The Department of Justice has landed its first conviction against an American defendant trapped via Operation Fastlink, a multinational law enforcement effort undertaken against online software piracy.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa said that Jathan Desir, 26, of Iowa City, has pleaded guilty to charges related to his role in a criminal enterprise that distributed pirated software, games, movies and music over the Internet.

Appearing in the U.S. District Court in Des Moines last week, Desir pleaded guilty to a three-count felony that charged him with copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. Desir will face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 18, 2005.

The Department of Justice said that Desir will be the first American citizen convicted as part of the plan that was introduced by outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft in April 2004. Since the debut of Operation Fastlink, law enforcement investigators have conducted more than 120 searches in 27 states and 11 foreign countries, resulting in the identification of nearly 100 people considered by the investigation to be leaders or high-level members of international piracy organizations, according to the agency.

In one past sweep, Operation Fastlink officials seized 200 computers, 30 of which were alleged to have been used as storage and distribution servers containing thousands of copyrighted works, including newly released movies and music. The Justice Department estimated that the seized copyright material alone was worth $50 million.

The global effort specifically targets so-called "warez" groups, members of which are believed to distribute unauthorized copies of material to previously identified clientele over secure servers. Those files typically end up on an Internet Relay Chat network or a peer-to-peer file-sharing service.

Source: CNET News

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