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Software Pirate Found Guilty of Stealing $100 Million in Goods

By - Source: Reuters | B 43 comments

Xiang Li stole from Microsoft, Oracle and Agilent Technologies.

Chinese national Xiang Li has pled guilty in U.S. federal court to pirating, cracking and selling software worth more than $100 million.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security arrested Li during June of 2011 after agents discovered he was leading a pirating ring that sold stolen software on the internet.

The software, which was predominately utilized by defense, space, and engineering companies, belonged to several technology firms including Microsoft, Oracle, Rockwell Automation, Agilent Technologies, Siemens, among hundreds of others.

"Li thought he was safe from the long arm of U.S. law enforcement, hiding halfway around the world in cyberspace anonymity. He was sorely mistaken," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Director John Morton had said during 2012. "Whether in China or cyberspace, this arrest is proof that Homeland Security Investigations and our partners at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center are committed to identifying, infiltrating and disrupting these criminal enterprises wherever they exist."

Li stole the software from around 200 U.S. manufacturers, subsequently selling them in 61 different countries on websites owned by the software pirate, including crack99.com. He ran the piracy ring from 2008 to 2011.

Although he had sold it for considerably less, prosecutors said the retail value of what Li stole equaled more than $100 million. U.S. agents worked undercover for 18 months in order to catch Li; they purchased thousands of dollars of software from him, which had an equivalent value of $150,000.

Under the premise of a joint illegal business venture, agents arrested Li by arranging to meet with him in the island of Saipan. He was initially charged with 46 criminal counts; however, he ultimately plead guilty to two single counts of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright violations and wire fraud.

Either way, Li, who is scheduled to be sentenced on May 3, faces up to 20 years in federal prison, as well as a $500,000 fine. Elsewhere, an illegal file-sharer in the U.S. was recently handed a record prison sentence: 5 years.

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  • 19 Hide
    wolley74 , January 9, 2013 2:15 AM
    Software Pirate Found Guilty of -snip- COPYING $100 Million in Goods

    Fixed for ya there
  • 18 Hide
    Pinhedd , January 9, 2013 2:27 AM
    flamethrower205Agreed, $100 Million is some b$ estimate to gain publicity. What were the actual monetary losses by the companies? Would the people buying the pirated software actually have paid the absurdly high prices for legit software? This is hard to demonstrate.


    Enterprise software and CAD/Engineering software is extremely expensive. They often have embedded 'phone home' code that is used to track exactly how many people are using unauthorized copies.

    This is not an article about 15 year old kids playing pirated copies of Skyrim (although I still say that is wrong), this is an article about companies using software to enrich themselves without paying for it.

    Companies like those mentioned in the article spend millions of dollars optimizing and fine tuning software for very small and specific markets and customer use cases. When others profit from that without paying for it, it has a very real impact on their bottom line.
  • 18 Hide
    flamethrower205 , January 9, 2013 2:19 AM
    Agreed, $100 Million is some b$ estimate to gain publicity. What were the actual monetary losses by the companies? Would the people buying the pirated software actually have paid the absurdly high prices for legit software? This is hard to demonstrate.
Other Comments
  • 19 Hide
    wolley74 , January 9, 2013 2:15 AM
    Software Pirate Found Guilty of -snip- COPYING $100 Million in Goods

    Fixed for ya there
  • 18 Hide
    flamethrower205 , January 9, 2013 2:19 AM
    Agreed, $100 Million is some b$ estimate to gain publicity. What were the actual monetary losses by the companies? Would the people buying the pirated software actually have paid the absurdly high prices for legit software? This is hard to demonstrate.
  • 11 Hide
    Hpnotiq , January 9, 2013 2:24 AM
    They equate this as if he literally took a possession and now that owner is now lost of his item - when in reality they're not.

    I understand they're protecting your idea and you cannot just have it without paying legally for it - but threatening 20 years in prison over this petty shit?

