Skip

The Boy Who Stole Half-Life 2
February 22, 2011 5:13 AM   Subscribe

The Boy Who Stole Half-Life 2 - How (and more importantly why) Axel Gembe, a young German hacker, stole and leaked the source code to Valve's highly anticipated Half-Life 2 game in 2003. (via Rock, Paper, Shotgun)

Gembe himself is now running an on-going Q&A session at reddit.

For some basic background on Half-life 2:
Wiki
Quick recap from RPS about the importance of HL-2
posted by slimepuppy (68 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
To this day, Gembe maintains he was not the person who uploaded the source code to the internet. But there's no denying he handed it over to whoever did.

"I didn't think it through," he says. "There was, of course, an element of bragging going on. But the person I shared the source with assured me he would keep it to himself. He didn't."


It's pretty astonishing that someone who hacks into a major game developer's servers and lifts code potentially worth millions will then turn around and give it to a complete stranger on the strength of a casual promise. Yeah, I know the stereotype of the socially isolated and naive nerd who has mad h4XX0rz sk1llz but no real interpersonal expertise, but still, you'd think that they'd have heard of Kevin Poulsen et al.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:33 AM on February 22, 2011


This asshole also wrote agobot- keylogging, spam sending malware. RPS seems to take a sympathetic view of a lonely nerd hacker just out to explore, but he had clearly been involved in nasty for-profit black hat hacking for some time.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:40 AM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Gembe had his suspicions but he pushed them to the back of his mind. "I hoped for the best," he says. "I was not the brightest kid back then."

Yes and no. Hopelessly naive, yes. But he was incredibly technically sophisticated, especially considering his age and that he seems to have been self-taught. He doesn't come across as just another script-kiddie in this piece.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 5:40 AM on February 22, 2011


So I guess this is just a follow up? I remember the port scanning and key logging stuff being pretty well known back when the HL2 source torrent was still brand new.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:42 AM on February 22, 2011


It's hard for me to feel empathetic for the kid. I get that he seemed legitimately sorry for what he did when he realized how livid Valve and the fans were, but he should have understood that stealing is wrong. This goes way beyond typical piracy, too. He stole trade secrets. As RPS said, this is stealing what is essentially Valve's most major asset, their engine, and revealing its secrets to the world.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:50 AM on February 22, 2011


Nothing was "stolen". Valve still had it. Copies were made, illegally. Please don't change the definitions of words for political reasons.
posted by DU at 5:54 AM on February 22, 2011 [20 favorites]


Totally aside (and sorry to derail) but I think the bigger issue is there is a Desert Bus 2011 out!
posted by ShawnString at 5:56 AM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Get out of bed. Do not touch the keyboard ... You are being charged with hacking into Valve Corporation's network, stealing the videogame Half-Life 2, leaking it onto the internet and causing damages in excess of $250 million..."

I bet you $250 million they didn't say that.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:02 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm just happy the German police caught him before Valve got him onto U.S. soil.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:03 AM on February 22, 2011


It doesn't make what he did right, but I'd wager some of the brightest people in tech today had adolescent experiences like this. Remember the first product Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold wasn't a computer, it was a blue box for facilitating theft from the phone company. Think of that before you cast the first stone.
posted by pashdown at 6:04 AM on February 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


Nothing was "stolen". Valve still had it. Copies were made, illegally. Please don't change the definitions of words for political reasons.

He did steal and reveal trade secrets, it seems. The moment he did so, yes, Valve no longer had that, so he did cause damage.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:11 AM on February 22, 2011 [16 favorites]


Nothing was "stolen". Valve still had it. Copies were made, illegally. Please don't change the definitions of words for political reasons.

Oh please. Distinction without a difference here. The value lies in the exclusivity. He compromised that. "Political" makes a grubby act sound a whole lot more respectable than it was.

You want new phrasing for the act, be our guest and invent some, but bottom line, a lot of work and a lot of money and a lot of potential income has been wrecked by someone breaking and entering and photocopying. And all without permission. Just as if it were the recipe for Coca Cola, or James Bond with his tiny camera microfilming Top Secrets. The phrase we commonly use is steal Until you get a better phrase, stolen works for me and I expect for most people.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:17 AM on February 22, 2011 [22 favorites]


Did anyone actually use any of the stolen code in any way? It seems like it would open people up to massive liability. It isn't like valve went out of business. This $250 million figure just seems ridiculous. I've never heard of a game having that much of a development budget. The biggest expense involved might be trying to patch the game to make cheating more difficult given that people might know the source. In theory it might help developers at other companies with some graphics tricks but it isn't like valve was on the leading edge of engine design in the first place.

