A former software piracy mogul pled guilty to copyright infringement on Friday as part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Danny Ferrer, former owner of the for-profit software piracy website, BuysUSA, acknowledged in court that he caused copyright owner losses of between $7 million and $20 million through illegal sales of Adobe, Macromedia and Autodesk software.
The Lakeland, Fla., man agreed to restitution of $2.4 million, as well as to the forfeiture of his fleet of expensive cars, airplanes and other spoils in order to compensate the copyright owners.
Ferrer operated BuysUSA.com from 2002 until it was shut down by the FBI in 2005. With the help of several alleged co-conspirators, Ferrer sold illegal versions of software for well below the retail price of legal copies, mailing compact disks to his customers along with illegally obtained serial numbers for product activation.
His activities were brought to the attention of the FBI by officials at the Business Software Alliance (BSA). The BSA’s director of enforcement, John Wolfe, said that he hopes that stiff penalties for criminals such as Ferrer will send a strong message to both piracy criminals and those who buy from them.
"We encourage consumers to be aware of the risks involved with buying third-party software on the internet and hope that the increased attention to this problem by law enforcement agencies will send the message that software piracy is a crime that can result in very serious consequences," Wolfe said.
In addition to consenting to financial restitution, Ferrer also agreed to cooperate with the DOJ by testifying against his former business partners. Justice officials expect to try three other cases in conjunction with the Ferrer trial.
In the meantime, Ferrer will be sentenced in August. He faces a maximum sentence of up to ten years in prison and a $500,000 fine.