    Why do they stop there - why not just shoot him? Kick down the door and put a .44 to his head. I think the mercy killing is more humane than going to prison for 20 years.
  • 9 Hide
    nieur , January 9, 2013 2:25 AM
    now other chinese pirates will be careful before leaving mainland china
  • -9 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 9, 2013 2:26 AM
    Wolley74Software Pirate Found Guilty of -snip- COPYING $100 Million in GoodsFixed for ya there


    Quote:
    sold stolen software


    Quote:
    The software, which was predominately utilized by defense, space, and engineering companies
  • 18 Hide
    Pinhedd , January 9, 2013 2:27 AM
    flamethrower205Agreed, $100 Million is some b$ estimate to gain publicity. What were the actual monetary losses by the companies? Would the people buying the pirated software actually have paid the absurdly high prices for legit software? This is hard to demonstrate.


    Enterprise software and CAD/Engineering software is extremely expensive. They often have embedded 'phone home' code that is used to track exactly how many people are using unauthorized copies.

    This is not an article about 15 year old kids playing pirated copies of Skyrim (although I still say that is wrong), this is an article about companies using software to enrich themselves without paying for it.

    Companies like those mentioned in the article spend millions of dollars optimizing and fine tuning software for very small and specific markets and customer use cases. When others profit from that without paying for it, it has a very real impact on their bottom line.
  • 2 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 9, 2013 2:27 AM
    flamethrower205Agreed, $100 Million is some b$ estimate to gain publicity. What were the actual monetary losses by the companies? Would the people buying the pirated software actually have paid the absurdly high prices for legit software? This is hard to demonstrate.


    Development effort required to create the software.

    You think programmers are cheap? Haha, sadly no.
  • -4 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 9, 2013 2:39 AM
    PinheddEnterprise software and CAD/Engineering software is extremely expensive. They often have embedded 'phone home' code that is used to track exactly how many people are using unauthorized copies.This is not an article about 15 year old kids playing pirated copies of Skyrim (although I still say that is wrong), this is an article about companies using software to enrich themselves without paying for it.Companies like those mentioned in the article spend millions of dollars optimizing and fine tuning software for very small and specific markets and customer use cases. When others profit from that without paying for it, it has a very real impact on their bottom line.


    Currently in China, there is relatively little innovation within the manufacturing and software industry.

    Why?

    Because almost all of the businesses' core practice is to simply copy their competitors. The copying is so rampant that many of them refuse to allow their customers to tour their facilities, and often treat all of their customers as a move by the rivals to steal their info.

    If that's what some people want in the US, then I sure hope they don't mind a stagnant development in the software industry.
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 9, 2013 2:40 AM
    EDIT: And some Chinese companies are so lazy with the copying that they don't even change the logos on the products...
  • 14 Hide
    bystander , January 9, 2013 2:52 AM
    I seems so many people around here believe that companies should work for us for free. It's rather shocking that people actually believe that selling someone elses hard work should be legal.
  • -1 Hide
    jaws32 , January 9, 2013 2:56 AM
    next target "india" they will get much hacker and cracker in there...
  • 8 Hide
    cmcghee358 , January 9, 2013 2:59 AM
    Isn't anyone else concerned that the DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY is the one that led this investigation?
  • 2 Hide
    cmcghee358 , January 9, 2013 3:01 AM
    A Bad DayCurrently in China, there is relatively little innovation within the manufacturing and software industry.Why?Because almost all of the businesses' core practice is to simply copy their competitors. The copying is so rampant that many of them refuse to allow their customers to tour their facilities, and often treat all of their customers as a move by the rivals to steal their info.If that's what some people want in the US, then I sure hope they don't mind a stagnant development in the software industry.


    Yeah I would hate to have stagnation in our software industry because our programmers are too lazy to do the work themselves when they can simple copy the code and use it elseware.

    Oh wait, they do that with PC ports from consoles right???
  • 10 Hide
    j2j663 , January 9, 2013 3:05 AM
    "Development effort required to create the software.
    You think programmers are cheap? Haha, sadly no."

    You think the programmers would have seen any increase in their pay had all of this software been purchased legally? Haha, sadly no.
  • -3 Hide
    wolley74 , January 9, 2013 3:42 AM
    bystanderI seems so many people around here believe that companies should work for us for free. It's rather shocking that people actually believe that selling someone elses hard work should be legal.


