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Intellectual Property Rights

Houston man pleads guilty to criminal copyright infringement in connection with selling pirated software

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A Houston man pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to criminal copyright infringement, admitting he sold pirated computer software online.

Charles Daniel Stephens, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal copyright infringement. Stephens faces up to five years' imprisonment and forfeiture of over $28,000 when he is sentenced Jan. 17.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana J. Boente, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Criminal Division Mythili Raman, and Director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) Lev Kubiak made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris.

"Criminals who commit copyright infringement are stealing from Americans and harming legitimate businesses," said Kubiak. "These criminals do not pay taxes, they do not provide health care and they do not pay pensions. They are parasites on the American economy."

According to the plea agreement, Stephens sold pirated computer software online, including products from Rosetta Stone Inc., headquartered in Arlington, and products from Microsoft, Adobe Systems, Intuit and Symantec, from September 2008 through November 2012. Stephens received at least $154,000 in proceeds from these sales.

This case was investigated by the HSI-led IPR Center. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander T.H. Nguyen and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter V. Roman of the Department of Justice's Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

The IPR Center in Washington is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy. To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.