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Friday, 17 May, 2002, 20:57 GMT 21:57 UK
Software pirate gets jail sentence
An apologetic computer hacker has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison, following a conviction of software piracy.

John Sankus Jr of Philadelphia expressed regret in federal court on Friday for his role in operating software ring DrinkOrDie, which US authorities believe has cost the software industry billions of dollars each year in sales.

Mr Sankus, aged 28, was ordered by an Alexandria, Virginia, court to serve 44 months for conspiring to commit copyright infringement, US officials said.

The sentence was part of a plea agreement he reached with prosecutors in February.

"John Sankus and his techno-gang operated a faceless world of the Internet and thought they would never be caught," said US Attorney Paul McNulty in a statement.

"They were wrong. These sentences... should send a message to others entertaining similar beliefs of invincibility," he said.

Members of DrinkOrDie, the oldest and largest international software-piracy ring in cyberspace, illegally copied and distributed thousands of copies of copyrighted material throughout the world.

They came together only through the Internet where they exchanged stolen software in secret Web sites or by invitation-only chat rooms.

Nine others have been sentenced in the case, including Barry Erickson, 35, of Eugene, Oregon, who earlier this month plead guilty to similar charges and is currently serving a 33-month term.

The convictions stem from a 15-month federal undercover investigation, called "Operation Buccaneer," that mainly targeted DrinkOrDie, which was effectively shut down in December.

See also:

18 Apr 02 | Business
Amnesty for Russia's net pirates
13 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
Hunting down the pirates
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