Owner of software piracy site sentenced

The operator of a software piracy Web site is sentenced to six years in prison.

A U.S. judge has sentenced the owner of a Web site selling pirated software to six years in prison and ordered him to pay more than US$4.1 million in restitution, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday.

Danny Ferrer, 37, of Lakeland, Florida, must also forfeit the proceeds from the BuysUSA.com Web site, which he operated between late 2002 and late 2005, the DOJ said. Judge T.S. Ellis III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered Ferrer to forfeit ownership of several airplanes, boats, cars, a helicopter and an ambulance. Among the vehicles Ferrer must give up are a 1992 Lamborghini; a 2005 Hummer; three Chevrolet Corvettes; a 2005 Lincoln Navigator; and a 28-foot Marinette hardtop express boat.

Ferrer has also agreed to surrender the proceeds of sales of two fire trucks that were also bought with profits from BuysUSA.com, the DOJ said.

Ferrer, who pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy and one count of criminal copyright infringement, must also perform 50 hours of community service.

The DOJ called the sentence one of the longest ever for software piracy. "Modern-day pirates ought to expect modern-day penalties," said U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg of the Eastern District of Virginia.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation shut down Ferrer's site in October. BuysUSA.com sold copies of software products from companies such as Adobe Systems and Macromedia at prices substantially below the suggested retail price, the DOJ said.

The software products purchased on the Web site were reproduced on CDs and distributed through the mail. The operation included a serial number that allowed the purchaser to activate and use the product. The site had more than US$4.1 million in sales, and the full retail price of the pirated software was nearly US$20 million, the DOJ said.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), a trade group that focuses on antipiracy efforts, praised the sentence. So far, law enforcement officials have recovered US$100,000 in assets from the BuysUSA.com case, the BSA said.

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