can go 30 or 40 [textfiles.com] ?


--
Check out the Uncyclopedia.org [uncyclopedia.org] :
The only wiki source for politically incorrect non-information about things like Kitten Huffing [uncyclopedia.org] and Pong! the Movie [uncyclopedia.org] !

You're right (2, Funny)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962632)

I know, I can't believe some of the stuff I posted to Eniac while working on MK Ultra... I actually admitted that I wasn't going to vote for Eisenhower in 52! Can you believe that?!?

People make mistakes (1, Insightful)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962346)

Be prepared to defend everything you ever put on a web page.

I hope it's also OK to just admit that you were naive and wrong. You are allowed to learn new things in ten years, and change your opinions. At least I would hope so.

Re:Watch what you print.... (1)

hahiss (696716) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962357)

It looks like putting something on the web has become the new ``getting a tattoo in a very visible place".

Re:Watch what you print.... (5, Funny)

savagedome (742194) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962501)

I will quote Bill Maher.

No one has their shit together at 22. Now, outside of the basic fairness of placing George Bush in with all the other young men of his era who found a way to avoid Vietnam, I don't really care if our president showed up for all his National Guard jumping jacks in 1973. I don't care that there's evidence that John Kerry once very nearly met Jane Fonda.

We've all made mistakes when young and chasing a buzz. Bush blew off his calisthenics. Saddam gassed his own people. I bought the John and Yoko album where they just farted for an hour into a tape recorder!

The phrase, "youthful indiscretions" is redundant, because how many discreet young people do you know? No, the people you need to worry about are not the one who sowed their wild oats, but the ones who didn't. Michael Jackson had to wait until he was an adult to have a childhood, and I think we see how well that turned out.

Go back far enough in any great man's life and you will eventually get to the stuff he did or said before he was great or even a man. Don King started out life in Cleveland as a corrupt, murderous thug, but then - okay, bad example.

But the point remains, trying to define a person's current self by their past self is the worst kind of "gotcha." Our mistakes from the past are just that: mistakes. And they were necessary to make in order to become the wiser person we became.

You never got drunk and pissed yourself? Or sold drugs to school children? Or panicked when you couldn't get it up at a bachelor party and killed a hooker?

Hey, if only hindsight could come without having to mess up first. And believe me, I have the platform shoes to prove that one. But to exploit youthful mistakes for political gain is, well, let's just say, when you get older, you might look back and regret it.

Re:Watch what you print.... (4, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962626)

Heh. I learned that lesson a long time ago. I wrote for this college newspaper, pretty radical, and we had this huge "Fuck the Police" issue in which I had the cover story (excessive use of force, yadda yadda yadda, I was very indignant), and in which I ranted and raved like a preacher in a whorehouse.

About 2 months later I was working late in the office, and a silent alarm tripped elsewhere in the building. So the cops show up, and who is the only person around? Me, sitting in a office with a full stack of 500 anti-cop newspapers sitting on a desk beside me.

Bad Scene. But a very good lesson in the value of discression and circumspection, as well as the value of never ever having any illegal substances in your car, office, or clothes.

Re:Watch what you print.... (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962630)

So, what kind of country are you now that you have to watch what you say to avoid legal persecution?

Bram is screwed (5, Interesting)

nokilli (759129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962246)

It isn't just this quote that's the problem, it's the new search engine [bittorrent.com] too.

Together with the Grokster ruling -- and all happening within such a short interval -- he's just too likely of a target now. Once big media realizes that knocking down the Grokster's does NOTHING to stem the tide of wares being traded via BT, they have to go after Bram.

It really sucks that a guy who's given us so much is going to be made to suffer so, but it looks to be damn near inevitable.

Time to donate to the very-soon-to-be-needed legal defense fund. [bittorrent.com]

Re:Bram is screwed (1)

pmazer (813537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962303)

Poor guy...

Re:Bram is screwed (4, Informative)

Adrilla (830520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962550)

I know you're being sarcastic and all, but it does suck, that this guy who coded a very intelligent piece of software that does/could benefit a lot of people, including the media companies that attack him, relieving a lot of stress off of servers and even individual users, is probably gonna be pulled into court and incur ridiculous legal fees. All because he made a little program, which, if you believe him (and I do) he made for the good of the people for legitimate use and not to pirate warez, music, or movies. The big corps are probably gonna ream his ass for something he doesn't deserve and are gonna use an old quote which doesn't hold water as a large basis for their arguement, and it does suck. I just hope someone like the EFF comes to his aid and that the courts see that what he did is right and the inevitable lawsuits from the **AA will get shut down quick.

