Is Defense Distributed “Wussing Out?”

DefDist

Back when Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed started up their DefCad downloads, they made a promise. Cody looked square in the camera and promised that there would be no takedowns. Ever. And set the vow to some trendy music. But when the rubber actually met the road and Cody was faced with the full might of the U.S. government if he didn’t comply with a takedown request, they folded. They pulled the files, like every other depository has before them. On the surface, it seems like DefDist isn’t living up to its promises. But was that really a lack of personal convictions and flinching when the moment of truth arrived? Or is Defense Distributed simply biding its time until they’re in a more sustainable position to thumb their nose at the government? . . .

When I was talking with Cody, he mentioned some servers in a western European country that they had set up. He quickly moved on to other topics, but that was all I needed to hear. My day job is doing network security for a large hosting company, so not only did I understand what he meant and what he’s trying to do, but also how hard that is and how long it takes to set up.

For an idea of what Cody was hinting at, let’s take a look at another popular website that continues to host content despite numerous takedown requests and even a trial: The Pirate Bay.

This is actually an excellent documentary about TPB and I recommend you watch it, but the takeaway is this: it takes time and technical skill to set up a website on servers that are legally protected and hard to locate. The guys behind TPB are such geniuses when it comes to routing protocols that they actually appeared to be hosted in North Korea for a period of time, and no one could prove otherwise. Still, even with that level of expertise, keeping the site online and free from government raids is a massive undertaking.

Defense Distributed, by comparison, is in its infancy. They merely adopted the internet; TPB was born in it, moulded by it. They didn’t see a TOR connection until they were already under indictment. Setting up servers with the level of redundancy and protection that even the United States government couldn’t interfere is a massive undertaking, and one that we here at TTAG understand all too well (as we’re making the same preparations — just in case).

From what I could glean from Cody, it seems like their internet-fu isn’t quite there yet. They have the blueprint, but the building isn’t complete. They want to be able to run to their offshore servers when Uncle Sam busts into their local datacenter and starts ripping out server blades. Right now, though, there’s nowhere to run.

In the meantime, it looks like our old friend Kim Dotcom (yes, that’s his real last name) is lending a helping hand. There’s a copy of the files on Mega, which was founded and run by people who have a proven track record of being able to host files the U.S. government finds objectionable and have yet to see any legal action. Sure, KD’s crib was raided at the request of Uncle Sam, but the charges didn’t stick and he’s fighting back bigtime.

Is the inability to shrug off takedown requests like water off a duck’s back annoying Cody? Probably. And the inability to keep his promise isn’t doing anything good for their credibility. But despite the files being removed from DefDist’s site, they remain available on the internet. And they will be, forever.

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

69 Responses to Is Defense Distributed “Wussing Out?”

  1. avatarJohn Fritz says:

    The word “infrastructure” as its commonly used is nonsensical and jargon. It means anything and everything. And nothing.

    I’m all about telling someone to fuck off when warranted but I think Cody was a little heavy handed on this one. In my meaningless opinion.

    • avatarAl Cohol says:

      I agree. Fact is they folded.

      Not that I wouldn’t have either. I applaud this man for what he’s done.

      The Fuck off was not warranted.

      • avatarNot Your Mother says:

        For all of you who claim they folded or wussed out:

        Pick up the cross and bear the burden where they left off.

        Or just shut up.

  2. avatarRalph says:

    I don’t have a problem with Cody or DefDist. It’s hard to face down the Gestapo unless you’re prepared to blow them away. Legally.

    • avatarjwm says:

      Yeh, it’s easy to talk about facing the might of the government thru a blog site like this. But to actually do it in the real world, not so easy.

      • avatarDaniel Silverman says:

        I agree, I think he will be back and have himself covered so he can tell the feds to shove off.

        • avatarJoke & Dagger says:

          “It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short time and time again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself a worthy cause; who if he wins knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”
          Theodore Roosevelt

        • avatarRalph says:

          Bullfight critics ranked in rows
          Crowd the enormous Plaza full
          But only one is there who knows
          And he’s the man who fights the bull.
          — Domingo Ortega

        • avatar16V says:

          Except he isn’t doing that.

          He’s an idiot poking bears and pretending he won’t eventually be eaten. As he deserves to be.

          Steve Irwin and Christopher McCandless were morons, and got what they deserved. Just like this little wanker.

          He’s not fighting a noble fight, he’s the guy screaming your position to enemy forces, and he can’t even shoot straight. In ‘Nam, they woulda fragged him.

