Archive for February, 2011

Archive for February, 2011

Dystoparx — Part 10

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Accused Infringer Disappeared

As you know, the EFF has been closely watching a Canadian court case connected to attempts to criminalise copyright infringement. As of today, the defendant in that case, Doug Bradley, has disappeared. Authorities are working to track him down but have so far been unsuccessful. This does not bode well for the eventual success of the defence, and the plaintiff is already running a media campaign to smear Bradley as a “runner”.

The case has been stalled until Bradley can be located.

Bill is pacing nervously in his office. He may not seem like the nervous type, but he is realising that given the right situation everyone is the nervous type.


Bill does not love politics, never has. Politics are something that has to get handled if you want to stop criminals. Someone else’s job. Now that he is head of something, politics has become part of his job.

The Network.

Bill calls his operation “The Network”. This may evidence a misunderstanding of what those words mean, but no one is going to tell him that. He’s been largely frustrated by their slow progress. Now that he has gotten both international parters and a political lobby involved, the whole situation has become more political.


The FBI called earlier. They found trace of a child rapist. Emailed his mother. Everyone has a weakness. Everyone leaves fingerprints. Bill has his team working hard to decide what parts of the data stream are likely to contain more of what they need to find and nail this rapist. The FBI are working on the details.

The lobby called earlier. They’re having a bit of trouble with their current court case, want to know if he’ll do them a favour. Who knows what they want. He just wants them to do their thing and let him do what he does best: catch bad guys.

Bill’s phone is in his hand. Did he pick it up? Must have. He hears the sound of the remote end ringing. Did he dial? Must have. The FBI answers. Since he’s got them on the line: how is the search going on their end? They’ve identified a location where the rapist was recently. A team is moving in now. Why didn’t Bill know this? His team can stop for now.

He is going to catch a plane.

Acklas is out running. Again. He never seems to make it far past the old woman’s house. Isn’t exercising supposed to get easier with the doing of it?

“So, what’s up in the world today?” She’s peering at him over her glasses.

Acklas wracks his brain for something interesting to say. He knows there are interesting things going on, but none come to mind.

“Not much.”

“Oh. You always say that.” She doesn’t seem upset.

“Yeah,” he pants, “What’s up with you?”

“Same old.” She pauses for a moment, then remembers something, “Oh! My grandson is coming up soon. You’d like him, he’s into computers.”

Acklas rolls his eyes. “Into computers” usually means “plays video games”.

“I see that,” she clucks, “You young things all think I don’t see it when you think I’m crazy, but I do. I may be old, but I’m not stupid.”

Acklas smiles, “I wouldn’t even dream of calling you stupid.”

“You say that now. They always say that now…” The old woman looks wistful. When it becomes apparent that she has nothing more to say, Acklas runs on.

18:02 <nicnus> We’ve launched the first version of our product. Let me know if you’re interested.

18:04 <nicnus> It’s getting a semi-good response so far. Mostly from geeky small business.

18:04 <nicnus> Which makes sense.

19:01 <nicnus> We’ve just had a request come in to build a module that will work properly on a Ham packet radio system.

19:01 <nicnus> … wonder who is running packet radio still

Jack is not responding. He’s seen the messages, but he doesn’t really feel like responding.

He isn’t depressed, per se. Emotional turmoil does not have to be depression. This feels more like a deep-seated confusion with a garnish of hurt. He goes over the events that lead to this in his mind, trying to determine what happened. Then he shuts his mind off, allowing the music from his computer to draw his mind away from reality. Repeat.

She left. Would she be back? She had indicated that she would not be. Was he to take this indication at face value, or was he meant to interpret it in some way?

Nicnus had to deal with something like this recently. That situation had sounded like there may be a maturity problem, though. Jack is pretty sure that is not the case here. He had offended her deeply. How?


It wouldn’t make sense for this to be a sudden decision. He hadn’t done a single big thing to offend her. Such a huge reaction to a single event would definitely be a maturity problem. Maybe. Usually, anyway. There must have been something he consistently sucked at. A driven wedge that slowly crawled deeper as he continued to fail at…


19:55 <nicnus> What do you think about Bradley? It seems strange that he would just disappear like that.

