Thursday, January 3, 2013

Smiert Programmy Spionem!

Buried in the hyperbole surrounding the fiscal cliff, on December 28, 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law the Trade Secrets Clarification Act of 2012.  The "TSCA" amended 18 U.S.C. §1832(a) (part of the Economic Espionage Act ("EEA")) in response to a federal appeals court decision in U.S. v. Aleynikov (2nd Cir. 2012), reversing a jury verdict that had found Sergey Aleynikov, a software programmer at Goldman Sachs, guilty of stealing source code from his employer.  Had the Second Circuit Court of Appeals not overturned the lower court decision, which had found Aleynikov guilty of violating both the National Stolen Property Act ("NSPA") and the EEA, the coder could have spent more than eight years in federal prison.  Instead, the appeals court ruled that software code is not equivalent to physical property susceptible of theft under the NSPA, nor was the specific code taken my Aleynikov "included in a product that is produced for or placed in" interstate or international commerce.  The TSCA is an attempt to remove the latter loophole by changing "included in a product that is produced for or placed in" into "a product or service used in or intended for use in".  Software spies beware!