Court case highlights organised crime links with software piracy


Court case highlights organised crime links with software piracy

Simon Quicke

The link between organised crime and illegal software has been laid bare in a case at Reading Crown Court which ended with a prison sentence.

Nicholas Wright, a software pirate from Lampeter, Wales, was sent down for 15 months after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary.

As part of the small gang, Wright made a spate of burglaries in May and June last year stealing £190,000 worth of software.

Judge Zoe Smith, said Wright and his three accomplices, formed "part of a gang who committed professional, commercial burglaries".

The case was brought to court after an investigation by the Thames Valley Police Serious and Organised Crime Unit.

Microsoft had been on the tail of Wright for a few years after taking action against him in September 2007 for trademark and copyright infringement.

"As this case unfortunately shows, people who sell and distribute pirated software are often connected to more serious crimes such as identity theft, fraud and burglary," said Michala Wardell, head of anti-piracy at Microsoft UK.

"Microsoft is committed to working with law enforcement organisations to protect the livelihoods of our channel partners," she added.

Stolen, counterfeit and unlicensed software costs the industry millions each year in terms of lost revenue but up to now most cases highlighted in public have focused on mis-selling or unlicensed use rather than organised crime.

"It's a sad fact that people who deal with illegal goods are usually involved in other forms of criminality and anti-social behavior," said Julian Swan, director of compliance at the British Software Alliance.

"Criminals like Mr Wright have made a living off selling sub-standard and potentially dangerous goods to the UK public using whatever illegal means they can," he added.

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