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Seller of Counterfeit Video Games Gets 30 Months

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the more-than-he-could-chew dept.

Piracy 165

wiredmikey writes "The FBI reported this week that Qiang 'Michael' Bi, of Powell, Ohio was sentenced to 30 months in prison for selling more than 35,000 illegally copied computer games over the Internet between 2005 and 2009. According to a statement of facts read during Bi's plea hearing, agents executed a search warrant at Bi's house and found multiple CD duplicators and more than 1,000 printed counterfeit CDs. Some of the CDs were still in the duplicator. During their investigation, agents learned that Bi would buy a single copy of a game, illegally duplicate it and sell the copies on eBay.com and Amazon.com. He also set up a website for customers to download the games they bought. Bi accepted payment through eBay and PayPal accounts in his name and in others' names."

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They dont catch any terrorists, or drug smugglers (-1, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720024)

but, they are able to catch 'copyright thieves'.

all the difference in between these, is that the latter hasnt gone mafia and started placing/bribing people in government.

way to go, united states of hypocritica.

Re:They dont catch any terrorists, or drug smuggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720046)

Did you put any thought into how easy it would be to catch someone running a business out of their house. Compared to catching anonymous drug runners ?

Seriously, think about what you just said.

Re:They dont catch any terrorists, or drug smuggle (1)

Jarnin (925269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720178)

Drug runners? What is this, the 1970's? Pot/Meth is grown/cooked in houses/trailers. In other words, someones house. I read about meth and grow houses getting busted all the time. The only reason this is news is because it's a copy-write bust. These are rare, at least in the States.

Re:They dont catch any terrorists, or drug smuggle (0)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720250)

The patriot act pushed meth manufacturing mostly into Mexico.

Re:They dont catch any terrorists, or drug smuggle (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720964)

The patriot act pushed meth manufacturing mostly into Mexico.

Hahaha, you'd like to think that, wouldn't you? There's so much meth being produced in California you'd think it was our primary export. I live in a town where a lot of it is produced. They expend absolutely zero effort on tracking them down and busting them because it's easier and cheaper to catch pot growers and there is less risk of being shot at; even the Mexican gang members tend to just fade away into the woods.

Re:They dont catch any terrorists, or drug smuggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720082)

Since terrorists were given the Club Gitmo treatment & allowed to lawyer-up, we decided not to catch 'em anymore--now we simply blow them up. Hooyah!

Re:They dont catch any terrorists, or drug smuggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720186)

That's a better choice anyway. KABOOM!

ICE This Week (0)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720176)

but, they are able to catch 'copyright thieves'.
all the difference in between these, is that the latter hasnt gone mafia and started placing/bribing people in government.
way to go, united states of hypocritica.

News Releases December 30, 2010 Washington, DC ICE's top 5 news stories for the week ending Dec. 30, 2010

Dec. 29, 2010 - ICE deputy director {in the] United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the inaugural Border Control, Airport and Seaport Security (BCASS) exposition.

Dec. 29, 2010 - ICE teams with CBP, USPIS to intercept counterfeit NHL Winter Classic sportswear...ICE Homeland Security...conducted a Pittsburgh-based operation that netted $100,000 in fake trademarked NHL and NFL items.

Dec. 29, 2010 - ICE arrests 3, seizes 28,000 rounds of ammunition in Tucson. Alejandro Ruiz-Escalante and Christian Gallegos-Arizmendi, both citizens of Mexico, were arrested on federal weapons smuggling charges after a traffic stop. Another individual was arrested at a Tucson residence in connection with the same weapons smuggling operation. All three individuals possessed thousands of rounds of ammunition, as well as several firearms.

Dec. 28, 2010 - Drug swallower arrested with 49 pellets of heroin in his stomach. ICE HSI agents took a 27-year-old U.S. citizen into custody after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers discovered he was carrying 49 pellets of heroin, with an approximate weight of 1.54 pounds, in his digestive tract.

Dec. 27, 2010 - Feds find cache of cocaine concealed inside phony candy Easter eggs. Esteban Galtes tried to smuggle more than 14 pounds of cocaine, much of it camouflaged as pastel-colored, egg-shaped candies, through Los Angeles International Airport. ICE HSI agents arrested him after CBP officers found the drugs in his suitcase. ICE's top 5 news stories for the week ending Dec. 30, 2010 [ice.gov]


In the American federal system, copyright is a federally defined and constitutionally protected property right.

