Prank Resulting In 2 NFL GMs Talking To Each Other Results In Up To 5 Years Of Prison, $500k Fine

from the it-was-just-a-joke,-guys dept

Insane legal actions over relatively mild pranks are coming fast and furious these days. We just recently discussed the 17 years old high school girl staring down felony charges over a childish year book prank. There have also been several cases of those that fall victim to pranks turning to intellectual property law as a way to hide their gullibility. There's something -- embarrassment perhaps -- that spurs victims into unreasonable legal action once the trap has been sprung.

And now we can add to that list the case of Joshua Barber and Nicholas Kaiser, who are looking at up to 5 years in prison and/or a half-a-milliion dollar fine for the crime of getting two NFL general managers to talk to each other on the phone and recording the conversation. Their prank consisted of calling the office of Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix, claiming to be Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik, hanging up, then dialing Dominik. The confused Nix called back using the redial function on his phone (many, many times), and the pranksters finally called Dominik as well, just as Nix called them back, hit the conference button, joined both GMs on the line and recorded the ensuing conversation. It's worth noting that conversation was about as innocuous as it gets. No real embarrassment was to be had from the recording, which was then sold to Deadspin. The result of the prank is far less innocuous.
[The] two Plymouth, Mass. men were charged Wednesday with intentionally intercepting a wire communication and with making a telephone call without disclosing their identity with the intent to annoy or harass the person at the called number. The complaint further states that after the conversation was recorded, Barber and Kaiser sold the unauthorized recording to the website deadspin.com. If convicted, Barber and Kaiser face a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $500,000 fine or both.
And yes, here are your tax dollars at work, with the FBI/DOJ gloating about taking those darn prank callers off the street and ruining their lives with extended jail time and fines. Half a million and half a decade in jail for a prank phone call? Shall I assume The Jerky Boys are currently dropping soap in barred showers, or is the safer assumption that someone in the legal system sees this high-profile prank as a way to further their career?


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    Jeremy2020 (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    I think prison is ridiculous, but I don't think it's crazy to punish them. The fine should be around the amount they sold the recording for..

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:25pm

      Re:

      Why should they be punished? Seriously, I don't understand the offense here.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:55pm

        Re: Re:

        Recording phone conversations between two parties, neither of which knows the conversation is being recorded, is generally forbidden for very good reasons (privacy and confidentiality). It's just that the penalties sought seem way out of proportion considering the nature of the event (a harmless prank).

         

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          Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Recording phone conversations between two parties, neither of which knows the conversation is being recorded, is generally forbidden for very good reasons (privacy and confidentiality)

          Could you please remind our gov't of this? Thanks!

           

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          Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 3rd, 2013 @ 7:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Recording phone conversations between two parties, neither of which knows the conversation is being recorded, is generally forbidden for very good reasons (privacy and confidentiality).

          While that is true in general, it does not apply in this case. There were 3 parties on this call - the 2 GMs, plus the pranksters. And making it illegal or forbidden to record *your own* phone call (whether or not the other party(ies) know it is being recorded) is all sorts of problematic.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 7:06pm

        Re: Re:

        Because they did something stupid that also happens to be illegal. That being said, I don't understand the uproar here in the least. They committed a crime and that crime faces a maximum penalty that can be rather harsh, but I see nothing here that suggests that the maximum penalty is being pushed for, much less actually granted.

        I agree with a comment that said they should receive something something akin to twice what they sold the recording for. Sounds reasonable to me for a first offense, and should (hopefully) teach them a lesson about doing stupid stuff.

        However, unlike the stupidity of the felony charges for the yearbook prank, until I see some indication that prosecutors are actually pushing for maximum charges, much less a judge handing them out, this is really a non-issue.

         

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          horse with no name, May 31st, 2013 @ 2:06am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It seems mostly like the author trying to generate some scare points. Thankfully, most of Techdirt readers can see through that one.

           

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 3:17am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You keep referring to 'most of Techdirt readers' as if most TD readers agree with you.

            We don't.

             

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      PRMan, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

      Re:

      Double the amount they sold the recording for, just to make a point. But threatening jail time for that? Utterly ridiculous...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

        Re: Re:

        Conference calling is a crime?

        Is it the recording of the call that's criminal?

        What am I missing here?

         

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          PRMan, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          IANAL, but Florida is a two-party consent state, meaning that you cannot record a phone call without the consent of both parties, unless the call is directed toward you (they are speaking directly to the recorder and they know they are speaking to the recorder).

