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Old July 30th, 2009
BlindAlley BlindAlley is offline
Join Date: July 27th, 2009
Location: South of the Mason-Dixon Line
Posts: 12
BlindAlley is flying high

Lord of the Rings,

I myself am deeply involved in downloading and analyzing the virus-infected files that seem to proliferate all over the P2P networks. I get the file, have it analyzed by (multiple virus scanners), and then create a Bitzi ticket for it so that anyone with sense enough to right-click on the file's name in their search results can be forewarned about its contents. This is one of the several things I do to try to help P2P users be safer.

I have not bothered myself to go see what the legalities of deliberately sharing viruses might be in the country where I live, the U.S.A. I simply assume that it's illegal.

One of the legal questions I've pondered, not being an attorney myself, is whether a Trojan-downloader is itself considered a virus under U.S. law. Please let me explain what I mean. A Trojan-downloader is not the same thing as a virus.

Many of the files I test contain what I and many virus scanners consider to be an "infection," but the infection itself is not harmful to anyone's computer. This Trojan-downloader itself will not hurt you provided you don't open the media file that contains it (music, movies, etc.). If you do play the media file using Windows Media Player (or perhaps the other player you like), the URLANDEXIT instruction within the media file will open your web browser and take it to a web site that you didn't ask for. That web site will then start downloading real viruses to your computer.

So I wonder whether this sort of Trojan-downloader is considered illegal under U.S. law, or whether the actually harmful virus has to be downloaded before it is considered to be illegal.

You wouldn't happen to know, would you?

And if I could prove that a particular web site hosted in the U.S. was downloading harmful viruses to unsuspecting users, to which law-enforcement agency would I report this? Let us reasonably assume that it would be interstate, and therefore a federal offense.

Let us also assume that I could provide IP numbers, dates, times, and all the other details needed to prove the offense. Would I be setting myself up for a big fat sting by the recording industry? I worry that these people have so many millions of dollars that even with incontrovertible proof, I'd end up losing and maybe put into prison.

I know you don't have the answers, but maybe now you know who I am and how I feel about it all.

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