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Submission + - Busted By The FBI: The Life Of An Elite Teen BitTorrent Uploader (

An anonymous reader writes: Releasers and torrent racers are the select few counted on by millions to bring the latest movies, music and video games to the wider Internet in record time. One such person, a 15-year-old school kid, eventually gained access to elite piracy sites and went on to become the top uploader on one of the world’s most famous BitTorrent trackers. But how did the buzz of the elite compare to being hunted down by a Patriot Act-empowered FBI?

In the early part of the last decade when they were still the innocent side of 15-years-old, one schoolfriend showed another an Iomega ZIP drive (right) full of ‘warez’ – games and software with a big fat zero written on their price tag.

Having never seen anything like it before, James (as we shall call him for now) became hooked, and quickly began to display a trait inherent in many addicted file-sharers.

“I simply couldn’t get enough,” he told TorrentFreak. “It was more fun downloading and sharing the stuff with all my friends then actually using it or playing the actual games.”

Having become inspired by these simple beginnings, James began chatting with other like-minded people on warez sites and ICQ, going on to share warez via PUBS, FTP-enabled servers conveniently left open by companies with more bandwidth than security sense.

Sharing files wasn’t a simple process back then and James took exception when Napster began dumbing down the process.

“We hated it, simply despised it because it made a mockery of the hard work we put in to obtain all these different warez,” he recalls.

But despite these early bad feelings towards Napster, the future would eventually see James become a facilitator of even easier ways of downloading. Not for just his friends, but for more than a hundred thousand people.

After working his way up to become one of the top members on the GraveyardFXP warez board, James says he became a moderator of DelusionalFXP. It was there, on their IRC channel, that he would meet people whose new project would suck him in and change his life forever. At some point along the line, ‘James’ became better known to his peers as StonyVision, and he was invited to join a new project being set up by, among others, a fellow pirate known as Sk0t.

Under Sk0t’s leadership, a torrent site called Elite Torrents was taking shape and preparing itself for an eventual membership of some 130,000 active users. It would also become the only US-based BitTorrent tracker ever to be busted by the FBI and ICE.

Elite Torrents

After he’d installed BitComet and began sharing content in February 2004, staff on Elite noticed something very appealing about StonyVision – his impressive upload capability. StonyVision told us he’d “followed instructions” on how to use two instead of the regular one modem his cable connection usually allowed, which gave him business-standard upload speeds. When you’re delivering content on BitTorrent, upload bandwidth is king, and Elite wanted some of Stony’s.

But as file-sharers are often heard to complain, you can never have enough bandwidth, so Stony acquired a 100mbit server at The Planet in Texas and began seeding his files from there. Once around 150 of Elite’s users had grabbed his latest release he’d begin releasing his next torrent, usually the very latest movies. His performance eventually meant that he became a member of staff, later going on to organize other Elite Torrents uploaders.

Of course, StonyVision needed content to share and he wasted no time in getting it directly from source – The Scene. He’d gained access to this elite network through his contacts at DelusionalFXP and ended up adding his own server to something called T.O.P. or “Tower of Power” – 53 dedicated 100mbit servers acting as a single giant RAID FTP piracy site. But still Stony needed more.

“At that point I was on four or five top sites, and my main interest was always movies. I loved movies and still do,” Stony explained. “Since my server was tied up I ended up renting two more, one to race with and another for seeding content on Elite Torrents.”

In common with his more old-school peers, Stony saw himself as something of a Robin Hood, “taking from the rich and giving to Average Joe”, and reveled in the positive feedback left by up to 130,000 Elite Torrents users.

But the environment in the United States had become increasingly unfriendly towards The Scene. The FBI and DoJ’s Operation Fastlink was underway and there was a growing fear that torrent sites would be targeted next. Stony sensed the tension and stepped down from the site’s staff around April 2005. He was 19-years-old – and too late.

Elite Torrents and its operators were already being watched and no amount of IP-address obfuscation would prove effective in hiding Stony or his fellow staffers on the site.

