Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service

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Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service, 816 F.Supp. 432 (W.D.Tex., 1993), is a legal case that resulted from a raid by the United States Secret Service on the Austin headquarters of Steve Jackson Games in 1990. Along with Operation Sundevil, the Steve Jackson Raid was one of a series of independent[1] law-enforcement operations that were influential in the foundation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


The manuscript of a cyberpunk role-playing sourcebook called GURPS Cyberpunk was seized in a 1990 raid of Steve Jackson Games headquarters by the U.S. Secret Service.[2][3] The raid resulted in the subsequent legal case Steve Jackson Games vs. The Secret Service.

The case came to trial in 1993. Steve Jackson Games (SJGames) was represented by the Austin firm of George, Donaldson & Ford. The lead counsel was Pete Kennedy. SJGames won two out of the three counts and was awarded $50,000 in damages and $250,000 in attorney's fees. The third count dealing with interception of e-mail was upheld in October 1994 by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.[4] The judge also reprimanded the Secret Service, calling their warrant preparation "sloppy", suggesting that they needed "better education" regarding relevant statutes, and finding that they had no basis to suspect SJGames of any wrongdoing.

Although the raid was not a part of Operation Sundevil, this law enforcement effort, which spanned two years, has a tarnished image owing to a lack of successful prosecutions and questionable procedures.[5] To this day, the GURPS Cyberpunk book lists "Unsolicited Comments: The United States Secret Service" on its credits page.[6]


  1. ^ "The Top Ten Media Errors About the SJ Games Raid". Steve Jackson Games. 1994-10-12. 
  2. ^ Bruce Sterling (1991). The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier. Bantam Books. p. 122. ISBN 0-553-56370-X. 
  3. ^ Frank Biocca; Mark R. Levy (1995). Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality. Routledge. p. 353. ISBN 978-1-135-69357-2. 
  4. ^ "Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. US Secret Service, 36 F. 3d 457 - Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit 1994". Retrieved 14 May 2017. 
  5. ^ Bruce Esquibel (1994-10-08). ""Operation Sundevil" is finally over for Dr. Ripco". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  6. ^ Loyd Blankenship (1990). GURPS Cyberpunk. Steve Jackson Games. ISBN 1-55634-168-7. 

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