          So they committed a felony under Florida law.

          Under the Federal law, it's more about making a recording of an electronic conversation and then disclosing it to a third-party without the consent of the other party, especially for financial gain, which they did by selling it.

           

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          madasahatter (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:58pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Recording the converstion without permission or being a party to the conversation is the what they are charged with. Also, the dimbulbs made a Federal matter by calling two out of state GM's if it is not already a Federal charge. Even stupider was selling the recording without the knowledge or permission, apparently, of the two victims.

          The reason they might get fried for the prank is this is version of espionage and that gets people very upset.

           

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    Atkray (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 12:44pm

    "and with making a telephone call without disclosing their identity with the intent to annoy or harass the person at the called number."

    I'm guessing this law is one of those that was originally rushed through because "It will allow us to go after aggressive telemarketers and there is no other possible use for this law".

    I think they should use the fact that Nix repeatedly used the redial button (a button that launches a a computer script) as evidence that Nix actually hacked their conversation and go after him for CFAA violations.

     

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      pixelpusher220 (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 1:31pm

      Re:

      I was going to say, how exactly is this not making all telemarking illegal on it's face?

      I still seem to get the calls though, even with Do Not Call registered.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 6:56pm

        Re: Re:

        You can still legally get calls from people you have a business relationship with, politicians and a few more exceptions. If you really want to eliminate calls you can't buy anything from anyone.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    let's face it. this is exactly the sort of case that the DoJ thrives on. it gives zero possibility of harm to anyone in the DoJ and give both that agency and whoever wants to get up the ladder a bit of a shove. the ridiculousness of the whole issue is never even thought about!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

      Re:

      Question: Is this a state or federal case?

      Both have laws regarding recording phone conversations.

      If state which state?

      Could be one, two, or three as they violated 3 state's laws and federal law.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    I have a group of annoying telemarketers who call regularly that I will nominate for 5 to 10 years of remedial ethics education and enhanced interrogation under the stipulation that their harassment ceases.

     

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    John Katos, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:17pm

    The Jerky Boys called from Las Vegas, NV where such calls are?/were legal. They only called one party so there was no interception.

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

      Re:

      Methinks you may have missed the larger point...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:26pm

      Re:

      there was no interception. Just because the parties on the call didn't know exactly who they were talking to is not considered interception.

      This is akin to me calling a business, but i miss dialed and the person who answered played the role of the business i was trying to reach and recorded the conversation.

      There is no interception, I called the wrong number. This is exactly what happened here. One of the guys redialed the number that the call came in from without validating that it was the correct number.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

        Re: Re:

        No,the crime was recording a conversation without disclosing that fact to the other parties. Have you never called a business and heard "this call may be monitored or recorded for quality control or training purposes" or something to that effect? That's a legally-required disclaimer.

         

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          Lord Binky, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm fairly sure the calls I recieve from those same businesses don't start the conversation off with 'you are being recorded' when they call me.

           

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          madasahatter (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 3:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Also, in some states if one party is aware of the recording it is legal, maybe not very ethical.

           

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

    THIS definitely fits "wiretapping", as neither party knew.

    NFL managers may well know people in gov't -- besides, known and admired by many as stalwarts of the community, they probably don't even have to make a call demanding action -- so it's particularly not wise to target them.

    "17 years old high school girl staring down felony charges over a childish year book prank" -- Well, first change "staring down" to "looking at", cause the former implies having a victory, and she ain't. And yet again, even at the low end figure for direct damages that Timmy calculated with no real basis, that "prank" DID hit felony level.

    When "pranks" involve unwilling participants, they become crimes.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:30pm

      Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

      All pranks involve unwilling participants.

      That's pretty much required for the prank to be successful.

      Staring down CAN imply victory, but it doesn't have to. Context of the sentence is important, and in his case the use of staring down adequately fits what is happening to her. It's like "staring down the barrel of the gun in my face." nowhere is it implied victory has happened. But that can be easily misconstrued so not a big dealy-o.

      While I agree they should be punished, I think $500,000 and/or jail time is quite excessive compared to the harm of the prank.

      Justice should be swift. Justice should be effective. Justice should be reasonable.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:32pm

      Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

      So, me 'staring down the barrel of a gun' implies that I'm 'winning'?

       

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        Dark Helmet (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

        Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

        "So, me 'staring down the barrel of a gun' implies that I'm 'winning'?"

        In the exact same way as Charlie Sheen, I fear, which is to say not at all. That OOTB doesn't get...well, anything, is not much a surprise, is it?

