Paul J. McNulty, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia announced that William Fitzgerald, 53, of Arlington, Virginia was sentenced today for distributing pirated software over the Internet in federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia. Mr. Fitzgerald pled guilty to a single count of criminal copyright infringement on February 3, 2003. Today, U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee sentenced Mr. Fitzgerald to a term of four months incarceration, four additional months to be served in home confinement, and a $3,000 fine. He faced a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Mr. Fitzgerald operated a publicly accessible website through which he offered pirated copies of business software. Among the titles available were programs produced by Adobe, Autodesk, Macromedia, and Microsoft. Evidence obtained through this investigation revealed that thousands of pirated software programs were downloaded from Fitzgerald’s website by users from around the world during the six-month period charged. As part of the plea agreement, the United States and Fitzgerald agreed that Fitzgerald illegally reproduced and distributed copyrighted software valued at between $40,000 and $70,000. “We will continue to prosecute individuals, like Mr. Fitzgerald, who distribute pirated software, even if they do not make money doing it,” said U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty. “This prosecution is another step in our continuing effort to eliminate intellectual property crime on the Internet,” Mr. McNulty noted. Fitzgerald was convicted under the 1997 law known as the No Electronic Theft (“NET”) Act which makes it illegal to reproduce or distribute on a large scale copyrighted works, such as software programs, even if the defendant acts without a commercial purpose or for private financial gain. The Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Arlington County Police Department investigated the case after receiving several complaints about Fitzgerald’s web site. The investigation eventually resulted in execution of a search warrant on Mr.
Fitzgerald’s residence in July of 2001. Computers and a significant amount of pirated business software were seized. At the time that he entered his guilty plea, Fitzgerald admitted to posting software programs on his web site and allowing them to be downloaded by the public. Scott J. Stein, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Jay V. Prabhu, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.
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