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BuysUSA.com operator faces jail

Pleads guilty to piracy

BuysUSA.com's owner has pleaded guilty to selling pirated software worth nearly $20m (around £10.8m) through the mail, the US DoJ (Department of Justice) said on Friday.

The website sold more than $2.47m (£1.4m) of copyrighted software, resulting in potential losses of nearly $20m to the software developers, the DoJ said.

Danny Ferrer, 37, of Lakeland, Florida, pleaded guilty in the 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 on 25 August, could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $500,000 (£270,000) fine.

Ferrer also agreed to forfeit a large number of vehicles purchased with profits from the website. The forfeited property includes two Cessna aeroplanes, 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 and Macromedia, the DoJ said. Prices were substantially below the suggested retail value.

The software was reproduced on CDs and distributed through the mail, and the 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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