Re:Bram is screwed (0, Redundant)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962392)

His search engine does nothing to promote piracy, unlike this one [thepiratebay.org] .
(hence, he should be exempt from this law)

IMHO, there's a big difference there.

Re:Bram is screwed (2, Interesting)

nokilli (759129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962459)

Yeah, but if you read the Grokster ruling, it talks about how you can be busted if you could've taken steps to prevent copyright infringement, but didn't.

It isn't a question of Bram now having to look at every single download to see if it's legit and then removing it from the system. All he really has to do is look at the trackers he's linking to, take the two minutes necessary to figure out whether they're dealing in copyright violations, and then delist the tracker.

Re:Bram is screwed (2, Insightful)

bedroll (806612) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962509)

It isn't a question of Bram now having to look at every single download to see if it's legit and then removing it from the system. All he really has to do is look at the trackers he's linking to, take the two minutes necessary to figure out whether they're dealing in copyright violations, and then delist the tracker.

Just look at the success stories of file sharing technologies that tried to monitor the content being traded. Napster....ohh wait, nevermind.

Re:Bram is screwed (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962400)

Looks like his search engine is no more evil than google's, it indexes everything alike. Try searching for go_open or any other media legally distributed on bittorrent.

Re:Bram is screwed (1)

bedroll (806612) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962407)

The new ruling doesn't affect this quote. The ruling specifically applies to promotion of the enabling technology. This quote was never used in promoting BitTorrent, so it's totally worthless to the case. They had to dig just to find something he said two years before he created it.

He may end up being screwed in the end, but this isn't the smoking gun.

Re:Bram is screwed (1)

rich_r (655226) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962535)

Well, they can go after him as much as they like- the genie's well and truely out of the bottle.
As for the rest of us, as interesting as the supreme court ruling is, it has (technically) no impact outside of US borders. In fact, I doubt it'll have much impact inside the US- not until the RIAA et al actually manage to get somebody to court and actually get a court to agree with them...

Inventor of TCP/IP is also guilty (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962265)

Come to think of it someone should be Turin on trial as well

Re:Inventor of TCP/IP is also guilty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962576)

Forget him, let's just go after Al Gore. He did invent the internet after all.

Expect an escalation in the war... (4, Informative)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962282)

From Bram Cohen's website [bitconjurer.org] :
[This was written in late 1999, and is a parody of a cypherpunk's manifesto, which struck me as very dishonest manifesto claiming to solely be concerned about privacy. This screed is written in the exaggerated voice of a 'prototypical' cypherpunk, making much more direct declarations of his intent.]

I am a technological activist. I have a political agenda. I am in favor of basic human rights: to free speech, to use any information and technology, to purchase and use recreational drugs, to enjoy and purchase so-called 'vices', to be free of intruders, and to privacy.

I further my goals with technology. I build systems to disseminate information, commit digital piracy, synthesize drugs, maintain untrusted contacts, purchase anonymously, and secure machines and homes. I release my code and writings freely, and publish all of my ideas early to make them unpatentable.

Technology is not a panacea. I refuse to work on technology to track users, analyze usage patterns, watermark information, censor, detect drug use, or eavesdrop. I am not naive enough to think any of those technologies could enable a 'compromise'.

Despite my emphasis on technology, I do not view laws as inherently evil. My goals are political ones, even if my techniques are not. The only way to fundamentally succeed is by changing existing laws. If I rejected all help from the political arena I would inevitably fail.

-Bram Cohen

***

Assuming Cohen actually ascribed to this parody of the "'prototypical' cypherpunk manifesto", it sounds like bittorrent would be an expression of free speech and a form of political protest to me.

It will be interesting to say the least to see what effect the decision has on both innovation in general and the subsequent to be expected abuses by [insert your favorite copyright holder here].

Hey, look at me, I'm Wired! (5, Funny)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962379)

This was written in late 1999, and is a parody of a cypherpunk's manifesto, which struck me as very dishonest manifesto claiming to solely be concerned about privacy.

Hmm...

"It is wrong to accept terrorism." -- George W. Bush

Okay, now watch this.

"Accept terrorism." -- George W. Bush

Oh my God, George W. Bush supports terrorism!

