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Where the taking involves computer hardware such as minicomputers, magnetic tape or discs or computer programs, such a traditional theft-of-property concept does not present difficulties for prosecution. However, where the taking involves intangible software, it becomes much more difficult to prosecute under a traditional larceny statute.
Computer software may be 'taken' by means of a 'patch' from a remote computer terminal such a "taking" does not affect the hardware and may not even affect the software, since the encoded information may be only recorded (i.e., 'copied') elsewhere without ever leaving the main computer. In addition, the 'taking' may be done by obliterating the computer tape or program, thereby leaving no trace for prosecutors to follow.
- "Overview" section: Computer Crime: Legislative Resource Manual, at 3.