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Convicted BitTorrent Admin Fights for his Right to Use Linux

Scott McCausland, a convicted ex-administrator of the EliteTorrents BitTorrent tracker is going back to court to fight for his right to use Ubuntu GNU/Linux while he is home confined. The US government is forcing him to use Windows, because that’s the only OS their monitoring software can run on.

September last year Scott pleaded guilty to ‘conspiracy to commit copyright infringement’ and ‘criminal copyright infringement’ for uploading ‘Star Wars: Episode III’ onto the internet hours before the theatrical release. Scott was later sentenced five months in prison, followed by five months of home confinement.

After his release from prison Scott was told by his Probation Officer that he has to install Windows so that the government can monitor his online activities. A cruel punishment for someone who’s used to Ubuntu GNU/Linux, and Scott has now decided to fight this decision in court.

“My lawyer is filing a motion to go back in front of the judge and find out what is next to happen,” Scott writes on his blog “It will either end in one of two ways: First, he could tell me to just suck it up and install windows, or he could say that no where in the Computer Monitoring Guidelines does it say that I have to use Windows, and it is the Probation Offices responsibility to be the Cyber Police and support all possible options.”

The court will now have to decide whether he can be forced by the US Government to use Windows. In the meantime, he is allowed to keep Ubuntu installed which means his online activities won’t be monitored.

Scott told TorrentFreak earlier: “I think that this whole situation is just one more way that they can impose their will onto me. It isn’t the fact that I have to be monitored that bothers me, it is the fact that I have restructure my life (different OS, different software on that OS) and that they would require (force) me to purchase software while I a currently unemployed and relatively unemployable with the 2 felonies that they gave me.”

Not all convicts like to use Windows, let’s hope this case will motivate the US government to develop multi-platform monitoring software. It can’t be that hard can it?

torrentfreak, Ernesto

Comments

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  1. September 9th, 2007 | 01:31

    thought I would include a random bad-ass looking tux image…

  2. white_fox
    September 9th, 2007 | 01:31

    WTF….

  3. kifart
    September 9th, 2007 | 01:32

    Ouch…

    Personally I think that if he’s confined to his house, that shouldn’t force him to do things that aren’t explicitly stated in his punishment. If windows isn’t stated as a condition of his punishment, he’s free not to use it? And if ubuntu isn’t listed as something he cannot do, then he should be free to use it.

    If the problem is that they can’t monitor him, well…. What do they want him to do? Scribble cyphered notes in notepad, and then dump out in the world after his sentencing is over? That sounds even worse.

    And if they just want to monitor what kind of content he’s pushing through the web, just hook him up with comcast…

  4. andpoi
    September 9th, 2007 | 01:35

    Why on earth did you post someone else’s picture that is hosted on their website…… That could severely ruin their bandwidth. Unless it’s your website….

  5. cfvghjk
    September 9th, 2007 | 01:35

    Star Wars: Episode III sucked hairy camel balls, not worth going to jail and getting ass raped everyday by big black dudes.

    Just for uploading that crap release he should be forced to use the Millenium version of Windows, running Norton to boot, for the rest of his life.

  6. Thingy
    September 9th, 2007 | 01:45

    I know he’s already been convicted, but does anyone else think this sounds like it could become a gateway for governments to force software onto people just for monitoring purposes?

  7. atlas
    September 9th, 2007 | 01:45

    Run it under WINE. But this is clearly a matter of principle, b/c I’m sure he could find a way to feed them his grandmother’s usage activities. Hire that l337 12 year old to do it for him :)

  8. dante
    September 9th, 2007 | 01:49

    @thingy absolutely. They just did this over here in Germany. Used some hacker scandal to legalize a government Trojan that would monitor basically everything you could possibly do. It’s really Big Brother is watching you.

  9. :o
    September 9th, 2007 | 01:49

    if he has to use windows they should purchase it for him :>

  10. Phormula
    September 9th, 2007 | 01:52

    ╔╗╔═╦╗
    ║╚╣║║╚╗
    ╚═╩═╩═╝ about the comcast comment.
    Sorry to hear about all the BS he’s going through for something that most of us take for granted. I guess film corporations have more rights then we do…
    But wait people, this is a first…
    The government can now control which software you can use because they can’t figure something else out?
    Guess those index cards FULL of notes don’t help much.
    Or that 2 week training course…
    Try the “Dummies guide to UNIX environments”.
    In this day, stupidity is equivalent to ignorance, since you can pretty much find out anything and everything on the internet.
    It just depends on how much you can absorb.
    So exactly who’s ignorant here?…
    & why is he punished with poverty and cruel and unusual punishment.
    He should immediately be given a job securing networks…
    There is a war on terror, the threat of terror, drugs, and our own people.

  11. September 9th, 2007 | 02:04

    damn Atlas! you beat me to it! lol

    everytime i hear someone complain about something like this i just wonder what type of pirate they are. Every linux user should know about WINE. it lets you install windows apps on your linux distro.

  12. me
    September 9th, 2007 | 02:21

    just because he is a linux user doesnt means he is a pirate Roofy, the worst case than this one was the guy of australia who uploaded a cellphone version of a movie loll

  13. September 9th, 2007 | 02:32

    i think he should shuf the fuk up and go download the Microsoft.Windows.XP.Professional.Corporate.SP2.Integrated.July.2007-ETH0 torrent and be happy lol j/k but i would tell the judge that if he wants me to use windows i need to download a copy couse i have no more money because of the case lol

  14. September 9th, 2007 | 02:33

    wtf is up with that HUUUUGE size picture inside the article!
    it came down about half a minute
    240k by every new visitor leeched from that site, brutal

  15. September 9th, 2007 | 02:41

    No offense, but the kid has nothing to complain about. You don’t have to post your answer, but…. How many people downloaded that, at a guess? Multiply that towards …Oh, let’s be real conservative and say $6 each. THAT is alot of income that the company did not receive. They laid out the money to make the film. They came up with all the ideas, hired all the actors..

    I’m not saying I’m above downloading stuff – look where I am posting. What I am saying is that the law is real clear, and this kid knowingly broke it. He got caught and it’s time to suck it up and accept the consequences. Honestly, if he doesn’t want to be confined to windows (can understand that) then he should be ‘stranded’ without internet.

    At the end of the day, this is a computer and software we’re talking about. History shows that people can live just fine without them for extended periods of time (Just look at the last 6,000+ years). :)

  16. jules
    September 9th, 2007 | 02:46

    if thats a crime then we in big trouble…

  17. the flux
    September 9th, 2007 | 02:58

    The last two lines disturbed me the most… The rest.. well.. shitty.

    And yeah.. get that image that is being loaded on this rlslog.net server. Instead of leeching it from a home server with too little bandwidth.

  18. Thingy
    September 9th, 2007 | 03:13

    I don’t think the problem here is if he should just suck it up or be “stranded” without internet. It’s the fact that the government is FORCING someone to use what they say to just so they can monitor a persons activities.

    Now while this is a huge grey area because the guy is convicted of a crime, but you have to think about it. Like I said before and Dante (Post #8) agreed with; this could be the beginning of the government using something like this to force EVERYONE into using a OS just so they can monitor what happens, thus taking away the last freedom we have in this world.

  19. Phormula
    September 9th, 2007 | 03:20

    @#19Thingy
    Exactly…
    Everyone here should be paying attention to this.

  20. crime&punishment
    September 9th, 2007 | 03:28

    Thats the problem today, criminals have more rights than the ordinary joe. Dont want to do the time then dont do the crime. He deserves everything he gets

  21. Phormula
    September 9th, 2007 | 03:33

    damn #21, Think u on the wrong site…
    What’s wrong with people talking?
    How did you find this site?

  22. September 9th, 2007 | 03:49

    i will bet anyone here that 75% of all linux users are pirates.

    any takers?

  23. X
    September 9th, 2007 | 04:07

    i think the penguin’s legs are too long.

  24. September 9th, 2007 | 04:14

    I removed the image… I should of realized that the guy has a small server setup/ well im gonna convert to jpg and rlslog will host it now.

  25. Phormula
    September 9th, 2007 | 04:22

    Oh and #21,
    What you are saying is that the person is the criminal but the corporations are ordinary Joes. Whos rights should be protected above an individuals right to privacy??? That reeks of government spin.

