The fact is that the laws are too broad to apply to specific situations. Too many gray areas exist when it comes to situations like these.
One thing though, I think these charges are a load of sh*t. You could see prosecutors are just trying to nail him with something big right from the beginning:
"At an early stage in the proceedings, prosecutors claimed that McOwen had cost the state of Georgia $415,000 in bandwidth charges, based on a calculation that the distributed.net clients consumed precisely 59 cents worth of bandwidth per second. The state has since backed away from the $415,000 figure. "
WTF?! Where is this calculation coming from? I wonder what they were smoking when they came up with this. Granted that the bandwidth and processing power wasn't even being used by the computers. If the software was hogging resources that would otherwise be used at the time, then I understand.
He got fired from his job. IMO, that should have been enough. Prosecuting him on other charges is not only unreasonable, it shows the lack of knowledge put into these laws.