Man Gets 6 Years in Software Piracy Case

A Florida man who made millions of dollars selling illegal copies of computer programs was sentenced Friday to six years in prison in one of the nation's largest software piracy cases.

Danny Ferrer, of Lakeland, Fla., pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy and copyright infringement charges after an FBI investigation of his Web site, Ferrer also was ordered to pay more than $4.1 million in restitution to software makers Adobe Systems Inc., Autodesk, and Macromedia Inc.

Ferrer bought numerous airplanes, a fighter-jet simulator, a Lamborghini, a Hummer and other luxury vehicles with his profits. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III ordered the items be sold to pay restitution in the case.

"You extended your hand into the pockets of these people," Ellis said before sentencing Ferrer. "If severe penalties were not attached, people would line up from here to Los Angeles to do what you've done."

Ferrer told the judge he started selling the pirated software to pay for a feeding tube for his sick wife, but "there was probably a certain amount of greed."

Prosecutors said they are working with the FBI to investigate the providers of fake software serial numbers on the Internet, which allowed Ferrer to sell the programs.

The software looked legitimate to consumers, but was deeply discounted, said John Wolfe, of Business Software Alliance, an industry group.

Ferrer's Web site began selling software in 2002 and was shut down by the FBI in October 2005, authorities said.

Prosecutors said the illegal sales cost the software companies as much as $20 million, but industry officials say the amount could be higher.

"This is the ultimate case," prosecutor Jay V. Prabhu said in court. "This is a case where someone made a lot of money."


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