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'Warez' software pirate escapes prison

Three years' probation for illegal software trader

A prolific illegal trader of software has been sentenced to three years of probation in the US, according to the Department of Justice.

Robert Hardick could have faced up to five years in prison had he gone to trial. Instead, he agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy in US District Court for the District of Connecticut in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Hardick was one of five men indicted by a grand jury in April in connection with the uploading and downloading of thousands of software programs from password-protected repositories for illegally copied software, known as 'warez' sites.

Those who run the sites are known for their ability to crack the protections used to prevent unauthorised copying of the software.

Hardick pleaded guilty to helping operate a warez site called 'The Boxer Rebellion'. From June 2002 to April 2003 Hardick uploaded 62,318 files and downloaded 310 files from the site, according to the indictment.

One of the applications Hardick was accused of uploading was EnSight Gold 7.4.1, which is software from Computational Engineering International that's used to analyze scientific data sets.

In the other charges that Hardick did not plead guilty to, he was accused of downloading Symantec's AntiVirus Corporate Edition 8.0.1 plus 57,039 other files from a warez site called Nite Ranger Hideout.

Of the other co-conspirators indicted, Steven Fiatarone of Spring Hill, Florida, pleaded guilty in July and struck a similar deal to Hardick. Fiatarone, who is awaiting sentencing, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and will not receive a sentence of more than three years' supervised release.

Still pending are the cases of Michael Uszakow of Oakdale, Minnesota; William Parrott of Roanoke Rapids, South Carolina, and DominicTymorek of Woodstock, Georgia.


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