Operation Safehaven: Hawaii Man Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement (January 23, 2004)
DOJ Seal
January 23, 2004

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Connecticut
Connecticut Financial Center
157 Church Street
P.O. Box 1824
New Haven, Connecticut 06510
(203) 821-3700
Fax: (203) 773-5376
Contact: Tom Carson
Public Information Office
(203) 821-3722
Mobile: (203) 996-1393

Operation Safehaven:

Hawaii Man Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement  

Kevin J. O’Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced that ROSS ISHIDA, age 23, of 1080 Ala Napunani Street, Honolulu, Hawaii, waived indictment and pleaded guilty today to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. ISHIDA’S plea of guilty was accepted this morning by Senior United States District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven.

According to documents filed in federal court, ISHIDA, a.k.a. “daphantm” or “daph,” was a participant in the “warez scene”  an underground online community that consists of individuals and organized groups who use the internet to engage in the large-scale, illegal distribution of copyrighted software. In the warez scene, certain participants (known as “suppliers”) are able to obtain access to copyrighted software, video games, DVD movies, and MP3 music files, often before those titles are even available to the general public. Other participants (known as “crackers”) then use their technical skills to circumvent or “crack” the digital copyright protections. Others (known as “couriers”) distribute the pirated software to various file servers on the internet for others to access, reproduce, and further distribute.

In pleading guilty, ISHIDA admitted that he acted as a distributor or “courier” of pirated software and that he uploaded and downloaded numerous illegal copies to and from warez sites on the Internet. In addition, ISHIDA admitted that he was responsible for installing and maintaining his own warez server, which was attached to a high-speed internet link located at the University of Hawaii.

“Stealing the intellectual property of others is no different from any other form of thievery,” U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O’Connor stated. “It is a priority of this Office and the Department of Justice to protect the intellectual property rights of our nation’s inventors and creators.”

“Software piracy is theft by criminals, plain and simple,” added Robin Avers, Special Agent in Charge of the New England Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “It is multi-billion dollar thievery, and ICE will continue to target and dismantle those criminal organizations that abuse the internet by facilitating and participating in this activity.”

ISHIDA faces a possible punishment of up to five years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced by Judge Burns on April 6, 2004.

This case was prosecuted as part of Operation Safehaven, a fifteen-month investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and the ICE Cyber Crimes Center, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and the Department of Justice, Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (“CCIPS”). This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn J. Chen and CCIPS Trial Attorney Kenneth L. Doroshow.