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SPA sues software pirates

The Software Publishers Association slammed two alleged online software pirates with a lawsuit, but not before the accused Net sites' hosts shut them down.

    The Software Publishers Association slammed two alleged online software pirates with a lawsuit, but not before the accused Net sites' hosts shut them down.

    After a seven-month investigation, the SPA filed suit with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania yesterday claiming that the unnamed individuals offered surfers illegal copies of software, 4,500 unauthorized serial numbers for installing stolen software, and tools designed to sidestep technical copyright protection devices.

    The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Adobe Systems, Autodesk, Claris, Corel, Intuit, Macromedia, and Visio. In all, the SPA represents 1,200 companies, including the largest software maker in the world, Microsoft.

    "This lawsuit is the first of its kind alleging this type of infringement, a type of piracy which has become far too common on the Internet. In fact, a recent search for illegal software on the Internet revealed nearly 17,000 different sites offering infringing material," said Peter Beruk, SPA director of North America antipiracy, in a statement regarding the lawsuit.

    As of now, the sites "www.velocity.net/~overlord" and "www.chisel.toolcity.net/~overlord" have been blocked by their Internet service providers, who also revealed the site operators' identities upon being subpoenaed by the SPA.

    The SPA has come under fire in the past for using tough legal tactics to get ISPs to shut down alleged pirate sites.

    More than 40 providers and online activists groups sent a letter to the SPA in December, in opposition to several lawsuits the organization filed against providers for not shutting down the online software shacks in question. The SPA did drop a number of suits, but only after the ISPs removed the sites.

    The SPA firmly believes that ISPs must help fight the distribution of pirated material. The group opposes legislation in Congress now that would take access providers off the hook for their customers' activities. Telephone companies and ISPs, on the other hand, are pushing for its passage.