Paul Schmehl pauls at
Wed Jan 23 20:41:32 PST 2008

--On Wednesday, January 23, 2008 6:29 PM -0800 Ted Mittelstaedt 
<tedm at> wrote:
>> He disobeyed a court order.  That makes him a criminal.
> Only if the court in question has jurisdiction over him.  The US
> courts found in favor of an anti-trust lawsuit against DeBeers
> around 20 years ago I think it was and the DeBeers family finally
> decided it was too much of a nuisance to avoid travelling into the US
> so they settled for some paltry 300 million this year (if you have
> ever bought a diamond and you still have the receipt you can
> get some settlement money)
> Did the US court have jurisdiction over a corporation that has no
> footprint in the US?  They thought they did.  DeBeers didn't.  What
> do you think?

Doesn't matter.  In the US, they were in violation of the law.

> How would you like it if some kangaroo court in Iran issued a judgement
> against you?  Would you consider yourself a criminal?

In Iran?  Yes.

>>  Whether
>> what he was
>> trying to do was "right" or not is irrelevant.
> Absolutely untrue.  It is at the heart of the issue.

Absolutely not.  Right or wrong is irrelevant in a court of law.

>   Once the court
>> told him to
>> stop, he should have stopped.
> No.  Once ALL AVENUES of appeal are exhausted AND a judgement was
> found against him, only then if he disobeys the final court order
> then can he be considered a criminal.

If you get a TRO *during* a trial, and you violate the terms of the TRO, 
then you are a criminal by definition.  The outcome of the case is 
> And good people often forget that courts are nothing more than another
> arm of the government, and quite often the solutions that come out
> of them are a result of political negotiation and compromise - exactly
> the same way that the legislative arm solves problems.

They *should* never be.

> You should read some history, there's been a lot of bad law that
> has been overturned.  It never would have happened if people like
> Rosa Parks hadn't "committed criminal acts" from your viewpoint,
> and ignored court-supported orders and laws.

I totally agree, however, Rosa Parks *did* violate the law and *was* a 
criminal by definition.

> You cannot sit there and say that just because someone is a
> criminal they are bad.

I never said anything about bad.  It isn't a moral judgement.  It's a legal 

  Nor can you say that just because someone
> is not a criminal that they are good.  Look no further than the
> current occupant of the White House for that.  What is criminal
> in a good society is defined by what is "wrong"

No, what is criminal in a good society is when you violate the law. 
Whether or not the law is "good" is irrelevant.

  Sadly, that
> does not always happen.
> If you buy a DVD and make a copy for your own use according to
> DMCA you are a criminal. However if you buy a videotape of the
> same movie and make a copy for your own use you are not a criminal.
> Clearly, both actions are morally "right"  They are almost the same
> action in fact.  But one is illegal the other isn't.  Can't you
> see here that the problem isn't the action but the law?

Of course, however, if you copy the DVD you have violated the law and by 
definition you are a criminal.  Now, you may decide your actions are right, 
but you need to do that with the full knowledge that you *could* be found 
in violation of the law and you *could* go to jail.  To violate the law and 
then whine that it's unfair is childish.

> In this lawsuit, the worst you can say is that both parties,
> the spammer and the spamfighter, are in the wrong.  But I fail to
> see how the spammer can be "right" and the spamfighter is "wrong"

Didn't say he was wrong.  Just in violation of the law.

> You can, if you wish, argue the spammer is "legal" and the
> spamfigher is "illegal"  But, this simply illustrates that the
> law is bad - and for many people it is a moral duty to violate
> bad law.  And I for one, am very glad that they feel this way.

Again, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that *so long as* you are 
fully willing to suffer the consequences.  As with Rosa Parks, you may 
succeed in illustrating how unfair the law is and getting it changed, but 
you won't do it without paying a personal price.  Ignorance of the law is 
no excuse.

Paul Schmehl (pauls at
Senior Information Security Analyst
The University of Texas at Dallas

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