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Woman gets 9 years in piracy case

The sentence, handed down in Los Angeles, may be the longest ever given to a first-time felon in a software counterfeiting case.

A California woman has been sentenced to nine years in prison for software piracy, in what may be the longest sentence ever given to a first-time felon in a software counterfeiting case.

Lisa Chen, originally from Taiwan, was also ordered to pay $11 million in restitution, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.

Chen, 52, and three others were arrested in November 2001 as part of a ring suspected of importing nearly $98 million in counterfeit Microsoft and Symantec products from Taiwan. Products included knockoff copies of Microsoft's Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Office 2000 software, along with manuals, user license agreements, decals for windows and bar code labels.

Chen pleaded no contest to the charges in August.

Vincent Koo, 44; Tony Lu, 47; and Wilson Liu, 39, were charged with conspiracy, bribery and smuggling. Their cases are pending in federal court, the district attorney's office had said earlier.

The alleged ring was broken up by the Southern California Regional Task Force, which included representatives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Customs Department.

"I'm pleased that such a significant loss has been appropriately punished," Deputy District Attorney Jonathan P. Fairtlough said in a release. "This sentence sends a message that law enforcement will vigorously investigate and prosecute thefts of intellectual property."

Twenty-five percent of business software in use in the United States was pirated in 2001, with California's piracy rate showing a notable drop from 2000 to 2001, according to the Business Software Alliance.