The leader of one of the oldest and most infamous software piracy groups has been sentenced to 51 months in prison on one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.
In one of the first ever extraditions for an intellectual property offence, Hew Raymond Griffiths, 44, a British national living in Bateau Bay, Australia, was brought to the US in February to face criminal charges in a US District Court in Alexandria, Vancouver.
Griffiths pleaded guilty before US District Court Judge Claude Hilton in April. Prior to his arrival in the US, he had spent nearly three years at a detention centre in Australia while fighting extradition. This time will be included in the sentence.
From his home in Australia, Griffiths led the organised criminal group known as DrinkOrDie, which had a reputation as one of the oldest and most security-conscious piracy groups on the internet.
DrinkOrDie was founded in Russia in 1993 and expanded internationally throughout the 1990s. The group was dismantled by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement as part of Operation Buccaneer in December 2001.
Operation Buccaneer conducted more than 70 raids in the US, the UK, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Australia.
Prior to its dismantling, DrinkOrDie was estimated to have caused the illegal reproduction and distribution of more than $50m worth of software, movies, games and music.
"Whether committed with a gun or a keyboard, theft is theft," said US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg. "Those inclined to steal intellectual property here, or from half-way around the world, are on notice that we can and will reach them."
Griffiths ran all of DrinkOrDie's day-to-day operations and controlled access to more than 20 of the top warez servers worldwide.
Known by the screen nickname 'Bandido', Griffiths boasted in an interview published in December 1999 that he would never be caught.
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