Economic and property crimes with an interstate or international dimension are - broadly speaking - a federal responsibility.

It never ceases to amaze the geek that the government actually gives a damn about the $200 to $300 million dollar investment in a major theatrical film - and the billion dollar return it may generate in domestic and export sales.

There has to be a conspiracy.

Governments multi-task - a concept that also seems strangely foreign to the geek.

ICE Homeland Security Investigations [HSI] investigates immigration crime, human rights violations and human smuggling, smuggling of narcotics, weapons and other types of contraband, financial crimes, cybercrime and export enforcement issues. ICE special agents conduct investigations aimed at protecting critical infrastructure industries that are vulnerable to sabotage, attack or exploitation.


In addition to ICE criminal investigations, HSI oversees the agency's international affairs operations and intelligence functions. HSI consists of more than 10,000 employees, consisting of 6,700 special agents, who are assigned to more than 200 cities throughout the U.S. and 46 countries around the world.
ICE Homeland Security Investigations [ice.gov]

 

Re:ICE This Week (1, Informative)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720200)

are you aware that, what you sample above, is not even a tiny dot on a fly that lands on a huge pile of bullcrap, compared to what is happening in usa-mexico drug lane ? are you aware that, the drug cartels just next to your mexican border, are now equipped with SO expensive weapons that, their average equipment level is more than the average equipment of an u.s. army front line soldier ? do you think that is possible with just running a few hidden stashes of drugs to and fro from the border ?

Re:ICE This Week (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720372)

Are you aware that, for every copyright imprisonment, hundreds of dealers and smugglers are arrested? Are you aware that you're full of shit when it comes to the "equipment" of the cartels?

Ok, those were rhetorical questions: I'm sure that you are aware - you're just intentionally ignoring any facts which are inconvenient to the "OMG DA FEDS SUCK" "argument".

Re:ICE This Week (-1, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720408)

no fool. hundreds, thousands of dealers, smugglers, are still nothing. for, drug trafficking in the global scale, is something that is able to finance civil wars, operations of secret agencies on the scale like cia did in vietnam, entire countries' repression (afghanistan), endless amount of islamic/radical terror organizations in middle east and globally, and a whole fucking army better equipped than u.s. army, which is currently fighting the mexican army that has been equipped by usa to fight that drug army.

are you aware of the concept of proportionality ? now, compare the amount of copyright imprisonments to the number of similar level 'violators' like him. then compare your hundreds of dealers and smugglers being arrested to what i described above.

maybe youre someone easy to please... since you are easily satisfied with 'hundreds' of dealers, smugglers being arrested, while drug cartels are able to run countries, and even governmental 'agencies' like cia is running drugs to finance its operations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_drug_trafficking [wikipedia.org]

Re:ICE This Week (2)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720428)

tl;dr, but from the first couple sentences you seem like a complete lunatic, and from the lack of capitalization and the poor punctuation it seems unlikely that you're capable of making an intelligent point. Sorry to have bothered you.

Re:ICE This Week (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720448)

what happened ? dumbstruck when faced with the fact that even cia has been running and aiding drug operations ? so you fall back to 'punctuation' and decide my 'lunacy' based on 'first couple of sentences' ?

basically, you are saying that you didnt know shit about these, and i have won the argument.

Re:ICE This Week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720608)

Dude, I have the sweetest tinfoil hat to sell you. Guaranteed to protect you from CIA mind control and alien brain scans or your money back.

yeah tinfoil (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720640)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_drug_trafficking [wikipedia.org]

i take it you didnt dare read the linked article.

In 1989, the United States invaded Panama as part of Operation Just Cause, which involved 25,000 American troops. Gen. Manuel Noriega, head of government of Panama, had been giving military assistance to Contra groups in Nicaragua at the request of the U.S.—which, in exchange, allowed him to continue his drug-trafficking activities—which they had known about since the 1960s.[12][13] When the DEA tried to indict Noriega in 1971, the CIA prevented them from doing so.[12] The CIA, which was then directed by future president George H. W. Bush, provided Noriega with hundreds of thousands of dollars per year as payment for his work in Latin America.[12] However, when CIA pilot Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua by the Sandinistas, documents aboard the plane revealed many of the CIA's activities in Latin America, and the CIA's connections with Noriega became a public relations "liability" for the U.S. government, which finally allowed the DEA to indict him for drug trafficking, after decades of allowing his drug operations to proceed unchecked.[12] Operation Just Cause, whose ostensible purpose was to capture Noriega, killed numerous Panamanian civilians, but was successful in removing Noriega. The operation pushed Noriega back into the town asylum along with Papal Nuncio where he surrendered to U.S. authorities. His trial took place in Miami, where he was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Re:ICE This Week (4, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720502)

Are you really implying that copyright law shouldn't be enforced because there are worse things going on in the world?

