Chinese residents charged with selling $100M worth of pirated software

The defendants operated websites selling pirated software at discount prices, the indictment alleges

A U.S. grand jury has charged two residents of China with 46 criminal counts, including infringing software copyrights and illegally exporting technology to China, for allegedly operating a website that sold pirated software with a commercial value of more than US$100 million.

Xiang Li, 35, and Chun Yan Li, 33, of Chengdu, China, are accused of operating websites, including, that sold allegedly pirated copies of software. The two defendants sold pirated products from 150 software companies between April 2008 and June 2011, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Xiang Li was arrested by HSI agents in June in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. Chun Yan Li remains at large. The defendants face charges in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

In a related case, a former employee of NASA has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, HSI said in a press release. Cosburn Wedderburn, 38, of Windsor Mill, Maryland, purchased pirated software worth more than $1 million from Xiang Li, the agency said. Wedderburn faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the loss from this case.

Xiang Li "believed he could commit these crimes without being held accountable for his actions," ICE Director John Morton said in a statement. "Li thought he was safe from the long arm of U.S. law enforcement, hiding half way around the world in cyberspace anonymity. He was sorely mistaken."

Xiang Li's lawyer wasn't immediately available for a comment on the charges. and other websites allegedly operated by the defendants sold pirated copies of software in which the access control mechanisms had been cracked, or circumvented, HSI said.

The websites advertised more 2,000 cracked software products for sale at deep discounts from their retail prices, HSI said. The advertised pirated software, most of which was developed by U.S. companies, is used in several fields, including engineering, manufacturing, space exploration, aerospace simulation and design, mathematics and storm water management, HSI said.

The prices listed for the pirated software on the websites range from $20 to $1,200, while the retail value of these products ranged from several hundred dollars to over $1 million dollars.

The indictment charges that between April 2008 and June 2011, Xiang Li distributed more 500 pirated copyrighted works to about 325 customers across the U.S. and in 60 foreign countries.

Xiang Li faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine, or twice the loss from this case, per charge.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?