Clear evidence of what is important…

A young man in the United States stands accused of a horrible crime. Federal agents recently raided his home, and he faces as much as ten years in a federal prison. According to his accusers, his wanton illegal acts are many and varied, and all necessary steps should be taken to insure he pays for his crimes.

What did Matthew Crippen do that is worthy of such quick and sure action involving numerous agents and investigators? He was modding XBoxes and PS3s, enabling them to run unofficial (and presumably illegally copied) software.

While Mr. Crippen faces hard time, thousands of murderers, rapists, ponzi scheme operators, anti-government gun fanatics, and evangelists stealing millions from their parish wander free. What elevates the crimes committed by this university student above these others? It is the fact that he is potentially stealing profits from greedy, litigation-driven organizations like the RIAA, the ESA and the MPAA. These organizations spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on lobbyists, who skillfully line the pockets of government officials year-round. Of course their concerns about the crimes of Mr. Crippen get immediate and forceful attention.

Numerous appointees to the Obama administration are former ESA/RIAA/MPAA lawyers, fresh from years of successfully threatening teenagers and unemployed single mothers with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. But that isn’t good enough. Now it is time to throw those youngsters and poor people in federal prison, since we all know they are the real cause of the downfall of the American economy. The cancerous greed of the banks and investment companies had nothing to do with it. And if you believe that, I have several thousand premium shares in my new get rich quick scheme I’d love to sell you…

4 thoughts on “Clear evidence of what is important…”

  1. I sympathize … but to be fair, a number of rich corporate types have ended up in jail, lots of rapists, church swindlers, murderers etc. are in U.S. prisons. That in a country that has always tipped the balance between property and personal crimes farther to the property side than we have in Canada.

    And economic crimes are real crimes with real consequences; throughout history some of the worst punishments have been reserved for forgers and counterfeiters.

    So, I don’t think you can condemn the entire US justice system … at least not just on the basis of this 😉

  2. As this falls in the “rant” category, I’m automatically indicating that I know my reaction is over the top. But I just find this situation, along with the recent awards of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages from kids and mothers successfully prosecuted by RIAA lawyers, to be fundamentally appalling.

    If this guy deserves jail time, then why aren’t the chief executives of Lehman Brothers and AIG being lined up in front of firing squads? The difference in scale (hundreds of billions literally stolen from middle class citizens and their pension funds vs a few grand “stolen” from multi-billion-dollar industries) suggests that the punishment needs to scale to that level, or where is the justice?

    I put the second stolen above in quotes for a good reason. Basically what this guy was doing was performing a change to consoles *that people owned and had paid for* that would allow those people to possibly use pirated games. He wasn’t mass-producing copies of the games and selling them. He wasn’t hacking in to the game companies websites and transferring money from their accounts. He wasn’t hijacking truckloads of games being delivered to Best Buy. He was enabling the owners of these consoles to bypass the copy protection systems in their machines.

    Note that, technically, everyone is entitled to a backup copy of their purchased software licenses. Perversely, the DMCA prevents bypassing the systems that would prevent such a backup copy from being made or used. I’m not suggesting that the guy making these changes was doing so “legitimately”, but technically he wasn’t making the copies himself- just enabling his customers to use said copies.

    I am pretty certain that, in most of the United States, I could perform the service of illegally turning a semi-automatic gun into a full auto without facing anything remotely close to ten years in prison. And yet there is no practical purpose to a full automatic weapon other than killing people. Based on the behavior of the U.S. justice system, performing a service that enables efficient mass murder is apparently less of a crime than performing a service that enables illegally copying Mario Cart.

    I feel justified in pointing out the flaws in this supposed “justice” as loudly as I want.

  3. You should know as soon as you get a good rant on I’m going to go all reasonable – you’ve done it to me enough 😉 :p

    Seriously, I think it’s not Money and Power per se, but the desire for PR. Remember in prohibition they used to have the pictures of them destroying the captured whiskey, the war on drugs and the pictures of the stacks of kilo bags of coke?

    Even in the rather prudish US images of 20 tactical squad guys busting in on a fat bald 50 year old with his pants around his ankles in a prostitution raid cause people to question where their tax dollars are going, and terrorists seem to be hard to come by ( even if they are supposed to be everywhere.)

    So what is the cop, the agent, the DA that wants to pose for the cameras and get in the paper to do? Copyright cases. Those get lots of press.

  4. I’m hoping they’ll start to realize that the kind of press they get is the *wrong* kind of press.

    Okay, so I guess I’m fooling myself 😉 But I know there has been some backlash against the heavy-handedness of the RIAA/MPAA/ESA legal shenanigans. Maybe the tide will turn.

    I should point out that I am all for legal action being taken against those who mass-produce stolen content. The folks who buy duplicating machines and run off 40,000 copies of the latest Harry Potter movie and sell ’em on corners for $5 a pop- throw the book at them. But a guy who hacks consoles in his spare time, or a single Mom who downloads Britney’s latest album via Kazaa… these aren’t people who should be screwed over by teams of lawyers and million dollar fines.

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