RealTime IT News

Argh Matey! SIIA Sues Two Alleged Software Pirates

In what could be considered damning evidence against the purported safety of Internet auctions, civil suits against two software pirates caught in a sting operation were filed in U.S. District Court Thursday by a coalition of outfits that calls itself the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

Plaintiffs in the case include software luminaries and SIIA members Adobe Systems Inc., Alias Wavefront, a division of Silicon Graphics Limited, and Macromedia, all of whom alleged that Michael Chu and Julian Kish sold pirated software worth thousands of dollars to SIIA.

Each man faces fines of as much as $150,000 per violation for copyright infringement.

The suit against Chu, who is alleged to have sold 22 software titles with a retail value of $54,745 to SIIA for $144.85, has been filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit against Julian Kish, alleged to have sold six software titles with a retail value of $5,594 to SIIA for $50, has been filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

But the issue deals with more than just a pair of possible crooks as SIIA also mounted an assault aimed at Internet auctions, which it feels enabled Chu and Kish to pull off the piracy. SIIA published a white paper detailing how pirates are turning better than a 90 percent profit margin from sales of illegitimate software on Internet auctions.

The paper said pirates also enjoy virtual anonymity through multiple screen names, and manipulate differing rules among Internet auction providers to cull email addresses of bidders on software auctions, creating a kind of crooked marketing channel.

The study also offers resources for consumers to recognize illegitimate software on auction sites, with real e-mail examples.

SIIA president Ken Wasch said pirates turning to online auctions is a no-brainer.

"Auction sites provide relative anonymity and relatively free access to thousands of customers," Wasch said in a statement Thursday.