A North Carolina retailer accused of replicating and then renting pirated software applications may spend up to five years in jail after being nabbed in a crackdown being promoted by the Software Publishers Association (SPA) and the FBI.
Two years ago, the SPA settled a civil suit against the accused for violations of the Software Rental Act. Today, the software organization says the apparent recidivist should be punished to the full extent of the law to deter others armed with a CD-R drive and dreams of easy money.
"We're sending a strong message," said Peter Beruk, director of the anti-piracy programs for the SPA. "He could be fined up to $250,000 for each infringed product and potentially serve a five-year jail time. This is a two-time offender."
The alleged pirating involved products from AutoDesk, Intuit, and Symantec, according to the SPA. Neither the FBI nor the SPA has calculated the amount of money lost through the pirating operation; Beruk said the retailer was selling AutoDesk's $3,750 AutoCad application for $100.
Despite the rise in popularity of CD-R technology, which allows users to "burn" software applications onto CDs with relative ease, Beruk said that isn't the most common type of piracy. "The core problem is regular 'softlifting,' making more copies of software than [companies] have licenses for," Beruk said, noting that the piracy rate has still dropped from 47 percent in 1989 to 28 percent in 1997.