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Distributed Computing Project Politics

As with any field of science, especially new ones, distributed computing and people who run distributed computing projects can encounter political problems. This page lists current and past political situations around distributed computing projects and lists actions you can take to help defend distributed computing projects and users.

An important note: so that you don't end up as a story on this page, PLEASE get permission (preferably written) BEFORE you run any distributed computing project application on a computer that you don't own!

ProblemDate StartedDate ResolvedResolution
Free David McOwen!

David McOwen was a tech support engineer at a Georgia state college. Recently the state of Georgia charged him with a felony crime (with a prison term of up to 15 years) and is seeking damages of US$415,000 for his running the client on many of the school's computers. This is a punishment worse than a rapist would receive. The state calculates that the cost of the bandwith used by the client was $.59 per second and that he "stole" $415,000 worth of bandwidth from them by running the client without permission.

The current details of the situation are available here. The site also contains links to news articles and to ways you can help. The results of this situation will affect all of us and how we use computers available to us in our work environments for distributed computing projects. Legal precedents have not been set for this kind of situation, so we must get involved now to help shape them before the people who don't understand distributed computing do.

To help right now, please sign an online petition. And ask your friends to sign it.

July 8, 2001 currently unresolved currently unresolved