A Chinese man pleaded guilty Monday to two federal charges related to the selling, without authorization, of high-end software programs for a fraction of their retail worth.
Xiang Li pleaded guilty to being a part of the massive $100 million online software piracy scheme that authorities said was “one of the most significant copyright infringement cases ever uncovered.”
The indictment opened in federal court in Delaware, accused Li of cracking access controls on the pirated software, which included titles like Agilent Advanced Design System with a retail value of $229,000. The indictment said he and a co-conspirator sold the design software for $60 on sites like crack99, cad100 and dongle-crack-download. Another title, Ansys Ansoft Designer 3.5, which retailed for over $40,000, sold for $40, according to the indictment.
Li and an associate who has not pleaded guilty, reaped $60,000 in profits from the sale of $100 million worth of software between 2008 and 2011, according to the indictment.
Reports in the indictment said Li advertised 2,000 titles. The high-end software had numerous applications, including defense, engineering, manufacturing, space exploration, aerospace simulation and design, mathematics, storm water management, explosive simulation, and manufacturing plant design.
The Homeland Security Investigations unit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigated the incident. According to court documents, the authorities made numerous undercover buys from the defendant.
Li faces up to five years in prison. Li’s wife is also under indictment, but her whereabouts remain unknown and officials fear she is in China.