Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Three British men who gained no money by helping crack security codes to run one of the largest international software piracy rings on the Internet were sentenced Friday to jail terms ranging from 18 months to 2 1/2 years. The three men — plus a fourth who received a suspended jail sentence — were behind the British end of DrinkOrDie, an international code cracking group that U.S. and British authorities believe cost the software industry billions of dollars in sales every year. The group, which gained notoriety by releasing a pirated copy of the Windows 95 operating system two weeks before Microsoft Corp. released it, was shut down by authorities in the United States, Australia, Britain and other countries following raids in 2002. More than 20 people in the United States were convicted the same year. British prosecutors said that the four men sentenced Friday were not involved in the syndicate for money, instead cracking security codes to release the software on the Internet for free. “They may see themselves as latter-day Robin Hoods, stealing from the rich to give to the poor, but in reality it is a cover for fraud,” prosecutor Bruce Houlder told the Old Bailey Criminal Court during the trial. “Computers are their universe. They live and breathe a world of computer software.” Banker Alex Bell, 29, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail, and Steven Dowd, who is 39 and unemployed, was sentenced to two years after they were both found guilty of conspiracy to defraud at a trial earlier this year. IT manager Mark Vent was sentenced to 18 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud. Andrew Eardley, a former school IT worker, was given an 18 month sentence, suspended for two years. The suspension means that with good behavior, he may not serve the jail sentence. Judge Paul Focke said he had imposed the jail terms as a deterrent to other potential Internet pirates. “The activities of all four of you struck at the heart of the software trade,” he said. “The loss of software to owners through piracy is staggering. Also, the effect on related businesses and the lives of employees can be rendered catastrophic.” Focke said that an estimated third of software being used in Britain was pirated and resulted in a loss of revenue that was impossible to quantify. Focke also dismissed the claims the four men intended to provide free access to everyone. “Your motivation was not only the benefit of free access,” he said. “It was to enhance your personal reputation and to be a member of an organization at the leading edge of technology, crossing the legal boundary.” Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.