Software pirate gets seven years in prison

A US software pirate was sentenced on Friday to more than seven years in prison, the longest sentence of its kind. Nathan Peterson made over $5 million in profits from a business that promoted pirated software using Google AdWords.

Peterson's company, iBackups, described the software as legal backup software – i.e. copies of software to be used by software licensees for backup in case of system crashes. It is illegal to resell such copies.

Peterson pled guilty last December to two counts of criminal copyright infringement for illegally copying and selling nearly $20 million worth of computer software.

Peterson has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $5,402,448. He will begin paying off the remaining $5 million in damages 60 days after his release from prison, at the rate of $200 per month.

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) first alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation of possible software piracy in 2003.

Keith Kupferschmid, SIIA’s VP of Intellectual Property Policy and Enforcement, said: “Law enforcement’s decision to aggressively pursue this case, I believe, sends a message to those who illegally copy and sell software that they will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Software pirates are often not just intellectual property thieves, but are involved in other illegal activities. Peterson was convicted in Los Angeles for the sale of six handguns and an illegal assault weapon to an alleged heroin dealer while he was on bond in this case.