Why you can trust us

Engadget has been testing and reviewing consumer tech since 2004. Our stories may include affiliate links; if you buy something through a link, we may earn a commission. Read more about how we evaluate products.

US Court: Code isn't property, therefore it can't be stolen

New York's Second Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that computer code cannot be stolen after acquitting former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov. He'd been charged with property theft and economic espionage which carried an eight year prison sentence, but left court a free man after serving just a year of his term. The case hinged upon the definition of both property and economic espionage, and the court found that code, being an intangible, couldn't be property that's capable of being stolen within the definition of the statute -- affirming a state of affairs that's been in place since the British case of Oxford v Moss from 1979. Just as a warning: the Judges advised Congress to amend the relevant legislation in order to prevent thefts of this nature in the future, so we'd hold back on any big data-heists you've got planned.