        • avatarHuman Being says:

          This is getting tiresome, 16V. Holding the opinion that someone’s course of action is counterproductive is one thing. Manically declaring this ad nauseum while wishing death and bodily harm on them is another.

          He made the gun. It’s literally around the world now. His actions and message were well received by their intended audience. Defense Distributed is a topic in the news. You’d better start dealing with it.

  3. avatarLoyd says:

    Cody has been very careful to make sure his Ts are always crossed and Is dotted. He’s picked his battles very carefully. This takedown was voluntary after the State Dept hinted he might be violating ITAR. My guess is that DEFCAD will be back online within weeks on servers in different countries. Not that it matters. The Liberator file has already been downloaded and seeded how many times?

    • avatarHuman Being says:

      1866 active seeds visible to me at the moment, with 107 peers getting the files.

      (Not that I’m seeding or anything…)

      • avatarWilliam Burke says:

        We know you wouldn’t do that. It’s out of character!

        I also think Wilson feels confident that the files have been downloaded (NOT BY ME!) to enough sites and people that the grunt work has already been done.

        That genie? He ain’t getting back in the bottle. It’s not Defense Distributed against the world anymore.

        PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT, despots!

        • avatarHuman Being says:

          If I *was* seeding though, I would speculate that I could see peers downloading the files from:

          Malaysia, Romania, Sweden, Denmark, Thailand, Taiwan, Russian Federation, Portugal, Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Philipines, Ukraine, Sierra Leone, Latvia, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Poland, Argentina, South Africa, Costa Rica, Hungary, Norway, Estonia, Republic of Korea, Bulgaria, a whole lot of Brits and Finns, and one brave little mouse from People’s Republic of China.

          The signal? It was not stopped.

          (Man that list just makes me want to laugh.)

  4. avatarDaniel Silverman says:

    Look for torrents, my lord people the files are out there!
    He simply took down the download links from their site. That is not wussing out.

    • avatarLoyd says:

      +1 He’s trading ground for time.

    • avatarEPThorn says:

      It’s wussing out. Just look at what he SAID, and what he’s DOING.

      He’s also avoiding a fight that would highlight how ridiculous gun control is.

      • avatarWilliam Burke says:

        It’s a fight he doesn’t fight alone anymore. He’s a hero, not a wuss.

      • avatarDon says:

        I think someone who can take in experience and new information and adapt their plan is way smarter than someone who says some $hit and then stops thinking.

      • avatarm11_9 says:

        He’s also a law student who cannot afford a criminal problem which would disqualify him for every state bar in the country.

  5. avatarJW says:

    Pulling the files from the website in the face of the Federal Government has resulted in massive downloads from other sources. If his goal was to distribute the files to as many people possible, this was a good move. He appears as a Martyr and people see themselves as standing up to Big Brother by downloading and distributing his files. I’m happily guilty, I’ve downloaded the files for that exact reason.

  6. avatarFlubnut says:

    Regardless of what happens with Cody and Co. now, the cat is out of the bag. Mission accomplished. Their fight will undoubtedly be carried forward by countless others, both publicly and under the radar. Paradigm, meet shift.

    • avatarWilliam Burke says:

      Paradigm shift, INDEED. I’ve had a SE grin on my face for two days, at least.

      CHECKMATE. Time for Cody to get photographed for a spot on Mt. Rushmore.

  7. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    Cody is worried about that bar exam and passing the character and fitness portion first. . . .hard to get your license, much harder to take it away>

  8. avatarKCK says:

    know when to hold em, fold em, walk away, run

  9. avatarK says:

    “They merely adopted the internet; TPB was born in it, moulded by it.”

    Couldn’t help but think of a similar line from The Dark Knight Rises…just sayin

  10. avatarHave Blue says:

    Was there ever a “no takedowns” vow for defcad.ORG? I believe that was the intent of the planned defcad.COM, a separate enterprise from the .org site.

  11. avatarJared says:

    He did right, have all your eggs in a row before you go toe-to-toe with the DoD.

    • avatarneiowa says:

      STATE. John Fing Kerry/Obama. It’s not DOD.

      The progressives have OWNED State for more than a century. They are still trying to own DOD (other that the AF which is bought/paid for).

      • avatarpercynjpn says:

        They’re also taking over CIA and the rest of intelligence – the country is doomed in the long run.

  12. avatarPascal says:

    What is a good STL viewer?

