Three men prosecutors dubbed the “Robin Hoods of cyberspace” pleaded guilty Tuesday to putting millions of dollars worth of copyrighted computer games, movies and software on the Internet so that people around the world could make copies for free.
All three said they made no money on the scheme, and did it just for the sport of it.
Seth Kleinberg, 26, of Los Angeles, Jeffrey Lerman, 20, of New York, and Albert Bryndza, 32, of New York, pleaded guilty to federal copyright charges. They are the first Americans convicted in what the Justice Department said was the largest-ever investigation of software piracy.
Investigators said that software valued at millions of dollars was copied and sold for pennies in foreign countries.
The investigation was aimed at an underground network known as the “warez scene.”
“It’s a competition of different groups racing to release pirated software over the Internet,” said Kleinberg, who, with a high-school education and a home computer, cracked the computer industry’s toughest copyright protections.
Prosecutors said Lerman edited the software so it could fit on a single compact disc, and Bryndza built servers that stored the software.
They were released without bail for sentencing in July. They reached plea bargains calling for sentences of about three to six years.