Jack’s girlfriend is not sitting alone. She is not puzzling out her life. She’s doing what she always does when she is upset: talking it out with her best friend.

She’s frustrated, upset, angry. Her sentences barely make sense as they come tumbling out of her head. An emotional gush with the sort of force normally reserved for blind rage.

Her friend is surprisingly calm. All that raw emotion blasting her with an otherwise withering power does not seem to be a problem for her. The rush of incomprehensible babble that simply cannot be made sense of rushes past with decreasing coherence. Calm. Consoling.

Her friend is not a geek, nor is she a moron. This emotional display is not an attempt to communicate information, nor is it intended to seem nearly so directed at her. This is a release, and as a good friend she needs to be here to acknowledge the release. She makes comforting sounds, and periodically hugs her friend. That is all. That is exactly what is needed. Thoughts come later. Thoughts will be important in recovering this relationship. Actions will be essential to eventual repair. Not now. Right now the torrent of emotion is all that matters.

Jack’s girlfriend is not aware of any of this. She would be, if she were on the receiving end. Right now she is barely aware at all. She rides the path from raging anger to weeping sorrow over and over again. This is Jack’s fault, and yet he probably doesn’t even know what is going on. He’s probably sitting in his cave trying to puzzle it out. What a jerk. Why had she put up with him for so long?

The tears stop. The babbling slows. Her friend hands her tissues. She’s a mess. Time to clean up. No thoughts yet. Time for rest now. Thoughts tomorrow. Maybe.

“It’s not in your jurisdiction, the man was caught on US soil,” the FBI man seems to think this is obvious.

“My team was part of catching him! I just want to know about his activities in Canada. You know he had some.” Bill is standing in an office in DC. Normally, this would not be the way. There is a process. This is not it.

“There is a process. This is not it.” The FBI man seems to be reading his thoughts, “If we get any information relevant to your investigations, we’ll inform you.”

“Come on, just let me talk to him,” Bill really wants to be in on this. Desk work and data mining is all well and good, but only when it produces these kind of results. This is the real thing.

“I’m sorry, Bill, there are rules—”

Bill hisses, “Since when did we care about rules?”

The FBI man looks shocked. No, he doesn’t. It’s very clearly fake. He looks mock-shocked. His throat produces a mock-shocked voice. “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Bill can’t believe this. The Network. His baby. He always thinks of it as his. It was his idea. He got it rolling. Now, with some real results, he’s being shut out by process. This is why he had been so willing to take advantage of the data mining opportunity when he had seen it. Process. Process is ever the enemy of the lawman. Bill likes freedom and justice as much as anyone, but when the checks designed to protect those ideals prevent him from defending those ideals, well, then, he has no use for those checks anymore.

He leaves. No use in staying, the FBI man is not going to come around. Bill needs to step up efforts with the lobbyists. Maybe if he can help them out with their court case…

Our protagonist is very happy. His company is selling devices that he helped design; devices that he thinks are useful. The newest version of MusicBox came out today. It changed all the mechanisms used for spying on the user in an attempt to get around his “good virus”. Within hours, teams of people were working on determining the new ways that the product worked. Nicnus had not been involved at all. In fact, he had only found out about it much later in the day. By the time he knew there was a problem to be worked on, he had emails in his inbox with the code that would be needed to make it all work again. He merged all the changes into the codebase and redeployed the “virus”. By this time tomorrow, most computers around the world would be inoculated again.

He spends some time thinking about Doug Bradley. The court case may be slowed by this event, but it would not go away. This would just hurt the defence, which is not good when losing means copyright “criminals” going to jail.

19:55 <nicnus> What do you think about Bradley? It seems strange that he would just disappear like that.

Jack isn’t responding just now, but he’ll get the message later. Nicnus wonders what would have happened if his brother had gone to jail instead of being faced with a giant fee to pay. What about the hundreds of others who had been sued?

Then again, maybe such lunacy would be enough to wake up the society around him.