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DrinkorDie pair convicted of software piracy

British men convicted for providing software that pirates cracked and distributed for free.

Two men accused of taking part in a massive global software piracy ring were convicted in a British High Court this week.

Alex Bell, 32, of Grays, Essex, and Steven Dowd, 42, of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, were both found guilty of conspiracy to defraud. They will be sentenced in May, along with two other men who had pleaded guilty to similar charges.

Dowd and Bell were accused of supplying software for DrinkorDie, a worldwide gang that cracked hundreds of software applications and made them freely available over the Internet. Groups such as the Business Software Alliance say the group cost the software industry millions of dollars in lost sales.

The High Court heard that DrinkorDie operated a sophisticated system where suppliers obtained software and passed it on to crackers who broke the software's copy protection. Testers would then make sure the modified software worked before it was passed on to packagers who uploaded it to a secure Web server.

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.