These ridiculous valuations don't really give people much credibility.
posted by delmoi at 6:24 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh please. Distinction without a difference here. The value lies in the exclusivity. He compromised that. "Political" makes a grubby act sound a whole lot more respectable than it was.

To be fair, nobody but Valve could really profit from it even after it was leaked. The fundamental concepts in the game engine were cutting edge, but they weren't secrets within the industry. Everybody's physics engine looks basically like everybody else's. And vast swaths of the code were still derived from Quake, which, I believe, was open source by that point.

Copyright continued to prevent legitimate companies from lifting code directly from the leaked codebase. And any illegitimate group who could turn the half-finished Source engine into a game would have to have sufficient technical expertise and financial backing to turn them into a legitimate company--thereby opening themselves up to legal attack.

I will grant you, though, that leaking secret code is much, much closer to "theft" than is piracy of consumer media.

Also, kid is a douchebag.
posted by Netzapper at 6:26 AM on February 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm pretty sure both the $250 million figure being quoted by the police, and the SWAT raid with automatic weapons are figments of Gembe's imagination.

The "related post" section at the bottom of the thread managed to dig up the original discussion from 2003, BTW.
posted by Harald74 at 6:32 AM on February 22, 2011


Think of that before you cast the first stone.

I'll cast the first stone. Fuck this guy. If he was a black kid in Chicago stealing stereos you'd have no problem putting him away, but a white kid doing computer crime and suddenly we need to start making all sorts of excuses? Sorry, but that ship has sailed. Computer crime is just that - a crime. Not to mention this little asshole writes identity stealing, password stealing, DDOSing, and spam sending malware for a living.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:48 AM on February 22, 2011 [19 favorites]


Harald74: " The "related post" section at the bottom of the thread managed to dig up the original discussion from 2003, BTW."

Half-Life 2 source code stolen. Mefites were speculating at the time if Valve would sue Microsoft for security holes in Outlook -- but it seems as if Outlook wasn't the focus of Gembe's hack. Interesting.

The German police most certainly saved his ass. What a shame, considering his subsequent history.
posted by zarq at 7:00 AM on February 22, 2011


There is a big difference between copying and sharing a compiled program, and copying the source code and sharing it before it is even publicly released. When it is unreleased source code, there is not much of an argument about it not being theft.
posted by chambers at 7:36 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope he gets on it and leaks episode 3 some time soon.
posted by codacorolla at 7:44 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


there is a Desert Bus 2011 out!

Wow. It's like an incredibly boring DCS Black Shark.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:52 AM on February 22, 2011


When it is unreleased source code, there is not much of an argument about it not being theft.

WTF? Of course there is. It may not be legal or even moral, but copying is not theft. There are plenty of other words you may use: piracy, infringement, perhaps misappropriation, but theft is factually incorrect.

It's not just a technicality, either.
posted by callmejay at 7:53 AM on February 22, 2011


Let's say I have a person-copying machine and I make a copy of Barack Obama. Have I kidnapped the original Obama? Of course not! Does that imply that it's okay? Not at all.
posted by callmejay at 7:55 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You want new phrasing for the act, be our guest and invent some, but bottom line, a lot of work and a lot of money and a lot of potential income has been wrecked by someone breaking and entering and photocopying. And all without permission. Just as if it were the recipe for Coca Cola, or James Bond with his tiny camera microfilming Top Secrets.

I'm not condoning this or any other black hat activities, but on the level of actual consequences it really didn't have much of an impact on anything. It was not a complete game, so you can't really make an argument that it directly replaced actual sales, and the full release version was eventually cracked and distributed online independently anyway. From a trade secret perspective, it's basically like a having half-finished blueprints for a skyscraper, you're not going to be able to complete it without a team of professionals, and a team of professionals is going to just make their own blueprints legally rather than try to re-purpose stolen ones. And it's not like an iPhone leak where competitors can adjust their strategy based on the specs of an unannounced secret project, Valve was publicly showing off trailers for the game already at that point.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:55 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


here are plenty of other words you may use: piracy,

If we can use the term piracy which means crime on the open seas then we can use theft. They're both slang and clearly not the proper legal terms. I see no problem with it really. Seems like splitting hairs to me, like people who use the term GNU/Linux instead of Linux.

