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Leader of Software Pirates Behind Bars

Following in the footsteps of Yaroslav Suris, a man who was sentenced two months incarceration for Criminal Infringement of a Copyright, an international warez group of 18 have joined the ranks of those who face persecution for Copyright Infringement. The Pirates With Attitidue, or PWA, have been an underground warez agency since 1996. Run by Rothberg the PWA had 18 members who each had a specific role in the operation. Some of these members were crackers, who stripped away the copy protection that often is embedded in commercially-released software; others couriers who transferred software to PWA, and packagers, who tested and prepared programs for release.

To allow its users to download the illegal content, PWA maintained numerous File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites for the transfer of software files and stored libraries of pirated software on each of these sites. These FTP sites were not opened to the public and users could only access the FTP through known IP addresses. PWA was known to host as many as 13 FTP sites, one of which was known as Sentinel, the most popular and the focus of the investigation. Over the course of Sentinel’s operation, an excess of 30,000 different software programs were pirated and uploaded to the site and many were high profile programs from various companies such as Norton, Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, Macromedia, and many others.

Rothberg controlled access to Sentinel and allowed over 100 users to download programs from the FTP. In order to download from the FTP, users had to either contribute to the supply of stolen software or give a monetary donation. Also, as part of the conspiracy, five members of Intel arranged to provide hardware to continue and support the operation of Sentinel. At the time, Sentinel did not have the storage capacity to support the amount of illegal software the PWA members were adding and made a deal with those five Intel members and would allow them access to the FTP sites.

This was one of the most significant investigations of copyright infringement on the Internet ever conducted by the FBI, and one of the first to be prosecuted under the No Electronic Theft, or NET act.

Additionally according to a new survey from iqoque, P2P traffic is responsible for 50% – 90% of all internet traffic. Some Elite Torrents have been known to be a valuable source of pre-release software, movies and games. United States District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin did not look upon this lightly and stated that online pirates, “are not modern day Robin Hood’s, but rather common thieves motivated solely by the desire to get something for nothing.”

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