PSB and FBI Bust Software Counterfeiting Ring

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Nice bit o police work, and the PSB and FBI get points for getting the bad guys, having something to talk about in a press conference, and being able to cooperate with one another.

The details:

A joint anti-counterfeiting campaign coded as “Operation: Summer Solstice”, launched by China’s Ministry of Public Security and America’s FBI, has resulted in massive compensation claims of nearly 10 million yuan.

The campaign has brought criminal charges against Ma Jingyi, head of a software counterfeiting company, and eight of his accomplices. Each has received sentences ranging from two to seven years in prison.

Symantec, a computer security provider and victim of pirated software, is asking for 10 million yuan in losses and 500 thousand yuan in legal fees.

Symantec has accused Ma’s company of selling 677,000 copies of pirated computer software to foreign companies and individuals, with profits worth 80 million yuan. (Caijing)

That’s all fine and dandy, but there is something going on here that I don’t get at all.

I’m assuming that the customers of this counterfeiter were getting Symantec Anti-Virus, as well as other programs.

If I’m an individual, there’s no way I’m going out of my way to contact a counterfeiter at a store or software market to pick up a copy, I’m going to download it as a torrent file in about 30 minutes from the safety of my home.

As long as I make sure to download a copy with a valid serial/crack so I can keep my virus definitions current, the price is free and will continue to be free.

If I’m an IT guy with a company, and the boss wants me to use pirated software, I’m even more likely to download a copy.

Only way I can figure is that their customers consisted of 1) individuals not sufficiently tech savvy to download a file from the Internet (weak); or 2) companies who thought they were getting real software at a great price.

Obviously there is still a huge demand for counterfeit products like this. I always assumed that folks who want fake stuff are extremely price sensitive, otherwise they would buy the genuine article.

So it’s really puzzling that they would go for the fake, yet pay for the privilege when a free illegal version was also available.

So how are counterfeiters like this are still able to make a living these days?

2 responses on “PSB and FBI Bust Software Counterfeiting Ring

  1. Ian

    I think you overestimate the tech-savyness of the general public, in China or the U.S. People may have computers but they may not have high-speed internet for torrenting, or even if they do its too much trouble. It still surprises me that there is still *any* market for movies/music, let alone software given how easy it is to download.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing about a “War on Piracy” soon, with all these high profile drug-like busts on both sides of the ocean.
    http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/tech/Cal-State-Student-Faces-10-Year-Prison-Term-for-Playing-with-Video-Games-52386872.html

    1. Stan Post author

      You’re right, and I’m kind of in denial about that. Most net access over here in major cities is more than fast enough for torrents, and software programs are pretty small files (50 – a few hundred MBs).

      I suppose if most of the public can’t figure out how to find a decent proxy site, torrents are too much to ask.