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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Makes sense
by BrianH on Thu 12th Apr 2012 19:22 UTC
Member since:

He could arguably be charged with copyright violation, violating trade secrets, or even industrial espionage, but not theft. Good call.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Makes sense
by MollyC on Thu 12th Apr 2012 20:14 in reply to "Makes sense"
MollyC Member since:

It's a good call legally (maybe), but colloquially, "theft/steal" does applies to misappropriating code, IMO.

"theft/steal" often apply to non-physical things in layman's vernacular.
"stealing secrets", "stealing identity" (also known as "identity theft"), "stealing ideas", etc.

That being said, just from the very small bits I've read on this case, this guy should've been charged with the violations you cite (espionage, violating trade secrets, etc), rather than theft of physical property.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Makes sense
by Delgarde on Thu 12th Apr 2012 23:24 in reply to "RE: Makes sense"
Delgarde Member since:

It's a good call legally (maybe), but colloquially, "theft/steal" does applies to misappropriating code, IMO

Colloquially, yes. But colloquial usage is irrelevant - just because someone calls this kind of thing "theft", doesn't mean they can press charges under laws that define "theft" in terms of depriving the owner of physical property.

Had they instead charged him under copyright law, they'd almost certainly have won their case.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Makes sense
by The123king on Sat 14th Apr 2012 18:16 in reply to "RE: Makes sense"
The123king Member since:

The closest thing I think he can be charged for is copyright infringement, seeing as theft "is the taking of another person's property without that person's permission or consent with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it" and copyright infringement "is the unauthorized use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's "exclusive rights", such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, spread the information contained within copyrighted works, or to make derivative works."

Seeing as the source code was never taken on someone elses pendrive or CD, the only real crime commited would be that of copyright infringement.

(text in quotes taken from the Wikipedia articles on the relevant subjects)

Edited 2012-04-14 18:17 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1