There are serial killers out there, but I sincerely hope the police make some sort of effort at catching the guys who stole $4,000 worth of tools from my father-in-law last week.

Whatever your opinion on copyright law, you've got to admit that copying another person's work and SELLING IT without them getting a cut is a dick move and shouldn't be tolerated.

Re:ICE This Week (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720548)

i am not implying, stating that the government agencies tasked with their duties are not doing their duties despite there are FAR worse problems on the planet that they are tasked with countering in their own country, but instead they are going after whatever particular private interests want.

i dont think you are able to perceive the scale of this issue. drug trafficking basically is something that causes WARS. or propagates and fuels them. it is that big a problem.

yet you see the agencies tasked with preventing it, doing a few hundred arrests per year for show, but, as you have seen the referenced information, supporting the drug trafficking instead.

Re:ICE This Week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720774)

Seriously, you need to shut up, you're making yourself look like a fucking idiot.
A) Everyone's known about the CIA/Noriega ties for 20 fucking years, stop touting it like it's breaking news.
B) The argument that we should enforce laws against crime X because crime Y is worse is possibly the dumbest argument ever made. Both are crimes, violators need to be punished. If you want to argue one shouldn't be a crime, that's fine, but that's a very different argument.
C) "A few hundred arrests per year"? The DEA alone makes about 30,000 arrests per year. State and local authorities make a few hundred thousand more.

Re:ICE This Week (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720766)

Whatever your opinion on copyright law, you've got to admit that copying another person's work and SELLING IT without them getting a cut is a dick move and shouldn't be tolerated.

It is a dick move only because Western European society in the early modern era starting seeing it as a dick move. In Ancient Rome, an audience member would transcribe a poet's recital, have dozens of copies made by amanuenses, and then sold in the marketplace with no money going back to the poet. There's not a single instance of anyone complaining. Martial lampooned a guy who would put his own name on these copies, but plagiarism is distinct from mere copying. There continue to be cultures all over the world to this day where people don't understand copyright at all. Try explaining it to them, and they'll think you're a lunatic. If successive generations see increasingly less value in copyright, we're only returning to a state before what would see a freakish aberration of several hundred years.

Yes, various cultures have also believed it was noble to own slaves or perform human sacrifice. But I think that the nature of this issue, whether respecting copyright is objectively moral or a mere government fiat with the hope of encouraging production*, ought to be carefully examined instead of simply assuming without question that copyright must exist.

(This, incidentally, was the view of the American Founding Fathers. They had an acute sense of natural rights -- endowed by the Creator and only recognized by the government -- but did not consider copyright among them.)

why modded down (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720552)

huh ? it was too much learning that cia had been drug trafficking ?

Re:why modded down (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720832)

It is because you are a paranoid, sociopathic troll.

no (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34721426)

its because you american right wingers are bigoted psychopaths who cant face truth. when you check my comments, moron, you will notice that all of them had been chain downmodded even if they were giving out FACTUAL information with links and references of information to the wrongdoings of united states, from united states government ITSELF.

bottom line is, you morons cant face the truth. its too much. here, again :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_drug_trafficking [wikipedia.org]

CIA DOES DRUG TRAFFICKING AND SUPPORTS PETTY DICTATORS WITH DRUG MONEY.

Re:why modded down (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34721626)

How is linking to Wikipedia sociopathical ? The CIA does drug trafficking or at least it did, were is the trolling in that statement, flamebait maybe but trol, no way !

Re:ICE This Week (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720816)

As if you would know what goes on at the U.S./Mexico border, troll.

Re:ICE This Week (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720930)

I think you underestimate the amount and value of the equipment carried by your average US soldier.

Re:ICE This Week (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720234)

Governments multi-task - a concept that also seems strangely foreign to the geek.

Well said.

Why is it anything accomplished by government is always a waste of time and money just because something else (speakers pet project) is not accomplished first?

Its a hell of a lot easier and less expensive to take down a disk duplicator when the aggrieved copyright holder calls you up and tells you exactly where the disks are coming from and files an official complaint, than it is to invade yet another country to get Osama.

