"...A software trade group that conducted an online anti-piracy sting sued 13 Americans Monday, alleging they sold bootleg software worth tens of thousands of dollars on Internet auction sites. The BSA conducted the worldwide sting operation to fend off pirates and educate consumers.
CD-ROM recorders and high-speed Internet connections have made it easy for bootleggers to peddle illegally copied software quickly and cheaply. The sting is a new angle to the group's efforts, which had targeted Web sites and chat channels. Just last month, the Federal Trade Commission listed auction scams among its top 10 ``dot-con'' ploys for consumers to avoid.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, was brought after the Washington-based BSA paid about $1,600 over several months for software that sells in stores for more than $50,000. The defendants face damages of up to $150,000 for each program they sold. In most cases, the software was shown in online advertisements in a boxed package, but arrived as a single CD-ROM with the program name and its serial number written in marker on one side of the disk. In one instance, an auction offered full versions of 21 expensive, advanced Web design and graphics programs. The programs that arrived were jammed onto two CD-ROMs clearly made by a home CD-ROM recorder.
Some of the packages also contained advertisements to buy more pirated software. Although programs such as the new Microsoft Windows 2000 (news - web sites) operating system and Adobe's Photoshop graphics program both cost hundreds of dollars, none of the advertised CD-ROMs were advertised for over $60.
By punishing the defendants, the BSA hopes that the effort will show consumers how they can be taken online. While the programs are cheap, Kruger warns that consumers won't get product support or upgrade offers, and the CD-ROMs are likely to contain viruses..."