A Derby man is facing up to 10 years in jail after pleading guilty to illegally selling expensive CAD software at massively reduced prices.
The AceCad software, which has been used in high-profile projects like London's "Gherkin" building, sells for thousands of pounds; Michael Walton was selling illegal copies of the software on eBay for just £12. He pleaded guilty on Friday to charges under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Trade Marks Act 1994, and will be sentenced on 1 February.
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) condemned his actions. Najeeb Khan, UK committee vice chair of the BSA, said: "Software piracy doesn't just affect multinational and well-known brands; this latest case underlines the negative impact it can have on smaller, specialist UK companies. Auctions have developed into a marketplace where sellers feel they are anonymous and out of the reach of law."
Khan called for the BSA to take a tough stance against online sellers who "deceive end users and fuel the demand for [illegally] copied software".
Walton had cracked the encryption code on AceCad's software to allow him to make copies. The fraud came to light when AceCad sales consultant Paul Bettany was browsing eBay for a gift for his girlfriend.
Wayne Rawson, director and general manager of Wyvern-based AceCad, said that his company would not tolerate violations of its software copyright.
"We can't stand for things like this. International pop stars might be able to afford people copying their work but we can't," Rawson told the Derby Evening Telegraph. "We're lucky in that we managed to stop this before too many copies had been sold but, if it had carried on, we could have potentially lost a fortune."