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Four Plead Guilty in Online Piracy Ring

Tens of thousands of copyrighted items were illegally distributed in the scheme, officials say.

October 03, 2003|From Associated Press

Four men have pleaded guilty for their roles in an online piracy ring that illegally distributed tens of thousands of copyrighted items through the Internet.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday that the guilty pleas were part of a national probe into pirated video games, movies, music files and computer software. Some of the file servers were located at the State University of New York at Albany.

"The magnitude of this problem is serious and can't be underestimated," U.S. Atty. Kevin O'Connor said. "Stealing the intellectual property of others is no different from any other form of thievery."

The defendants -- three from New York state and one from Washington state -- pleaded guilty this week to conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

Prosecutors said three of the defendants were actively involved in the "warez" scene, in which copyright-protected material is "cracked" and made available illegally through the Internet.

They face as many as five years in prison.

The fourth defendant helped maintain the SUNY-Albany servers; he faces a one-year maximum sentence.

The prosecutions stem from Operation Safehaven, a 15-month investigation that in April resulted in the seizure of thousands of pirated CDs and DVDs and dozens of computers.

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