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Copyright Cases - U.S. v. Woo (E.D. Va.) (Operation Cybernet)


February 6, 2004


U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Paul J. McNulty
Eastern District of Virginia
2100 Jamieson Avenue
Alexandria, Va. 22314
(703) 299-3700
Contact: Sam Dibbley
(703) 299-3822

Internet Distributor of Pirated Software Pleads Guilty to Criminal Copyright Infringement  

Paul J. McNulty, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Marcos Daniel Jimenez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announced today that Nigel Woo, 32 of Margate, Florida, was sentenced by the Honorable James I. Cohn, United States District Judge in the Southern District of Florida, for distributing pirated software over the Internet in violation of federal criminal copyright infringement laws. Nigel Woo previously pled guilty to a single count Information on November 18, 2003, charging him with infringement of a copyright, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2319(b)(1) and 17 U.S.C. §506(a)(1). Judge Cohn sentenced Woo to four months imprisonment and three years supervised release with various special conditions which included: 1) four months of home confinement with electronic monitoring; 2) any computer usage to be approved by the United States Probation office; 3) mandatory consent to search and install monitoring hardware on his computer, and; 4) mandatory disclosure of this conviction to any employer. Woo was also ordered to pay $15,641 in restitution to the copyright holders, including Adobe, Macromedia and Microsoft and a $100 special assessment to the clerk of the court. Nigel Woo is one of nine individuals being prosecuted for distribution of pirated computer software after an eight month investigation by the FBI. The investigation, identified as “Operation Cybernet,” targeted individuals nationwide operating computer sites on the Internet that distributed pirated copies of software, movies, games and music. These individuals advertised their computer sites in the Usenet newsgroup “alt.2600.warez” and various Internet relay chat channels dedicated to the trafficking of pirated software. Operation Cybernet culminated on July 24, 2001, with the simultaneous execution of nine search warrants in various parts of the country. The operation specifically targeted violators of the No Electronic Theft (“NET”) Act, a 1997 law 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 NET Act was enacted by Congress to combat the growing threat of piracy over the Internet in light of the realization that a significant amount of online criminal copyright infringement involves the free downloading of pirated software, games, movies and music from warez sites. Defendant Nigel Woo admitted operating a warez FTP server from a personal computer located in his home in Margate, Florida. The Cybernet investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott J. Stein from the Eastern District of Virginia and Neil Karadbil, from the Southern District of Florida and Clement McGovern from the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice. The defendant was originally charged in the Eastern District of Virginia by way of Information on September 23, 2004 and, with the consent of the Southern District of Florida, the case was transferred pursuant to Rule 20 to the Southern District of Florida for disposition.


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