United States v. LaMacchia

871 F. Supp. 535 (D. Mass. 1994)

David LaMacchia had an ironic sense of humor in naming his secret bulletin board Cynosure - the word means an object that serves as a focal point of attention and admiration. The name was a self-fulfilling prophecy, and LaMacchia was indicted on one count of wire fraud.

Unfortunately for the government, the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Dowling v. United States prevented a conviction for wire fraud for infringing copyrights. At the same time, because LaMacchia did not act for financial reasons, he could not be convicted of criminal copyright infringement. Therefore, the defendant escaped conviction.

Congress acted quickly to close the loophole and passed the No Electronic Theft (NET) Act in 1997. This bill changed the criminal infringement statute by dropping the requirement for financial motivation.

As a side note, one of the computer programs LaMacchia was accused of stealing was SimCity 2000, which now costs only $6.