Software Pirate Gets 7 Years in Prison

A California man has been sentenced to seven years and three months in prison and ordered to pay $5.4 million in restitution as a result of a federal piracy case, software company Autodesk said Friday. In addition to Autodesk, 26-year-old Nathan Peterson also was copying and selling software from Adobe, Macromedia and Symantec, the company said in a statement.

Estimated losses to the software companies range anywhere from $7 million to $20 million. As a result of his conviction, Peterson will also be forced to forfeit any property obtained as a result of the money made from the operation, including multiple cars, homes and a boat.

Among the items seized are a number of bank and trading accounts, a fully restored 1949 Mercury Coupe purchased originally for $44,000, a 2005 Dodge Ram, a 2003 Chevrolet Corvette, a 2004 Toyota Camry, a 2005 Toyota Corolla, and a 2006 Mercedes-Benz S-Class purchased for $125,000.

Peterson operated iBackups, a company that claimed to sell the software as "backup copies" for owners of the original software. The Software Information Industry Association first alerted the FBI of this possible illegal activity in 2003, which in turn an investigation led to the site being shut down.

In December, Peterson pleaded guilty, and the sentencing occurred on September 8, Autodesk said.

"Peterson has said that most of the software was sold to individual consumers, although he did sell to some companies and to at least one school district," Autodesk License Compliance director Sandy Boulton commented. "We commend the FBI and Department of Justice for their efforts and hope that consumers will purchase products direct from the developers or from their local authorized resellers to eliminate the risks of engaging in illegal activities."

In addition to his software conviction, Peterson was also sentenced to 16 months in prison on gun charges in California related to an investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.

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