Chicago (IL) – Eleven individuals were convicted in a southern China court of violating national copyright laws and participating in a sophisticated counterfeiting ring that enabled them to mass-produce and distribute pirated Microsoft software globally.
The group reportedly operated like an international corporation that produced and sold CDs and DVDs that were not only of high quality, but packaged nearly identically to real products despite the high level of anti-piracy security measures taken by Microsoft.
The organization mass-pirated software such as Windows XP and Office 2007. The goods were sold via the Internet and then exported from China and shipped to the United States and Europe.
According to court documents released on Wednesday, the men were sentenced to anywhere from one and a half to six and a half years in prison. Microsoft described the group as one of the largest counterfeiting organizations ever discovered. The organization’s international sales have been estimated at more than $2 billion.
The operation was discovered and broken up in July of 2007. Twenty-five individuals were arrested, and several manufacturing facilities were shut down. Software valued at more than $500 million was confiscated from the facilities.
Microsoft said it was satisfied with the outcome and noted that the sentences were the strictest ever delivered in a Chinese copyright infringement trial.