A US judge recently sentenced a Chinese national by the name of Ziang Li to 12 years in prison for allegedly selling more than USD$100 million in pirated software and games. He was caught in the US territory of Saipan in June 2011 where he pleaded guilty in early 2013. In total, it was said he was able to sell bootlegged software from as many as 200 U.S. manufacturers at a substantially lower price than the real stuff.
Li was noted as the first Chinese national in U.S. history to be prosecuted and sentenced for the crime of selling pirated software on a website he created.
Prosecutors said that he would be deported back to China after he serves his sentence, and that his sentencing, which is the first of its kind, was the beginning of a massive crackdown on IP theft.
Li was selling software from the likes of Rockwell Automation, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft. Prosecutors said he would visit Internet forums where the pirated software was exchanged along with exploits that generated codes to unlock them.
At the time of his arrest Li had over 2000 titles of software in his hard drives, priced from $20.00 on up to as much as $1200.00. According to the prosecutor, one such software item is used to operate complex automation. in Li’s possession was said to cost nearly $1 million (U.S.) on the real world market.
Instead of giving the customers a physical, tangible copy, Li would often transfer the programs over the Internet and money was exchanged through a number of money transfer sites like PayPal and in Bitcoins.
According to experts, intellectual property theft results in the loss of as much as $300 billion every year in the U.S. It is also believed that China is behind as much as 80% of that activity.