“Truth be told I did hide my IP and was the hardest one to find but [the FBI] used the Patriot Act and came up with an asinine amount of money lost to these companies and the movie industry and labeled me as a possible domestic terrorist who was conspiring to commit copyright infringement,” Stony explains.

“I woke up to banging on the door over and over, the dogs started barking. I got up thinking who’s the asshole banging on my door at 6am? Next thing I know there’s 10+ FBI agents in my house. I started laughing at first – I thought it was a joke – until the reality sunk in.”

It was 25th May 2005 and Operation D-Elite, which was to claim several admins and staff members at Elite Torrents, was underway.

“That was the day of days, I was in total and utter dismay and couldn’t even wrap my head around what had happened. I had no clue what was happening to the others. I lawyered up immediately which in itself is a funny story. I opened up the Yellow Pages, looked under ‘lawyer’ and there it was – an ad with a firm that had dealt with computer crime.

“I think I need a lawyer,” Stony told the gentleman on the other end who inquired “Why?”

“Well, the FBI had just raided my house along with a group they called ICE,” Stony responded.

A few awkward seconds of silence was followed by: “How fast can you get here?”

What came next was mountains of litigation and Stony being told to expect the worst – 5 years in prison. The pressure proved too much and Stony went off the rails, turning to alcohol.

In December 2006 he would learn his fate for the uploading of 53 movies, 6 pieces of software and 10 video games. The government demanded a prison sentence in order to deter others from infringement. To Stony’s huge relief, they didn’t get their way.

“Luckily for me I had the most liberal federal judge there was at the time. I was given a fine of $3,500, 6 months house arrest, community service and 3 years probation in which I was not allowed to touch a computer. I had somehow escaped doing time and the U.S attorney was furious.”

But despite avoiding prison, Stony says that he’s still paid a price.

“It’s been the bane of my existence and yet made me who I am. I continued on a self destructive path for quite some time doing crazy things, still working out, getting in bar fights. Truth be told I’ve been to hell and back, stared the devil in the face with its trillions of dollars of influence (RIAA, MPAA) and laughed and walked away.”

Stony says that confessing to a double felony on job applications hinders him, but the support of a new woman in his life has helped tremendously. So how are things today?

“I of course no longer pirate anything anymore as I’m sure I’m still on numerous watch lists. Its simply fun to look every now and again,” says Stony.

“My story isn’t one of inspiration but one of caution. It could happen to anyone out there. I know people are thinking ‘nah, not me’, but that’s what I thought too and now here we are.”

Stony told us that he recently got back online again with his own computer and was inspired by the huge anti-SOPA and PIPA campaigns.

“Thanks to everyone who spoke out on Internet blackout day. It really did give me goosebumps to see people finally stand up and be heard,” he concludes.


Submission + - Poland suspends ACTA bill ! (

Taco Cowboy writes: A wolf in sheep’s clothing – that’s how ACTA opponents have described the international copyright treaty. Thousands are to protest in Sweden on Saturday while in Poland the legislation has been suspended after attacks on government websites.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Friday that a wider discussion should be held before the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement comes into force. The talks should involve both Internet users and privacy protection agencies, Tusk added. Ratification of the document has been postponed pending the results of those talks.


Submission + - GNU/Linux Petition Featured on ( 3

An anonymous reader writes: I started a petition requesting that the U.S. government broaden their use of Free Software and Open Source software to save money. I deeply believe that this one step is PART of the solution to the problem of the crushing national debt that the United States is currently facing. There are of course many other reasons to support this initiative. From ethics to keeping the market competitive. Please take a moment to sign the petition. We only need 25,000 signatures to get the whitehouse to respond and there are millions of free software supporters out there.

Submission + - What is the morality of pirating an OS? ( 1

TechForensics writes: A recent query on a popular file sharing site asked simply, what percentage of operating system installations are pirated? One of the more lucid (and surely provocative) opinions held as follows. Have we ever really hashed this out on Slashdot? What are the rights of the people under a government that allows something close to “the 99 percent” to be crushed under the weight of favored corporations?