Who would want a government capable of solving all problems simultaneously and in the right sequence to satisfy every citizens priorities.

Re:ICE This Week (3, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720400)

Who would want a government capable of solving all problems simultaneously and in the right sequence to satisfy every citizens priorities.

Apparently "god" does it in "heaven". Which is one of the reasons I don't accept such stories; I find it difficult to believe that even an omnipotent being would simultaneously be able to please a group of democrats and a group of republicans. Needless to say, I expect even less from a human government.

Re:ICE This Week (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34721736)

When you banish anyone who thinks about not liking the way you do things it should be reasonably easy to please everyone who is left.

Re:ICE This Week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720340)

"Alejandro Ruiz-Escalante and Christian Gallegos-Arizmendi, both citizens of Mexico, were arrested on federal weapons smuggling charges after a traffic stop. "

Would they also have been stopped, if they had dyed their hair blond?

Re:ICE This Week (2)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720358)

It never ceases to amaze the geek that the government actually gives a damn about the $200 to $300 million dollar investment in a major theatrical film

Ah, good old westlake. Taking millions of slashdotters, rolling them into one ponderous abstraction and then putting words in their mouth ... that just never grows old for you, does it?

At least you've stopped capitalising the words, as if The Geek was some improbably enhanced superhero, and you his kid sidekick. I suppose we should be thankful for small mercies.

Re:ICE This Week (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720784)

Taking millions of slashdotters, rolling them into one ponderous abstraction and then putting words in their mouth ... that just never grows old for you, does it?

Slashdot provides the stories its audience wants. The site does survive on ad revenue, after all; you want to keep telling people what they hear. The continual stream of positive stories about filesharing that Slashdot has posted over my decade on the site suggest that a large enough percentage of readers enjoy trading music, films and ebooks that a generalization like "You Slashdotters..." is understandable.

Re:ICE This Week (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720876)

The continual stream of positive stories about filesharing that Slashdot has posted over my decade on the site suggest that a large enough percentage of readers enjoy trading music, films and ebooks that a generalization like "You Slashdotters..." is understandable.

Well, if we discount the prominent and vocal pro-rightsholder contingent, maybe. But yeah, it's understandable, if just a little lazy, and I'm sure we all do it from time to time.

In westlake's case though, it's not enough to project his straw man arguments onto merely the whole of Slashdot; he has to rewrite the opinions of "The Geek", as though every technically minded, mildly obsessive individual from petrolheads to stamp collectors must unarguably hold those exact opinions needed to make westlake's rant of the moment seem justified.

I wouldn't mind so much, but it's always struck me that there's something of the geek in the compulsive way he returns to those same stilted patterns of argument. Which would make him guilty of the very sins he decries on this board, at least to the extent that his logic holds up in the first place.

Re:They dont catch any terrorists, or drug smuggle (2)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720238)

I think that "they" would catch anybody advertising on eBay and Amazon just as easily without regards for their field of criminal activities.

I heard several stories like this one before. One took place in the area where live. The guy they caught was advertising just about everywhere and he had a very similar thing going on in its home.

I think that he is the only guy ever charged with counterfeiting CDs around here. I have even heard cops saying on the news that they did not have the resources to start investigating every garage sale and such to verify the integrity of every CD sold and its provenance.

So I think that the guy just had as many chances of getting caught as any of the other criminals you mentioned given the level of precautions he was taking to run his business.

In cases like this ones, the police just have to take action whatever the infraction is. The infraction is too obvious and closing the case involves a pretty low budget compared to what a long term and more sophisticated investigation would require.

Usually, it is only a matter of one person reporting him to the police.

Re:They dont catch any terrorists, or drug smuggle (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720336)

That and the fact he was ratted out by his employer for using company email addresses to move his secret lists of accounts.

Lets face it, the cops were handed this case on a silver platter.

Go here.
Arrest him.
Confiscate 300K in ill-gotten funds.
Have a beer.

He should be glad that he wasn't in China. (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720278)

He'd be an involuntary "organ donor". You don't even have to sign a donor consent form...

Two soldiers take an arm each, stand there, and a third soldier blasts one shot from a Kalashnikov to the back of the head.

Then, they move onto the next, uh, donor, while the army medics harvest your organs.

Re:He should be glad that he wasn't in China. (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720292)

And then the Chi Comms would send a bill to the man's family for the cost of the bullet.

Re:He should be glad that he wasn't in China. (2)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720798)

Funnily enough, the Chinese military has been accused of running facilities for massive duplication of the bootleg CDs and DVDs you find all over China. If they'd kill this guy, it could only be because they don't like competition.

