FBI raids major Ohio computer bulletin board

The Federation Bureau of Investigation on Saturday, Jan. 30, 1993, raided

"Rusty & Edie's," a computer bulletin board located in Boardman, Ohio,

which has allegedly been illegally distributing copyrighted software

programs. Seized in the raid on the Rusty & Edie's bulletin board were

computers, hard disk drives and telecommunications equipment, as well as

financial and subscriber records. For the past several months, the Software

Publishers Association ("SPA") has been working with the FBI in

investigating the Rusty & Edie's bulletin board, and as part of that

investigation has downloaded numerous copyrighted business and

entertainment programs from the board.


The SPA investigation was initiated following the receipt of complaints

from a number of SPA members that their software was being illegally

distributed on the Rusty & Edie's BBS. The Rusty & Edie's bulletin board

was one of the largest private bulletin boards in the country. It had 124

nodes available to callers and over 14,000 subscribers throughout the

United States and several foreign countries. To date, the board has logged

in excess of 3.4 million phone calls, with new calls coming in at the rate

of over 4,000 per day. It was established in 1987 and had expanded to

include over 19 gigabytes of storage housing over 100,000 files available

to subscribers for downloading. It had paid subscribers throughout the

United States and several foreign countries, including Canada, Luxembourg,

France, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United



A computer bulletin board allows personal computer users to access a host

computer by a modem-equipped telephone to exchange information, including

messages, files, and computer programs. The systems operator (Sysop) is

generally responsible for the operation of the bulletin board and

determines who is allowed to access the bulletin board and under what

conditions. For a fee of $89.00 per year, subscribers to the Rusty & Edie's

bulletin board were given access to the board's contents including many

popular copyrighted business and entertainment packages. Subscribers could

"download" or receive these files for use on their own computers without

having to pay the copyrighted owner anything for them.


"The SPA applauds the FBI's action today," said Ilene Rosenthal, general

counsel for the SPA. "This shows that the FBI recognizes the harm that

theft of intellectual property causes to one of the U.S.'s most vibrant

industries. It clearly demonstrates a trend that the government understands

the seriousness of software piracy." The SPA is actively working with the

FBI in the investigation of computer bulletin boards, and similar raids on

other boards are expected shortly. Whether it's copied from a program

purchased at a neighborhood computer store or downloaded from a bulletin

board thousands of miles away, pirated software adds to the cost of

computing. According to the SPA, in 1991, the software industry lost $1.2

billion in the U.S. alone. Losses internationally are several billion

dollars more.


"Many people may not realize that software pirates cause prices to be

higher, in part, to make up for publisher losses from piracy," says Ken

Wasch, executive director of the SPA. In addition, they ruin the

reputation of the hundreds of legitimate bulletin boards that serve an

important function for computer users." The Software Publishers Association

is the principal trade association of the personal computer software

industry. It's over 1,000 members represent the leading publishers in the

business, consumer and education software markets. The SPA has offices in

Washington DC, and Paris, France.



CONTACT: Software Publishers Association, Washington

Ilene Rosenthal, 202/452-1600 Ext. 318

Terri Childs, 202/452-1600 Ext. 320