Battelle Energy Alliance LLC v. Southfork Sec. Inc.
By Corey Omer — Edited by Abhilasha Nautiyal
Battelle Energy Alliance LLC v. Southfork Sec. Inc., No. 4:13-cv-00442-BLW (D. Idaho Oct. 15, 2013).
Court Order, hosted by DocumentCloud
Last month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho issued a rare ex parte temporary restraining order (“TRO”) against a software developer, Corey Thuen, his company and 10 Does, enjoining them from releasing software code as open source and ordering that Thuen’s computer be seized and its contents copied. Battelle Energy Alliance LLC v. Southfork Sec. Inc., No. 4:13-cv-00442-BLW (D. Idaho Oct. 15, 2013) (“Battelle Energy”).
What made this case one of the “very few circumstances justifying the issuance of an ex parte TRO”? Reno Air Racing Ass’n, Inc. v. McCord, 452 F.3d 1126, 1131 (9th Cir. 2006). The determinative consideration for the court was that Thuen is a self-described “hacker”. His company, Southfork — which is in the business of testing system security for its clients by “hacking” their systems and exposing weaknesses — states on its website, “[w]e like hacking things and we don’t want to stop.” Battelle Energy at 4. Judge Lynn Winmill reasoned that because Thuen was a “hacker” — and therefore had “the necessary computer skills and intent to simultaneously release the code publicly and conceal [his] role in that act” — the ex parte seizure order was justified. Id. at 12.
The Complaint, Court Order, and Thuen’s Declaration provide an overview of the case. Tim Cushing of TechDirt criticizes the complaint, and the resulting decision, as submitting to two government propagated fallacies: first, that “open source is dangerous,” and, second, that all “hackers are bad”. ComputerWorld and TechNewsWorld also feature thorough analyses of the decision. (more…)