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Fund to Ensure Capable Defense for LaMacchia, Not Assess Guilt

The Tech is wrong to suggest that those raising funds for the defense of David M. LaMacchia '94 "should carefully consider whether he broke any laws before rallying to his defense," ["Software Piracy A Serious Crime", April 15].

Whether LaMacchia is innocent or guilty of wrongdoing, it is important for reasons of fairness and legal precedent that he have a capable defense. I do not defend software piracy, nor do I state that he was unaware that his system was used to copy software.

But LaMacchia is not accused of software piracy. He is accused of wire fraud, under a statute ill-matched to the alleged misconduct. Should the prosecution succeed in broadening the definition of wire fraud to the activities of which he is accused, the wire fraud statute might also be used to prosecute relatively less harmful activities.

Such a statute may also be used to hold system administrators liable for activities they know little about, compelling them to intrude upon the privacy of their users in order to police their behavior.

The U.S. Attorney's Office will no doubt seek the widest possible interpretation of the law. If LaMacchia cannot afford capable defense counsel, more than his interests will suffer. Unrepresented in court, the rights to privacy, due process of law, and freedom of expression will also be jeopardized.

Lars Bader G