Internet Pirate Gets 51 Months

    June 22, 2007

The leader of one of the oldest and well-known Internet software piracy groups was sentenced today to 51 months in prison.

Hew Raymond Griffiths, 44, A British national living in Bateau Bay, Australia, was brought to the U.S. in February to face criminal charges in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA. Before coming to the U.S. he had been in prison in Australia for almost three years fighting his extradition in Australian court.

"From his home in Australia, Griffiths became one of the most notorious leaders of the underground Internet piracy community by orchestrating the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in copyrighted material," said Assistant Attorney General Fisher.

Griffiths was a leader of an organized crime group known as DrinkOrDie. The group was formed in Russia in 1993 and broken up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2001.

In a 1999 interview Griffiths boasted to an online news source that he would never be caught.

DrinkorDie operated by cracking software codes and distributing the cracked versions over the Internet. Once cracked, the software could be copied, used and distributed without limitation. Members stored the illegal software on huge Internet computer storage sites that held thousands of individual software, game, movie and music titles worth millions.

"Whether committed with a gun or a keyboard — theft is theft," said U.S. Attorney Rosenberg. "And, for those inclined to steal Intellectual Property here, or from halfway around the world, they are on notice that we can and will reach them."