What games? (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720030)

What was he possibly selling in 2005 that had no reg code or drm???

Re:What games? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720104)

Oh please, as if it was hard to remove DRM and generate serial numbers.

Re:What games? (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720972)

Console games.

Re:What games? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34721564)

What was he possibly selling in 2005 that had no reg code or drm???

Emulators with bundled ROMs, possibly.

Amazing... (4, Insightful)

nametaken (610866) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720044)

It still blows my mind that people can be capable enough to run a little outfit like this, and yet be so amazingly dumb. You know you're going to get caught when you sell this stuff from the US, under your own name, on big name websites.

Re:Amazing... (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720072)

But how much money did he make and move offshore? Maybe 30 months is trivial for him. Maybe 30 months is unusually large and it's normally fair to bet on a much lighter sentence.

Re:Amazing... (1)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720102)

FTFA: He was sentenced to six months each for the mail fraud and copyright infringement crimes and an additional 24 months for the aggravated identity theft.

--
windows media codec [cnet.com]

Re:Amazing... (4, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720120)

So he gets 6 months for *selling* *35,000* games, but Jammie Thomas-Rasset gets 1.X Million for copying 24 songs?

Re:Amazing... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720256)

So he gets 6 months for *selling* *35,000* games, but Jammie Thomas-Rasset gets 1.X Million for copying 24 songs?

Don't assume we know every part of the plea agreement.

Who knows how many others he might have ratted out?

Who knows how much money and off shore bank accounts were seized prior to trial, which just sort of become property of ICE?

Re:Amazing... (4, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720386)

Thomas-Rasset got what she asked for. She was sharing a couple thousands songs in reality, although they only sued over 24 of them. They offered to settle for a few thousand dollars, which is a pretty fair price considering the number she was actually sharing. However, she decided to reject that and go to trial, even though she had not even a remote chance of winning (hell, she couldn't even hope for jury nullification, since it is a civil case and a nullification would just be overturned on appeal). The minimum statutory damage award is $750 per infringed work, or $18000 in this case. If, somehow, the court decided that she was an innocent infringer (basically someone who had no reason to believe they were infringing copyright), that can be cut down to $200 per work, or $4800 in this case. There's pretty much no chance of that, so realistically she was looking at a minimum of $18000.

So, the best case she was looking at by going to trial was 3-4 times worse than settling, and that depending on the jury feeling sufficiently sympathetic to go as low as they could on the damages. And then she was pretty blatant about lying in court, she tried to blame her kids, and it came out that she tried to destroy evidence. So much for any chance of the jury being sympathetic...

Are you serious? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720466)

Come on. Any of the settlements offered to Thomas-Rasset are outrageous, at different levels of outrageous.

They are all so far from fair that I just can't imagine that you genuinely believe that "a few thousand dollars" be "a pretty fair price". I must assume that you are a RIAA shill.

Re:Amazing... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34721318)

There's pretty much no chance of that, so realistically she was looking at a minimum of $18000.

I'm not sure I agree with your logic, but I don't care to argue with you, so I'll concede everything you said and instead point this out: Even $18000 is arguably ridiculous, but do you think there'd be as much of an outcry if it was $18000 and not >$1M?

Re:Amazing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34721322)

Thomas-Rasset got what she asked for.

When the 2nd Civil War starts, I'm coming looking for you. Anyone that thinks like you must be purged from my society. Jammie Thomas-Rasset's perjury is not the real issue, it's the un-Constitutional damages awarded to the plaintiff.

Seriously, I hope you fucking die before you reproduce, because, honest to God, it's fuckwads like you that have and currently are destroying the United States of America.

Re:Amazing... (2)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720150)

Dunno. However there's this:

Bi also forfeited $367,669 in cash, representing the proceeds of the crimes, as well as his house, a 2006 Lexus SUV and computer and electronic equipment.

Re:Amazing... (2)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720214)

And also this:

He will also be required to make restitution to the companies who created the games. The amount of restitution is yet to be determined.

Re:Amazing... (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720222)

Somehow less than the penalty for "making available" 24 songs. The moral of the story: If you're going to commit a crime, commit the biggest crime you possibly can!

Re:Amazing... (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720370)

I'd like to, but I lack the money to open a bank.

