Scott McCausland (sk0t), the ex-administrator of the EliteTorrents BitTorrent tracker isn’t having much luck lately. Back in September 2006, he pleaded guilty to two charges – ‘conspiracy to commit copyright infringement’ and ‘criminal copyright infringement’. Both charges relate to him uploading ‘Star Wars: Episode III’ onto the internet hours before the theatrical release, earning him 5 months in jail and 5 months home confinement.
Sk0t has now been released from jail but this doesn’t mean that everything is back to normal.
Back on 17 July, sk0t had to see his Probation Officer for the first time and two days later he had to have a special ankle bracelet attached. This monitoring device is there to enforce the terms of his release: Monday to Friday 08:30 to 21:00 he is free to do as he pleases. Weekends are more restrictive – freedom is allocated between 08:30 to 17:00. The one good thing about this device is that it will be removed before Christmas (Dec 19th).
According to a post on his blog, following another meeting with his Probation Officer, it seems sk0t is having more trouble:
So, I am getting shafted by the Justice Department again…”
sk0t was informed by his Probation Officer that he has to have special software installed on his PC so that the government can monitor his online activities. However, what is a more bitter pill to swallow for him is that the monitoring software is Windows only and as sk0t is an Ubuntu user, the Justice Department is forcing him to switch operating systems.
I had a meeting with my probation officer today, and he told me that he has to install monitoring software onto my PC. No big deal to me, that is part of my sentence. However, their software doesnt support GNU/Linux (Which is what I use). So, he told me that if I want to use a computer, I would have to use an OS that the software can be installed on.
Sk0t is left with a tough choice. Give in to the evils of the monitoring software, format his hard drive and install Windows – or be barred from using a PC completely.
Sk0t told TorrentFreak: “I think that this whole situation is just one more way that they can impose their will onto me. I have contacted my attorney, and we are going to fight this. 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. It is just a ridiculous situation. Why should I conform to them when I am consenting to the software… they should have software that conforms to me.”
Unfortunately, thanks to the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, some BitTorrent users are considered criminals these days, which means these unusual measures can be forced upon them. In a society where ‘the punishment should fit the crime’, you can’t help but think that somewhere along the line there’s been a big miscalculation when regular citizens are turned into criminals for sharing files.