Court Orders Pirate to Use Windows

Scott McCausland, aka "sk0t", the first person to be jailed for Bittorrent use and a former member of Elitetorrents, has been told he may no longer use his computer with an Ubuntu Linux operating system. McCausland pleaded guilty last year to 'conspiracy to commit copyright infringement' and 'criminal copyright infringement' by downloading Star Wars: Episode III illegally. After serving five months in prison, he was put on probation with the requirement that he must have monitoring software on his computer, as per his plea bargain. One small problem, however: the software doesn't run on Linux.

On his blog, McCausland writes, "the [monitoring] software doesn't support GNU/Linux. So [my probation officer] told me that if I want to use a computer, I would have to use an OS that the software can be installed on. Which basically means Microsoft and monitoring software or no computer. I use Ubuntu 7.04 now, and they are trying to force me to switch."

View: Full Story on vnunet.com
View: Scott's Lost and Alone Blog

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

PS3 Sales Rise, Still in Last Place

Next Story

Japan Building New Internet

89 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

yeah. the title is entirely misleading. It's all B.S. spin. He wasn't ordered to use windows he was ordered to have monitering software on his computer. it's basically assumed that he uses windows. linux is an EXTREMELY small minority as far as a desktop OS and mac isn't that popular either. Next making software for linux is entirely dependant on the system. I can have 100 computers with linux on it and not one of them are compatible with each other, even if everything is compiled for x86. He just needs to deal with using windows and Bezhou Feng needs to stop injecting his own opinion in an article with an extremely spinned, misleading headline.

seta-san said,
I can have 100 computers with linux on it and not one of them are compatible with each other, even if everything is compiled for x86.

And I could give you a statically linked binary that would run on pretty much all those computers.

ichi said,

And I could give you a statically linked binary that would run on pretty much all those computers.

whocares??

the big question is could you give him the monitoring software they are after??

He wasn't ordered to use windows he was ordered to have monitering software on his computer. it's basically assumed that he uses windows. linux is an EXTREMELY small minority as far as a desktop OS and mac isn't that popular either.

read this:
I use Ubuntu 7.04 now

For the benefit of the hard of understanding, this means he uses Linux, not Windows.
The monitoring software currently only runs on Windows, therefore he has to have Windows in order to run it. This means he has to get a licence or Microsoft will do him for piracy (in an ironic twist), so he has to pay for an OS whose sole purpose is to run one program for a limited amount of time. Name another crime where you are fined and that fine goes to a corporation instead of the courts.
I can have 100 computers with linux on it and not one of them are compatible with each other, even if everything is compiled for x86

********. Ever heard of Firefox? Apache? Most any project on Sourceforge? Perhaps you're using them right now.

He got caught, so has to suffer a punishment, fair enough. If he isn't allowed to use WINE to run the monitoring software then that makes for a nasty ruling: that a corporation can profit from the temporary restrictions imposed upon a convicted person by receipt of payment from that person. Will he get a refund of the Windows licence when his probation is over? Doubtful.

he should just move to another country that places uploading a movie behind, let's say, rape as a grave offense.
Man, US has their priority mess up completely, it's pathetic

http://news.com.com/Linux+felon+forced+to+..._3-6204348.html

He didn't just download a movie. He uploaded it to enable thousands or even millions of other people to download it from him and was an Administrator of EliteTorrents.

The title of this article on Neowin is misleading. I don't think anyone has ever gone to jail for just downloading something for their own personal use unless it was military secrets or kiddie porn.

The only people who have ever been criminal charged and gone to jail regarding intellectual property violations are those that illegally sell counterfeit CD/DVDs or those that distribute/upload large amounts of unlicensed software, movies, or music on the Internet, or distribute/upload a single unreleased movie.

Starwars Ep iii cost like 1 dollar here at the 99 cent store in one of those paper sleeves. Why would anyone in their right mind download movies? I could understand maybe if he was planning to edit the avi file for something like youtube poop, I do that all the time with hotel mario, cdi zelda and Dr. Rabbit, but come on??? Starwars???

