Chinese Software Piracy Suspects Seized

Chinese and U.S. authorities arrest 25 people for allegedly producing and selling more than US$500 million worth of counterfeit software products.

SHENZHEN, China (Kyodo) - Chinese and U.S. authorities have arrested 25 people in a series of joint operations for allegedly producing and selling counterfeit software products, they said Tuesday.
The suspects from two multinational syndicates in Shanghai and Shenzhen were arrested this month in the operations by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Chinese Public Security Ministry, said Gao Feng, deputy director general of the ministry's Economic Crime Investigation Department.
In the operations codenamed ''Summer Solstice,'' more than US$500 million worth of counterfeit software was seized, Gao told reporters during an international conference on intellectual property rights in Shenzhen, a booming southern city that neighbors Hong Kong.
In Shanghai, a group alleged to have produced counterfeit software products was busted and 11 people were arrested, including ring leader Ma Kepei.
Ma was first indicted in 2003 in New York on charges of violating copyright and trademark laws in connection with the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit software products.
He fled the United States and returned to China and continued his alleged crimes under a false name.
The FBI provided substantial investigative assistance for the Chinese ministry and facilitated the arrest of Ma and 10 others in Shanghai, Gao said.
In Shenzhen, a group of 14 people were arrested on suspicion of producing counterfeit software products and distributing them throughout the world.
''Combating IPR piracy must be a cooperative effort among law enforcement authorities, companies and the public. The international community should bear responsibility for fighting piracy, but regrettably, I have yet to see that,'' Gao said.
''We demand enterprises in China have social responsibility, while we also demand enterprises in other countries share the same responsibility,'' he said.
Certificates of authenticity were also seized. Counterfeiting those certificates is a lucrative business, according to Steven Hendershot, the FBI's legal attache in Beijing.
''Reproducing these documents is much like counterfeiting currency,'' Hendershot said. ''It can be more lucrative than selling the actual pirated CDs.''
The products were mainly sold to foreign countries including the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia, Gao said, but he did not say if the two syndicates were linked.
Hendershot said it is ''possible'' that more suspects will be arrested in the ongoing joint operations.
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