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The Gray Man


Piracy today remains a powerfully evaluative word. To be called an intellectual property pirate, is to be condemned. In a world where attention spans are divided by the media into ten-second sound bites, it is the perfect word to use on TV, videocassettes, newspaper headlines, and the radio. The ancient folklore about “pirates on the sea" completes the picture by invoking negative connotations when labeled a "pirate" in today's technical world.

Copyright holders have been so successful at linking “infringement” with “piracy” that the two words have become virtually interchangeable. Even the "Special 301 Reports", issued annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), speak of copyright “piracy.” In the specific case of MEGAUPLOAD and Kim Dotcom, the government agency, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), first labeled Kim Dotcom as a pirate in November, 2010 in response to the USTR’s request for information on markets “where counterfeit and pirated products are prevalent....”

Several large corporations in 1997 used their money and power to influence the FBI to raid Ron Haines’ (Endless Visions) private home with Federal Warrants accusing Haines of software piracy. After a lengthy court battle where Haines defended himself and went "Pro Per" against the Federal government and the FBI, the Federal Judge denied Mr. Haines a jury trial and dismissed the case.

And so Hollywood also cast another villain in 2010, when Kim Dotcom and associates from New Zealand were cast as “pirates” reveling in supposed illicit spoils, and no longer viewed as innovative Internet entrepreneurs, but thieves.

Ron Haines was born in 1949 in Carleton, Michigan. Brilliant from a young age, he struggled with boredom in school and became known for daydreaming in class. Ron dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and got drafted into the U.S Army at the age of nineteen. He ended up in Vietnam and spent 14 months as a Huey Door Gunner, and received the Air Medal for service.

When Ron was discharged from active duty, he got a job at a local TV service and repair shop. Ron worked there for a short time and decided to build his own home. Ron took on the challenge of raising the funds and building a two story home without any prior experience. Building the home was a daunting task, but he completed the project in about two years. After the construction of his home, Haines opened his own TV repair shop and called it the TV Clinic. The company was very successful and eventually grew to two locations, also adding sales of televisions, VCRs and computers. He spearheaded the first video rental business in Monroe County in 1979 and from 1978-1988, Haines owned and operated The TV Clinic and Video Store.

At the age of 31, Haines' life changed forever when he purchased a Commodore VIC 20, his very first computer. He was fascinated by the inner workings of the machine and spent countless hours mastering assembly language and understanding computer architecture. Shortly thereafter, he purchased his Commodore 64 and quickly immersed himself in the world of software coding and computer gaming. With his electronics background, Haines was self-taught and quickly grasped the computer logic and engineering involved in programming. He mastered games software and modified hundreds of programs to improve game play.

He eventually purchased a Commodore Amiga and in 1988 designed a product called RawCopy. Haines founded Micro Systems International in 1988 and copyrighted the product. RawCopy was marketed worldwide, where it quickly surged into the top ten of software product sales for several months. Haines recognized the need to crossover from the Amiga market into the PC market after Amiga went bankrupt in the early 90s. Haines was contracted by hundreds of corporations using his skills at modifing compiled code. Like many technology gurus from that era Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, to name two prominent names, Haines was a pioneer in the emerging computer age. In 2004, Endless Visions Inc. was founded and to this day remains a force in the cryptology and encryption fields.

This book chronicles the journey as Haines teaches himself everything he knows about computers from their earliest beginnings to his current work with encryption in the PC market, while defending his own genius against the federal government and FBI. After 3 separate Search and Seizure warrants are executed, along with one by the US Marshals, Haines chose to defend himself against all odds in Federal Court and his right to be an innovative software engineer who was able to defy odds and accomplish the impossible with his underlying knowledge of computer machine language. Haines has never been arrested nor jailed, yet the FBI was repeatedly able to serve warrants and confiscate his hardware, software tools, and intellectual material, with no ramifications. This journey is a testament to the American way of never giving up, believing in yourself and your pure determination, and never quitting.

A must read.