August 28, 2008 – Washington, DC – The Entertainment Software Association today applauded the recent sentencings of two convicted pirates to significant prison time. These rulings send a clear message that intellectual property theft and game piracy are serious offenses. On August 20, 2008, U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney in the Western District of North Carolina sentenced Kevin Fuchs of West Amherst, NY, to eight months in prison, to be followed by eight months of home confinement during two years of court supervision. On August 15, 2008, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced Kifah Maswadi of Oakland, FL, to fifteen months in prison, followed by three years’ supervised release and fifty hours of community service. Maswadi was also ordered to pay $415,900 in restitution.
“We commend the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Western District of North Carolina and the Eastern District of Virginia and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their work in bringing these criminals to justice,” said Michael D. Gallagher, CEO of the ESA, the trade group representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. “These decisions illustrate, once again, that game piracy will not be tolerated and the extent at which these criminals will be prosecuted. The ESA and its members will continue to support law enforcement’s efforts to protect the intellectual property of our industry.”
On January 3, 2007, Fuchs plead guilty to conspiring to reproduce and distribute copyrighted works, including entertainment software. Fuchs played a key role in the “warez scene” where he was a “supplier,” whose role was to obtain pre-release copies of copyrighted software, and a “tester” who checked the functionality of pirated software after the copy protection was removed or bypassed by other warez scene members. This case was part of Operations Fastlink and Site Down, two of the largest piracy investigations conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice. The operations targeted “warez groups,” which illegally distribute copyrighted movies, games, software and movies online.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in Charlotte, NC, handled the investigation of defendant Fuch’s activities. Trial Attorneys Richard D. Green and John Zacharia of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Klumb, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Ellis of the Western District of North Carolina, handled the prosecution.
The Fuchs sentencing comes on the heels of a fifteen month sentence imposed on a Florida game pirate. On June 3, 2008, Kifah Maswadi pleaded guilty to one count of criminal copyright infringement. He admitted to selling “Power Players,” which are game systems that connect directly to a television and were pre-loaded with at least 76 pirated copies of video games. From 2006 to 2007, Maswadi sold these game systems containing illegal copies of games via the Internet and earned more than $390,000 through this illegal activity. Maswadi was facing up to three years in prison but received a reduced sentence for cooperating with the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation field offices in Washington, DC, Tampa, FL, and Jacksonville, FL, handled the investigation of defendant Maswadi’s activities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay V. Prabhu and Trial Attorney Tyler G. Newby of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section handled the prosecution.
The Entertainment Software Association is the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the Internet. The ESA offers services to interactive entertainment software publishers including a global anti-piracy program, owning the E3 Media & Business Summit, business and consumer research, federal and state government relations, First Amendment and intellectual property protection efforts. For more information, please visit www.theESA.com.