US games pirate gets 50 months

...to live! (Just kidding.)

A court in California has handed down a hefty jail sentence to a man who is described as one of the leaders of infamous game piracy group Razor1911, which was one of the best-known online providers of cracked game software.

Sean Michael Breen, 38, pleaded guilty to charges of copyright infringement and mail fraud, and was given a 50 month sentence along with three years of supervised release.

His sentence is reported to be toughest yet handed down to any member of the "warez" scene, which was targeted by the US Customs Service in a 14-month undercover investigation which has so far yielded 40 arrests worldwide.

As well as being involved in the game piracy and distribution network, Breen was also convicted of defrauding network equipment provider Cisco Systems of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of hardware, and ordered to pay restitution of almost $700,000.

The Razor1911 group, which has been in operation since the early nineties, is one of several large organised teams of crackers and distributors on the Internet who compete to be the first to release working pirate copies of major game titles.

Although these groups do not work for profit - but rather for recognition and "kudos" within the pirate and cracker communities - their actions are hugely damaging to software companies, who often see important titles being made available in pirate form on the Internet days or weeks ahead of their retail release dates.

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