Your comparison to HSBC fails because (1) HSBC was not specifically set up to facilitate money laundering and other criminal activity, and (2) the vast majority of HSBC's business is not in support of criminal activity.
It's more than that. Taxation is theft. Theft is taking of property against the will of the owner of that property. If it is your will to give this property to the state you may volunteer it; if it is not your will they *will* take it and if you refuse you will go to prison or face violence. This is clearly theft, at the point of a gun.
It's not theft because the money they are taking is not your property. Ben Franklin explained it well in his letter to Robert Morris on Christmas, 1783:
The Remissness of our People in Paying Taxes is highly blameable; the Unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see, in some Resolutions of Town Meetings, a Remonstrance against giving Congress a Power to take, as they call it, the People's Money out of their Pockets, tho' only to pay the Interest and Principal of Debts duly contracted. They seem to mistake the Point. Money, justly due from the People, is their Creditors' Money, and no longer the Money of the People, who, if they withold it, should be compell'd to pay by some Law.
All Property, indeed, except the Savage's temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.
Correct. Statutory damages are a minimum of $750 per song. (They can be lowered to $250 per song if the defendant proves that the infringement was innocent, which basically means proving that the defendant had no reason to believe that the material was copyrighted, which had no chance whatsoever of happening here). So, 24 songs times $750 per song is $18000. That's enough to make their point.
Thomas was a compete idiot for not taking the settlement. She knew she was guilty. She knew they had overwhelming proof. Since the minimum possible damages after losing the suit would be $18000 (hell, even if she could somehow get the lower innocent infringer rate of $250 song it would still be $6000 for 24 songs), she could only worsen her position by going to trial.
According to Ars, the average settlement offered by the RIAA is $3000 plus a written statement by the accused saying that they will not do it again (and probably a confession). That sounds reasonable next to the fines that Thomas-Rasset has been saddled with, but $3000 for $24 worth of music is still outrageous.
It was way more than $24 worth of music. This settlement offer was for all the songs she was sharing, which was around 1700 songs. When she refused and insisted that they take her to court, they only picked 24 songs to actually sue over, since there is no point whatsoever in suing over all 1700.
And even if she was able to swallow that, the written statement that they demand would put you at the RIAA's mercy if they decided to come after you again. It's no wonder that she fought this.
They would not have had grounds to come after again, assuming that she refrained from future file sharing.
The RIAA offered to settle for around $2 to $3 per song shared, and she refused.
The day before sentencing, he did an AMA on Reddit, and in that he said that he was sorry that he did not do more harm, and said the next time he will do much more harm.
The prosecutors saw this and brought it up at the sentencing hearing, and it is likely a factor in why he got a relatively long sentence.
Tell that to the people who were working anonymously in places like Iran to try to work for human rights, who depended on that anonymity to avoid arrest, torture, or worse at the hands of their government's security forces. They probably don't see very much heroic in releasing their names.
Tell that to Afghan civilians who did things that the Taliban opposes (like treating women as humans). US forces would make sure to keep an eye on those people during patrols, in case the Taliban found out what the civilians were doing and targeted them. Reports from those patrols included names, address, and GPS coordinates--and Manning leaked those reports.
No one will ever likely be able to prove that the leaks got any of those people killed, because any particular civilian the Taliban targets, or any particular human rights activist in Iran who gets taken away by the government, could have been found out by means other than the leaks. However, the odds are high that some have died from the leaks.
The sentences reported in press releases when someone is indicted are derived by adding up for each charge the maximum sentence that it is possible for anyone to get for that charge, and then that total is reported. That is nowhere near what the person actually faces in almost every case. There are three things under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that greatly reduce the sentence they actually face.
First, the maximum sentence for a given count is only possible for the most severe instances of that kind of violation.
Second, priory convictions are taken into account. To get the maximum sentence, you have to pretty much be a career criminal.
Finally, felonies are divided into groups. If you are charged with multiple felonies from the same group for the same underlying acts, you will only be sentenced for one of the felonies in the group.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are non-binding, so it is possible for a judge to sentence someone to more than the guidelines call for, but such sentences are almost always reduced on appeal to something in accord with the Guidelines. I've not seen anything in the Sabu case that would make it an exception to this.
It's pretty clear from many of the top voted comments that most people here have no clue what Swartz was actually doing. On the off chance that some people might want to base discussion on facts, here's a nice post by a law professor who has worked, for both defense and prosecution, on these kind of cases, covering what Swartz was actually alleged to have done and analyzing the charges.
Don't assume some random Slashdot submitter's summary is accurate. According to the actual court documents, the badge they offered to let her use had the chip and electronic components removed. leaving just the empty shell.
You can't directly tie the leaks to any particular case of harm for the same reason that you can't tie cigarette smoking to any particular lung cancer death of a smoker. You can, however, determine that the chances are very high that smoking has killed people--you just can't name any particular individual.
It's the same situation with the leaks. The Taliban has a long history of seeking out and killing people that they suspect are informants. When some random informant is killed, we have no idea how the Taliban got information on that informant. It's possible the Taliban decided to go completely against all of their past behavior, and decide to not target any of the leaked informants unless they found independent corroborating evidence--and that is about as likely as every lung cancer death of a smoker being due to causes unrelated to their smoking.
They offered to settle for what worked out to around $2 or so per song shared (note: she was sharing around a couple thousand songs--the trial only concerned 24 for technical and practical reasons). That's a lot less than someone would normally pay for a license to redistribute songs to an arbitrary number of untracked people for a flat rate. Note also that even though they only sued over a small fraction of the songs she was sharing, the minimum possible statutory damages would be quite a bit larger than the settlement offer. She knew she was guilty, and should have known they could prove it, so should have jumped at such a reasonable offer.
Then, after she stupidly decided to fight, and lost, and got caught tampering with evidence and perjuring herself (things that do not endear one to a jury--the same jury that will be deciding the damages), and got hit with damages much larger than the settlement offer, the RIAA again offered to settle, again for a reasonable amount. Again she refused, got another trial, lost again, and that jury went for an even bigger amount of damages.
I believe there was a third settlement offer after that.
I question the ethics of her lawyer. I think he's putting satisfying his legal fantasy of winning a stunning case at the Supreme Court ahead of his client's best interests.
She owes about $24.
That's ridiculous. If the punishment for an illegal act is simply what it would have cost to do the act in the first place, then there is no reason to ever do the act legally. Doing it illegally always has a better expected outcome than doing it legally.
Furthermore, you didn't even calculate the costs correctly under your flawed model. $24 would be the cost to legally download 24 songs for personal listening. The cost for a license to legally download 24 songs and redistribute them to an arbitrary number of strangers for no addition fees and with no tracking or reporting requirements would be a lot more than $1/song.
It was designed to find potential infringement on consumer-oriented sharing services where people can sign up and post or stream video without any screening beforehand. On such services, the fast majority of videos that get caught will in fact be blatant infringement, not fair use.
There are two ways to stream on UStream and avoid the risk of a false positive. First, you can use the paid service, instead of the ad-supported service. They assume that people who are actually paying are probably not pirates, and disable the automated copyright checking. Second, if you are using the ad-supported service you can notify them in advance of broadcasts of this kind and they will disable the checking. The organizers of the Hugo ceremony did not do this.