Software piracy group member gets 33 months in prison

A 24-year-old member of DrinkOrDie, one of the oldest international piracy groups on the Internet, has been sentenced to 33...

A 24-year-old member of DrinkOrDie, one of the oldest international piracy groups on the Internet, has been sentenced to 33 months in jail for conspiring to violate criminal copyright laws.

Christopher Tresco pleaded guilty in May to using his employer's computers to distribute copyrighted material, including movies, software, games and music.

Tresco faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 (£163,281) in fines.

"Chris made an error in judgement in getting involved in this activity and he has acknowledged to the court that he violated the law," said Tresco's attorney Gary Crossen.

"He hopes others will learn from him the lesson to avoid computer crimes and respect federal copyright laws."

Tresco is one of 40 people worldwide targeted by Operation Buccaneer, a 14-month undercover investigation into copyright violations in the US. One of Tresco's co-conspirators pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges earlier this year and was sentenced to 46 months in prison.

Operation Buccaneer also netted members of other online piracy groups, including RiSC, RAZOR1911, RiSCISO, and POPZ.

To date, 13 people have pleaded guilty to charges in connection with Operation Buccaneer; 10 have already been sentenced. Federal prosecutors said DrinkOrDie consisted of approximately 65 members from more than a dozen countries including England, Australia, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Federal prosecutors said Tresco, known by his screen name "BigRar," took advantage of his job as systems administrator for the economics department at MIT to install and operate a number of DrinkOrDie file storage/transfer sites on the MIT system.

This included DrinkOrDie's "drop site," a computer connected full-time to the Internet that served as the workstation and initial distribution point for all the group's release work of copyrighted material, according to prosecutors. The group would defeat security features, then distribute the counterfeit titles around the world.

Tresco also installed and operated a number of the group's FTP "leach" sites containing tens of thousands of software, game, movie and movie titles for copying and downloading by DrinkOrDie members.

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