  26. edwinerzz
    September 9th, 2007 | 04:23

    lol wats so great about linux for pirates wats wonrg with windows i have window xp media center edition and i take pirated stuff alot such as games software to hack my psp/xbox/ps2/ps3/wii/gamecube i dont se ethe deal and besides if they convict him shouldnt they covict all of us on dis site and otherzz it like aresting eveyr one who uses limwire forget about dis guy go catch sadam or whoever there looking for .

    ps who would u wont onn probation/jail him or some rapest/killer waste of tax payers money and time

  27. chubbrock
    September 9th, 2007 | 05:11

    Scott buddy i feel for u. Move to Canada. That shit u guys have going on in the States in utterly nonsense and a waste of everyone’s time.

  28. Jimbo
    September 9th, 2007 | 05:41

    What a fucking dumb cunt. As if you’d go to prison and get ass fucked by bikers over a fucking Star Wars movie LOL

    Dumb shit.

  29. September 9th, 2007 | 06:27

    I doubt government spyware would run properly under WINE… I’ve personally tried to run several types of spyware, viruses, and keyloggers under WINE with very little success. ^_^ Even run as root the limited access of a secure WINE setup makes such software useless.

    As far as his “punishment” goes, I’m kinda divided about how I feel about it all.

    One one side they should not force him to use an operating system just because their can’t be ported to Linux.
    On the other hand, if they agreed to work with him and port their shitware, I think it would be hazardous to the Linux community as a whole.

    It’s a tough situation to think through in a non-biased way.

  30. September 9th, 2007 | 07:05
  31. Wekke
    September 9th, 2007 | 07:08

    @ #26,
    Whos rights should be protected above an individuals right to privacy? Well the individual rights to privacy and piracy.

    The governments are there for a reason, to lead their country
    further in to the future safe and sound. But what are they really doing is misuse justice to get some people who robbed a film company of money and punish him for that.
    I think that justice would work better for the people
    if they would let rapist be rapped by horses,
    they would killers fight each other,
    psychos be psychiatrists for troubled government people,
    and then broadcast the hole thing on pay per view,
    they would get their taxes
    but put a killer or other convict who really done something to harm society in prison, living there on taxmoey, have 3 meals a day, a bed to sleep on. that is not giving that person a punishment but a better live.

    pls let the internet society alone, we do pay taxes and also pay for downloading to our internet provider each month.

  32. atlas
    September 9th, 2007 | 08:34

    One thing I don’t understand about people being banned from ( or monitored) from computers: What stops them from getting a laptop and accessing a wi-fi hotspot? Do cops follow him around?

  33. September 9th, 2007 | 08:41

    when you’re on probation you have to report where ever you go to your parole officer or else you get house arrest, i think that’s how it goes ?

  34. September 9th, 2007 | 08:53

    depends what the court decides is suitable MrX.

    this could happen to any P2P user.

  35. idomagic
    September 9th, 2007 | 09:46

    @ Roofy:
    Considering the fact that the absolute majority of linux software is open source and under GPL, and furthermore a lot of the linux machines are simply web servers, firewalls, corporate intranet servers, etc, I’d say your guess is probably way off.

    Sure a lot of music and movies will still be pirated, but at least linux users doesn’t have to illegally download and crack their OS and then probably a bunch of software for it.

  36. willywonka
    September 9th, 2007 | 10:50

    So does this mean that everyone who is running windows the government can watch exactly what you are doing

  37. Phormula
    September 9th, 2007 | 12:12

    @#38Willywonka
    yes.

  38. Sto12m
    September 9th, 2007 | 12:21

    ah ha ha ha if he’s really smart he’d use parallels so he can run both OS at the same time…he Can do all his stuff on ubuntu..but still have windows going

  39. Sto12m
    September 9th, 2007 | 12:24

    Wekke u should look up Net Neutrality that’s gonna blow yer mind

  40. YeahRight
    September 9th, 2007 | 14:02

    Whiny little moron. “They” didn’t give him two felonies, he did that to himself. Can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. He presumably knew what he was doing was a crime, either that or he’s severely mentally deficient, what did he think was going to happen if he got caught? They’d give him a hug and say “That’s okay, we understand.”?

    Given that he’s on probation this whole article is a sick joke. People on probation don’t get to dictate to the courts what they want to do, it’s vice versa. He either knows this and is just trying to get attention, or he’s an even bigger idiot than most pirates. Whilst on probation his choices are A) Use no computer, B) Use a computer as the government specifies and only as the government specifies, or C) Go back to jail.

