Novell and Microsoft Settle Largest BBS Piracy Case Ever
Redmond, Wash. - January 12, 1996 - Microsoft Corporation and Novell, Inc. jointly announced today they have reached a settlement with Scott W. Morris, who was doing business as the Assassins' Guild Bulletin Board Service (BBS), in what is believed to be the largest settlement ever with the systems operator of a pirate electronic BBS. The settlement concludes litigation filed by Microsoft and Novell in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Under the agreement, Mr. Morris will pay $70,300 in cash and forfeit computer hardware valued at more than $40,000. Mr. Morris also agrees to assist Microsoft and Novell in their continuing BBS investigations.
The Assassin's Guild billed itself as the worldwide headquarters for two large pirate groups, Pirates with an Attitude (PWA) and Razor 1911. U.S. Marshals raided Mr. Morris' residence last April on the basis of plaintiffs' claims of illegal reproduction and distribution of copyright-protected software. The BBS had been offering access to hundreds of pirated software products, including those published by Microsoft and Novell, to users throughout the U.S. and around the world over its state-of-the-art system. Marshals seized 13 computers, 11 modems, a satellite dish, 9 gigabytes of online data and over 40 gigabytes of off-line data storage dating back to 1992.
"This case sets an important precedent for this industry," said Bob Kruger, Director of Enforcement for the Business Software Alliance (BSA). "It sends a clear message to operators of bulletin boards who are illegally distributing copyright-protected software that they will be investigated and sued, or criminally prosecuted. It also sends a message to our industry that, large or small, no software publisher is immune from bulletin board piracy."
"Online piracy is a growing concern for software publishers around the world," said Jim Lowe, Microsoft Corporate Attorney. "We are committed to working with industry representatives and law enforcement agencies to stop this trend. Pirates such as the Assassins' Guild are stealing intellectual property that represent years of development time and investment on the parts of publishers large and small."
Both Novell and Microsoft are members of the BSA, an industry alliance formed to promote the growth of the software industry through public policy, education and enforcement initiatives. In 1994, the BSA estimates that software publishers lost over $15.2 billion as a result of software piracy. In the United States alone, the BSA estimates that 35 percent of the business software in use is pirated, resulting in losses of more than $2.8 billion.
Consumers or resellers having questions related to software piracy should call the Business Software Alliance's Anti-Piracy Hotline at 1-800-688-BSA1 or email email@example.com. For consumers or resellers with questions regarding the legitimacy of Microsoft products, they should call the Microsoft Anti-Piracy Hotline at 1-800-RU-LEGIT or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For consumers or resellers with questions regarding the legitimacy of Novell products, they should call the Novell Anti-Piracy Hotline at 1-800-PIRATES or email email@example.com.
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