Ravensworth said,
Movies in paper sleeves for a dollar? Is this 99 cent store on a street corner in China by any chance?

Right here in Rosemead California. It looks like china, what with all the foreign characters on the buildings, not a sign of english... but really yes, they're probably bootlegs.

5 months prison for downloading a movie? Wouldn't thousands of people have downloaded the movie...?

Did he just download it, or did he run the Elitetorrents website and upload the movie?

AfroTrance said,
5 months prison for downloading a movie? Wouldn't thousands of people have downloaded the movie...?

Did he just download it, or did he run the Elitetorrents website and upload the movie?

Well as my boss says the reason why anyone in jail is there all boils down to the fact they "got caught". I'm quite sure theres thousands of people that could get pinned for the same thing if they were the unlucky sods the industry pounced on.

The point here is this. If he does anything other that what is in his probation agreement, his probation will be revoked and he will serve the rest of his time in prison. If his probation is say 3 years, that is how much longer he will be in prison.
Is 3 more years in prison worth it to use Linux? I think not.

guardian_uk said,
I may be wrong here, but wont the monitoring software be useless if he continues to use linux in a virtual machine?

Yes. Or if he dual-boots. Or buys a second PC. What is he, under house arrest or something? If not, there's nothing they can do.

toadeater said,

Yes. Or if he dual-boots. Or buys a second PC. What is he, under house arrest or something? If not, there's nothing they can do.

thats the whole point, you can get around the court order by running linux in vmware

whocares78 said,

thats the whole point, you can get around the court order by running linux in vmware


Sure he can do all that but then again, that could be a violation of his probation and therefore even longer jail time.

Couldn't he just run Windows in a virtual environment, like VirtualBox, for when he does stuff on the net and still use Ubuntu for everything else?

I don't think this as an unfair part of the punishment for him at all, and from those terms it sounds like whining---although its a fair argument from open source people that the justice system shouldn't be tied into the products of one company.

Well the think that shocked me was the "5 months in jail" for downloading SWEP:III .....

If i went into HMV and stole it, and got caught, hell if i was running away and they had to chase me, and i hit one of them to get away, i wouldnt have gotten 5 months in jail. Thats just B$, and a reason why piracy should continue, so that stuff like this does not become "reasonable punishment". If piracy stops because of over the top action like this then thats a blow to liberty right there. Hell people have commited far worse crimes and done less time..

1) He downloaded SWEP:III when it wasn't even released. Hence the huge issue the film company had.

2) As far as stopping piracy and that being a blow to liberty you obviously must be a liberal to think like that. Piracy is stealing no matter if there is no monetary loss. Piracy is wrong. No question.

I can't understand whats the problem here....all you need to be is a little creative!

One of the possible solutions: Install Ubuntu Linux, install Windows under VMWare, edit a few inf files and change the names of the hardware peripherals to make it look even more real, install the monitoring software in the VMWare environment. That way you're done and can continue to use Linux and nobody can see what you are doing

Lt-DavidW said,
So you think he should break the law in other words? Again.

well actually if he switches it around, is it illegal, i.e. run ubuntu in vmware on windows, he has windows installed adn is using it ias his OS.

Can someone tell me why any of us should care?

It is part of the Probation that you be monitored and that software happens to be Windows based, guess you should have found out what your probation would consist of prior to committing the crime.

zeke009 said,
It is part of the Probation that you be monitored and that software happens to be Windows based, guess you should have found out what your probation would consist of prior to committing the crime.

And how exactly are you meant to do that? Saying he deserved it is one thing but there isn't some all-encompassing list where you can look up what the probation terms are for each crime - it is up to the court to determine the conditions of each case indivudally.

So is the justice department paying the windows license? I guess not.

