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Copyright Cases - U.S. v. Lirola et al. (N.D. Cal.)



 

 Two Defendants Plead Guilty to Distribution and Sales of Counterfeit Copyrighted Computer Software and Forfeit Ownership of a Domain Name

January 5, 2001


            The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced  that Maria Yolanda Sola Lirola and Francisco Javier Arjona Joyanes pled guilty today to charges brought in federal court in San Jose based on their involvement in the distribution and sales of counterfeit copyrighted computer software while operating Software-Inc.com, an Internet based business.  In addition to pleading guilty to these charges, the defendants, in what is believed to be the first ever criminal forfeiture of a web site in an intellectual property case, agreed to forfeit to the government their ownership of the domain name www.software-inc.com.  The defendants also agreed to the forfeiture of approximately $900,000, a 2000 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, and a large quantity of computer and other electronic components.

            Ms.  Lirola, age 34, and Mr.  Joyanes, age 26, residents of Los Angeles and citizens of Spain, were charged in a three count information filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in federal court in San Jose on October 16, 2000.  The defendants were charged in count one with criminal copyright infringement in violation of Title 17, United States Code, Section 506(a)(1) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2319(b)(1), in count two with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and in count three with criminal forfeiture in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 982(a)(8).  Because the defendants were arrested in Southern California and agreed to plead guilty to each of the charges and forfeit the above mentioned assets, the government agreed to allow the defendants to enter their pleas in federal court in Los Angeles.

            In pleading guilty, the defendants admitted that between March 1998 and September 2000, they made unauthorized copies of copyrighted computer software, offered that software for sale on the Internet web-site www.software-inc.com and on Internet auction sites, fraudulently represented on the web-site and the auction sites that the copies of copyrighted computer software were authorized copies of the software, mailed the software to purchasers, and received approximately $900,000 in gross revenue from such sales.

            The defendants began the sales from Spain using the business name Bestprice, but in November 1998 relocated to the United States and changed the name of the company to Software Inc.  The defendants ultimately took up residence and operated the business out of an apartment located on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

            The defendants admitted to having committed these crimes using a website with the domain name www.software-inc.com registered to Software, Inc., Charlotte St. P.O. Box 341, Nassau, BS and hosted by NORA Telecom, Avd. Independencia 2, Leon, Leon 24001, Spain.  In some instances, the counterfeit software was sold directly from the www.software-inc.com site; in other instances purchasers of the software learned of the software from the www.software-inc.com site but purchased the software through direct contacts such as fax, email, or mail; in yet other instances, purchasers of software won auctions for software offered by the defendants on various Internet auction sites and were directed to the www.software-inc.com site to complete the auction transaction.

            The defendants managed the website www.software-inc.com remotely from Los Angeles.  When conducting business with Network Solutions, Inc., the defendants used the alias contact name Frank Ramirez and an address on 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights, New York, as well as the email address webmaster@software-inc.com.

            The sentencing of Ms.  Lirola and Mr.  Joyanes is scheduled for March 26, 2001 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins  in Los Angeles.  The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2319 is five years imprisonment, a three year period of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense.  The statutory maximum sentence that the Court can impose for a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 is five years imprisonment, a three year period of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense.

            The prosecution is the result of a year-long investigation by agents of the United States Customs Service.  The case was referred for investigation by investigators from Adobe Systems Inc., Autodesk Inc. and Macromedia, three companies victimized by the offenses, all of which are Northern California software companies.  The Assistant U.S. Attorneys in San Jose who prosecuted the case are Joseph E. Sullivan and Scott H. Frewing, from the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit of the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California.  They did so with the assistance of Lauri Gomez.

            All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's Office should be directed to spokesperson Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Jacobs at (415)436-7181 or San Jose Office Branch Chief Elizabeth de la Vega at (408) 535-5061.

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