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Software Pirate Gets 7 Years

A California man was sentenced by a federal judge for multiple counts of copyright infringement for selling pirated software online.

A California man has been sentenced by a federal judge to serve more than 7 years in prison for running a massive software piracy operation that netted him millions.

Nathan Peterson, 27, of Antelope Acres, Calif., pleaded guilty in late 2005 to multiple counts of criminal copyright infringement for selling pirated Adobe, Microsoft, and Symantec software via the Web. According to federal authorities, Peterson netted more than $5.4 million from the sale of $20 million worth of software. He sold the phony programs from his site starting in 2003 and didn't stop until he was arrested in February 2005. Peterson often included a serial number that allowed the purchaser to activate and use the product.

"Stealing the intellectual property of others is always a bad idea in any context. It's theft," said Chuck Rosenberg, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in a statement issued Friday.

Peterson funded what the government called "an extravagant lifestyle," buying multiple homes, cars, and a boat. Among the assets seized by the FBI were half-a-dozen cars, including a restored 1949 Mercury Coupe, a 2003 Chevrolet Corvette, and a 2006 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III sentenced Peterson to 87 months in prison and ordered him to pay restitution of more than $5.4 million.

Peterson's software counterfeiting sentence was the second handed out by Ellis in the last two months. In August, Ellis ordered Danny Ferrer, 37, of Lakeland, Fla., to serve a 6-year prison sentence and pay more than $4.1 million in restitution to software makers Adobe, Autodesk, and Macromedia.

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