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:01pm

          Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

          Eerie, that's exactly who I was thinking about when posting that. :)

           

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          Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

          In spite of the whole "Loopy Techdirt" bit at the very bottom...blue here is correct about the fact that it is in deed a crime to record such conversations between two people after using conference calling.

          ""17 years old high school girl staring down felony charges over a childish year book prank" -- Well, first change "staring down" to "looking at", cause the former implies having a victory, and she ain't. And yet again, even at the low end figure for direct damages that Timmy calculated with no real basis, that "prank" DID hit felony level.

          When "pranks" involve unwilling participants, they become crimes."

          He is also correct about that. Being unwitting in that case tonally different as the person, and their family can sue the school district over it. Not saying it should ring up federal charges...but then again, that victim's level of feeling humiliated has a huge legal precedent over how the case is handled.

          Going into that aspect I should point out that in high school, before anyone knew who I was, I was always picked on for my social awkwardness that always coincides with Asperger's Syndrome (AS for short). It is bad enough for anyone to have that sort of thing happen to them. But imagine carrying an inescapable obsession and worry about how others think of you. With AS, you have that constant worry and obsession. There is no way around it. The literal interpretation of basically everything involved with AS prevents one from seeing things as a joke or sarcasm as easily as others would at that age. We then develop a very irrational fear of being humiliated in front of our peers when we clearly did nothing to deserve what we see as someone punishing us for no reason.

          That case with the year book basically could have affected that victim's entire life and cause him to fear humanity to a point of fearing job interviews and socializing in college. Now if a normal human being would shell up for the rest of hios or her natural life after such humiliation...imagine what that could do to someone with Asperger's Syndrome. Those charges are based on how humiliated and psychologically traumatized that student was after seeing his name changed.

          As for the recordings. Blue is absolutely right as they are completely illegal in the intended context for which the pranksters were going to use them.

           

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      Dirkmaster (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 1:32pm

      Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

      "When "pranks" involve unwilling participants, they become crimes."

      When posters involve nonsense, they become trolls.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 3:13pm

        Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

        When posters call themselves Dirkmaster, they... um, well...

        make up your own insult, I gotta watch roseanne on tv and geraldo on youtube.

         

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        Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 3:24pm

        Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

        Blue is actually right in stating that. It isn't about what someone did that is being the crime. It is about how the victim felt about it.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 11:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

          did you read the f*&^ing article. She said that it did not upset her and that she hardly knew the person who did it.

          And your condition explains a lot about why you are the way you are, why nobody likes you.

          Everyone thinks that you are an idiot

           

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      Rikuo (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

      Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

      "When "pranks" involve unwilling participants, they become crimes."

      Blinks...Aren't all pranks done on unwitting and therefore unwilling participants? Let's say I set a whoopee cushion, or I put a pin on the teacher's chair, or I put an electric buzzer in the palm of my hand? Should I be thrown to the ground, tazered and battered by batons wielded by police simply because I gave someone a little shock when we shook hands?

       

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        Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

        No you should not be arrested for buzzer hands, whoopy cushioning someone's chair, or pinning a teacher's chair. You are making a scare crow straw man argument (if I only had a brain...).

        Your examples do not require illegal means to achieve. Wiretapping is illegal. So is recording a conversation that publicly humiliates an identifiable person or persons without their knowledge and consent. Motor-mouthing is not illegal...nor is crank calling someone as long as the person or persons you cranked stay anonymous if the recording is publicly released.

         

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          Rikuo (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

          I can understand what you're saying there. I was commenting on OOTB's constant absolute statements. S/he said "When "pranks" involve unwilling participants, they become crimes."

          Basically, any prank, no matter how small, non-harmful or innocuous, if done on someone unwilling (and since for a prank to work, the victim has to be unknowing and therefore logically cannot consent to it), OOTB said that all pranks are now crimes.

           

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            Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

            Rikou...he was actually right for once. Her comment hasn't been hidden from the use of the report button.

             

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            Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

            He didn't say pranks...he saif "pranks"...which mean that only the people doing the prank think it is funny in stead of everyone involved..and by everyone involved, I also mean the booby that got hit with the prank.

             

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              Blues_clues, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

              "He didn't say pranks...he saif "pranks" which mean that only the people doing the prank think it is funny in stead of everyone involved"

              The original poster misused quote marks. The prank is in the eye of the prankster. Whether the prankee laughs or not is immaterial.

              At the same time, a prank that breaks a law is illegal. Whether the prankee laughs or not is immaterial then as well.

