[ISN] Officials unseal piracy records

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Dec 29 01:31:40 EST 2004


By Brian Sharp
Iowa City Press-Citizen 
December 24, 2004

An Iowa City man who admitted to pirating copyrighted software then 
distributing it online is personally responsible for as much as 
$200,000 in losses to the industry, according to federal records 
unsealed Thursday.

Jathan Desir, 26, became the first person convicted as part of
"Operation Fastlink," [1] a multi-national investigation launched in
April. Records show one of the two online libraries he helped create
totaled 13,000 titles before FBI agents arrived at his home this

Desir, registered as a student at the University of Iowa, waived 
indictment and pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Des 
Moines. He faces a maximum 15 years in prison on felony counts of 
copyright infringement and conspiracy. Sentencing is set for March 18.

He was part of the "warez scene," an underground network of 
individuals and organized groups that compete in the market of 
large-scale, illegal dissemination of protected software. Members gain 
access to copyrighted material, often before its release, crack the 
digital protections and put it online for others to access, reproduce 
or pass along.

According to federal court records:

In January 2003, Desir and others set up an online library for a 
private group to share movies, games, utility software and music. The 
library grew to about 13,000 titles by the time of the federal raid in 

Transfer logs obtained from the computer service show Desir 
transferred numerous titles between Aug. 16, 2003, and April 2, 2004. 
Records show he copied and distributed at least 10 items every six 
months. He accessed the system from his Iowa City home, records show. 
No address was provided.

On April 21, FBI agents executed a search warrant at his residence, 
seizing six personal computers, various computer components and 
equipment as well as computer games and software. Desir cooperated 
with authorities from the beginning, even signing a statement 
detailing his activities. He also has admitted to creating a second 
library federal agents seized in California.

The search of Desir's residence was part of "Operation Fastlink," 
which targeted the underground community's hierarchy with agents 
conducting more than 120 searches within 24 hours in 27 states and 11 
foreign countries. At the time, authorities identified nearly 100 
people as leaders or high-ranking members of international piracy 

Business Software Alliance, which represents several software 
manufacturers, examined the two computer servers linked to Desir and 
reported that each contained client titles exceeding $2,500 in retail 
value. The $2,500 value is a benchmark in the federal criminal code.

Desir's sentence, once imposed, may still be reduced if he complies 
with all aspects of the plea agreement and assists in the 
investigation and prosecution of one or more others identified in the 
piracy probe.

[1] http://www.cybercrime.gov/desirPlea.htm

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