The Ottawa Sun
Friday, March 7, 1997

While you're away, burglars will play

Software pirate suing for $2.35m over raid

by Dave Rider

The RCMP helped fund one of Canada's top "pirate" bulletin boards for the illegal trading of pilfered computer software -- then later raided it themselves, the Sun has learned.

Former Mountie informant and computer pirate Marc Grove has launched a $2.35-million civil suit against an RCMP constable and the federal government, alleging negligence over the 1995 raid on his Ottawa-area home.

The suit states Grove became an informant in 1989, feeding the Mounties information on "pirates" who trade bootlegged computer software and government phone codes.

In 1991, with the "knowledge and approval of the RCMP", Grove started a computer bulletin board called The Ghostship where he traded copied software -- in violation of Canada's Copyright Act -- with other pirates from around the globe.

The bulletin board grew in size and prestige and was "financed" by the Economic Crime section of RCMP A Division, with Grove asking for and receiving money to cover some of his huge phone bills, the court documents say.

In a statement of defence, the feds acknowledge Grove was an informant and that the RCMP paid him $7,450 in return for his information. But they deny "financing" the operation.

Grove continued to feed information to the Mounties even after the payments stopped in November 1994 when his informant status became known to others, both parties agree.

But almost a year later, his house was raided by another branch of the RCMP -- the Federal Investigations Unit, which says it was acting on a complaint from a software maker.

Grove's computer files and equipment were seized and he was later charged with 18 counts of violating the Copyright Act.

But a federal Crown attorney stayed the charges in January.

In the statement of defence, the feds say Grove was warned at all times that he was still subject to the law and he said he understood.

Grove, however, says his RCMP "handlers" only warned him his informant status wouldn't protect him from charges for unrelated crimes. "They knew all along about the pirated software," he said.

"It was like, if you get busted for robbery or drugs or something crazy like that, don't ask us to get you off the hook."

RCMP officials and Const. Denis De Haitre, who led the raid, refused comment on Grove's allegations because the case is before the courts.

Copyright © 1997 by The Ottawa Sun. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.