German MS counterfeiters sent to jail

Father and son

A German software pirate has been handed a three-year jail sentence for copyright infringement and selling counterfeit MS software after a trial lasting 18 weeks.

The new jail time, handed down by the Stuttgart criminal court, is in addition to 10 months the defendant Dieter Rimmele has spent inside since his arrest.

His father, Hubert Rimmele, was convicted of helping him conceal his illegal sales operation. He was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. His mother was also investigated, but was not prosecuted due to ill health, IDG reports.

This is Dieter's second visit to prison: in 1999 he was sentenced to a year for the intriguing crime of "software manipulation".

The father and son team are understood to belong to same counterfeiting ring as Ralph Blasek. Blasek, whom authorities have named as the leader of the group, was sentenced to a five-and-a half year term, three months ago. Two other people, alleged to be members of the same group, are currently on trial in Germany.

According to Microsoft, Blasek's re-boxing organisation was "Europe's largest known software counterfeiting network". German authorities mounted a massive investigation into the operation with the aim of breaking the ring.

The Business Software Alliance estimates that as much as 36 per cent of software in Western Europe is fake. In Germany, that figure is slightly lower at 30 per cent. But the ever-suffering BSA argues that low piracy rates don't necessarily equate to low losses. Its IDC study suggested that Western Europe loses more money to pirated software than any other region. ®

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