"Bureaucrat Conrad, you are technically correct -- the best kind of correct." (Futurama, 2acv11: How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back)
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:56 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


chambers: "There is a big difference between copying and sharing a compiled program, and copying the source code and sharing it before it is even publicly released. When it is unreleased source code, there is not much of an argument about it not being theft."

I'm having trouble finding sources to back this up online, but didn't the leak also include Havok's proprietary physics engine software which Valve was licensed to use in HL2? Wouldn't releasing that to the public be a crime?
posted by zarq at 7:58 AM on February 22, 2011


theft is factually incorrect

Surely it's not factually incorrect. Theft is the removal of goods or property, and property is that which someone possesses. If the value of my property is inherent in it's exclusivity, then why can't you say removal of that is theft?
posted by ciderwoman at 7:58 AM on February 22, 2011


Let's say I have a person-copying machine and I make a copy of Barack Obama.

An English speaker could say that you've stolen his likeness or stolen his DNA. I don't see a problem with it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:59 AM on February 22, 2011


There's a little exchange between Alex and Mikko Hypponen from F-Secure on Reddit, which is the computer security equivalent of Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley chatting in a diner in Heat.

Apologies if this derails the oh-so-productive discussion about the utility of the word theft in the context of copyright, which has improved so many threads and changed so many minds down the years.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 8:01 AM on February 22, 2011 [16 favorites]


I don't have a dog in this race, but just to make a point:

When one person copies another's documents or credentials, we call it "identity theft" even though the victim retains his/her own identity.
posted by Anephim at 8:03 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Busy Old Fool: " Apologies if this derails the oh-so-productive discussion about the utility of the word theft in the context of copyright, which has improved so many threads and changed so many minds down the years."

MeTa (Previously)
posted by zarq at 8:04 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


but didn't the leak also include Havok's proprietary physics engine software which Valve was licensed to use in HL2? Wouldn't releasing that to the public be a crime?

a) Havok, while very good, is not very special. In terms of total features implemented by the engine, it's fantastic. It's a very good value to license for a AAA title, as it has every whizbang bell and whistle you could possibly want from a physics engine. But, you couldn't use it for a commercial release without licensing it; its signatures would easily show up even in your compiled code. And making anything non-commercial out of it without a substantial coding and content-creation effort would be nigh-impossible--basically, by the time you can integrate Havok into a game, you pretty much need a legally-vulnerable organizational structure with programmers and artists.

In terms of learning how to implement any given feature, you can find most of that online or in open-source physics engines (Bullet, Netwon, and ODE). And anybody capable of understanding the really tricky, clever parts of Havok could probably write them themselves.

b) Nobody's arguing that a crime wasn't committed. The argument really seems to be the old piracy != theft saw. Which, honestly, in this case, is splitting hairs. What was stolen was secrecy, not code. The secrecy was taken from Valve.
posted by Netzapper at 8:07 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


What does a grand jury indictment mean? Are they wanted or tried in absentia?

The guy claims to be innocent of the DDOSing but I agree that he is probably a scumbag.
posted by delegeferenda at 8:08 AM on February 22, 2011


Breaking into a secure server and making a copy of the source code for an unreleased game is NOT copyright infringement.

It's theft of proprietary information and trade secrets.
posted by FfejL at 8:09 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


What was stolen was secrecy, not code. The secrecy was taken from Valve.

I'm not sure why this matters or why so many people are hung up on defending this guy. Newsflash: The act of compromising a computer is a crime in itself. So even if all he got was a text file with the words "Turkey sandwich for lunch 500 calories" its still a crime.

All these justifications are baffling. Are we now tolerating theft/compromise of systems/copright infringement/dissemation of trade secrets because the technology is judged by some non-experts who have not bothered to go through the code to be inferior and as such okay to take? Wow. Just wow.

