United States Flag
Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security

Report Crimes: Email or Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE

Intellectual Property Rights

Texas man involved in software piracy conspiracy is sentenced

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut David B. Fein announced today that Michael Uszakow, also known as "iced," 46, of Houston, Texas, was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 for his involvement in a software piracy conspiracy. The sentence is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to court documents and statements made in court, Uszakow and others participated in the "warez scene," which is an underground online community consisting of individuals and organized groups who use the Internet to engage in the large-scale, illegal distribution of copyrighted software. In the warez scene, certain participants (known as "suppliers") are able to obtain access to copyrighted software, video games, DVD movies, and MP3 music files, often before those titles are even available to the general public. Other participants, known as "crackers," then use their technical skills to circumvent or "crack" the digital copyright protections. Others, known as "couriers," then distribute the pirated software to various file storage sites ("FTP sites") on the Internet for others to access, reproduce, and further distribute. The leading warez groups competed with one another to attain the reputation as the fastest, highest quality providers of pirated materials.

In approximately December 2002, Uszakow obtained access to warez servers known as "Nite Ranger Hideout" and "The Ether Net." Specifically, from approximately December 2002 through April 2003, Uszakow uploaded approximately 3,195 files of copyrighted works to the Night Ranger Hideout site, and downloaded approximately 7,296 files of copyrighted works from the site.

On Aug. 10, 2010, Uszakow pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

This case was investigated by ICE HSI and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Chang of the District of Connecticut and Clement J. McGovern from the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice.