For Immediate Release
June 13, 2001
BETHESDA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
Greenbelt - Stephen M. Schenning, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, and Lynne Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced today that Gregory Howland, 42, of Bethesda, pleaded guilty to willfully infringing copyrights by selling compact disks containing thousands of dollars of copyrighted computer software.
Evidence presented at the guilty plea proved that Howland, a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, did business under his own name and under the names Howland Enterprises, Inc. and Middlemarch Networks. Prior to September 1998, Howland advertised copies of Apple computer software for sale on an Internet newsgroup. Apple Computer, Inc. of Cupertino, California held copyrights in the following items of computer software: Mac OSX server, WebObjects 4, OpenStep 4.2 User, and OpenStep4.2 Developer. The approximate aggregate retail value of the least expensive versions these programs was in excess of $6,000.
In September 1998, in response to a communication from a reader of the newsgroup, Howland offered to sell copies of OpenStep 4.2 User and OpenStep 4.2 Developer to Black Hole, Inc., a computer company in Denver, Colorado. After an exchange of electronic mail messages, Howland sold Black Hole a compact disk (CD) containing these two programs for $170. After receiving the CD, Black Hole told Howland he was selling bootlegged software and suggested that Howland "stop this practice immediately before you wind up busted by the man." Howland acknowledged that he was selling bootlegged copies and returned Black Holes money.
Apple learned of this transaction and commenced its own investigation. In February 1999, an Apple representative in Boston, Massachusetts using the name of "Alex Lamb" contacted Howland via electronic mail. Howland agreed to sell him a CD containing OpenStep 4.2 User and OpenStep 4.2 for $100 plus $15 shipping. After being provided with an address in the Boston area, Howland mailed him CDs containing illegal duplicates of those two programs, along with additional CDs and diskettes relating to installation of the programs. The CDs were sent in a priority mail package postmarked February22, 1999 from Howland at his address in Bethesda, Maryland.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Boston commenced an investigation and monitored as "Alex Lamb" made additional purchases. Between April and June 1999, Howland sent to "Lamb" packages containing a total of approximately 39 CDs of illegally duplicated, copyrighted Apple Software. Howlands price for those shipments was $2,060 (including $60 shipping), which "Lamb" never paid. Apples approximate total retail value of the copyrighted programs on the CDs reproduced and distributed by Howland exceeded $60,000. Howland later admitted to the FBI that he had sent these packages and that he had sold between 25 and 50 CDs containing copies of computer software at a price of approximately $50 per CD and therefore had earned only a few thousand dollars from the sales.
U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow scheduled sentencing for September 4, 2001 at 4:30 p.m. The Court will determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
This is the U.S. Attorneys Offices second conviction in less than three months for illegal duplication of computer software. United States Attorney Stephen Schenning stated, "This Office and law enforcement agencies recognize the significance of intellectual property to our regions economy and will aggressively prosecute people committing these crimes." Schenning stated the Justice Departments nationwide Intellectual Property Initiative, announced in July 1999, has led to numerous prosecutions around the country under the No Electronic Theft Act, known as the NET Act, which was enacted in 1997 to facilitate prosecutions of Internet copyright piracy. The NET Act makes it illegal to reproduce or distribute copyrighted works, such as software programs and musical recordings, even if the defendant acts without a commercial purpose or for private financial gain.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stuart A. Berman with the assistance of agents from the FBIs Calverton office.
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