Xiang Li pleads guilty in $100m software piracy scam

A Chinese man has pleaded guilty to selling pirated US business software worth more than $100m.

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Chinese man sold pirated US business software in 61 countries.

Li Xiang has pleaded guilty to selling pirated media — but instead of music, movies, or copies of consumer software, he’s being charged with distributing high-end commercial software that normally sold for anywhere from hundreds to over a million dollars.

Reuters reports that the US Department of Homeland Security caught Li Xiang during a sting operation in June of 2011, after agents had already given him several thousand dollars in exchange for pirated copies of software like the commercial version of Satellite Tool Kit, an aerospace engineering tool.

Li sold the software online for anywhere from $20 to $1,200, a fraction of the official price; it came from 200 companies including Microsoft, Siemens, and SAP.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that it had broken up an operation run by Xiang Li, 36, of Chengdu in Sichuan, China, that the bureau called “one of the most significant cases of copyright infringement ever uncovered—and dismantled.”

Li distributed via his website Crack99.com hundreds of high-cost programs which he had “cracked,” or broken access and license codes to allow anyone to use them, the ICE said in a statement.

Li pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and wire fraud in the US district court in Wilmington, Delaware, and faces up to 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 3. Two US citizens, NASA engineer Cosburn Wedderburn and Wronald Best, chief scientist at a US defense contractor, have also pleaded guilty to copyright infringement and await sentencing.
Both bought programs which would have cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain legally.
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