I never understood the crotch grabbing some people have from criminals, especially computer criminals doing their best to fuck over people like you and your grandparents with trojans. I guess its the same mentality that has poor people voting Republican. There's some promise or appeal in there that they feel has value but in reality they're just going against their own interests and supporting sociopaths.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:14 AM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


What does a grand jury indictment mean? Are they wanted or tried in absentia?

Under US law, it is effectively the same as a prosecutor laying charges, except the decision was made after a hearing at which the prosecutor presented evidence to the grand jury (which is just a group of ordinary citizens called to jury duty as with petit juries, for trials). It does not require the presence of the defendant because it is not empowered to convict.
posted by dhartung at 8:18 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


When one person copies another's documents or credentials, we call it "identity theft" even though the victim retains his/her own identity.

Well, it used to be called credit card fraud until the banks figured it'd be more profitable to blame the victim.
posted by stet at 8:20 AM on February 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


Are we now tolerating theft/compromise of systems/copright infringement/dissemation of trade secrets because the technology is judged by some non-experts who have not bothered to go through the code to be inferior and as such okay to take? Wow. Just wow.

What if I am an expert? And I have gone through the code? 'Cause I am (to an extent), and I have (to a greater extent).

And I'm not defending the dude at all. My only argument is that what he stole isn't worth the level of reverence people are bestowing on it. People act like the HL2 theft was like stealing the Last Supper; I claim it was more like stealing the collection plate.
posted by Netzapper at 8:24 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


We call it "theft of trade secrets" because that what it is called. See: 18 U.S.C. ยง 1832. Theft of trade secrets
posted by ryanrs at 8:46 AM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


All these justifications are baffling. Are we now tolerating theft/compromise of systems/copright infringement/dissemation of trade secrets because the technology is judged by some non-experts who have not bothered to go through the code to be inferior and as such okay to take? Wow. Just wow.

Most of the debate here is same tired one around the definition of the term "theft" which comes up any time someone uses the word "steal" in thread having to do with copying data. Other than that I don't see anyone saying that source code is okay to take or anything like that. It's also not okay for someone to leak scripts for films that are in production, but that also does not cause millions of dollars in damages or put movie producers out of business any of the other hyperbolic statements that were used to describe the Half Life 2 leak.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:51 AM on February 22, 2011


People act like the HL2 theft was like stealing the Last Supper

Fun fact: Half-life 2 development cost was over 6x the cost of restoring The Last Supper (1999 restoration).
posted by ryanrs at 9:08 AM on February 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'll cast the first stone. Fuck this guy. If he was a black kid in Chicago stealing stereos you'd have no problem putting him away, but a white kid doing computer crime and suddenly we need to start making all sorts of excuses?
When someone steals a stereo, you can't use that stereo anymore. If someone steals your source code, you can still use it, and more then that, no one else really can either. It's not like an MP3 where you can play it and enjoy it; no game company could really use the HL2 source in another game. The only real risk is people using the source code to cheat, but is it worth throwing someone in jail over that?

I agree that sealing private data is more like theft then copyright infringement. I'm sure if it were my stuff I'd be pissed. But using stolen code isn't easy or practical.

It's like if someone broke into your house and copied all your music files. The crime is breaking and entering, not copyright infringement, not theft.

On the other hand if someone had a legit copy of the valve source code and posted it on their website, they might get sued but no one would say they were stealing it, but they would be violating copyright.
posted by delmoi at 9:11 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter should have, rather than a Frequently Asked Questions section, a Frequently Held Debates section, so that if someone feels like discussing for the umpteenth time the exact semantic penumbra surrounding the word "theft" they can be directed to a seven-thousand-comment thread full of invective, already in progress.
posted by IjonTichy at 9:15 AM on February 22, 2011 [14 favorites]


delmoi, are you feeling a weird sense of deja dnab, too?
posted by adipocere at 9:16 AM on February 22, 2011


It's like if someone broke into your house and copied all your music files. The crime is breaking and entering, not copyright infringement, not theft.

Actually, in California, that would be trespassing (and perhaps vandalism if you damaged my door). Burglary is the act of entering a dwelling with the intent to commit larceny or any felony. Since copyright infringement is not theft and not a felony, the act of entering is not burglary.
posted by ryanrs at 9:44 AM on February 22, 2011


Imho, the computer intrusion looks like the only crime he committed.