              Finally, it's not a crime in any way to merely do something to or around someone else against their will. The original poster argues otherwise because he is a narcissist. Which is also why he posts so much nonsense to TD.

               

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                Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 9:04pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

                "Finally, it's not a crime in any way to merely do something to or around someone else against their will."

                Tell that to the traumatized victim OOTB was actually referring too in the yearbook incident. Also that is the same exact thought of a rapist.

                "At the same time, a prank that breaks a law is illegal. Whether the prankee laughs or not is immaterial then as well."

                The former is quite correct. The latter however does not stop damages from coming in the form of lawsuits from those being pranked...especially when psychological trauma is involved like the yearbook case. Pretexting in the way this NFL prank that occurred is in fact a crime.

                "Whether the prankee laughs or not is immaterial."
                Once again tell that to the victim if they are psychologically traumatized by the overkill if the overkill occurs. See how far you get. I can tell you right now that saying that is like purposefully pushing someone off a cliff and then saying "it was just a joke" at their funeral. That is a metaphor as to how a victim can get to feeling internally at a psychiatric level.

                 

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                  Rikuo (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 9:28pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

                  "Tell that to the traumatized victim OOTB was actually referring too in the yearbook incident. Also that is the same exact thought of a rapist."

                  Wally...the girl in the yearbook case WASN'T traumatised. Reread the article.
                  http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130528/14302423232/high-school-girl-faces-felony-charge s-yearbook-prank.shtml

                  "Hell, the victim of the prank doesn't even seem to think it's a big deal.
                  Raigan Mastain said although she wasn't happy about what happened, she also "wasn't devastated."

                  "I was kind of annoyed. It was stupid, but I wasn't that upset," she said.""

                  You are failing to read the full article and drawing the wrong conclusion.

                   

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                    Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 11:24pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

                    Did I ever say that the judgement in that case was overzealous by the prosecution? Nope.

                    The point is that the prank is in the eye of the beholder..the beholder being the booby of the prank of course.

                     

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                  Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 10:50pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

                  You are so full of shite sometimes.

                   

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                    Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 11:28pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

                    Oh you again...I was wondering when you would start gracing us with your ever so present knowledge in psychology...

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 11:50pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

                      You are not the sharpest tool in the shed, but definitely a tool

                       

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      gorehound (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

      Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

      You are just a Troll and you think you are much better than someone pulling a Prank.I have been reading your lame Troll Comments here for a while.
      Used to be making a Prank Call got you a Fine.At least that is what I remember.And yes the Prank here was a Prank so why should it be a Hard Jail Sentence plus a huge wopping Fine.
      If they made Money then take their Money and give them a little Fine.
      No harm was done here.

       

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        Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:09pm

        Re: Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

        I would not go as far as to honor him with the title of troll my good sir. A troll knows when to quit and OOTB really doeasn't. She doesn't realize that when you troll, everyone is supposed to laugh in the end.

         

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      blues_clues, May 30th, 2013 @ 4:55pm

      Whoops-a-Blue

      "When "pranks" involve unwilling participants, they become crimes."

      Now that's a stupid sentence right there.

      This poster points out what you missed:

      "NFL managers may well know people in gov't -- besides, known and admired by many as stalwarts of the community, they probably don't even have to make a call demanding action -- so it's particularly not wise to target them."

      You should read this person's posts more often, ya moron.

       

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        Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 9:10pm

        Re: Whoops-a-Blue

        Your Statement:

        "Now that's a stupid sentence right there."

        OOTB's Statement:

        "When "pranks" involve unwilling participants, they become crimes."

        See the quotes? OOTB is referring to the fact that what some people might consider a good prank, may turn out to traumatize a victim severely in the end.

        You:
        "You should read this person's posts more often, ya moron."
        Irony just seems to be your enemy tonight...

         

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      DannyB (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 6:06am

      Re: Adults see the harm; Timmy only giggles with the 14-year-olds.

      OOTB, I'm glad you are all for law and order.

      While we're at it, let's also prosecute the executives of four major Hollywood studios that simultaneously used bogus DMCA take down notices to remove a video that embarrassed them, but which they did not own the copyright for. That wasn't a mistake or anomaly. That was a business as usual criminal act and conspiracy.

      If prison time is good for a young girl at the tender age of 14, over a prank phone call, then I think a good proportional penalty for these Hollywood studios would be capital punishment of their executives and board.

      There. Problem fixed. Everyone happy. I'm glad you agree in overzealous punishment.

