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SIIA Pays Out Record Rewards to Piracy Whistleblowers

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The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) paid out more than $127,000 in rewards to a total of 24 sources who reported cases of software or digital content piracy in 2009.

The SIIA, a trade association for the software and digital content industry, has stepped up its efforts in recent years to stem the illegal trafficking of billions of dollars worth ofcounterfeit and stolen software applications at online sites including eBay.

SIIA officials said the $127,000 in bounties was the highest amount it's ever paid for tips since debuting its Anti-Piracy Reward Program in 2003.

"Thanks to our sources, 2009 was a banner year in the fight against software and content piracy in the workplace," Keith Kupferschmid, SIIA's senior vice president for intellectual property policy and enforcement, said in a statement. "The valuable information we received jumpstarted several investigations and helped SIIA continue the industry's most aggressive campaign against software and content piracy."

Earlier this month, a software pirate responsible for ripping off nearly 8,000 online customers and a handful of leading software vendorswas sentenced to 21 months in prison by a federal judge in Phoenix after he pleaded guilty to guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and criminal copyright infringement charges -- a prosecution aided greatly by SIIA investigators.

In October, Gregory William Fair of Falls Church, Va. received a 41-month prison sentence for selling bogus copies of various Adobe Systems (NASDAQ: ADBE) applicationsworth more than $1.4 million on eBay from 2001 through 2007.

The SIIA's Anti-Piracy Reward Program offers rewards to snitches who report verifiable instances of corporate software or content piracy, with rewards ranging from $500 for a settlement of $10,000 to $1 million for cases with settlement amounts over $20 million.

In 2008 alone, IDC estimated that software vendors lost more than $53 billion to software piracy -- an especially galling figure considering worldwide sales of legitimate software applications totaled just over $88 billion that year.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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