Under the rules of chess, a player can claim a draw if fifty consecutive moves occur in the match without a piece being captured or a pawn moved. Throughout the spring and early summer of 2004, Davis Hawke seemed to hope the "Fifty Moves Rule" would end his legal problems with America Online.
As AOL made a succession of maneuvers against him in Virginia's Eastern District federal court, Hawke retreated to the back streets of Pawtucket. He phoned AOL's attorneys Archie and Praed a few times to ask questions about the case. But then he'd go silent and flagrantly ignore court dates. From time to time, Hawke would pop up on the Internet to send out a run of cell phone spam. After that, he'd vanish for days, apparently having generated enough cash to keep going.
Hawke had been living in a succession of motels ever since an incident the week after he received AOL's summons. Hawke had spotted AOL's private investigator in his driveway, trying to attach something to the underside of the Crown Vic. Hawke assumed it was a global-positioning-system (GPS) device for tracking him. The next day, he moved out of the Black Plain Road house and abandoned the car.
The cell phone spams, especially the ones advertising mortgage refinancing, were beginning to bring in some decent cash. Hawke decided he didn't need to spam AOL, and it was a good time for a fire sale with the AOL member database. Using the alias Mark, he boldly sent his bulk-friendly mailing list a message bearing ...