    Stealing implies it is lost and cannot be sold, copying leaves the original and makes a duplicate, I don't get how people find this so hard to understand. they can still sell their product, nobody is stopping you from buying it from them, they didn't lose any keys, they didn't lose any part of their code, they lost the money to use their code
  • -1 Hide
    kingnoobe , January 9, 2013 4:15 AM
    Hey he shouldn't have missed with the corporations. They run this country of course he's gonna get an insane amount of jail time for the crime committed. It's also why when they sue people for pirating it's in insane amounts that they have no possible way of proving that's what they actually lost.
  • -4 Hide
    alidan , January 9, 2013 4:18 AM
    flamethrower205Agreed, $100 Million is some b$ estimate to gain publicity. What were the actual monetary losses by the companies? Would the people buying the pirated software actually have paid the absurdly high prices for legit software? This is hard to demonstrate.


    reading the article, it looks like he got his hands on pro grade software and was selling bootlegs to other people who really use it, not like people who get photoshop and release it to a consumer market who wont pay the 600+ for a commercial grade license.

    Wolley74Software Pirate Found Guilty of -snip- COPYING $100 Million in GoodsFixed for ya there


    the moment he sold the coppies, is the moment that stealing the money is used in real terms.

    HpnotiqThey equate this as if he literally took a possession and now that owner is now lost of his item - when in reality they're not. I understand they're protecting your idea and you cannot just have it without paying legally for it - but threatening 20 years in prison over this petty shit? Why do they stop there - why not just shoot him? Kick down the door and put a .44 to his head. I think the mercy killing is more humane than going to prison for 20 years.


    you are looking at it from the point of view of someone who downloaded a torrent, this guy was actually SELLING the software.

    bystanderI seems so many people around here believe that companies should work for us for free. It's rather shocking that people actually believe that selling someone elses hard work should be legal.


    because there are many cases where piracy is proven to promote sales, and actually bring in more revenue, and every time someone is punished for it, you may have gotten off easier if you rape and murder a baby on national tv.

    and the reason that professional software is seen as an even more ok target is companies like adobe that become industry standard, not because they are the best, but because they are so widely pirated that everyone knows how to use it, so businesses buy the license, seriously, adobe owes all its success in photoshop and many other areas exclusively to piracy.

    cmcghee358Isn't anyone else concerned that the DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY is the one that led this investigation?


    we should be outraged by that, but seriously, we all know who owns our government at this point, i would honestly be surprised if they did something that truly warrants the title of department of homeland security.

    cmcghee358Yeah I would hate to have stagnation in our software industry because our programmers are too lazy to do the work themselves when they can simple copy the code and use it elseware.Oh wait, they do that with PC ports from consoles right???


    if you are talking about codeing alone, ill give it to you, but if you are talking graphics... a AAA game costs 50 million to make because of how good graphics are at this point, i really dont want prices to go up further because of graphics.

    Wolley74Stealing implies it is lost and cannot be sold, copying leaves the original and makes a duplicate, I don't get how people find this so hard to understand. they can still sell their product, nobody is stopping you from buying it from them, they didn't lose any keys, they didn't lose any part of their code, they lost the money to use their code


    yea yea, we all know that, none of us are that stupid at that point. however look at it this way, i dont believe in religion at all, yet i still use biblical words when i swear, not because i believe it makes them worse or stronger or even mocking way, but because they are the words that are so in grained in me to use in those situations.

    anyone on this site knows piracy =/= stealing, but stealing is still the first word that comes to mind when you get something for free you normally cant get for free.
  • 1 Hide
    jadedmonkey28 , January 9, 2013 4:20 AM
    What a lot of people don't seem to get is that stealing 100million in software is the same as going in to best buy and stealing software off the shelf. Just because you commit the crime in cyberspace does not make it any less of a crime. Making fake goods is a very serious crime and is punished every day here. If we choose not to punish people who steal software like this then why is anyone punished for stealing anything.
  • 0 Hide
    fuzzion , January 9, 2013 4:37 AM
    This fella will get a big sentence and then get a deal from the CIA to work for them cracking chinese defense software.
  • 0 Hide
    w0_od , January 9, 2013 4:56 AM
    well he will either spend 20 years getting to know the local sodomizers in prison or he will be offered a way out by the government to help them catch others.
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