The software monitoring issue is stupid, IMO. Either allow him to use computers (monitored or not) or don't, but setting a ~$100 fee (to be paid to a non related party) is not fair.

hmm, you can see how people are spoiled with freedom react with this incident.
it's probation period, god damn it.

yeah. liberal hippies want infinate rights including housing, food, work(if they want to), medical, dental... hell EVERYTHING handed to them on a platter by the government and then they want NO RESPONSIBLITY.

lol the funny part is that he broke the law and everybody is complaining that he has to switch.

They could have said no computers at all. If it was a choice between using windows or no computer at all i would choose windows no matter how much i hated it.

Since its a privilage and not a right to live in the country.
I mean he was forced to go to jail for 5 months. I don't see what his issue is.

He can opt to use no computer at all.. or for the next X amount his probation is use windows.
Not sure how that works.. like if it only runs in windows whats stopping him from booting a liveCD?

haha, all linux users do things illegal.. Sony comes to mind

Conclusion: DON NOT Pirate and you won't be forced to do anything...(or don't get caught...)
Pirating is stupid.

No!!,
don't excuse yourself if you did it because you don't have enough ca$h (students etc.). You bought a computer to run the stuff you pirate?

If you can afford a computer to run modern games, you can invest time in checking reviews, gameplay trailers, etc. , and really buy the game(s) you like.

I know people, you've got friends like that I know you do!, who download everything (I do mean EVERYTHING) and play or watch nothing because they're so hooked on downloading stuff for free (pirating). They've got stacks and stacks of movies and games and don't play any of them,....sigh.... what a waste of bandwidth! (I think it's even worse tham SPAM nowadays.)

Why don't they just make a hardware monitor that monitors your TCP/IP packets? It would be OS independent then and also cover your entire network at home, so you could have as many computers as you want...

Because then it would cost to make each one. This way, they only need to pay someone to make and compile it once and give it to as many people as they like.

PureLegend said,
Because then it would cost to make each one. This way, they only need to pay someone to make and compile it once and give it to as many people as they like.

If you are convicted of something, the convict can be ordered to pay all costs in the USA related to their release requirements

neufuse - LMAO, umm you mean like a network analyser, you do realise they already exist, if he has a hub yeah or a switch that supports a broadcast port. plus he needs another PC at least to run it, unless he wants to spend ridiculous costs on a hardware based one, and if you want to build it cheap then a linux box is the only answer.

pure legend - have no idea what your on about, have you heard of licensing, you generally can't just pay once and use it on a number of machines, and i really doubt the US government made the software, it is most likley a third party app. So what your saying is most likely illegal.

You were just convicted of a crime. You should consider yourself lucky you get to use a computer at all. And if Windows is too difficult or unpleasant for you then you always have the option NOT to use a computer.

Again, this illusion of being forced to use Windows is simply not true. And in this case, the right to use competing software as an operating system was voluntarily and willingly given up when he decided to break the law.

The moral of the story is: If you want to retain your rights on a computer consider NOT using it for illegal purposes. It's NOT a difficult concept!

C_Guy said,
You were just convicted of a crime. You should consider yourself lucky you get to use a computer at all. And if Windows is too difficult or unpleasant for you then you always have the option NOT to use a computer.
Exactly. The court ordered no computer use without being monitored. If he chooses not to (or is unable to) run the monitoring software, then he may not use a computer.

Once his probation period is over, I am sure he is free to dump Windows for Ubuntu again.

Though the article title is amusing. :P (plus everyone knows Linux users are renegades doing illegal activities anyway. Even using Linux may be illegal with all the patent violations) ;)


EDIT: I wonder if the monitoring software would work in wine?

Ali Koubeissi said,

I actually laughed at your ignorance when I read it. Gotta love idiots.

I'm pretty sure Mark was joking...

NateB1 said,

I'm pretty sure Mark was joking...

Yes. Just as a clarification (I guess the wink-face at the end wasn't enough, if you don't know me), I am a 100% Linux user and supporter for the past 4 or so years.