Re:Expect an escalation in the war... (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962386)

it sounds like bittorrent would be an expression of free speech and a form of political protest to me.

That's lovely, but don't forget that free speech can't be allowed to interfere with commerce. After all, to quote Calvin Coolidge, "The business of America is business."

Re:Expect an escalation in the war... (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962558)

Actually, not true. There are plenty of forms of protest that both interfere with commerce and are related to free speech. A strike picket line is one obvious example.

The 60's were full of examples of protest that were a form of free speech and definitely interrupted commerce. Of course, it's also true that you have to be willing to risk arrest while staying true to your ideology. The biggest problem for resorting to civil disobedience against the current "intellectual property" regime is that the general public may not even understand the importance of the protest (you have to gain some amount of public support or sympathy to achieve any meaningful goals).

Re:Expect an escalation in the war... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962442)

Interesting that Bram's manifesto from 5 years ago, whether parody or not, seem to be pretty sane, flat headed, and reflect my beliefs. I don't see what could possibly be taken as anything other than a personal opinion and political statement. Even in the eyes of the Grokster case, there is no mention that BitTorrent had piracy in mind.

If his personal issues and the software he wrote were to be correlated as one, in a court of law, then god save my employer, as they are to have a rude awakening when they realize that all their products were made in part by someone that had "illegal aspirations"!!!!

Screwed or not . . . doesn't matter (4, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962285)

Go ahead, RIAA / MPAA . . . shut down BitTorrent. It doesn't matter, 'cuz in less than a week, a better, more efficient and more anonymous P2P tech will get adopted.

They just don't get it, or are unwilling to concede that they get it -- the genie is out of the bottle, forever.

Re:Screwed or not . . . doesn't matter (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962350)

They just don't get it, or are unwilling to concede that they get it -- the genie is out of the bottle, forever.

They don't need to understand or even pretend to understand. They have already proven that by doing what they do they can curb piracy and turn it into a profit.

What they don't understand is that they are just going to continue to push it further and further underground out of their reach. While mom, pop, and grandmom won't get into a civil suit with them they will find themselves scratching their heads wondering why all the traffic is encrypted.

They don't care about the small percentage of people getting access to free stuff. They care about the masses doing it and making it known to 100% of the population.

You can't sue a protocol! (1)

mikewren420 (264173) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962408)

Go ahead, RIAA / MPAA . . . shut down BitTorrent. It doesn't matter, 'cuz in less than a week, a better, more efficient and more anonymous P2P tech will get adopted.

Repeat after me: You can't sue a protocol. Even if "they" (**AA) tried to shut down BT/Bram, they'd have a hard time in the courts because of substantial non-infringing uses [etree.org] of the BT protocol.

Re:Screwed or not . . . doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962531)

You are so wrong it's laughable. Speaking in ignorant absolutes is the hallmark of an uneducated, immature, and extremely shortsighted person of no value to anyone other than those who invest in pop culture. I'll bet you think Groklaw offers unbiased reporting of the facts, don't you? Please. When big interests with big money want something, they'll get it, and the methods they use have tremendous force. The momentum is only building, grasshopper, the best is yet to come. Maybe you'll have graduated from Smallville High by the time it's all over. Nice try. They'll get what they want, and you'll only be left with the headache and a few MP3s after banging your head against the brick wall.

Re:Screwed or not . . . doesn't matter (1)

adtifyj (868717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962571)

When they alter the laws, or sufficiently alter the publics perception of illegal file trading, a new protocol wont help, because only the purists will be allowed to use those protocols or applications.

These groups define a large percentage of the american life, and they will not give in easily.

So what (4, Insightful)

skurk (78980) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962287)

> his goal for creating software was to 'Commit Digital Piracy'
>(...) written it in 1999


My first thought was "so what".

I said a lot of things 6 years ago that I disagree with today.

What, aren't we allowed to state our opinions anymore without having the fear of being haunted by the past?

Re:So what (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962385)

Because words mean things? If I say 'I hate group xxx', then guess what... that group is proably not going to like me if they find out I said it.

Free speech does not mean speech has no reprecussions.

Re:So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962445)

What, aren't we allowed to state our opinions anymore without having the fear of being haunted by the past?


Only if you're George W. Bush. All of Kerry's checkered past, including meeting with terrorists as written in his journal as well as never signing Form 180 to release all his military records even after the press hounded Bush until he did so and still accused him of withholding records (uh, hello? Kerry never signed Form 180 and Bush did!), was completely ignored by the left-wing media. It even eventually came out that Kerry was a worse student in college than Bush, after all those months of "dumb Bush" jokes.

