Autodesk, Inc. has announced that Danny Ferrer, 37, of Lakeland, Florida, pled guilty on June 16, 2006, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, to one count of conspiracy and one count of criminal copyright infringement for selling pirated software through the mail. His sentencing is scheduled for August 25, 2006 and Ferrer could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Ferrer agreed to forfeit numerous aircraft, boats and cars, which he had purchased with the profits from his illegal activities. He has also agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice and testify against his co-conspirators; at least three others will be charged.
The software, including those copyrighted by Autodesk, Adobe Systems Inc., and Macromedia Inc., was sold at prices significantly below the suggested retail price. Ferrer and his co-conspirators advertised the illegal software on the BuysUSA Website, selling more than $2.47 million worth of copyrighted software, which resulted in losses to the legitimate software developers of nearly $20 million.
"We appreciate the Justice Department's continued commitment to the enforcement of intellectual property laws, which protects software vendors and consumers alike," said Sandy Boulton, director of license compliance at Autodesk. "Buying software online is extremely risky for consumers and we hope they will purchase products direct from the developers or from their local authorized resellers."
After receiving complaints from copyright holders about Ferrer's Website, an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent made a number of software purchases from the site. The Business Software Alliance (BSA), the organization representing some of the world's leading software developers including Autodesk, provided significant assistance to the investigation. Ferrer's operation began in late 2002 and continued until the FBI shut it down on Oct. 19, 2005. The BSA recently launched a new website (www.bsacybersafety.com/fraud) designed to raise awareness about online fraud while encouraging individuals to submit their own stories of how they were "duped" into purchasing pirated software online.
As part of its license compliance program, Autodesk educates customers and the general public about software piracy and its damaging effects on the economy and product innovation-while seeking legal recourse against copyright infringers. Customers are offered toolkits and information to help them implement sound software management policies.