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Police, BSA Raid Rotter.net

[MARCH 27] HAIFA, Israel - Police and representatives of the international software piracy watchdog group, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), recently raided the residence of Noam and Yeshayahu Rotter, administrators of the Israeli website Rotter.com, the BSA announced Tuesday.

"The BSA in Israel, as part of the organization's international operations, has opened a campaign against Internet sites that offer unlicensed, illegal software for download," says Gil Mey-Tal, head of the BSA's Israel operations.

During the raid, computers housing Rotter's Website were analyzed by computer specialists under the suspicion that they contained software for illegal distribution over the Internet, potentially costing software companies millions of dollars in lost revenue, the BSA said. Police also confiscated CD-Roms from the Rotter home.

The Rotter.net site had been under scrutiny for offering scores of copyrighted programs and graphic fonts for download, free of charge, from both the site itself and also from links to other pirate sites.

The court order that authorized the raid was based on the testimony of computer professionals who found that the servers or links on Rotter's site offered a variety of BSA member software for illegal distribution, including Microsoft Windows Millennium and Office 2000, Symantec's Norton Antivirus, Adobe Photoshop and Autodesk's Autocad.

Much of the software contained documentation and serial numbers required for installation. According to the computer specialists, the software distributed through the site enabled complete installation without having to purchase a license, as required by law. The court order stipulated that all Rotter.net web pages offering illegal software were to be taken down.

In March alone, there have been three raids on software pirate sites in Israel, Mey-Tal said, among them a large site based in Tel Aviv that provided links to more than 100 unauthorized software downloads. The damage done by each is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the BSA.

The BSA's campaign has been actively supported by law enforcement officials. "We are collaborating and cooperating with the Israeli police in matters of intellectual property," Mey-Tal said. The police, on their part, set up a unit in 1999 to combat the theft of intellectual property, he said.

The organization has been aggressively targeting the websites which offer illegal software, but has so far been restrained in their approach to end users which have downloaded from these sites.

Mey-Tal could not say if that policy will continue.

"This is a tough question. I can say the BSA often deals with businesses which use illegal software. In those matters, the BSA can file charges against them," Mey-Tal said. "This has happened many times in Israel."