    Sounds like he’ll be doing the latter one way or another soon anyway. Clearly he hasn’t yet figured out this whole “If you do things that are illegal and they catch you then you go to jail” thing yet.

  41. bill gates
    September 9th, 2007 | 14:39

    This is ridiculous. Why can’t the US Government write spyware for linux?

  42. the flux
    September 9th, 2007 | 14:57

    Uhmmm… Anyone think that monitoring should be illegal? Damn the government, they want total control of their populous, get the fuck out of our private world. Get a life, get criminals and stop protecting the richest companies in the world. GODDAMNIT~!!

  43. September 9th, 2007 | 21:02

    YeahRight: Wow you fail at life entirely. Here you are on a website that posts news about pirated movies, tv shows, and software… taking a stand FOR the arrest and prosecution of pirates… You ignorant fucking hypocrite. People like you keep letting our sad excuse for a government dictate our lives and soon all of your human rights will be gone.

  44. Sean
    September 9th, 2007 | 21:59

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you give up some rights when you plead guilty to a crime? He should be happy he’s even allowed to use a computer as most people that are convicted of a computer based crime aren’t even allowed that privilege.

  45. noddyx
    September 9th, 2007 | 23:02

    Using windows is prison x 2.

  46. September 9th, 2007 | 23:46

    Over 46 comments and the only one worth reading is #45 from hikaricore, truer words were seldom spoken…

    thanks for making this page worth reading

  47. crime&punishment
    September 10th, 2007 | 00:15

    @ Phormula:
    He lost his rights when he got caught breaking the law… As said this is an extension to his term in jail and Im sure he’d rather be at home than in a cell, so if the restrictions state he has to use windows so be it, if he dont like it, fuck off back to the cells.

  48. crime&punishment
    September 10th, 2007 | 00:18

    @ hikaricore:
    Cut the BS, the only reason peeps come here is to download pirated movies etc. Dont jump on the high horse and pretend your some sort of civil rights protestor, everyone using this site looses their rights if they get caught breaking the law… plain and simple dumb fuck. Trick is dont get caught.

  49. Rekrul
    September 11th, 2007 | 08:15

    Why don’t we just put the MPAA and RIAA in charge of the US?

  50. spiderpig
    September 11th, 2007 | 15:41

    Mr X, came across a good new tech story to post about,

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6987784.stm

    Cheers

  51. fair
    September 18th, 2007 | 07:37

    if you do not stand up for other individuals rights, yours gets taken away. That’s because if you really want rights, you must insure them not just for yourself, but everyone. Otherwise nobody else is going to stand up for your rights, when you don’t give a dam for theirs…

    it’s not about a single person even if found guilt of a crime. This action by the government is about your rights of choice, your freedom of liberty.

    The moment you allow the government to determine what software you use, what’s the difference when the government tells you what to think?

    Picking on this guy, saying he is a criminal, so he has no rights at all isn’t correct. The question is what sort of society do you want to create by standing up for what is right or allowing what is wrong to control you life…

    when you fail to demonstrate adequate concern for the freedom of others, you embolden and empower those who want to take yours away.

  52. cindy
    September 18th, 2007 | 07:38

    if you do not stand up for other individuals rights, yours gets taken away. That’s because if you really want rights, you must insure them not just for yourself, but everyone. Otherwise nobody else is going to stand up for your rights, when you don’t give a dam for theirs…

    it’s not about a single person even if found guilt of a crime. This action by the government is about your rights of choice, your freedom of liberty.

    The moment you allow the government to determine what software you use, what’s the difference when the government tells you what to think?

    when you fail to demonstrate adequate concern for the freedom of others, you embolden and empower those who want to take yours away.

  53. foreigner
    September 21st, 2007 | 04:32

    You all miss the point, he commited a felony and thus has given up many of his rights. I was convicted of computer crimes and could not even own or possess a computer system for 5 years. If he is allowed to own a computer he should be very thankful, not whine about the OS he has to run on it. I for one feel no pitty for him, and this comes from someone that has been in his shoes. (I too attempted to appeal the courts ruling that they could control my use of a computer and was told by the court that I could not whine when the courts took away my toys.) As a felon, many rights are taken away. Also, we all need to remember, HE made this deal with the court on his own free will to avoid a harsher sentence and now he wants it change?