Security Strategy, Plan, Budget

California software pirates fined, sentenced

In what the federal government called the "largest CD and DVD pirating scheme to be prosecuted in the United States," two men were fined and sentenced to federal prison terms this week.

Ye Teng Wen, also known as Michael Wen, and Hao He, also known as Kevin He, both of Union City, Calif., were sentenced to 37 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release, a $125,000 fine and a $500 mandatory special assessment. On June 4, a third man, Yaobin Zhai, also known as Ben Zhai, of Fremont, Calif., received the same sentence but was ordered to pay $6.9 million in restitution.

The convictions were a result of an undercover operation called Operation Remaster by the FBI and the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) Task Force. On Oct. 6, 2005, federal investigators executed search warrants at 13 locations in California and Texas, including the offices of Media Art Technology, Magic Media and BDG Publishing. They seized about 494,000 pirated music, software and movie CDs and DVDs and more than 6,135 stampers - used to manufacture CDs and DVDs, according to a Department of Justice release.

The copyright and trademark violations involved the products of several software vendors and primarily Spanish-language music titles. Among the software pirated were Adobe Photoshop CS and Symantec 's Norton AntiVirus software, including pcAnywhere 11.5, Norton Internet Security 2005, Norton AntiVirus 2005 and Norton System Works 2003.

The FBI said that the infringed titles were sold in retail outlets in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago and other locations. The defendants admitted in court to using counterfeit labels with the FBI Anti-Piracy Seal to make the CDs appear legitimate.

A Symantec representative could not be immediately reached for comment, and Adobe declined comment. Representatives of both companies released statements to the FBI, however.

"Software piracy is a serious problem to legitimate users of software, and companies like Adobe, and the technology industry as a whole, given that our business is based on intellectual property and copyright protection," said Suresh Balasubramanian, Adobe's director of worldwide anti-piracy.

"This case cuts across several industries, including movies, music and software," said Scott Minden, director of Symantec's legal department. "Consumers have been protected from being ripped off by these pirates."

Click here to email West Coast Bureau Chief Jim Carr .

Click here for the latest SC Magazine Podcast – Aug. 6, 2007: Interview with Jeff Moss, Black Hat founder and director.

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