Sergey Aleynikov immigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in 1990. From 2007 to 2009, he made $400,000 annually programming high frequency trading (HFT) software at Goldman Sachs. Thereafter, he left for a competing firm tripling his salary to $1.2 million.
About a month later, he was arrested by FBI agents for allegedly stealing trade secrets from Goldman. Aleynikov acknowledged having downloaded some source code, but maintained his intention was to obtain open source code.
In December 2010, we was sentenced to 97 months in prison and a $12,500 fine, despite the Federal Probation Service recommending only 24 months. He was placed in custody before sentencing, deemed a flight risk.
Aleynikov appealed, and in April 2012, after already spending over a year in prison, the conviction was overturned. But he was re-arrested 2 years ago, on August 9, 2012, as New York State took a second crack despite his vindication in federal court. Several weeks ago, Justice Ronald Zweibel published a 71-page opinion that the FBI “did not have probable cause to arrest defendant, let alone search him or his home” and that his arrest was illegal. His Fourth Amendment rights were thus breached and the court blocked a majority of the evidence brought against him- a similar loophole is being tested by the Silk Road lawyers in their ongoing battle.
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Aleynikov says that the first round of the ordeal cost him his house, marriage and life savings, and now faces estimated costs of over $500,000 in round 2.
On his legal defense fund campaign site, four methods of payment are offered, including Bitcoin. This excited Bitcoiners. One of the earliest donations, of 1 BTC donated by a “GSpotAssassin”, is accompanied with the message, “i read your story and seems very interesting to me, hope for the better for you!”
Beyond that, which was sent in August last year, a total of only 0.25 BTC has been received at the posted address, according to blockchain.info.
Also interesting is the prospect of a collision course between the libertarian worlds of Bitcoin/decentralization versus the advanced intellectual property being developed and adapted for it. For example, Atlas ATS partnered with Perseus Telecom to launch high frequency trading in March.
Where do you draw the line, if at all, on what remains open source? And if a line is drawn, is there legal recourse? Would a totally libertarian system obviate your competitive edge out of existence, or would centralization and rules permeate Bitcoin trading- and even Bitcoin itself? More questions will arise as Bitcoin tries to navigate this difficult paradox of decentralization.