'In my view the people have the right of taxation in themselves, a right superior to the right of the government (which is only their representative) to tax. If the people, as a mass, feel corporate preferences leading to unreasonable accumulations of money and power (the RIAA and MPAA have influenced and nearly yoked us with international treaties), then the people have the right to tax these entities by setting aside a proportion of their profits by free distribution of their product. This is not even illegal in spirit, for the people have the right to change the laws, and on issues where the groundswell is overwhelming, have the moral right to nullify laws which time will inevitably erode to nothing. Now, the question was what percentage of OS installations are sanctioned by the manufacturer and how many not. That is impossible to know, particularly if we confine our interest to the US (because it is easy to see more people in China have pirated Windows than even *exist* in the United States). We do know, however, that Microsoft is one of the world's most profitable and powerful corporations, so in a sense we can answer the question by saying there are not enough "illegitimate" copies of their software in use to matter. Which is the same as saying an insignificant percentage, even if you and everyone you know have such copies.'

So – what do we really think? (Link to original source requires signup but post is quoted in full above.)


Submission + - Stirling Engines May Revolutionize Space Probes Power (

An anonymous reader writes: The stirling engine, an engine as well known for its lack of power as it is for its ability to run off almost no heat, might make a perfect companion for the stars in a post-plutonium world.

NASA scientists designed a prototype they called the Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator, that they can increase energy production by 4 times. The goal of the ASC project, which is funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, is to develop a highly efficient, low mass, reliable power convertor for future Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS). The high efficiency is a requirement for future missions in order to minimize the fuel needed...


Submission + - Microsoft Tries to Flip Worried Google Customers 1

theodp writes: It didn't rise to the level of Justified, but last week's public feud between Microsoft and Google over controversial changes to Google products — carried out in print ads and blog posts — was still entertaining. Microsoft kicked things off on Wednesday, warning that 'those changes, cloaked in language like 'transparency,' 'simplicity,' and 'consistency,' are really about one thing: making it easier for Google to connect the dots between everything you search, send, say or stream while using one of their services.' Not too surprisingly, Microsoft offered its own products as alternatives, prompting Google to cry foul. On Thursday, Microsoft dangled Hotmail and Office 365 as alternatives to Gmail and Google Apps, and took some humorous jabs at Google's free mail service by posting a Gmail Man spoof to YouTube. Friday brought a pitch for using IE9 and Bing to protect privacy. Microsoft VP Frank Shaw wrapped up the week's fun, saying: 'The overall theme we hit in our ads and here on this blog has been that while Google has one customer – its advertisers – we have many customers. Of course we have advertising customers, and we love them and are working to make sure we improve the advertising experience for you, and for them. But we think of YOU as our customer as well, customers for Office and Windows and Windows Azure and Bing and Internet Explorer and Hotmail and so on – and because we have a big view of who our customers are, we naturally make some different choices than Google does.'
The Internet

Submission + - Using "crowdsourcing" to design more accessible elections ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Election Assistance Commission is sponsoring an online, open innovation challenge to search for creative answers to the question: "How might we design an accessible election experience for everyone?"

The goal is to develop ideas for how to make elections more accessible to everyone, especially people with disabilities.

Here’s how the process works. We start by trying to better understand the problem. Over the next few weeks, anyone can help us research the issues and share their experiences. People are sharing stories, insights and examples of voting systems or experiences that might relate to elections and accessibility from other contexts (e.g. using an ATM).

In a few weeks, we’ll start focusing on brainstorming solutions. Along the way, there will be opportunities for feedback and to refine concepts and solutions.

This is a very innovative use of technology and we are eager to see the results. All of the ideas generated by this challenge will be made freely available to anyone who wants to implement them. For example, Los Angeles County elections officials will be following this challenge in their pursuit of a modern voting system. In L.A. County alone, your ideas during this challenge can help improve the voting experience for 4.5 million voters.

You can see the challenge here:


Submission + - Wozniak: I Wish My iPhone Did All The Things Andro

chrb writes: The Daily Beast reports that Android has received praise from an unexpected source — cofounder of Apple Steve Wozniak. Wozniak states that Siri is inferior to Android's voice recognition, and that Android has better GPS software, and has "more available". Woz recently visited the Google HQ to meet the staff and pick up a complementary Galaxy Nexus. But he still recommends the iPhone for "the ones who are already in the Mac world, because it's so compatible, and people who are just scared of computers altogether and don't want to use them."

