Brothers sentenced for software piracy

Two brothers were sentenced Friday to multiyear prison terms for selling what the U.S. Department of Justice called "massive" amounts of pirated software online, the DOJ announced.

Maurice A. Robberson, 48, was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $855,917 in restitution, while his brother Thomas K. Robberson, 55, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $151,488 in restitution, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

On Nov. 7, Maurice Robberson pleaded guilty to conspiracy and felony copyright infringement, while Thomas Robberson pleaded guilty to a single count of felony copyright infringement.

Thomas Robberson made more than $150,000 selling software with a retail value of nearly $1 million through Bestvalueshoppe.com and TheDealDepot.net, the DOJ said. Maurice Robberson grossed more than $855,000 selling software with a retail value of nearly $5.6 million through CDsalesUSA.com and AmericanSoftwareSales.com. Both men have agreed to forfeit all their proceeds from the businesses, the DOJ said.

"People who steal the intellectual property of others for their personal financial gain, while defrauding consumers who think they are buying legitimate products, will be punished for their crimes, as today's sentences prove," Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher said in a statement.

Two other people who conspired with Maurice Robberson to commit copyright infringement have already been sentenced, the DOJ said. Danny Ferrer, 39, was sentenced to 72 months in prison on Aug. 25, 2006, for selling more than $4 million in pirated software with a retail value of nearly $20 million on BuysUSA.com. Alton Lee Grooms, 56, who helped start some of the businesses and gained more than $150,000 in profit, was sentenced on Jan. 18, 2008, to one year and one day in prison, after he cooperated with the government's investigation.

From late 2002 to October 2005, the men sold counterfeit software from companies such as Adobe Systems, Autodesk and Macromedia at discount prices, the DOJ said. These counterfeit items were manufactured by their businesses and included labels that featured trademarks and service marks of the legitimate software companies.

After receiving complaints from software copyright holders about BuysUSA.com, an undercover FBI agent made a number of purchases of business and utility software. Law enforcement authorities found a network of sites selling pirated software, the DOJ said.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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