Warez Raids Net First Conviction For Software Piracy

Dec 28, 2004 (08:12 AM EST)

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A 26-year-old college student faces 15 years in prison as the first person convicted of software piracy stemming from April's international raids dubbed "Operation Fastlink."

According to court documents made public last week and reported by the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Jathan Desir, 26, who is registered at the University of Iowa, pleaded guilty December 22 in U.S. District Court in Des Moines.

Court records say that Desir and others set up an online library for a private group to share movies, games, software, and music in January 2003. By April 2004, the collection had mushroomed to about 13,000 titles.

In April, FBI agents seized six computers at Desir's residence as part of Operation Fastlink, a crackdown that targeted so-called "warez" groups, which act as the source for most pirated software or movies. The raids were conducted by the FBI in 27 states, and by local law enforcement agencies in 10 other countries.

Desir is responsible for up to $200,000 in losses to the software industry by purloining copyrighted software, the federal records showed. He faces a possible 15-year jail sentence for copyright infringement and conspiracy, with sentencing set for March 18, 2005.