Bernardo Parrella on Fri, 28 Feb 97 21:48 MET

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Giovanni Pugliese, co-founder and current secretary of Peacelink
Association, has been sentenced to three months of jail for "illegally
owned, copied, and distributed software." The news, arrived at his home by
snail mail on February 25, is the unexpected follow-up to the May-June 1994
crackdown against more than a hundred Fidonet BBSs. Quickly known as
"Fidobust," the world's largest raid against local BBSs was aimed to stop
"software piracy" throughout the country. Its several investigative
branches led however to the arrest of a couple of well-organized "pirates"
while in the related investigation, downplayed also due to the attention of
public opinion and media worldwide, most of the charges were dropped and/or
came to terms with those allegedly guilty. The operation decimated the
local BBS scene: most Fido sysops were never been able to recover the
damages suffered.

In this scenario, on June 3, 1994, custom police officials searched and
seized Peacelink BBS PC, owned and run by Giovanni Pugliese in his home
nearby Taranto. After a few days, the network was again up and running, but
the investigation had to follow its own way in compliance with the 1992
anti-piracy legislation. Amost three years later Giovanni Pugliese found
himself unmistakebly "guilty": he was using on his PC an unregistered copy
of MS Word, according to the sentence. That software however was not
included in the Peacelink BBS files and for the Italian law any personal
use of unregistered software can only be punished with a modest fine.

Why three months in jail, then? And why the valuation has been conducted by
an "audio technician" instead of a CMC expert, as Giovanni claims? Why both
the defendant and his lawyer have never been informed or questioned about
such a prosecution underway?

"Someone tried to silence Peacelink three years ago, and it didn't work.
Today here they are again -- to no avail." Giovanni Pugliese said. "I won't
(and can't) pay a dime for a crime I didn't committed. There is no evidence
whatsoever about anything. Our network is stronger than ever and we are
ready to go all the way through until this absurdity until will be fully

To avoid jail terms, Peacelink coordinator should pay around 3.000.000 It.
lira (US $ 2,000), but in any case he must pay a fine of 500.000 It. lira
(US $ 300) and more than 9.000.000 It. lira (US $ 5,500) for judicial
expenses. According to Giovanni's attorney, this scenario seems to suggest
that local prosecutors are inviting to a plea bargain in order to archive
the case. While supportive messages are flooding Peacelink mailbox, the
appeal has already been filed:  next move to local authorities.

Founded in December 1992 as a local BBS by Alessandro Marescotti and
Giovanni Pugliese, Peacelink Association network has currently more than 70
nodes all along Italy, and hosts about 30 conferences and several mailing
lists on pacifism, ecology, anti-Mafia, human rights issues. As a
non-profit and self-sustained organization, Peacelink is currently involved
in several campaigns about solidiarity actions in Italy and in Africa as
well. Last year the Association produced a successful book ("Telematica per
la pace") and finally has its own server up and running:

To contact Giovanni Pugliese: <>

For more information about his case (in Italian):

Bernardo Parrella


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