There isn't any mens rea here for the charge of miss-appropriation of trade secrets because the kid never had any economic plans for the code. A rival company would otoh also be guilty of miss-appropriation of trade secrets.

You'll notice the article says the German court recognized exactly this intent issue because the prosecution never showed he distributed the source code.

And the friend who published the source code isn't guilty of miss-appropriation of trade secrets, nor any other crime, since he committed no illegal acts when receiving the code.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:54 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Newsflash: The act of compromising a computer is a crime in itself. So even if all he got was a text file with the words "Turkey sandwich for lunch 500 calories" its still a crime.

And it looks like it's about as serious of one, in terms of actual damage done.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:54 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


the kid never had any economic plans for the code

When Gembe sent Newell the email asking for a job, he included two secret documents to prove he was the one who hacked their network. In other words, he used their trade secrets to try to get a job.
posted by ryanrs at 10:21 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


All these justifications are baffling. Are we now tolerating theft/compromise of systems/copright infringement/dissemation of trade secrets because the technology is judged by some non-experts who have not bothered to go through the code to be inferior and as such okay to take? Wow. Just wow.


I don't see anyone claiming he did nothing wrong or that he didn't commit a crime. People are arguing about the magnitude of the crime.
posted by straight at 10:21 AM on February 22, 2011


Netzapper, thanks. Your explanation made a lot of sense, and clarified the situation for me.
posted by zarq at 10:45 AM on February 22, 2011


I'm afraid all the Gembe and Newell exchanges happened well after source code got spread all over the internet, making them irrelevant to that trade secret issue. duh!

There isn't much chance that miss-appropriation of trade secrets applies anyways given that he's just sending them back, never mind that those later documents might not even contain any trade secrets. And the conversation described doesn't much sound like extortion either, btw.

Intrusion was the crime the guy committed and convicted of. Score for the German legal system!
posted by jeffburdges at 10:45 AM on February 22, 2011


the Gembe and Newell exchanges happened well after source code got spread all over the internet

But not the two documents Gembe attached to the email. Those documents must have been secret at the time or else they wouldn't be proof that Gembe was the hacker.

There isn't much chance that miss-appropriation of trade secrets applies anyways given that he's just sending them back

Did you even read the law? It forbids unauthorized uploading, transmitting, sending, mailing, communicating, or conveying the secret information, among other things. Pretty sure that includes emailing.
posted by ryanrs at 11:12 AM on February 22, 2011


And the friend who published the source code isn't guilty of miss-appropriation of trade secrets

Of course he is. He could not have believed he was authorized to distribute the source code. Even if he though Gembe had acquired the code legally, Gembe specifically forbid him from publishing it.
posted by ryanrs at 11:29 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please do not even mention the phrase "Half-Life" until you are telling me that Half-Life 3 is out. Just don't.
posted by Decani at 12:35 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really hope that when Gabe finally releases Half-Life 3, it's just an empty box with a tiny slip of paper in it that says: "Oh, didn't you know? Portal was Half-Life 3."
posted by IjonTichy at 12:50 PM on February 22, 2011


"Oh, didn't you know? Portal was Half-Life 3."

That reminds me, Portal 2 is just two months away. I'd totally forgotten.
posted by the_artificer at 1:23 PM on February 22, 2011


If people casually referred to abortion as "killing babies" on metafilter, you wouldn't consider it a derail to point out that abortion and "killing babies" are two separate things.

/inflammatory but fair metaphor
posted by callmejay at 1:25 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, that is why I corrected you.
/HTH
/HAND
posted by ryanrs at 1:39 PM on February 22, 2011


I find it interesting that he claims to not have used a keylogger, even though one was apparently found on Gabe's computer. It seems like several people hacked Valve independently of each other.
posted by ymgve at 1:44 PM on February 22, 2011


Also, it wasn't the only time Valve got hacked: Another guy hacked them in 2007 (And subsequently got caught one year later)
posted by ymgve at 1:50 PM on February 22, 2011


When Gembe sent Newell the email asking for a job, he included two secret documents to prove he was the one who hacked their network. In other words, he used their trade secrets to try to get a job.
Not the brightest bulb in the, um, light fixture.
posted by delmoi at 2:01 PM on February 22, 2011


Theft can be and is commonly defined as a criminal act in which property belonging to another is taken without that other person's consent.

