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Ebay software pirate faces sentence at the Old Bailey

A student who has pleaded guilty to selling illegal copies of software on Internet auction sites will be sentenced at the Old Bailey today
Written by Munir Kotadia, Contributor

A Pakistani student will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday after pleading guilty to charges that include possessing and selling counterfeit computer programs and dishonestly obtaining money by deception.

Lewisham Council Trading Standards and the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an international anti-piracy organisation, conducted a joint investigation into 23-year-old Bilal Khan's activities and discovered that he had been running an illegal software operation for at least two years.

Khan has allegedly been using hundreds of aliases on a variety of auction Web sites, such as eBay, to generate sales in both the UK and the US. His main business was built around selling counterfeit copies of Microsoft, Macromedia and Symantec software.

Khan has been in custody since 4 March, when he was arrested after being tracked to a South London address. Lewisham's Trading Standards office already had a file on Khan's activities after receiving a number of complaints from his customers.

The BSA is expecting Khan to be given a tough sentence. Beth Scott, the BSA's vice president for EMEA, said: "Khan persistently duped consumers into buying illegal and substandard software products and made substantial profits."

Scott said the BSA had invested around 1,000 man-hours tracking down Mr Khan's activities and building evidence for the case. The organisation hopes the sentence "will act as a deterrent for other software pirates".

Khan is the biggest individual pirate the BSA has come across. On top of the five piracy and dishonesty charges he has already pleaded guilty to, Khan has agreed to have another 11 offences of supplying counterfeit software taken into account before he is sentenced.

Khan could receive a two-year prison sentence or be deported. If deported, however, the BSA argued that there would be nothing to stop Khan continuing his illegal enterprise from Pakistan.

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