Chinese National Gets 12 Years for Pirated Software

A Chinese national was orderer to serve 12 years in a U.S. prison for selling more than $100 million worth of software pirated from American companies, including Agilent Technologies Inc., from his home in China.

Xiang Li, 36, was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, after pleading guilty to copyright and wire fraud conspiracy charges in connection with software sales from his China-based website, prosecutors said in a release.

Li and his wife, of Chengdu, China, were accused of running a website called “Crack 99” that sold copies of software for which “access-control mechanisms” had been circumvented, the U.S. said in an unsealed 46-count indictment. The pair was charged with distributing more than 500 copyrighted works to more than 300 buyers in the U.S. and overseas from April 2008 to June 2011. The retail value of the products was more than $100 million, the government said.

Li is the first Chinese citizen to be “apprehended and prosecuted in the U.S. for cybercrimes he engaged in entirely from China,” prosecutors said in court filings.

“It was hard for me to accept that Mr. Li deserved” a 12-year sentence for his actions, Mingli Chen, Li’s lawyer, said in a telephone interview.

Li was arrested by federal agents in June 2011 in Saipan, an island about 120 miles (193 kilometers) northeast of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean, according to court filings.

Undercover Agents

Li agreed to travel there from his home in southwest China to deliver pirated software and 20 gigabytes of proprietary data from a U.S. software company to undercover agents posing as businessmen, according court filings.

The pirated software included programs made by Santa Clara, California-based Agilent and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Ansys Inc., prosecutors said.

An Agilent product intended to speed the design process for electronic equipment was among the software illegally copied by the couple, according to the indictment. The SystemVue 2009 program sells for $45,000.

Xiang Li’s websites listed prices of $20 to $1,200 for products with retail values of several hundred dollars to $3 million, according to the government. He engaged in more than 700 sales of pirated software, prosecutors contended.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark in to sentence Li to more than 17 years in prison over the illegal software sales. Li will be deported to China once he serves his prison term, the government said in a statement.

The case is U.S. v. Li, 10-cr-112, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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