Notice now how the book last year accusing Bush of cocaine use was on the Today show, Good Morning America, and reviewed in all the papers, while the new anti-Hillary book is experiencing a complete media blackout.

Just sayin'.

Re:So what (4, Insightful)

Deinhard (644412) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962460)

What, aren't we allowed to state our opinions anymore without having the fear of being haunted by the past?

For the majority of us, this is the case. However, when someone comes or is brought into the public spotlight, that light becomes very narrowly focused.

Through the years there have been uncounted examples of public figures and politicians that have had their careers cut short because someone with a diametrically opposed agenda when searching for something to use against them. If you look hard enough, you'll find something to use against all of us.

In most cases, it seems, most of these seemingly innocuous comments are racially or politically motivated. Someone once had negative feelings toward a particular race (and made those feelings public) or perhaps supported a particular cause that was different than the cause de jure. Whether that person's comments were made as a joke or he/she has simply changed their attitude toward a cause, someone will use those past comments against him.

I have no idea if Cohen actually meant these comments in jest or as satirical comment, but you can rest (un)assured) that they will be used against him.

Re:So what (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962478)

I agree with you. If you get modded up, I'll bookmark your post and point people to it every time they parrot the "Bill Gates said 640K should be enough for anybody" quote*. Fair? Actually, by simple calculation just about every highly modded post here will make the same point, so I'll use the whole story instead.

Thanks!

.

* Not that anyone has actually managed to prove he said that, but still.

Re:So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962623)

I think the attribution is wrong but the sentiment is accurate. Monopolyshaft are often observed with their pants down, hastily ripping off others innovation. It can't be hard to understand why this particular mis-attribution is so pervasive, even for you?

Slashdot double-standards (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962499)

Why don't you ask Bill Gates about that sometime? "640kb outta be enough for anybody" has to be the most-quoted statement of all time on Slashdot.

The funny part is that he never made the quote in the first place.

Hell, anyone remember when Slashdot posted Ballmer's old internal parody ad from the early 90s and claimed it was a real ad? Or when Slashdot posted "Teen Beat" pictures of Bill Gates that weren't from Teen Beat at all and were just promo pics?

But hey, let's protect the Bittorrent guy.

Re:So what (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962521)

What, aren't we allowed to state our opinions anymore without having the fear of being haunted by the past?

Of course not, at least not in America. Just ask Robert Byrd and Trent Lott.

Awesome. (1)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962288)

So express yourself in public at some point, and if the thing you expressed was "wrong" then someday the law will apply differently to you.

What kind of message does this send?

I'll tell you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962600)

What kind of message does this send?

It sends the message that, all you anarchists and social or societal miscreants will be held to your word and if you don't want to be held to your word, you should STFU! Is that too difficult for your tiny mind to grasp?

Are you actually stupid enough to think that Cohen didn't realize that his rebellious manifesto wasn't just that, a rebellious manifesto? Are you really stupid enough to believe that Cohen didn't mean what he said at the time?

oh really? (-1, Flamebait)

peculiarmethod (301094) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962293)

Yeah, which explains why we don't have an ex-cocain addict running the whitehouse. Oh. Yeah.

Re:oh really? (0, Flamebait)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962340)

Yeah, which explains why we don't have an ex-cocain addict running the whitehouse. Oh. Yeah.

Yeah, which explains why we don't have an ex-marijuana addict / womanizer running the whitehouse. Oh. Yeah.

Re:oh really? (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962412)

"Yeah, which explains why we don't have an ex-marijuana addict / womanizer running the whitehouse."

Well, duh, that's because marijuana isn't addictive! Oh, you were trying to make another point :)

Re:oh really? (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962524)

Yeah, and neither is alcohol or coffee, right? It's debatable whether or not it is acknowledged as an addictive drug [wikipedia.org] , but yeah, you're spot on that I was equating Bush's "cocain" addiction (of which there's no credible evidence) with Clinton's pot smoking and ass-grabbing (of which there's a ton of solid, indisputable evidence).

You expect me to believe this? (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962301)

Look at the page in question. You honestly want to tell me that the same person who designed a sophisticated piece of software like BitTorrent would make such a crappy page like that?

Anything on the internet should really be taken with a grain of salt. Further proof that you should be careful what you say on the internet because it will probably come around to bite you in the ass someday. It kind of reminds me of the people who jokingly talk about blowing schools up. They're not serious, but at some point they have to be taken seriously.

Re:You expect me to believe this? (1)

taskforce (866056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962422)

This is 1999... that background is the contemprary equivalent to having your entire site done in flash and sliding menus. (Would have taken up the same % of bandwidth, been just as hard to implement and would have stood out just as much...)

Re:You expect me to believe this? (1)

jetmarc (592741) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962462)

> You honestly want to tell me that the same person who designed a sophisticated
> piece of software like BitTorrent would make such a crappy page like that?

Click on the upper right link "Brams page". His "Current Project" back then
already was BitTorrent. No matter how long it took him to complete it, his
digital piracy comment was dead on.

Promotion to Adjourn (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962302)

The Supreme Court decided Grokster is liable for its users criminal abuses, because Grokster "promoted" criminal abuse. They decided that Grokster promoted abuse, because someone in Grokster sent someone else in Grokster a memo saying that they needed abuse for sufficient traffic, and because Grokster targeted old Napster users to use Grokster. So the standards for "promotion" are very vague, a very low bar: "intent" and "benefit" are apparently required, but "action" is not necessarily required.

The same court decided that the government cannot "promote" a religion, by hanging a paper copy of the 10 Commandments in a frame in a courthouse. But a 5 ton rock carving of the 10 Commandments on a courthouse lawn is not "promotion".

I suppose that when you're a million years old, your word is literally the law, and have a job for life, the meaning of "promotion" might be a little beyond your grasp.

Re:Promotion to Adjourn (2, Informative)

MatD (895409) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962526)

Maybe you should actually read up on the SCOTUS decisions before you start talking smack about them. Action is required in the facilitation of privacy. There is a paragraph in decision of the grokster case that explicitly states that grokster and streamcast 'actively' promoted piracy. It then goes on to give examples of what they did. There really shouldn't be any suprises in that decision. As for the 10 commandments issue; the display of the 10 commandments inside the courthouse (I can't remember where it was) was specifically intended to further 'Christian Ideals'. That is what SCOTUS took issue with. The display on the lawn was in the company of several other monuments, and therefor it didn't specifically promote christian ideals. I don't really think that Bram would lose a case or suit brought against him, but I definitely think he could be bankrupted trying to fight it :( Mat

never publicly encouraged piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962304)

Cohen has never publicly encouraged piracy, and he has consistently maintained that he wrote BitTorrent as a legitimate file-distribution tool.

For a while there, under a "where can I find stuff to download" type link, he linked to two sites which consistently had lots of copyright material available for bittorrent download on their front pages.

These two now seem to be clean.

cleaner than a politician's past (4, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962307)

It's a sad day when a software developer needs to keep their private writings as squeaky clean as a federal candidate. You're inviting lawsuits by cracking jokes, you're in danger of losing your job for mentioning something six years ago, you're seen as corrupt on the say-so of some usenet posting.

And yet, look at the pasts of our political leaders. Look at the pasts of our corporate masters. Look at the reprehensible things which are all shrugged off as "well, those times were different."

Parody, my ass! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962314)

That bipolar nut job got his fingers caught in the cookie jar, so to speak. Well Bram, you fruit loop, you made your bed and now you'll have to lay in it.

Yea, mod me down, it doesn't change the facts!

Wouldn't be surprised if he's busted for this (2, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962320)

... despite it's a ridiculous claim, and obviously written with tongue-in-cheek. As Cohen has said in his defense -- does this mean that anything you say can be used against you years later regardless of what context it was said in now, and what context it's used in now? He wasn't even working on BitTorrent when he wrote that.

"I further my goals with technology. I build systems to disseminate information, commit digital piracy, synthesize drugs, maintain untrusted contacts, purchase anonymously, and secure machines and homes. I release my code and writings freely, and publish all of my ideas early to make them unpatentable."

If they're going to take his commitment to digital piracy as an indication of what he intended to do with BT, does that mean BT's purpose is also to synthesize drugs? Does it even mean he have plans to start a production plant to synthesize drugs?

Seriously, this case is so hollow that it stinks, but the scary part is that lawyers can make these claims and be taken seriously, and even that there's a real risk of him getting busted for it.

Bah...

