Web site operator pleads guilty to piracy

The owner of BuysUSA.com pleads guilty to copyright infringement.

BuysUSA.com's owner pleaded guilty to selling nearly US$20 million worth of pirated software through the mail, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday.

The Web site sold more than US$2.47 million of copyrighted software, resulting in potential losses of nearly US$20 million to the software developers, the DOJ said.

Danny Ferrer, 37, of Lakeland, Florida, pleaded guilty in US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of conspiracy and one count of criminal copyright infringement.

Ferrer, who is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 25, could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a US$500,000 fine.

Ferrer also agreed to forfeit numerous airplanes, a helicopter, boats and cars purchased with the profits from the Web site. The forfeited property includes two Cessna airplanes, a RotorWay International helicopter, a 2005 Hummer, a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette, two 2005 Chevrolet Corvettes, a 2005 Lincoln Navigator, an IGATE G500 LE Flight Simulator, a 1984 28-foot Marinette boat and an ambulance.

The DOJ called Ferrer "one of the largest commercial online distributors of pirated software" in the US.

From late 2002 to October 2005, Ferrer and other people operated BuysUSA.com and sold illegal copies of copyrighted software from companies such as Adobe Systems and Macromedia, the DOJ said. The Web site sold the software at prices substantially below the suggested retail price, DOJ said.

The software was reproduced on CDs and distributed through the mail, and the Web site included a serial number that allowed the purchaser to activate and use the product, the DOJ said.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation shut down BuysUSA.com in October 2005.

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service

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