  13. avatarSixpack70 says:

    The situation has changed, he has to adapt to the changes. I know I wouldn’t promise anything like never taking files down, just because you might need to. If he didn’t bring the files down his dog might get shot in the night. If he doesn’t have a dog, the alphabet crew would shoot the neighbors dog instead.

  14. avatarDon says:

    Cody, of his own volition, has done nothing but help the cause. The megapacks which are forever on the internet would not have existed and would not be seeded if not for his project and his ability to generate publicity. He’s accomplishing his goal regardless of his website.

    Also, martyrdom is BS. People who are useful convince the near-useless fulfill some basic expendable function through the BS and promised glory and fame of martyrdom. No one with any fight left in them seeks martyrdom.

    • avatarjwm says:

      run, run, run away. live to fight another day.

      • avatarDon says:

        indeed. we won the damned revolutionary war according to that tactic.

        • avatarEPThorn says:

          No, we didn’t. The Revolutionary war was NOT won by insurgent tactics. Normally I’d post some links to history articles, but since this is the internet, let’s just go with Cracked: http://www.cracked.com/article_20306_5-myths-about-revolutionary-war-everyone-believes.html

        • avatarHuman Being says:

          That Cracked article itself is so full of distortions I couldn’t correct them all unless I threw up a wall of text here.

          I’ll suffice it to point out that their first claim, that the French were more involved as a global war and sent more resources than just showing up at the end still doesn’t show the character of their participation. We still have copies of George Washington’s letters to various French admirals begging them to do what they finally did at Yorktown and bring the war to a close. But the French instead were more interested in A) taking more yearly stabs at claiming the British sugar islands (think oil reservoirs in today’s economy) and B) making sure the colonists kept on killing the British and themselves for as long as possible. Wonderful that the colonists were weakening their enemy by fighting amongst themselves; and even if they threw off British rule they’d still be English in character, non?

          So yes, they gave us copious amounts of black powder and other material, and harbored their ships in American ports during the Caribbean storm season, but it wasn’t until the accountants were caught cooking the financial books that they realized they were going broke doing it and *poof* finally did what Washington had urged them to do years earlier: use their mobility to block British withdrawl at Yorktown and close the war.

          I could go on and on about how the author conveniently forgets the existence of the “Pennsylvania/Kentucky Rifle” in his bit about guerrilla warfare, and other chicanery, but this comment is already too long…

        • avatarWLCE says:

          cracked is not a effective rebuttal of…well…anything…

          sensationalist pseudo-journalism that also has a axe to grind with guns.

      • avatarLoyd says:

        This is how you wage an Internet insurgency.

    • avatar16V says:

      This is NOT how you win even a battle, let alone the war.

      Calling out your position and daring the bad guys to come and get you, especially long before you have a position is not sound tactics.

      • avatarExcedrine says:

        Even though it IS how the colonists beat the British Empire. And how the Vietminh beat the French. And how the Somalis beat us. And how the Mujaheddin beat the Soviets. And… I could go on for pages and pages.

        But, carry on your ignorant, incoherent, and utterly indefensible rants, please. We need the laughs.

  15. avatarMichael B. says:

    A tactical withdrawal to higher ground is always a good thing.

  16. avatarRandy Drescher says:

    Madonna told a federal judge to kiss her ass. The government thought better of f’ing with a lady that at the time had tens of millions of dollars to burn to teach them a lesson. Hopefully Cody can get some backing, Randy

    • avatarRalph says:

      Madonna told a federal judge to kiss her ass.

      That’s because she was hot for the judge.

    • avatarLabman says:

      I suspect Cody’s printed gun struck fear into the hearts of the G-men. While, in principle, Cody is proving his point but in reality, he’s created a weapon that is possibly undetectable with airport or school scanners. Personally, I’m a little on the fence with that part of it. Thumbing our collective noses at the government is one thing but if a madman ever takes one into a school or hijacks a plane with one, does that make Cody liable? Could he be aiding and abetting terrorists with it? I’m not a lawyer but he wants to be one and maybe there are some veiled or even some overt threats from the government as to his chances of even getting to a bar exam.

      Yes, with all the downloads, the blueprints for the gun are now loose worldwide and can never be controlled. For gun owners in general, I’m not certain that is a good thing in the eye of the non-shooting public we are trying to win over to our side…especially if the bad guys use it. Time will tell.

