From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Jackson) Organization: Illuminati Online Subject: Secret Service Finally Pays SJ Games! Summary: Only four years after the raid :-) Keywords: cheap, blundering so-and-sos Date: 5 May 1994 17:53:49 -0500 PRESS RELEASE May 5, 1994 - For Immediate Release SECRET SERVICE PAYS DAMAGES TO STEVE JACKSON GAMES On March 1, 1990, agents of the US Secret Service invaded the offices of Steve Jackson Games, in Austin, Texas, in what became a landmark case for the rights of computer users. The agents seized several computers, including the company's BBS, and hundreds of computer disks. Among the files taken were several uncompleted books, including one that was about to go to the printer! The raid was carried out under a sealed warrant. It was eventually revealed that the Secret Service was investigating an imaginary "conspiracy" based on false information, and knew it had no grounds to suspect SJ Games of any crime, but had never even considered asking the company for its cooperation while planning the raid! On March 12, 1993, a federal judge ruled for Steve Jackson Games and its co-plaintiffs - Steve Jackson himself and three users of the Illuminati Bulletin Board - on two separate counts. Judge Sam Sparks ruled for SJ Games on the PPA (Privacy Protection Act), saying that the publisher's work product was unlawfully seized and held. Under the ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act), he ruled that the Secret Service had unlawfully read, disclosed and erased the computer messages on the BBS - despite their repeated denials that they had done any such thing. On a separate ECPA count, he ruled for the defendants, saying that taking the computer out the door was not an "interception" of the messages on it within the meaning of the law. That decision is now being appealed. Judge Sparks' opinion was harshly critical of the Secret Service's behavior before, during and after their raid, calling the affidavit and warrant preparation "simply sloppy and not carefully done." Now, more than a year later, the Secret Service has finally paid the judgment. The checks received today included $1,000 per plaintiff under the ECPA, plus about 3% interest since the judgment. Under the PPA, SJ Games received $52,431.50 for lost profits and direct costs of the raid. The government agreed to pay additional costs of the suit, originally borne by the EFF and the attorneys, adding another $252,405.54. Commented Jackson: "The heroes in this case are the people at the EFF and the attorneys who put it together - especially Sharon Beckman at Silverglate & Good, and Pete Kennedy at George, Donaldson and Ford. Without them, we never would have had our day in court. They made a big investment in justice. "As for us, we'll use our share to pay off old debts and buy new computers." Since the raid, Jackson's bulletin board service has grown hugely. Originally a one-line forum for game fans, it is now a full-scale Internet access service, specializing in helping newcomers learn their way around the Net. Doing business as "Illuminati Online," Jackson now serves over a thousand paying customers, with more signing up every day. "If not for the raid, I wouldn't have done it," he says. "It brought home to me how important the Internet is becoming. And even if we protect our legal right to be on the info highway, somebody has to teach people how to use it!" For more information, contact Steve Jackson at 512-447-7866.