The comment in parentheses was in jest.

Everyone so far has been missing the *real* point. Why was this guy jailed/punished by the government for BitTorrent use in the first place? There are important reasons why intellectual property law and physical property law are handle VERY differently in the courts. Physical property theft cause direct and measurable financial loss to the victim. Violation of IP rights does not.... that is why in the past it was never called "theft" until the RIAA/MPAA PR goons started brainwashing people.

Basically, in this case, the MPAA used the feds to fight their fight for them. When there is no evidence of good and valuable consideration, violation of IP rights is normally (and should be) handled civilly and not criminally.

We should fully support someone's right to protect their intellectual property, but (IMHO) it should not be the job of the government to handle the protection or punish the violators.

lbmouse said,
Everyone so far has been missing the *real* point. Why was this guy jailed/punished by the government for BitTorrent use in the first place? There are important reasons why intellectual property law and physical property law are handle VERY differently in the courts. Physical property theft cause direct and measurable financial loss to the victim. Violation of IP rights does not.

Basically, in this case, the MPAA used the feds to fight their fight for them. When there is no evidence of good and valuable consideration, violation of IP rights is normally (and should be) handled civilly and not criminally.

We should fully support someone's right to protect their intellectual property, but (IMHO) it should not be the job of the government to handle the protection or punish the violators.

Despite what the blurb at the top of the page says, i have a hunch he did more than just dl a movie. The movie wasn't released yet which is why the mpaa was probably so ****ed.

Actually it's up to the courts to decide, in each case, whether there are "measurable financial losses", not you. And yes, IP theft, copyright infringement, piracy (AKA "theft") CAN and often does have a financial impact. This is well documented and proven.

norky said,
Despite what the blurb at the top of the page says, i have a hunch he did more than just dl a movie. The movie wasn't released yet which is why the mpaa was probably so ****ed.

>>McCausland was arrested after the Elitetorrents site posted the latest Star Wars film before its cinema release. This brought the site to the attention of the Motion Picture Association of America which helped the FBI to shut down the site.

source: http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2197392/...-forced-windows

Yeah, prereleasing Star Wars III using an uploaded rip of stolen property might be an issue.

C_Guy said,
Actually it's up to the courts to decide, in each case, whether there are "measurable financial losses", not you. And yes, IP theft, copyright infringement, piracy (AKA "theft") CAN and often does have a financial impact. This is well documented and proven.

IANAL but my ex-wife is an IP attorney so we had many discussion around the dinner table on this topic. It sounds like you have fallen victim to the MPAA/RIAA PR propaganda juggernaut. Violation of an intellectual property holders RIGHTS is not the same as physical property THEFT.

If I steal your car, you have a direct and measurable loss because you own(ed) the property. When you purchase a DVD you do not purchase the intellectual property (you don't own it) but just the right to watch the movie. If you download a movie w/o paying for the right to watch it, you still do not own it and you never "stole" the right of ownership from IP holder. The IP holder can not prove direct and measurable loss (maybe you would have never purchased it in the first place)... because they never lost anything.

Now if you turned around and sold copies of the movie, that is a different story because their is measurable loss.

IP holders have every right to defend their claims, but in most cases it should be handled in civil courts.

lbmouse said,

IANAL but my ex-wife is an IP attorney so we had many discussion around the dinner table on this topic. It sounds like you have fallen victim to the MPAA/RIAA PR propaganda juggernaut. Violation of an intellectual property holders RIGHTS is not the same as physical property THEFT.

If I steal your car, you have a direct and measurable loss because you own(ed) the property. When you purchase a DVD you do not purchase the intellectual property (you don't own it) but just the right to watch the movie. If you download a movie w/o paying for the right to watch it, you still do not own it and you never "stole" the right of ownership from IP holder. The IP holder can not prove direct and measurable loss (maybe you would have never purchased it in the first place)... because they never lost anything.

Now if you turned around and sold copies of the movie, that is a different story because their is measurable loss.