      Proposed Hollywood ordinance: spitting on sidewalk gets you executed.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

    Let's Face It

    There's not a lawyer anywhere in any government agency who isn't looking at the facts, or proportional response, or harm done to essentially harmless people.

    They just want another notch on their shootin' irons.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

      Re: Let's Face It

      Oopsie. Should have read "who IS looking at the facts".

      How do you edit your own comment?

       

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        Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:01pm

        Re: Re: Let's Face It

        You can't here unfortunately. But given the anount of trolling that can happen by some AC's here, and OOTB, and AJ....it is totally necessary to not allow editing your comment. Sorry ;-)

         

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      DannyB (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 6:08am

      Re: Let's Face It

      > There's not a lawyer anywhere in any government agency who isn't looking
      > at the facts, or proportional response, or harm done to essentially harmless people.


      Oh, wait. You're talking about prosecuting crimes. I thought you were talking about copyright for a second. Nevermind.

       

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    Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Lets count up the crime here....

    "And now we can add to that list the case of Joshua Barber and Nicholas Kaiser, who are looking at up to 5 years in prison and/or a half-a-milliion dollar fine for the crime of getting two NFL general managers to talk to each other on the phone and recording the conversation. Their prank consisted of calling the office of Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix, claiming to be Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik, hanging up, then dialing Dominik. The confused Nix called back using the redial function on his phone (many, many times), and the pranksters finally called Dominik as well, just as Nix called them back, hit the conference button, joined both GMs on the line and recorded the ensuing conversation. It's worth noting that conversation was about as innocuous as it gets. No real embarrassment was to be had from the recording, which was then sold to Deadspin. The result of the prank is far less innocuous."

    Look, I am not saying that the huge fines and large jail time are necessary but they did actually commit a crime or two. Even a a civil level they could easily sued for millions due to their actions if they did any financial harm to those two coaches and the NFL.
    So here goes.

    During their prank call they were pretexting both of the coaches saying to one that they were the other...That is a crie in of itself. Second; it led to a heated phone conversation between the actual coaches that actually cost the NFL time and money. Then when lawyers got involved....they recorded the conversation after TAPPING INTO A WIRED CONFERENCE CALL...that involves some pretty heavy phone freaking and dialing...it is a crime to do that.

    Yeah this is probably a harmless prank to some of you, but this "harmless" prank almost cost these coaches their careers.

     

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      PRMan, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:56pm

      Re: Lets count up the crime here....

      The way I read it, they didn't tap anything. They got both of them to call them back and hit the conference button, speakerphone button and the record button on a recorder. If they (and both GMs) are in a single party consent state, they may not have broken any laws at all.

       

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        Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

        Re: Re: Lets count up the crime here....

        They conference called both GM's to make a recording without their knowledge or consent...that is still wiretapping.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 6:08pm

        Re: Re: Lets count up the crime here....

        hitting the record on a recording device, and recording the conversation IS TAPPING, by definition..

        that is the crime here, and it is a serious one..

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

      Re: Lets count up the crime here....

      I have to admit to significant puzzlement here. The original laws that were passed regarding recording of telephone conversations were put into place because of investigators, government and otherwise, were making all sorts of recordings of people without their knowledge. The Techdirt community usually gets stuff like this sort of right, but in this case, they missed the boat big time.

      What if the "pranksters" were the FBI instead? Would that have still been okay? Why? It was a "prank" performed by the FBI. Is it illegal only when the government does it? What if the recording documented an illegal activity and the person making the recording turns it over to the FBI? Surprise, that has already happened and has been judged to be illegal under wiretap laws.

      Generally, if it is illegal for someone to regard a telephone conversation (or any conversation) without the permission of the participants, or a proper warrant, merely classifying the act as a "prank" does not make it any more legal, and the proper laws, regardless of whether they are reasonable in this situation, are appropriate and applicable. People and governments have often reclassified their illegal activities as "jokes," "pranks," and other innocuous sounding names all to hide an illegal action. I do not buy it.

       

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    Vidiot (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    I can think of a couple of Chinese takeout restaurant owners who'll be delighted to know they can skim $500G for getting pranked in the exact same way. Any idea how many orders of General Tso's that's worth?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    such cheapskates!

    NFL can't afford caller ID? No wonder they keep begging cities for money.....

     

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      Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

      Re: such cheapskates!

      Have you seen the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions, and the Oakland Raiders as of late winning any games to attract their fans into their stadiums? Oh and they did tap into the wire so if caller ID was used it would still look like Nix and Domonik were actually calling each other. The wire tap was likely detected because they used a single node to tap into the conversation.