Does copying data constitute taking it? I believe so.
posted by phaedon at 2:33 PM on February 22, 2011


You've no idea what your talking bout ryanrs. It's unclear they'd nail Gembe for miss-appropriation of trade secret even if he published them himself for profit. All the case law upon which the notion of trade secrets rests depends upon actual competitive interests, meaning the case might very well reach SCOTUS.

We don't know when Gembe obtained those document, given the article clearly states he'd retained access to their network the whole time. And we simply don't know if those documents would ever be considered trade secrets, maybe they were pay slips, discarded artwork, emails from Valve's lawyers, etc. Btw, there was no commercial interest in Gembe's exchange with his friend, plus only German law applies there anyways, assuming Gembe's friend lived in Germany.

In any case, we're obviously no longer talking about the original source code publication. I'll therefore take it you've conceded no trade secret violation occurred there?
posted by jeffburdges at 2:53 PM on February 22, 2011


We've separate laws governing copying data specifically because copying data does not constitute theft, phaedon.

To clarify, if Alice steals Bob's hard drive containing his homework project, then I'd imagine she's guilty of theft for both the drive and the contents jointly.

Imagine otoh that Alice hacks into Bobs computer, downloads Bob's project, and deletes the project from Bobs computer. We'll imagine she's afraid automatic cheating detectors will catch her if she doesn't force him to rewrite it. I doubt very much that she's guilty of theft in this case. Instead, there are laws preventing her from hacking, maybe laws preventing her from take the data while hacking, ala Netzapper's collection plate analogy, and numerous laws against malicious mischief, destruction of property, etc.

Any such naive physical laws concerning the deletion that don't naturally apply to data will by now have variants that apply to data. Yet, all these laws will respect the underlying principle that data isn't a physical object.

Btw, our legal system will very likely award Alice longer jail time for hacking and deleting than merely stealing the drive. And that's perfectly reasonable since her deletions are actually more malicious than simply stealing.

All western legal systems are incredibly pedantic about exactly these sorts of details, but they're not stupid, and they weight demonstrated intent very heavily.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:08 PM on February 22, 2011


Jeff, the difference you describe is the difference between larceny and conversion. Theft of trade secrets references the latter.
posted by ryanrs at 3:15 PM on February 22, 2011


You're all wrong. It was murder. He murdered the secret data when he copied it by making it not a secret anymore. Nothing less than the chair, I say.
posted by BeerFilter at 3:58 PM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


In any case, we're obviously no longer talking about the original source code publication. I'll therefore take it you've conceded no trade secret violation occurred there?

I concede no such thing. If I have put forth many arguments, it is because Gembe has committed many crimes.

But let us step back so that we may understand the nature of this man and the situation in which he finds himself.

1. Gembe cannot resist the urge to brag and talk about his crime. His is utterly compelled to share what he has done, in detail. He boasts to other hackers, to Newell, to the job interviewer, to the police, to magazines, to everyone. Eight years later he is still giving interviews about it.

2. The prosecution has a long and detailed tape recording of Gembe speaking to his victims and confessing his crimes. Utterly devastating in court.

3. He did not ask for a lawyer, even after a dawn raid and three hours of interrogation. Instead of protecting himself from the police, his instinct was to explain his actions and motivations. That is his reaction to stress: talk, talk, talk.

If this the kind of person who stands up to professional prosecutors, defends himself in a foreign court, and walks away victorious? No, it is not. Gembe is the kind of person who breaks down under questioning, admits what he's done, and throws himself to the mercy of the authorities.

If the German authorities had not intervened, I believe Gembe would have been arrested by the FBI, interrogated, and eventually plead guilty to a number of computer-related crimes. He would probably be sentenced to a few years in federal prison.
posted by ryanrs at 4:12 PM on February 22, 2011


Well, thief or "pirate," I think we can agree: guy's a douche.
posted by Amanojaku at 4:16 PM on February 22, 2011


Well, thief or "pirate," I think we can agree: guy's a douche.

Yeah, on that we agree. :-)
posted by callmejay at 7:46 AM on February 23, 2011


« Older Panoramirum   |   The Supercommuter Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post