Chinese software pirate Xiang Li sentenced to 12 years in federal prison

On January 8, we reported that Xiang Li had plead guilty in what was being called the most successful copyright criminal prosecution to ever take place. The pirate ran website, as well as some lesser known domains, which sold copyrighted software at discounted rates. While originally word had it he faced a possible 5 years in prison, his sentencing today slammed him with 12 years.

Reportedly, Li would hire hackers to crack software, which he would then host and sell for profit at lower than retail rates. He is said to have offered over 2,000 applications for sale, with the total value of those product sales coming in at over $100 million USD. While software piracy is the same across the globe, not all of it involves the same wares, and Li seemed to dabble in the world of not-so-common software.

Among the software Li sold was said to be explosives simulators, defense applications, engineering software, military, space exploration, manufacturing plant design, and more. As we reported earlier this year, some of his customers were from surprisingly high-up organizations and agencies, with one being a NASA electronics engineer, for example.

To put it in perspective, Li averaged a sales price of $140,000 per purchase, putting him a world above your run-of-the-mill consumer software hacker. The Chinese pirate's downfall came when he aroused the attention of ICE, which began luring him in with transactions that eventually culminated in an in-person "sale" where he was arrested in Saipan.

Once the 12-year sentence is complete, Li will be sent back to China. In January, his wife was also indicted, but authorities could not locate her and believed her to be in China; there was no mention of her, so presumably she still can not be located. The sentencing took place in the Federal District Court of Delaware.