Not that it matters now, since the State dropped the suit ( http://www.tacube.com/pages/mcowen.html ), but, technically (and admittedly sneakily) David McOwen IS guilty. Dave (username "ncdave") posted a very informative message on the laws involved ( http://www.oreillynet.com/cs/user/view/cs_msg/5307 ), however I question his final judgement. This is why:
* As to Authorization generally: I'm sure that the installation of non-administration approved programs and/or programs not necessary to the function of the network nor directly conducive to the facilitation of the use of the network by, or the education of, the students of the university is forbidden in his contract as administrator. Think of all the bases covered by End User Licenses for even the simplest programs! A technical university I'm sure has all kinds of stipulations, and ignorance is not an excuse in contractual matters. You are expected to know what's in yours. That covers the WAS and KNEW portions of the burden of proof.
* As to Computer Theft specifically : since Georgia put a value (US $0.59/sec.) on bandwidth, and it is counted as an expense by businesses and sold as a commodity by businesses, I believe it can technically be counted as the requisite "property" in the clauses. And that would at least fit the first statute: "... (1) Taking or appropriating any property of another, whether or not with the intention of depriving the owner of possession ..." if not the others.
* As to Computer Trespass specifically: While it may in fact be hard for them to technically prove intention, circumstantially, McOwen did know how the Distributed.Net client functioned. Now this is again very deceitful (and we all know how honest governments are), but the client DOES fit the requirements in the statute. Granted it does not damage or obstruct the use of a computer, as Dave said, but it does alter the way it functions, however minimally. "... (3) Altering, damaging, or in any way causing the malfunction of a computer, computer network, or computer program, regardless of how long the alteration, damage, or malfunction persists ..." So even though it was only idle time, it altered it. There's point two, as well, "... (2) Obstructing, interrupting, or in any way interfering with the use of a computer program or data ..." The "program," if it actually needed to be named, could always be the operating system. Not that Windows needs any extra altering to cause trouble.
So since the client fits all the slots, and McOwen knew it did all these things, intention could be either argued or circumvented as incidental when in reference to the authorization aspect.
I'm not for David McOwen being charged and prosecuted. I think it's ludicrous and ill advised to the nth degree. So thank goodness this didn't make it to a Georgia court, because it could very well have gone through. Or so I feel, anyway.
P.S.: Before you ask, no, I'm not a lawyer. Just a simple CS major with too much time on his hands. :) Which is why this could all quite possibly be inaccurate, inane crap. Feel free to let me know. email@example.com