Extradited Software Pirate Pleads Guilty

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The leader of one of the oldest and most well known Internet software piracy groups, Hew Raymond Griffiths has pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement charges, in one of the first extraditions for an intellectual property offense.

Griffiths, a British national living in Bateau Bay, Australia was extradited in February 2007 to face charges in U.S. District Court.

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and one count of criminal copyright infringement. He could face 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted on both counts.

Griffiths was the leader of an organized crime group called DrinkOrDie, which was known as one of the oldest security piracy groups on the Internet. DrinkOrDie started in Russia in 1993 and grew globally throughout the 1990s.

The group was broken up by the Justice Department and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in December 2001.

The group was believed to be responsible for the illegal reproduction and distribution of more than $50 million worth of pirated software, movies, games and music.

Griffiths admits he was in charge of all the illegal operations of DrinkOrDie, which concentrated on cracking software and distributing the cracked versions over the Internet. The cracked software versions could be copied and used without limit.

The software was stockpiled by the organization’s members on large online computer storage sites that held thousands of individual game, movie and music titles worth millions of dollars.

The group used encryption and other complex security measures to hide their actions from law enforcement.

Griffiths sentencing is set for June 22, 2007 in Alexandria, Virginia.

Extradited Software Pirate Pleads Guilty
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