WASHINGTON—The owner of a massive for-profit software piracy Web site pleaded guilty in federal court, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced today.
Danny Ferrer, 37, of Lakeland, Fla., pleaded guilty in Alexandria, Va. before U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III to one count of conspiracy and one count of criminal copyright infringement for selling pirated software through the mail. Ferrer, who is scheduled to be sentenced on August 25, 2006 at 9:00 A.M., could receive a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Ferrer also agreed to forfeit numerous airplanes, a helicopter, boats and cars, which he had purchased with the profits from his illegal enterprise, including: a Cessna 152; a Cessna 172RG; a Model TS-11 ISKRA aircraft; a RotorWay International helicopter; a 1992 Lamborghini; a 2005 Hummer; a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette; two 2005 Chevrolet Corvettes; a 2005 Lincoln Navigator; an IGATE G500 LE Flight Simulator; a 1984 twenty-eight foot Marinette hardtop express boat; and an ambulance.
“Today’s conviction of one of the largest commercial online distributors of pirated software in the United States sends a clear message to those who pirate software for profit that stealing at the expense of the hard work and creativity of legitimate rights-holders is a crime for which you will be prosecuted,” said Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher. “This case reflects the Justice Department’s continued commitment to the enforcement of intellectual property laws and to bringing those who steal software and other intellectual property to justice.”
Beginning in late 2002 and continuing until its shutdown by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on October 19, 2005, Ferrer and his co-conspirators operated the www.BUYSUSA.com Web site, which sold copies of software products that were copyrighted by companies such as Adobe Systems Inc., Autodesk, and Macromedia Inc. at prices substantially below the suggested retail price. The software products purchased on the website were reproduced on compact discs and distributed through the mail. The operation included a serial number that allowed the purchaser to activate and use the product.
“Online pirates prey on honest businesspeople and cost them millions of dollars a year–a cost partly and inevitably borne by consumers,” said U.S. Attorney Rosenberg. “The public should remember that offers that sound too good to be true typically are too good to be true.”
The investigation was conducted by agents of the FBI’s Washington field office. After receiving complaints from copyright holders about Ferrer’s website, an undercover FBI agent made a number of purchases of business and utility software from the site, which were delivered by mail to addresses in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Using evidence of the undercover purchases as probable cause, the Web site was taken down in October 2005 by agents of the FBI. Further investigation established that, during the time of its operation, www.BUYSUSA.com illegally sold more than $2.47 million of copyrighted software. These sales resulted in losses to the owners of the underlying copyrighted products of nearly $20 million.
The Business Software Alliance, a trade association which represents leading computer software companies, provided significant assistance to the investigation.
Jay V. Prabhu, trial attorney for the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and Edmund P. Power, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.