Stigma of accusation (3, Insightful)

MECC (8478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962324)

Sadly, it may not matter when he made the statement, or what his original intention was. All they have to do is go after him; even if they lose, they win. That the mere stigma of accusation itself is damaging may motivate them to go after him to establish to others that even if they can't win in a lawsuit, the MPAA can hurt anyone thinking of building decentralize file distribution systems to discourage future such efforts. I hope I'm wrong.

Rich (-1, Troll)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962327)

I sense a great disturbance in Slashdork, as if a thousand brains suddenly exploded:

  • The average slashbot claims P2P sharing is a "digital right"
  • The average slashbot claims they are only against copyright or some other evil construct - they have never pirated music on Kazaa, eMule or WinMX. Evar. After all, who listens to Eminem or Cristina Aguilera anyway, right?
  • The average slashbot applauded the SCOTUS ruling because, after all, the P2P technologies that they use for things other than pirating copyrighted material were essentially "exonerated" by the ruling. I mean, it's not like the creator of Bittorrent has always said "go forth my children, and pirate the shit out of the RIAA", right?
  • The creator of Bittorrent actually said "go forth my children, and pirate the shit out of the RIAA"
  • ???
  • Heads explode!
Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Slashdot "pro-tip": (3, Insightful)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962639)

Actually making some kind of point or argument is unnecessary. Instead, save valuable time and effort by just describing some kind of hypothetical person with rigid yet inconsistent viewpoints. Then, point out their viewpoints are inconsistent. Congratulations, you've won!

Advanced version: Make the implication that the hypothetical person you've described speaks for the readers of Slashdot. Since mysteriously enough pretty much everyone who reads slashdot seems to hate it, this will bestow you with instant crowd appeal!

RTFA and follow the link back (3, Informative)

CyberNigma (878283) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962334)

Of course if you RTFA and follow the link Bram's Page http://web.archive.org/web/20010710021553/ [archive.org] http://b itconjurer.org/index.html> then you will see that this Technological Activist's manifesto is under the heading Musings, an obvious joke...

I can hear it now (2, Funny)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962339)

On his revealed website: "Aargh, they be digging up me buried treasure."

Stated Intent (2, Insightful)

Ray Radlein (711289) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962349)

However, there is no evidence that he ever "marketed" Bittorrent as a tool for piracy, and considerable evidence that he has done quite the opposite. This is a non-starter, in terms of the Grokster ruling.

Which is not to say that someone might try to use it against him, of course; it's just that the relevant facts in this case are miles removed from those in the Grokster case.

Karma Whore: cypherpunk manifesto (2, Informative)

UlfGabe (846629) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962361)

a cut copy from the site.

A Cypherpunk's Manifesto

by Eric Hughes

Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn't want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn't want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.

If two parties have some sort of dealings, then each has a memory of their interaction. Each party can speak about their own memory of this; how could anyone prevent it? One could pass laws against it, but the freedom of speech, even more than privacy, is fundamental to an open society; we seek not to restrict any speech at all. If many parties speak together in the same forum, each can speak to all the others and aggregate together knowledge about individuals and other parties. The power of electronic communications has enabled such group speech, and it will not go away merely because we might want it to.

Since we desire privacy, we must ensure that each party to a transaction have knowledge only of that which is directly necessary for that transaction. Since any information can be spoken of, we must ensure that we reveal as little as possible. In most cases personal identity is not salient. When I purchase a magazine at a store and hand cash to the clerk, there is no need to know who I am. When I ask my electronic mail provider to send and receive messages, my provider need not know to whom I am speaking or what I am saying or what others are saying to me; my provider only need know how to get the message there and how much I owe them in fees. When my identity is revealed by the underlying mechanism of the transaction, I have no privacy. I cannot here selectively reveal myself; I must always reveal myself.

Therefore, privacy in an open society requires anonymous transaction systems. Until now, cash has been the primary such system. An anonymous transaction system is not a secret transaction system. An anonymous system empowers individuals to reveal their identity when desired and only when desired; this is the essence of privacy.

Privacy in an open society also requires cryptography. If I say something, I want it heard only by those for whom I intend it. If the content of my speech is available to the world, I have no privacy. To encrypt is to indicate the desire for privacy, and to encrypt with weak cryptography is to indicate not too much desire for privacy. Furthermore, to reveal one's identity with assurance when the default is anonymity requires the cryptographic signature.

We cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy out of their beneficence. It is to their advantage to speak of us, and we should expect that they will speak. To try to prevent their speech is to fight against the realities of information. Information does not just want to be free, it longs to be free. Information expands to fill the available storage space. Information is Rumor's younger, stronger cousin; Information is fleeter of foot, has more eyes, knows more, and understands less than Rumor.

We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. We must come together and create systems which allow anonymous transactions to take place. People have been defending their own privacy for centuries with whispers, darkness, envelopes, closed doors, secret handshakes, and couriers. The technologies of the past did not allow for strong privacy, but electronic technologies do.

We the Cypherpunks are dedicated to building anonymous systems. We are defending our privacy with cryptography, with anonymous mail forwarding systems, with digital signatures, and with electronic money.

Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can't get privacy unless we all do, we're going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don't much care if you don't approve of the software we write. We know that software can't be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can't be shut down.

Cypherpunks deplore regulations on cryptography, for encryption is fundamentally a private act. The act of encryption, in fact, removes information from the public realm. Even laws against cryptography reach only so far as a nation's border and the arm of its violence. Cryptography will ineluctably spread over the whole globe, and with it the anonymous transactions systems that it makes possible.

For privacy to be widespread it must be part of a social contract. People must come and together deploy these systems for the common good. Privacy only extends so far as the cooperation of one's fellows in society. We the Cypherpunks seek your questions and your concerns and hope we may engage you so that we do not deceive ourselves. We will not, however, be moved out of our course because some may disagree with our goals.

The Cypherpunks are actively engaged in making the networks safer for privacy. Let us proceed together apace.

Onward.

Eric Hughes

9 March 1993

Brought to you
by
The Cyberpunk Project

Page last modified on Mon, 10 Nov 2003 15:33:38 GMT

AC (1)

Tx (96709) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962368)

Just goes to show, if you're going to post anything risky, post as Anonymous Coward ;).

McCarthyism (3, Funny)

hosecoat (877680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962374)

Have you or have you not, ever been a pirate?

Other quotes from his statement... (5, Funny)

VeganBob (888165) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962395)

"I am... in favor of... intruders... to privacy."

"I... track users... not naive enough to think..."

"Despite my emphasis on... evil... my goals are... fundamentally... changing existing laws..."

tac0 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962397)

serieS of internLal

Bram's Creative writing is a little disturbing... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962399)

From Bram's archive.org site:
http://web.archive.org/web/20010812035637/bitconju rer.org/a_torturers_account.html [archive.org]

"I like the Isolation torture technique best. It crushes 'em every time.

I stand in a big open field. The girl's flown in with a helicopter. It's big and noisy in there, so she's real scared. Or maybe she likes it. She's getting fucked anyway. ...

Sometimes she runs and I get to fight her. Sometimes she stands there and makes it easy.

One.

Two ...

Life is good."

Could stories like this one be used as proof that his website was all "fantasy" and he wasn't expressing ideas he truely would act upon?

hold up (1)

danikar (896514) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962410)

When he made that statement there wernt laws in place at the time saying that he couldn't make a program for the sole purpose of distributing pirated software. Right? (Im not sure really)

Just recently it was detirmented that it is illegal to have a P2P program that specificly is used to distrubute pirated files... therefor as long as ur not telling people to do it you cant get in trouble.

So wouldnt he be protected by Ex Post Facto laws? So unless he starts advocating software piracy or other kinds of digital piracy using his software in the future he can't get in trouble. Unless I misunderstood somthing.

Re:hold up (0, Flamebait)

B11 (894359) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962486)

You do realize this is Bush's Amerika right? You must be new here...

Huh? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962545)

The Supreme Court didn't create a new law, they simply clarified interpretation of existing law.

Its troubling that people out there don't understand basic concepts about the US government.

What's legal, and what'll happen (4, Interesting)

famazza (398147) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962419)

Legally speaking, Cohen is as guilty as a gun manufacturer. He simply provided the way to others commit a crime. If people using BitTorrent are supposed to make unautorized copies of copyrighted material, then people having a gun are supposed to kill.

But the reality is much more complex then justice would like it to be. RIAA and MPAA are lobbying so heavily that Cohen will be considered guilty and will pay for crimes that he didn't commited. In RIAA/MPAA conception he must sue the users.

Gun maker (1)

h00dLuM (630451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962565)

Well now he's a gun maker with a seriously unfortunate mission statement.

