SIIA Expands Piracy Lawsuits to Amazon.com, IOffer Sellers

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) has filed eight new lawsuits against sellers of allegedly pirated software, for the first time targeting sellers on Amazon.com and iOffer.com.

The lawsuits, announced Tuesday, are among more than 40 lawsuits the SIIA has filed against Internet software sellers this year. Until this new round of lawsuits, the SIIA had focused on eBay sellers allegedly offering pirated software.

Several defendants have settled the cases brought by the SIIA, and the trade group has referred a handful of cases to law enforcement authorities for possible criminal charges, said Scott Bain, SIIA's litigation counsel. In several cases, sellers have settled the complaints and agreed to pay "five-figure" penalties, Bain said.

In some cases, the settlements have resulted in financial hardships for the sellers, Bain added.

The sellers "are just people who thought they could make a quick buck at home," Bain said. "They're doing this because they think they're not going to get caught and/or they're not taking steps to figure out if it's right or wrong. Even at the low end of these penalties, these settlements really sting."

In some cases, the software is counterfeit, and in other cases, sellers are selling software packaged for educational or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) use to other buyers, Bain said.

SIIA filed the latest lawsuits on behalf of member company Adobe Systems against sellers on iOffer, eBay and Amazon.com. Among the software offered for sale was Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Acrobat 8.0. Sellers in Florida, California, Texas, Ohio, New York and Tennessee were targeted by the latest round of lawsuits.

SIIA officials have complained that eBay is not doing all it can to police pirated software sales on its site, although eBay representatives say the auction site has a significant antipiracy program in place. An Amazon.com spokeswoman said the company has not seen the lawsuits filed against Amazon sellers and cannot comment further.

SIIA has not engaged in significant discussions with Amazon.com about policing pirated software sales, Bain said. The other site, iOffer, has expressed interest in working with the SIIA to crack down on pirated software sales, he said. "They have been so far very responsive to us," he said.

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