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4 copyright violators withdraw appeals

THE Shanghai Higher People's Court approved the appeal withdrawals of four people convicted of copyright violation yesterday, ending the city's largest such case which involved sales of more than US$10 million and dozens of overseas software makers.

During the original trial, all nine defendants admitted to the charge of copyright infringement, but four subordinate gang members filed appeals, claiming the penalty to be "too severe."

The Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court last year sentenced Ma Jingyi, the gang leader, to seven years in prison and fined him 8.6 million yuan (US$1.26 million). Gang member Lu Yi was sentenced to six years and fined 7.4 million yuan by the court. Neither appealed the decision.

Seven subordinates were handed jail terms of two to five years.

From July 2003 to February 2007, Ma, a Sichuan Province native, instructed his employees to sell 677,000 pieces of pirated software and 15 mother discs to overseas clients. The sales netted US$10.48 million, according to the court.

Judges said Ma once belonged to a gang selling pirated software in the United States. But he returned to China on holiday just as American police began pursuing him in 2003.

After he learned he was wanted by US authorities, Ma decided to continue his business in China and specialized in selling pirated Norton antivirus software.

Each piece of pirated software was sold for US$15, less than 40 percent of a real copy, the court said.


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