Re:Amazing... (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720402)

The amount of restitution is yet to be determined and could include:
  1. Infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits
  2. The law provides a range from $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed
  3. Infringer pays for all attorneys fees and court costs

So the sum total may exceed the penalty for "making available" 24 songs. We will just have to wait to find out.

Re:Amazing... (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720490)

Somehow less than the penalty for "making available" 24 songs. The moral of the story: If you're going to commit a crime, commit the biggest crime you possibly can!

The problem is that the law ask for the number of copyrighted items that were copied, not for the value of those items, and not for the number of copies made. Psystar who was convicted for making about 750 illegal copies of MacOS X was convicted for copying _one_ copyrighted work, 1/24th of Jammi whatshername. The number of copies is only relevant if the copyright owner goes for actual damages. Let's say if a record company sold a million copies of a CD without having the copyright. So to compare the cases, you would have to find out how many different games this man copied. And then a song that I could download legally for $0.79 and a game that I could download legally for $49 are still treated the same.

Re:Amazing... (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720686)

I thought the moral was thusly: Steal as much as you can. That way you can afford a better lawyer (and accountants to hide money offshore for when you get out of Club Fed in six months).

Re:Amazing... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720366)

$367,669 in cash and too cheap to rent a server in Tonga or Tuvalu to run his business from?

Bi (0)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720050)

In prison, being Bi will definitely be an asset.

Re:Bi (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720146)

Interestingly enough "bi" (sounds like "bee") is Mandarin Chinese for a particular part of female reproductive anatomy, which is frequently used as a pejorative. In fact, following an adjective like "sha" (stupid), "zhuang" (pretentious) or "ma" (mother's) it is the bread and butter the Chinese swearing vocabulary. “Qiang Bi" would translate to “tough c---", which would be an asset in prison.

Re:Bi (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720224)

When spoken with a different tone it's also the word for a pen. My mandarin teacher used to freak out if we used the wrong tone. When asked why he couldn't explain without letting the cat out of the bag. Luckily the exchange student filled is in. Man, there was no learning to be had that day.

Re:Bi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720984)

you almost sound like Ducky from NCIS

Misplaced focus (5, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720112)

So this guy gets 30 months for physically duplicating AND SELLING stuff, while Jammie Thomas et al get smacked with million-dollar fines for downloading a few handfuls of unpaid tunes for their own personal enjoyment? Maybe THIS guy should be the one getting smacked with million-dollar fines, considering he might have made millions from what he was doing.

Re:Misplaced focus (4, Informative)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720158)

Not just 30 months; there's also this:

Bi also forfeited $367,669 in cash, representing the proceeds of the crimes, as well as his house, a 2006 Lexus SUV and computer and electronic equipment.

Re:Misplaced focus (2)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720226)

And there is also this:

He will also be required to make restitution to the companies who created the games. The amount of restitution is yet to be determined.

Assuming it's the retail price, 35,000 games @ $20 amounts to $700,000

Re:Misplaced focus (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720380)

Good point, but it's still grossly out of proportion, considering 35'000 games cost a lot more than 24 songs.

Re:Misplaced focus (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720742)

grossly out of proportion == misplaced focus, then?

Re:Misplaced focus (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720914)

Good point, but it's still grossly out of proportion, considering 35'000 games cost a lot more than 24 songs.

Yea, but remember, when someone pirates something that doesn't mean they would have bought it had it not been available to download....oh wait, I just proved your point even more....

People who are SELLING counterfeit copies of games should be fined as it IS theft. The buyers actually traded dollars for the games (albeit at lower prices). Why the justice system wants to punish little old ladies for downloading Metalica is beyond me. It is simply another example of how our government and judicial system has gotten out of control.

Re:Misplaced focus (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720382)

Assuming the average few millions per copied song, I hope he has a country like, say, Australia willing to donate their GDP for a few years so he can pay the fine.

Re:Misplaced focus (2)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720318)

So this guy gets 30 months for physically duplicating AND SELLING stuff, while Jammie Thomas et al get smacked with million-dollar fines for downloading a few handfuls of unpaid tunes for their own personal enjoyment? Maybe THIS guy should be the one getting smacked with million-dollar fines, considering he might have made millions from what he was doing.

Thomas has had multiple opportunities to settle for much less, some as low as around a couple thousand dollars (which would have been a pretty fair amount, considering that had in fact downloaded and was sharing a couple thousand songs, not a mere "few handfuls"). She had such opportunities before the first trial, and after each trial.