       

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        Who Cares (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 8:29am

        Huh?

        Wiretapping as you describe it didn't happen.
        One of the victims called them while they were trying to get hold of the second victim.
        Then it was discovered when the recording was sold and published.
        The crimes, from what I've read, are recording a call without all participants knowing and then selling said recording.

        As for spoofing caller ID. They called the offices of the two victims. Just tell the person receiving the call that you have a new phone(number) and there goes the recognition, person receiving the call passes it on to the victim, victim notices a dead line and hits redial.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    It beats doing actual police work

    We all know that the FBI is too stupid and too lazy to do REAL police work -- if they had, then the Boston bombing wouldn't have happened. So in order to keep themselves busy and draw their ridiculously high salaries, they go after the low-hanging fruit. Same for prosecutors: going after too-big-to-fail banks is hard work, requiring actual thinking: this is a slam-dunk.

    So the rapists and the bankers, the terrorists and the crime lords, the kidnappers and the violent drug dealers, all get a pass -- while the feds go after teenagers, pranksters, harmless hackers and peaceful protesters.

    Is it any wonder that respect for "the law" is dropping like a stone?

     

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      Wally (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

      Re: It beats doing actual police work

      We all know that the FBI is too stupid and too lazy to do REAL police work -- if they had, then the Boston bombing wouldn't have happened.

      Well if Obama didn't push spending spending so much on frivolous things like personal golf lessons from Tiger Woods the FBI would probably have a budget to work from now wouldn't they?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:01pm

    Political Correctness

    This is the logical endpoint of political correctness, if you annoy or criticize someone in the slightest degree, you have committed a crime worthy of serious jail time.

     

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    horse with no name, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:01pm

    Up to

    Aside from the fact that it makes a nice scare-line, you do understand the concept of "up to". When a law has no minimum sentence, but only has an upper range set, it is up to the judge in the case to decide what the punishment is in the window from zero to the maximums set.

    That often happens because the scope of the law is wide. It can cover anything from a low end prank to a more malicious act. This one falls somewhere in the middle, especially considering that they sought profit from their acts through selling of the recording.

    Up to. Important words you need to learn the meaning of.

     

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    Nurlip (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    I think the prank was good until they recorded it and sold it for personal profit. Perhaps if they recorded the call and contacted both guys again to let them know what they did and their intentions with the recording in an effort to get their permission to do so, this would've been a whole different story. As it is, i think an apt punishment is splitting the profit 4 ways, with each coach getting a cut and the two guys should also have to do 20 hours of community service each in the form of working for their local government's call center/information desk. Most importantly, this is not something that should be on their criminal/public records at all.

     

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    Richard (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

    For Comparison

    Mike Christian, the Aussie DJ whose prank call to the hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated - indirectly resulting in the suicide of a nurse - has received no punishment beyond (temporary) suspension from his job.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Christian

     

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    The Real Michael, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:09pm

    If what these individuals did is considered a crime, how about the NSA spying on millions of Americans without a warrant, including recording their conversations and monitoring their online communications? Wait, let me guess: they're exempt right? If you're rich, powerful and well-connected, you can evade punishment for breaking the law, even Constitutional law.

     

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    Lord Binky, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:15pm

    If they were working for a radio station, charges wouldn't be pressed like this.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 2:44pm

    ..... Truth be told this sounds absolutely hillarious. I'm gonna go call some people who can't afford high profile lawyers and have a laugh XD

     

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    streetlight (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 3:11pm

    What about the prank call that resulted in suicide

    Prank calls can have grave, unintended consequences. The two Australian DJs made a prank call to the hospital where Princess Kate was staying and claimed one of them was the queen. When the nurse found out that she had not given information to the queen but a couple of DJs, she committed suicide. The only thing that happened to the DJs is they lost their job. Not much of a punishment.

     

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      JJJoseph (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 8:55am

      Re: The prank call that resulted in suicide

      The Queen prank is a good example of the seriousness of secret recordings. They cause a lot of real problems afterward. The objective of whacking the perps in such cases is to deter unauthorized recordings. The pranking is irrelevant. So, yes, Barber & Kaiser should do hard time. Sorry!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 6:45am

    Double standard?

    "intentionally intercepting a wire communication and with making a telephone call without disclosing their identity with the intent to annoy or harass the person at the called number."

    Ummm... Isn't that what the DOJ does pretty much every day? Maybe they should spend 5 years in jail too.

     

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