Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Apr 2012 19:05 UTC
Legal "Former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov, who downloaded source code for the investment firm's high-speed trading system from the company's computers, was wrongly charged with theft of property because the code did not qualify as a physical object under a federal theft statute, according to a court opinion published Wednesday." This could be a huge deal, if it ever were to be upheld in higher courts. More specifically, "because Aleynikov did not 'assume physical control' over anything when he took the source code, and because he did not thereby 'deprive [Goldman] of its use', Aleynikov did not violate the [National Stolen Property Act]". Well paint me purple with white and red dots and call me a girl scout.
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Comment by anevilyak
by anevilyak on Thu 12th Apr 2012 19:13 UTC
anevilyak
Member since:
2005-09-14

It's not quite as sweeping as the headline makes it out to be. What the court essentially stated was that the laws that were used to convict the guy were the wrong ones, not necessarily that what he did wasn't illegal, ergo they simply refused to extend laws that were specifically written for physical objects to virtual ones by analogy. You'll note they also pointed out that it would've been different if he'd, e.g. smuggled the code out on a CD or USB drive, since in that case a physical object would've been involved. The ruling in no way made a decisive precedent on source code in general.

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