Chinese software pirate faces 25 years


A Chinese national who pleaded guilty to distributing hundreds of pirated software titles online will be sentenced on May 3, 2013.

Xiang Li, who pleaded guilty in the US on January 7 to running the operation from, faces a maximum of 25 years in jail. He pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and wire fraud.

Judge Leonard Stark will sentence Li at the US District Court District of Delaware, where the case was heard. On top of a potential prison term, Li may have to pay a $250,000 fine and be supervised for three years once released.

The court heard how Li had used to sell thousands of pirated software titles around the world at a fraction of their original cost. According to government officials, he distributed around 550 pirated titles to about 300 buyers in 28 US states and 60 foreign countries. They say the titles were worth around $100 million.

Officials from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a division of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), tracked Li from April 2008 to June 2011, when they arrested him.

They said the case was one of the most significant instances of copyright infringement HSI had ever uncovered. “Li mistakenly thought he was safe from the long arm of HSI, hiding halfway around the world in cyberspace anonymity,” said ICE director John Morton, at a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 8.

According to an ICE statement, more than one third of the purchases were made by individuals in the US, including small business owners, government contractors, students, inventors and engineers.

HSI officials are able to indict suspected counterfeiters and pirates if they use websites whose registry operators are based in the US. Verisign, a company headquartered in Virginia, manages the .com domain, under which Li registered his site.

To date, officials have seized more than 1,600 domains.

In January 2012, government officials shut down file-sharing site Megaupload and arrested its owners, including Kim Dotcom. They said the site earned $175 million in seven years. The US is currently trying to extradite Dotcom from New Zealand, where he was arrested.

This article was first published on 09 January 2013 in World IP Review

xiang li, software, ICE, HSI, John Morton

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