FBI raid over HL2 source?

I don’t know if this is true or not, but apparently the FBI is on the case:


It’s been slashdotted, but I got through.

http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=93464&cid=8022955 - copy of the blog entry, on /.

That stuff where they seize your computer and you have no idea when you’ll get it back sucks bigtime. I thought the narrator was amazing calm about it; I’d have been fuming and videotaping.

Why would the FBI be raiding this group ? Did they trace an IP address to them ?

Is that missing something? It doesn’t say anything about HL2…

Is that missing something? It doesn’t say anything about HL2…[/quote]

if you read the linked warrant from the FBI (or whatever it is), it mentions Valve on pp 3 and 4 (if I recall correctly).

Be interesting to see how they ended up on this guy.

"Answers to a couple of questions:

I didn’t go to Michigan, I went to the University of Idaho, way up in northern Idaho, full of hippies (of which I was one), rednecks, survivalists, etc. Moscow was an interesting town.

And yup, they suspect I had something to do with the theft of the half life 2 code. They are of course smoking some fine, fine crack there.

Posted by: toshok at January 16, 2004 10:48 PM

… it’s in the initial blog - about (<----------> ) that far down.

From the Slashdot bit I read the guy doesn’t seem all that worried about it. But what’s really funny is that I’m sure he has at least some illicit material on one of his many computers, whether it’s huge directories of warez, or just a crapload of MP3’s and movies.

… but doesn’t everyone?
Really, the FBi could just about walk into any home with a computer in america with a warrent that says “you have MP3s” and they’d be busted.

But they don’t have the manpower to really do anything about that. So if he does have non-HL2 pirated files it’s up to whether or not the SS goes for it as a consolation prize while they’re at it.

Well, sure, but you gotta wonder about a guy with NINE computers, all of which were seized.

A lawyer could answer this with any certainty, but as I understand it, unless they get another warrant, or if the one they got was pretty far-reaching and generic, they can’t do anything about warez or MP3s found on the machine.

Being able to do prosecute and getting the machines back in the next 10 years are two different things unfortunately. Sucks to be that guy.

Unfortunately no. If FBI agents are looking somewhere the warrant allows them to look and they discover evidence of an unrelated crime, that evidence can be lawfully seized and used against the owner (it’s called the “plain view doctrine”: evidence found in plain view by an officer who is somewhere he or she may lawfully be may be seized). So the only way they’d be prohibited from using evidence found in your computer would be if the warrant somehow didn’t include the computer (e.g., warrant is limited to the house’s garage, warrant specifies a search for objects that could not be contained in a computer, such as weapons). I haven’t read the underlying warrant and affidavit (which I guess are linked above), but if the FBI has a warrant to seize and search the computers to look for HL2 code, and instead (or in addition) they find pirated music or kiddie porn or whatever, they can seize that evidence. In the specific case of MP3s, I actually don’t know whether that’s a crime or just a civil wrong, so maybe there wouldn’t be any effect anyway.

Ah, cool. Thanks for the clarification.

In the specific case of MP3s, I actually don’t know whether that’s a crime or just a civil wrong, so maybe there wouldn’t be any effect anyway.

My understanding (not being a lawyer-type) is that possession of .mp3s in and of itself is not a crime – he could just as easily have ripped them from CDs he owns himself, for any number of reasons, and been within his rights (as I understand them) as the owner of a CD. Granted, if he can’t actually produce the originals, that’s a tougher situation…

But, as far as I understand it, the possession of an .mp3 is not a crime, it’s the method used to obtain it, which is more difficult to prove, one way or the other. (“I ripped all these CDs to my hard drive in case the CDs got damaged, and then they were destroyed in a fire/they were stolen/my dog ate them.”)

Rywill, isn’t it possible that the “plain view” takes on a vastly different meaning when it comes to a hard drive? If they first did a search on file names/types that would be obvious indicators of HL2 source and found all the “stolen files”, wouldn’t that end the warrent’s reach? I mean, C:\WareZ is plain view, but “C:\Program Files\Morpheus\My Shared Folder\Puff Daddy” isn’t.

I’d say the FBI would scan the entire HD anyway so pretty much all of its contents is in “plain view”.

I dunno, but I tend to doubt it. I haven’t done any research on it and can’t recall any cases I’ve had where this argument would have come up. It’s a decent argument; I’d at least look into it if it were my case. But my strong instinct is that a court is going to say that officers can look through the whole hard drive. After all, there’s nothing that says the files have to be in C:\STOLEN HL2 CODE. So the agents can legitimately look in My Music or whatever in case evidence is hidden there.

Your other thought (“What if they’ve already found all the files?”) is an even better argument, but still probably wouldn’t win the day. Generally once the object of a search has been found, the search has to stop. But most warrants are drawn up saying that the agents are looking for “any evidence of X,” rather than “Items A, B and C,” so the agents can probably look through the whole drive on the theory that there might be additional evidence there (even if they find all the HL2 source files, and know they’ve found them all–which I imagine would itself be tricky to prove–they can still look because they might find other evidence related to this crime, such as documents, emails, logs, files tagged for deletion, etc.).

So are they just looking for the code thieves? I mean, I am in CGW saying I have a copy of the game?