Thomas also lied under oath, tried to frame her children, and was caught trying to destroy evidence. Those things make the jury unsympathetic, and such damages are determined by the jury she got hit with big damages.

Re:Misplaced focus (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720664)

Exactly how much is not being locked up in prison for 30 months worth to you and being a convicted felon worth to you?

Re:Misplaced focus (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720732)

Lemme guess... a million or so dollars?

Re:Misplaced focus (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720806)

Look at the opportunity costs:
Whatever one could have made at a full time job, and possibly a second job.
Unable to visit family and friend.
Spending a couple of years worth of special events alone.
If one has a child or children, one will miss 30 months of life. If the child is a baby, the child may not even know one after release.
Then, there is the social and psychological effects of being in prison

Really, think it through. Do you think Thomas would trade her million dollar judgement for 30 months in prison?

Re:Misplaced focus (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720870)

She might, knowing her wages wouldn't be garnished for the rest of her life, her posthumous estate held hostage, and her heirs stuck on the hook... all because she downloaded two dozen songs.

Re:Misplaced focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720864)

It's a pretty good precedent. 30 months is 21,915 hours, or 37.2 minutes per copy. So Jammie Thomas could in theory serve a bit under 15 hours in jail and call it done.

Counterfeit, or merely infringing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720126)

Was he claiming that these were genuine products, or was he advertising them as unauthorized copies? The difference is that the first defrauds the buyer. The fact that mail fraud is mentioned suggests that he was claiming these were genuine products from the copyright holders, but the distinction is important.

counterfeit (tr. v.) 1. To make a copy of, usually with the intent to defraud; forge.

Re:Counterfeit, or merely infringing? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720290)

counterfeit (tr. v.) 1. To make a copy of, usually with the intent to defraud

He defrauded the copyright holder for certain.
He may also have defrauded the buyer who may have thought they were buying legitimate goods.

Duplicating copyrighted material is both counterfeiting and infringing. So I'm at a loss to see your distinction here.

BTW:
Have you ever seen anyone advertise something as unauthorized copies?

Re:Counterfeit, or merely infringing? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720638)

He defrauded the copyright holder for certain.

Fraud involves deception. He didn't even contact the copyright holders, so how could he have deceived them?

Duplicating copyrighted material is both counterfeiting and infringing.

A counterfeit is something made to fool people into believing it's the real thing. If his sales showed pictures of DVD-Rs with Sharpie writing on them, for example, it would be clear that they were not the originals, and thus they would not be counterfeits. If, on the other hand, he printed the CDs to look like the originals, and printed up cases/boxes, and described then on his auction page as the real thing, then they would be counterfeit. It's all about whether the buyer knows that they are not official.

Ratted out by company email software (4, Informative)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720132)

According to the story in TFS,

Agents and officers with the FBI Cybercrime Task Force, and U.S. Postal Inspectors are credited with the success of the case.

Er, no--credit monitoring software at the company he worked for! [dispatch.com] :

New monitoring software at Nationwide Insurance spelled the beginning of the end for an employee who had been counterfeiting and selling computer games for five years. The software alerted Nationwide officials to a spreadsheet that Qiang "Michael" Bi had sent from his personal e-mail account to his Nationwide e-mail account. The spreadsheet listed eBay accounts, credit-card numbers and false identity information that Bi used in a lucrative counterfeiting scheme.

The spreadsheet listed more than 50 eBay and PayPal accounts, all with different names. Bi told investigators he used other people's information on the accounts because eBay and PayPal had suspended his accounts and do not allow a new account with the same name and address as a suspended account.

Counterfeit? (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720168)

From TFA: He was sentenced to six months each for the mail fraud and copyright infringement crimes and an additional 24 months for the aggravated identity theft.

No trademark infringement? I doubt he was passing these off as the real thing, i.e., counterfeiting.

Re:Counterfeit? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720208)

COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT CRIME.

Wow, that's disgusting. Crime? Really? Crime? A crime is if you steal my car and chop-shop it. Or if you rape someone. Or if you break into my house. Making a copy of a disc and selling it online is shitty and is copyright infringement and you should be held accountable to the copyright holder, financially. But a CRIME? It should go on your criminal record and you should be in prison with violent criminals who have committed actual crimes that actually physically impact people?!

Re:Counterfeit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720446)

Crime? Really?

It is whatever those with money tell corrupt politicians they want it to be. Don't try to apply logic, morals or common sense. Corruption beats them all.

