Major Criminal IP Operations - Operation Fastlink - First 'Operation Fastlink' Defendant Pleads Guilty to Online Software Piracy
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew G. Whitaker of the Southern District of Iowa announced today that an Iowa City, Iowa man has pleaded guilty to charges related to his role in an underground network that distributed pirated software, games, movies and music over the Internet.
Jathan Desir, 26, of Iowa City, Iowa, entered the plea before Chief Magistrate Judge Ross A. Walters at U.S. District Court in Des Moines, Iowa. Desir pleaded guilty to a three-count felony information charging copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. Desir faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 18, 2005 before United States District Judge Robert W. Pratt.
Jathan Desir is the first U.S. defendant to be convicted as part of "Operation Fastlink," the largest multi-national law enforcement action ever taken against online software piracy. In April 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that Operation Fastlink investigators conducted over 120 searches in 27 states and 11 foreign countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Spain, Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Nearly 100 individuals worldwide were identified by the investigation as leaders or high-level members of various international piracy organizations. In addition to attacking piracy globally, Operation Fastlink struck at all facets of the illegal software, game, movie, and music trade online, which is commonly referred to as the "warez scene."
"Today's announcement is another significant step forward in the Department of Justice's aggressive pursuit of intellectual property crime," said Assistant Attorney General Wray. "The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting all forms of intellectual property theft. There is no hiding in cyberspace, and there is no hiding behind borders."
In entering his plea today, Desir admitted to conspiring with other individuals to construct and operate two separate computer sites that provided a library of copyrighted software, including movies, games, music and business utility programs. According to documents filed in federal court, Desir was a member of the "warez scene" -- an underground online community that consists of individuals and organized groups who use the Internet to engage in the large-scale, illegal distribution of copyrighted software, games, movies and music. In the organized warez scene, group members known as "suppliers" obtain access to copyrighted software, video games, DVD movies and MP3 music files, often before those titles are available to the general public. Other members known as "crackers" use their advanced technical skills to circumvent or "crack" the digital copyright protections embedded in the copyrighted works. Finally, group members known as "couriers" distribute the pirated software to various file servers on the Internet for others to access, reproduce, and further distribute worldwide. Within hours of a new "release" to the warez scene, the newly released copyrighted work is available on Peer-to-Peer and public IRC networks for free downloading.
"This case is a significant effort by an entire team of investigators and prosecutors dedicated to prosecuting software piracy," said United States Attorney Matthew G. Whitaker. "The people of Iowa and of the United States are better off when the market works and individuals are not illegally copying and using stolen software. We all pay for these crimes in increased license fees and inconvenient license terms."
Operation Fastlink has been conducted under the direction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. The investigation is continuing. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Richards from the Southern District of Iowa and Clement McGovern from the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice.