The increasingly high-stakes fight to stop the sale of pirated software on Internet auction sites reached a new milestone today with the sentencing of Jeremiah Mondello to 48 months in federal prison, three years supervised release following jail time, and 150 hours of community service per year. Further, Mondello's personal computers and 220K in cash were seized as part of the sentencing mandates.
The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), which initiated the action against the notorious eBay pirate, also announced six new lawsuits against sellers of illegal software on auction sites.
With the new cases announced today, SIIA has filed 32 lawsuits in 2008 as part of its ramped-up effort to stop the illegal sale of software online. Through its aggressive Auction Litigation Program, SIIA filed nine lawsuits in February, eight in March, nine in May and six today. Each of the new suits was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of SIIA member company Adobe Systems Incorporated.
"Mondello is a whiz-kid who used his smarts and savvy to rip off software makers and consumers," noted Keith Kupferschmid, SVP of Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement for SIIA. "We are fortunate that he has been stopped, but there are hundreds more like him running illegal operations on eBay and other sites. The Mondello case demonstrates that these pirates won't simply get a slap on the wrist when caught -- they very well may end up doing serious time in federal prison."
SIIA was responsible for providing the DOJ with information that led to Mondello, a resident of Oregon, pleading guilty in May to counts of copyright infringement, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. SIIA began investigating Mondello in 2007 and later turned the case over to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crime Center. Mondello used stolen bank account information to create more than 40 fictitious eBay and PayPal identities to sell pirated software via the auction site. His fraudulent sales amounted to a five to six figure sales volume.
The most recent lawsuits charged all of the following with knowingly selling software illegally on eBay: Nathanael S. Landsteiner, Fairmont, MN; John Hoyle and Gail La Fortune, Senoia, GA; Gennadiy Barbin, Boise, ID; Tamara Irby, Nathalie, VA; Trisha Carter/Maggie Grace Designs; Denham Springs, LA; and, Andreh Lee, Elmhurst, NY.
To date, the SIIA program has led to judgments and settlements against illegal eBay sellers as well as sellers on other websites dealing in counterfeit, OEM, unbundled, unauthorized education, and other versions of software not authorized for Internet resale. Damages paid by defendants have run as high as several hundred thousand dollars. SIIA also has successfully tracked and pursued the upstream sources of some of these products, and will continue to do so.
The SIIA Auction Litigation Program aims to educate buyers and sellers on auction sites as to the harms caused all parties by illegal software resale. Sellers can be prosecuted and buyers can be faced with viruses, no technical support and no recourse. In addition to the auction piracy lawsuits, SIIA has also sought to protect legitimate sellers and unsuspecting buyers by publishing software buying guides for auction sites, and implementing a certification program for software sellers (Certified Software Resellers) to help steer consumers of auctioned software to sellers who have promised to sell only legal software.