LOLF (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962427)

HAHAHAHAHAH oh my god this guy is so fucked HHAHAHAHAHAHA say hi to the tossed salad man in the slammer AHAAHHAHAHA fuckin dumbass

How else can this be interpreted? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962436)

I am not a native English speaker but I wanted to know how else the statement...[...]"...his goal for creating software was to 'Commit Digital Piracy..." can be interpreted.

Re:How else can this be interpreted? (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962585)

You cannot commit digital piracy by creating software, unless you are not creating software but copying software code that you do not have the rights to use.

you can however commit a crime by illegally using legally created software.

However, the implications of being accused of a crime for an action that wasn't a crime when you engaged in the act are downright scarey. The can of worms that this would open is immeasureable. Think if abortion became illegal, the hundreds of thousands of girls who would now be criminals.

What about sharing books, if that became illegal? Forget "pre-crime", all of us would be guilty of "past-crime"

Re:How else can this be interpreted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962608)

By reading the rest of the post you moron.

Re:How else can this be interpreted? (1)

Entrope (68843) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962633)

Quite simply: Your message, after all, stated "I am not a native English speaker but I wanted to... Commit Digital Piracy...."

It is quite easy to take something out of context. Gun manufacturers create guns, in part to threaten or shoot other people -- in self-defense. Printers create printing presses to distribute copyrighted material -- with the consent of the copyright owner. If you leave out parts of the statement, the meaning is changed significantly.

Get Behind Him (1)

jjleard (575385) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962440)

It's up to you (us) /.ers to make sure he doesn't have his ass dragged through the mud. Who gives a flying fuck about his motivations, political leanings, religous beliefs or deli meat preferences. Bram is Bram, Bittorrent is what it is. We love it, we use it, we know the history of its creator is totally irrelevant. If the MSM, the MPAA, the RIAA and Joe Pissnut Politician try to make him their new whipping boy tell everyone who will listen that P2P is the story --- NOT Sean, NOT Bram NOT the next creator/victim. RATM!

Huh? (1)

ameoba (173803) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962443)

I thought Wired was on "our side". Why are they dragging this shit out of the past?

Re:Huh? (3, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962466)

That's what journalism is about!

No wait, did you say it was Wired?...

Rumor has it (3, Funny)

Foolomon (855512) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962492)

Rumor has it that he originally wanted to call it Bitt-ARRRRRR-ent.

International Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12962520)

Sorry to bubble burst

Does it say somewhere in that you can't be held liable for something which was not illegal at the time of commiting the act?

Fine (1)

bitspotter (455598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962543)

If all that's needed to keep bittorrent viable is a squeaky-clean developer to create a bt protocol client, I'm sure the market will provide. Hell, there are now plenty of "legitimate" corporations (Blizzard, for starters - who now employs Cohen) who have enough vested commerical interest in bt to fund such development, even if Cohen were forced out of what he started.

Hes right (1)

vdub12 (874654) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962547)

I think his views are right. I think every thing he said in his article was completely correct and is not only our right but its our responsibility.

Why must everything be written for idiots? (2, Insightful)

defile (1059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962590)

No one has a sense of humor?

No one can get subtlety?

Must every word we write be played back in monotone, completely out of context, character, to see if it can be used against us?

Anyone who understands hacker culture, or Bram's personality, would read that and laugh.

God, I probably have something just as ridiculous saved somewhere. In fact, I know I do, and I know someone else got ahold of it and spruced it up with Photoshop and made it look like a piece of communist propaganda that I'm just about ready to print out a million copies of. I come across it every so often and laugh, and anyone who knows me would laugh if they saw it.

And a court would say that clearly this is the mind of a terrorist.

Fuck.

No freedom without PERSONAL responsibility (5, Insightful)

Eagle'sFlight (693778) | more than 9 years ago | (#12962591)

Bram Cohen produces software. (Without illegal. intent.)
People use software to perform illegal acts.

Smith and Wesson produces guns.(Without illegal. intent.)
People use guns to perform illegal acts.

GM produces cars. (Without illegal. intent.)
People use cars to perform illegal acts.


Why is it the leadership that the people have selected to run our country seems to be forgetting that PEOPLE PERFORM ILLEGAL ACTS.
Not software
Not guns
Not cars
Not Corporations
PEOPLE.

It's time the Judicial system starting hold PEOPLE accountable for what they do not the item they used to do it.

Welcome to America, everyday closer to a Socialist Republic. :p
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