Three “Robin Hood” software pirates have been jailed for releasing new commercial software on the internet for free.
The Old Bailey heard the jailed men, part of an international ring called DrinkorDie.com, had cost companies like Microsoft millions of dollars in sales.
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The prosecution said the men were not driven by money but by a hatred of large software companies like Microsoft.
The three jailed were accused of being the key players in the DrinkorDie.com gang, which was responsible for releasing Windows 95 on the internet before it was officially released.
The gang included university administrators, corporate executives and IT managers.
The prosecution resulted from a joint operation between US and UK authorities, which led to around 70 arrests in 12 countries.
The prosecution said the gang cracked security codes in products like Norton AntiVirus, Microsoft Excel and Word, and games.
One man, a London banker, was given two-and-a-half years in prison, and another was given two years. They had pleaded not guilty.
A computer network administrator who had pleaded guilty got 18 month’s prison, while a computer systems manager received an 18 month’s suspended sentence, after also pleading guilty.