IP holders have every right to defend their claims, but in most cases it should be handled in civil courts.

Eh, if he had downloaded any other movie, I doubt he would've gotten in any serious trouble. Star Wars however, is big (not in my opinion, but to others). Hell, the makers of it didn't even give magazines like Game Informer a pre-release of the game, as to not spoil the movie from coming out (which ruined the reviews for the game, as they were pushed back a month or so). Obviously, they'd have a real big bone to pick with someone sharing any of its material on the internet.

By the way, you guys need to ease off the long, retarded acronyms. IANAL? Are you kidding me? Ugh. This isn't a messenger guys. (screw AFAIK and IIRC as well)

Offtopic, but "IANAL" is a rather silly acronym if the purpose is abbreviation.
I : abbreviation of "I"
A : abbreviation of "am"
N : abbreviation of "not"
A : abbreviation of "a"
L : abbreviation of "lawyer"

And it says "I anal", which I guess could apply to anyone analyzing the acronym.

lbmouse said,

IANAL but my ex-wife is an IP attorney so we had many discussion around the dinner table on this topic. It sounds like you have fallen victim to the MPAA/RIAA PR propaganda juggernaut. Violation of an intellectual property holders RIGHTS is not the same as physical property THEFT.

If I steal your car, you have a direct and measurable loss because you own(ed) the property. When you purchase a DVD you do not purchase the intellectual property (you don't own it) but just the right to watch the movie. If you download a movie w/o paying for the right to watch it, you still do not own it and you never "stole" the right of ownership from IP holder. The IP holder can not prove direct and measurable loss (maybe you would have never purchased it in the first place)... because they never lost anything.

Now if you turned around and sold copies of the movie, that is a different story because their is measurable loss.

IP holders have every right to defend their claims, but in most cases it should be handled in civil courts.

i gotta agree here, cause of the simple "fact" that not all people who pirated a movie would go out and buy it reguardless if they could get it for free or not... so in a case like this they lost "ZERO" money!

markjensen said,
Offtopic, but "IANAL" is a rather silly acronym if the purpose is abbreviation.
I : abbreviation of "I"
A : abbreviation of "am"
N : abbreviation of "not"
A : abbreviation of "a"
L : abbreviation of "lawyer"

And it says "I anal", which I guess could apply to anyone analyzing the acronym. :rofl:

I Anal, i would expect to be a lawyer i.e. Lawyers are anal

5 months in prison? Our priorities are so ****ing twisted! Jail time means nothing anymore, because it certainly doesn't fit the crime. What a sad joke.

Hey it's not like there are Hollywood starlets driving around drunk nearly killing people and only spending 1 day or 1 hour in jail...oh wait.

I think that watching Episode III was punishment enough.

What's stopping him for just having another computer to do all his "stuff" then use the Windows box for everything else?

Marty2003 said,
The Law.

Errm. So he is getting 24 hour round the clock suveillance from a copper? How they going to know if he goes out to buy another computer?

It's called common sense. He knows it's illegal to do that. If he gets caught using another computer he'll get in even more trouble.

Nobody is watching you 24 hours a day, what's stopping you from robbing a convenience store?

Errm. So he is getting 24 hour round the clock suveillance from a copper?

Why do you think that they're installing monitoring software on his computer?

How they going to know if he goes out to buy another computer?

By monitoring his credit cards and bank account, perhaps. Or by looking for another machine where he lives. Probation officers often have the right to do that.

whats stopping him from dual booting. he'll have windows and the monitoring software installed, but not running. also, why not a vm running windows inside ubuntu (not sure if that's possible). who says he has to buy anything?

lothodon said,
whats stopping him from dual booting. he'll have windows and the monitoring software installed, but not running. also, why not a vm running windows inside ubuntu (not sure if that's possible). who says he has to buy anything?