Re:Counterfeit? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720606)

Agreed, infringement a crime is ridiculous, but if this guy sold counterfeit goods, I'm more apt to call it a crime, since he was defrauding everyone he sold to. If this is the case, then they thought they were getting a legal copy of the program, with whatever support the publisher provides, but then ended up with an illegitimate copy that they couldn't even resell legally.

Re:Counterfeit? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720756)

If the law now sees infringement as a crime, I don't understand why plagiarism isn't a crime? And why can't I have someone imprisoned for breaching or breaking a contract, which is essentially what this is.

Re:Counterfeit? (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720760)

Really? Copyright is a legally granted right to control the copying of a work for a limited time. You don't think it should be a crime? What other legally granted rights do you think it should not be a crime to violate? How about keeping someone from voting? How about refusing to serve someone because of their race, creed, etc? All of them except the ones you don't like?

Please, O arbiter of what should be considered a crime, please enlighten us as to what legally granted rights should be protected under threat of criminal prosecution and which shouldn't.

While you are at it, why not answer the same question for white collar crimes, such as embezzlement, and insider trading? And, you can answer for not paying a hooker, or having sex with a minor too. Oh, and let us not forget desertion and espionage.

Re:Counterfeit? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720300)

Wouldn't trademark infringement be a civil matter?

Re:Counterfeit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34720348)

The enforcement of one's trademarks is provided for in common law as well as statute through the federal Lanham Act.

Re:Counterfeit? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720374)

But seeking damages is the responsibility of the copyright holder. The Government does not go out and seek damages for you.

Having this conviction on the books, the copyright holders should be able to sue the guy and get. .. ... Nothing!

Because ICE already confiscated everything.

Seeing as how he was ripping off dozens of titles, it probably made more sense than 50 or 60 court cases each seeking the same pile of money.

Good! (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720288)

I can live another day knowing that less potential profit is being stolen (which is totally possible even though it doesn't even exist in the hands of the copyright holder anyway). It's really nice to see that petty things that should be up to the copyright holder to attempt to stop are being handled by the police (who don't have anything better to do).

Re:Good! (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720304)

The police don't have jurisdiction for mail fraud and copyright infringement crimes. (And I'm not sure about aggravated identity theft. Anyone?)

Re:Good! (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720416)

The FBI, then. Or at least, they were involved.

wasted resources (2)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720484)

Setting aside the possible sleaziness of this particular guy; seen from another perspective it's pretty fantastic how much resources and time we waste on seeking out and punishing people for reorganizing a tiny bunch of molecules on worthless pieces of plastic.

Re:wasted resources (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34720578)

I don't see how it's a waste of time to prevent the theft of potential profit (it's theft even though the copyright holder never had the money in their possession anyway). I just hope they ban competition, the act of a consumer to choose not to buy something, and negative user reviews soon. That way, potential future gain could no longer be stolen!

Re:wasted resources (1)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34721474)

(it's theft even though the copyright holder never had the money in their possession anyway)

you assert this boldly, but it's really an ongoing debate. I didn't want to start this argument though, so let me apologize for using the word "waste" and say that I would rather have written "extend". My meaning was to say that when I take a few steps back and look at it all, it seems kind of weird. With most other crimes there are quite straightforward justifications for what we have the justice system occupied with doing, but with copyright it becomes a bit of an ant hive. Just a feeling, I'm not saying I have the answers.

Re:wasted resources (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34721112)

Nihilism at its best?

Re:wasted resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34721148)

Re-organizing molecules can be applied to anything from speeding to murder. "But your Honor, I only reorganized some molecules on his face with my fist."

Re:wasted resources (1)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34721410)

so I guess the phrase "worthless piece of plastic" added something to the sentence, but way to demonstrate how to attack pieces out of context. Thanks for playing.

Dont feel too bad for this guy (3)

Satanboy (253169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34721062)

He made over $700,000 on these counterfeited games.

He actually turned in over $360,000 IN CASH after being caught.

He was not a petty guy just making some copies for his friends etc.
So yeah, seriously, don't try and compare this guy to any fair use idea whatsoever, it's just going to hurt the whole fair use argument if you use him as an example.

It's guys like this that make it hard for the rest of us who just want to backup a game or install on another PC.

Counterfeit? (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34721114)

I'm a bit puzzled at the Editor's choice of a word - I'm sure that if I bought and played the game, it would work in the same way as the 'real' one - and the game was ~copied~, not 'created to resemble' as the word counterfeit implies. Yet I do understand that many are tiring of the word 'pirate'...

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