Three plead guilty to online sale of pirated software

Three men charged with selling $2.5 million worth of software without proper authorization.

Three Texas men pleaded guilty Friday to charges related to selling counterfeit computer software on the Internet, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Thomas C. Rushing III age 24, of Wichita Falls, Texas, and Brian C. Rue, age 29, of Denton, Texas, each pleaded guilty to one count each of criminal copyright infringement in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin. William Lance Partridge, 24, of Royse City, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal copyright infringement.

Each faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a US$250,000 fine. Sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for Dec. 19.

Between early 2006 and September 2007, Rushing, Rue and Partridge operated several Web sites that sold a large volume of counterfeit software, according to the DOJ. The software they sold had a combined retail value of $2.5 million.

The three sold the software through downloads from Web sites, including Valuesoftwaresales.com, Allsoftwaredownload.com, esoftwarevalue.com and Priceslashsoftware.com, without authorization from the copyright owners, the DOJ said. The three men purchased advertising to promote their sites from major Internet search engines.

The case is part of an ongoing DOJ initiative to combat the sale of pirated software and counterfeit goods through Web sites, including online auction sites. The DOJ effort has resulted in 32 felony convictions, including the three pleas Friday.

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