Xiang Li pleads guilty in mega piracy case, faces 5 years in prison

Xiang Li, pirate extraordinaire, has pled guilty in court to a single count of conspiring to steal copyrighted software; his wife was also indicted, but her whereabouts are unknown and she's presumed to be in China somewhere. For such an offense, Li faces up to five years in prison. This is being called the most successful criminal copyright prosecution case ever.

Mr. Li ran the website Crack99.com in addition to a handful of others, specializing in the discounted sale of copyrighted software. Li hired hackers to find, acquired, and crack software, which he then hosted on his websites for sale, with the New York Times reporting that he offered in excess of 2,000 applications. The total value of the products he illegally sold totaled over $100m.

Investigators uncovered over 25,000 emails to customers in Li's Gmail account, as well as over 500 transactions across the globe. Over 200 companies were hit by Li's scrapping and cracking enterprise, with reports stating that he made 10-percent of the profits from the illegal sales. Some of his customers included a NASA electronics engineer and a military contractor scientist.

Turns out, Mr. Li's case is the largest instance of criminal copyright prosecution ending in success. The trial took place in the Federal District Court of Delaware after he was arrested in an undercover sting operation in Saipan. Li's illegal software selling business sold to buyers in 28 states and 60 countries. Some of the software he sold included very high-end applications used by the government and military, including Analytical Graphics, which is priced at $150,000.

[via New York Times]