Maybe. So, by your argument, he shouldn't be out on probation at all, then.

easy fixed, run ubuntu on vmware, he can still have his windows box with monitoring software, but also have the freedom of linux, so many ways around this it is funny

So courts are now making requirements for people to use Windows on a computer or use no computer at all? I'm sorry but that sounds wrong, even though the guy (according to the ruling) should be restricted and punished.

theyarecomingforyou said,
So courts are now making requirements for people to use Windows on a computer or use no computer at all? I'm sorry but that sounds wrong, even though the guy (according to the ruling) should be restricted and punished.

No the monitoring software is for Windows. So if he whats to use a computer it will have to be Windows or no computer.

bryonhowley said,

No the monitoring software is for Windows. So if he whats to use a computer it will have to be Windows or no computer.

Which is effectively the same thing. What if the only computer the guy owned was a PowerPC Mac? He would have no way to use that computer at all, and if he wanted to use a computer he would have to buy a new one. The court should look into alternative monitoring software for other operating systems.

bryonhowley said,
No the monitoring software is for Windows. So if he whats to use a computer it will have to be Windows or no computer.

That's exactly my point - in order to use a computer this guy HAS to use Windows OR use not computer at all. He couldn't use Linux or OS X and the software might not even support Windows Vista! A court should not be making rulings that tie people to specific operating systems. If someone committed a driving offense and was then forced to use a device that only BMW supported then that would be equally unreasonable, particularly if they had to go out and buy into a product that they previously avoided.

The court should either employ a technology that supports as many operating systems as is reasonable or select a different punishment.

theyarecomingforyou said,

That's exactly my point - in order to use a computer this guy HAS to use Windows OR use not computer at all. He couldn't use Linux or OS X and the software might not even support Windows Vista! A court should not be making rulings that tie people to specific operating systems. If someone committed a driving offense and was then forced to use a device that only BMW supported then that would be equally unreasonable, particularly if they had to go out and buy into a product that they previously avoided.

The court should either employ a technology that supports as many operating systems as is reasonable or select a different punishment.

Maybe he should have read the system requirements before doing the crime...

"If someone committed a driving offense and was then forced to use a device that only BMW supported then that would be equally unreasonable, particularly if they had to go out and buy into a product that they previously avoided."

Eh, you loose your car licence, you can't drive a car, you drive something else instead, like a motorbike or scooter.

But he has gotten off much better, as like you said, if this was related to cars, he can still drive them, but only one type.

So he is lucky that he is still aloud to use a computer.

roadwarrior said,
Which is effectively the same thing. What if the only computer the guy owned was a PowerPC Mac? He would have no way to use that computer at all, and if he wanted to use a computer he would have to buy a new one. The court should look into alternative monitoring software for other operating systems.

Are you willing to pay for that? Because I'm not.

roadwarrior said,
Which is effectively the same thing. What if the only computer the guy owned was a PowerPC Mac? He would have no way to use that computer at all, and if he wanted to use a computer he would have to buy a new one. The court should look into alternative monitoring software for other operating systems.

he could install boot camp. interested in knowing what monitoring software it is and what it does, and IF there is even a linux variant of some sort. he AGREED to it in his plea bargain now is is complaining. P.S. how did he get jailed for only downlaodig 1 movie. rapists and murderers get off with less than that nowdays

roadwarrior said,

Which is effectively the same thing. What if the only computer the guy owned was a PowerPC Mac? He would have no way to use that computer at all, and if he wanted to use a computer he would have to buy a new one. The court should look into alternative monitoring software for other operating systems.

He's lucky he gets to use a computer at ALL!

He had to crap in front of jail mate for 5 months ... now that he is out he is complaining about the fact that his criminal history is forcing him to use Microsoft Windows?

Jail him back.

Pip'

>>I do not feel (neither does my lawyer) that the government can force me to switch OSes. I am obligated to use a computer (internet also) for school, and Windows is not neccessary.

OH NOES I AM BEING FORCED TO COMPLY WITH PROBATION REQUIREMENTS!

God what a whiny little git.