Chinese man admits guilt in US$100M pirate software sting

Victor Barreiro Jr.
A Chinese businessman pleads guilty to 46 counts of software piracy with the software's estimated retail value pegged at US$100M

MANILA, Philippines – Normally, the kind of software piracy we know of talks about volumes of pirated goods sold at low cost. A Chinese businessman pleaded guilty to selling the opposite on Monday, January 7, by offering high-priced pirated software with a retail value of approximately US$100M on the black market.

Reuters reports that Xiang Li, 36, of Chengdu, China, was arrested in a sting operation in June of 2011 after being lured to Saipan by the US Department of Homeland Security.

According to court filings by prosecutors, the pirated software came from around 200 American manufacturers and was highly valued due to their uses for defense, engineering, and space technology.

The pirated software was then sold on the black market to 325 buyers in 61 countries from 2008 to 2011. Among the buyers were 28 people from the United States including, as Reuters mentions, “a NASA engineer and the chief scientist for a defense and law-enforcement contractor.” 

While the original value of the software ranged from a few hundred dollars to up to US$1M a piece, Li sold the software for anywhere between US$20 to US$1,200. 

Li pleaded guilty to the 46-count indictment levied against him, offering apologies to the court through a translator. “I want to tell the court that what I did was wrong and illegal and I want to say I’m sorry,” said Li to U.S. District Judge Leonard P. Stark at the proceedings. –


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Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.