The FBI announced yesterday that it cooperated with Chinese authorities on a huge piracy bust in China. Over 25 people have been arrested and more than $500 million worth of counterfeit Microsoft and Symantec software was seized.
According to industry executives, these arrest represent the most significant crackdown on software piracy ever. This Chinese piracy syndicate owned 30 production lines and produced pirates disks of Microsoft software in English, German, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Dutch and Croatian.
Microsoft says these weren't cheap copies that are sold on the streets for $1, they found that these copies looked a lot like the real product and were often sold at or near the price of the legitimate software.
“This is the biggest software counterfeiting organization we have ever seen by far,” Microsoft’s associate general counsel for worldwide piracy and counterfeiting issues, David Finn, said. “This is a real milestone.”
The arrests and seizures came at a time American politicians and executives are pressing China to take strong measures to curb software piracy.
The F.B.I. characterized the operation, code-named Summer Solstice and begun in 2005, as an “unprecedented cooperative effort” with China’s public security ministry. The bureau said it included multiple investigations that are continuing.
In the last couple of weeks, the operation led to the seizing by the Chinese government of 290,000 counterfeit discs and certificates of authenticity. The F.B.I. and the Chinese identified criminal organizations producing and distributing counterfeit software in both Shanghai and Shenzhen.