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Germans Jail Texan Pirate

A regional court in Aachen, Germany, sentenced a 39-year-old Texan to four years imprisonment without probation for software piracy.

The sentence involves the largest software piracy case ever in Germany, according to Dietmar Dumke, a spokesman for the Aachen Regional Court.

The defendant, named only as John S., was arrested in July 1998 near the Dutch-German border on suspicion that he was involved in dealing illegal software, according to Dumke.

The authorities also confiscated some 120 million marks (US$64.14 million) worth of merchandise from a truck and warehouses in the area around Cologne and Aachen, Germany, Dumke confirmed. That included hundreds of thousands of CD-ROMs, as well as users manuals, registration cards, floppy disk labels and certificates of authenticity. The fake software had been produced in England and the defendant had intended to sell it on the German market.

The accused, an American by birth, was arrested the same day and has spent the last few months detained in custody pending trial. Throughout the trial, he denied the accusations and made use of his right to refuse to testify during the proceedings, according to a statement from Microsoft Corp.

Most of the products involved in the case were from Microsoft, according to Martina Wimmer, who handles software piracy at Microsoft in Munich, although Corel Inc.’s products were also included. The illegal software included bootleg versions of Microsoft Office, Windows 95 OEM (original equipment manufacturer) version, Windows NT Workstation, and Windows NT Server, she said.