Submission + - Unicode Character-of-Death crashes GTK apps on Win (

Olipro writes: A long-standing, but until yesterday undiscovered bug in GTK for Windows has revealed that any application using GTK (such as X-Chat, Pidgin and Wireshark to name but a few) can be made to crash if any non-BMP character is sent for display resulting in much malicious fun across IRC and IM networks. As yet, no word from the GTK devs has been heard.
Open Source

Submission + - Simon Phipps: Why we still need OSI (

ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes: In response to a comment on yesterday's blog, Simon Phipps writes about the old rivalry between Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative (OSI). "I have been (and in plenty of ways still am) a critic of OSI, as well as a firm supporter and advocate of the FSF. I believe OSI should be a member organisation with a representative leadership. ... But the OSI still plays a very important and relevant role in the world of software freedom." For instance: Licence approvals have become a much more onerous process, with the emphasis on avoiding creation of new licences, updating old or flawed ones and encouraging the retirement of redundant ones. It would be great to see the stewards of some of the (in retrospect) incorrectly approved licences ask for their retirement.

Submission + - Slackware 13.1 Released

bgeddy writes: Slacware 13.1 is released today. From the site : Yes, it's that time again! After many months of development and
careful testing, we are proud to announce the release of Slackware
version 13.1!

Submission + - Two Years Later, Apple Still Won't Fix Safari Hole (

itwbennett writes: In May 2008, Nitesh Dhanjani told Apple about a carpet bomb attack he was developing. At that time, Apple responded that 'it was more of an annoyance than anything else,' says Dhanjani. But shortly after Dhanjani went public with the flaw 'another security researcher showed how carpet bombing could be combined with another Windows attack to run unauthorized software on a Windows PC,' writes Robert McMillan in an article on ITworld. 'Apple then shipped a fix for Safari on Windows, but not for Safari on Mac OS X.' Noted Apple hacker Charlie Miller disagrees with Dhanjani's assertion that Apple should fix the flaw on both platforms, saying that Dhanjani's bug is not serious because there is no second Mac OS X bug that causes downloaded files to be executed. 'So basically, a Web site can start to download a bunch of files to your Downloads directory. This isn't an ideal situation, but then again, I don't see a lot of harm that comes from it,' said Miller. 'Especially, if the alternative is for the browser to nag me every time I want to download something.'
The Internet

Submission + - Portugal's Minister: downloading is culture's ally (

GreatBunzinni writes: Portugal's minister of science and higher education, Mariano Gago, while participating in The Internet Governance Forum,stated that unauthorized access to copyrighted works should be saw by the cultural industry as an ally instead of an enemy, claiming that it is a source of progress. Mariano Gago also commented that unauthorized access to copyrighted works has the desired ability to increase the product's value thanks to the increased exposure, citing pop music as an example and claiming that "Nowadays, thanks to the internet a band can attain unthinkable popularity levels that could then be capitalized through concerts and also increased sales of their works". He also criticized piracy's negative effects, stating that it "takes away from producers and artists the power to pursuit their capacity to create" and that "piracy illegally transfers to distributing companies the earnings owed to artists and producers".

Submission + - Toshiba's legal spyware! ( 1

NSN A392-99-964-5927 writes: Tonight a friend brought around his Toshiba Laptop complaining he was getting pop ups and unwanted issues regarding his internet browsing. I have been battling to uninstall all of this crap for the past 4 hours and it still does not want to remove itself despite every trick in the book to remove this damn phorming malware that is embedded in the chip. There is little I can do, As I write this, I am trying to clean the machine to the best of my ability.

Now it turns out having gone through all the "small print" "Terms and Conditions" when you buy a Toshiba Laptop, you are automatically "opted in". Is this just me being paranoid or is this a new way by advertisers to circumvent a loophole in the law, which strictly speaking means; if you want to buy a product based on it's quality, you are stuck with spyware in chips?

6 Curses = 1 Hexahex