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RealTime IT News

Software Pirate Set For April Sentencing

There'll be no more deluxe homes, antique cars or vacations for Nathan Peterson, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to selling pirated business software over the Internet.

Next stop: prison.

Twenty-six-year-old Peterson of Antelope Acres, Calif., faces up to 10 years of confinement and a $500,000 fine for operating a Web site that the Department of Justice claims was the largest for-profit software piracy site ever shut down by the government.

Peterson's arrest and conviction "clearly demonstrates our resolve to prosecute thieves who sell other people's property on the Internet," U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said in a statement.

Agents of the FBI's Washington Field Office conducted the investigation.

After receiving complaints from copyright holders about Peterson's illegal sales, an undercover FBI agent made a number of purchases of business and utility software from the site that were delivered over the Internet and by mail to addresses in Virginia.

According to the FBI, Peterson sold more than $5.4 million of copyrighted software in 2003 and 2004. The FBI further claims the sales resulted in losses to the owners of the underlying copyrighted products of nearly $20 million.

Peterson sold software owned by companies such as Adobe, Macromedia, Microsoft and Symantec at prices substantially below the suggested retail price.

The software products purchased from Peterson were reproduced and distributed either by computer download and/or by compact disc shipment through the mail. Peterson often included a serial number that allowed the purchaser to activate and use the product.

Peterson admitted to using the proceeds of his illegal conduct to fund an extravagant lifestyle, including the purchases of multiple homes, cars and a boat.

The government seized numerous assets from Peterson including a number of bank and trading accounts, a fully restored 1949 Mercury Coupe purchased originally for $44,000, a 2005 Dodge Ram, a 2003 Chevrolet Corvette, a 2004 Toyota Camry, a 2005 Toyota Corolla and a 2006 Mercedes-Benz S-Class purchased for $125,000.

Sentencing for Peterson is scheduled for April 14.