In one of the first ever extraditions for an intellectual property offence, the leader of one of the oldest and most renowned software piracy groups was this week extradited from Australia to appear in a US district court.
Hew Raymond Griffiths, 44, a British national living in Bateau Bay, Australia, appeared in a US District Court in Alexandria before Magistrate Judge Barry Poretz.
The defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, and one count of criminal copyright infringement.
Griffiths faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted on both counts.
Prior to his arrival in the US, Griffiths had spent nearly three years incarcerated in a detention centre in Australia while fighting his extradition in an Australian court.
"Griffiths claimed to be beyond the reach of US law, and today we have proven otherwise," said Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher.
"This extradition represents the US Department of Justice's commitment to protect intellectual property rights from those who violate our laws from the other side of the globe."
US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg added: "Our agents and prosecutors are working tirelessly to nab intellectual property thieves, even where their crimes transcend international borders."
The indictment, which was returned in March 2003, charges Griffiths as the leader of an organised criminal group known as DrinkOrDie, which had a reputation as one of the oldest security-conscious piracy groups on the internet.
DrinkOrDie was founded in Russia in 1993 and expanded internationally throughout the 1990s.
The action followed more than 70 raids conducted 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.
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