  17. avatarToasty says:

    Pretty sure when he said “No takedowns. Ever.” He meant it in the way that Thingiverse took down his stuff, which was just because they didn’t like guns. That’s how i took it anyway. I figured they’d be getting a foreign server though, once they have that then the DOD can FOAD since the files are being hosted outside the US.

  18. I am willing to cut Cody some slack. He has done more in a shorter time to advance the ball than most of us do in a lifetime.

    I agree with the statement above that he is probably trading ground for time.

    just my .02

  19. avatarJAS says:

    He violated a small technicality in the ITAR’s USML (United States Munitions List) and could do time for it. Hope not, but that’s how I’m reading the letter sent to him.

  20. avatargabba says:

    anytime anyone makes a show of saying they’re going to do something, the saying it is a proxy for actually doing it. Like James Yeager will be happy to fire the first shot of some revolution against obama? you know who that is? that’s tim mcveigh. most likely in his mind he was setting off some revolution. and he never made a big show of saying he “was gonna…”.

  21. avatarIsaak says:

    Personally, I would say he kept his promise just for the simple fact that the files are still readily available. So what if he took down the copies from the original location.

    Millions of downloads and hundreds of torrent locations, his promise has already been fulfilled in my book.

    • avatarLoyd says:

      If you watch his original video from last summer, when he first announced “The Wiki Weapon Project”, and was asking for money HOPING to MAYBE lease a printer, he said the goal is not the GUN. The goal is the FILE. A file being shared P2P and torrented, moving across borders out of the reach of governments. Demonstrating the futility of censorship. Mission Accomplished. Everything after this is icing on the cake.

    • avatar16V says:

      And of those millions, almost none of the downloaders can actually utilize his almost pointless data.

      Meanwhile, real “revolutionaries” have learned how to build a functional gun with parts available at the hardware store.

      • avatarExcedrine says:

        That’s not the point. The point is, is that the information is out there and there is absolutely no way of controlling it.

        Whereas, your so-called “real” revolutionaries are getting busted with the components to make a Sterling sub machine gun because they’re stupid enough to use their debit card.

        Any other way you want to be proven to be an idiot while you’re here?

  22. avatarAaronvan says:

    Torrents… there we’re done!

  23. avatarEric says:

    I see no problem with defdis. I liken it to boxin. You don’t come out flailing away, you use skill and tactics. The call it the sweet science for a reason. I see it as Cody drawing in his opponents, seeing their tactics and when he’s ready, exploiting their weakness…….. at least I hope that’s what’s going on

  24. avatarDr Duh says:

    I don’t have a problem with a tactical retreat.
    The man has taken on more personal risk on this issue than any of us. (Obviously, serving in the armed forces is a greater personal risk, but I would argue it is more generally in defense of country and democracy than 2A in particular)

    @16V why don’t you send your plans to him and ask him to host? Because the government probably knows about you anyway.

    I maintain that this gun poses no threat to a democracy.
    If someone whips it out on a plane they’ll get one shot off then the rest of the passengers will beat them to death. They won’t even get into the cockpit.
    Sure it was traumatic when Kennedy was shot, but we followed the succession plan laid out in the Constitution and then held another election. Democracy survived. Unlike a dictatorship, in a democracy it’s never about one guy. Kim Jung Un, on the other hand, has something to worry about.

  25. avatarDerek says:

    I don’t see the problem. The files were already out there. There was nothing to gain by “fightin tha powa”. He wasn’t ceding anything by taking them down, he was just avoiding a fight where he didn’t need one. How is that wussing out?

  26. avatarSamAdams1776 says:

    Too late–many of us have the files and will pass them out like candy.

    And to successfully prosecute, the have to proves mens rea: a good lawyer will force them to prove you KNOWINGLY and WILLFULLY broke the law.

    It is not whether you SHOULD have known–as that would be impossible to know all the United States Code–then there is always a challenge of the law’s constitutionality (hard for 2a stuff) and finally, appeal to jury nullification (of a bad law) hard to get, but possible.

    Anyway

    Send me an email request (I have a gpg4win public key–send me your public key in a request)–I’ll reply. My email is in the public key

    SamAdams1776 III

    Key ID is 6F303902

  27. avatarGS650G says:

    Has anyone else distributed plans for a firearm that can be made on a single machine without extensive machine skills and using powdered plastic?
    Didn’t think so.
    So before anyone starts nit picking on him put your own plans up and make sure anyone can make it without several machines and various special metals. Even a quality made zip gun. And when the gov comes to your door see how tough you are with them.

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