[ISN] Aussie faces $68m piracy charges

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Sun Mar 14 2004 - 23:05:31 PST

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    By Warren Owens
    March 14, 2004
    A NSW Central Coast man accused of heading an Internet piracy gang
    which plundered $US50 million ($68 million) worth of music, film, game
    and software products faces the prospect of a US jail term.
    The Commonwealth DPP last week applied for the extradition to the US
    of Hew Raymond Griffiths, 42, of Berkeley Vale. They want Griffiths,
    code-named "Bandido" and allegedly co-leader of the Drink Or Die
    Internet gang, to face trial for criminal copyright breaches,
    including a conspiracy charge.
    But Griffiths is fighting the US move, which has already seen several
    Internet associates jailed. His lawyer told a Sydney magistrate last
    week Griffiths "had never set foot in the US", and argued he had
    committed no crime in Australia.
    The jobless computer expert shares a modest white weatherboard home in
    Berkeley Vale with his father, Neil Griffiths, who said the pair had
    recently been forced to move from their Housing Department townhouse.
    A knock on the door at 3.30am two years ago from Australian Federal
    Police was the first Mr Griffiths knew of the allegations against his
    son, he said. "I didn't know what he was doing on the computer," he
    said. "But it's all a wind-up. Of course I'll stand by my son."
    According to documents lodged in a Sydney court last week, the gang
    cracked secrecy codes on US film, music, gameware and software
    applications long before these were released on the commercial market.
    Then they downloaded the material and made it available to members of
    their Internet club. But the FBI cracked the code-crackers and
    launched criminal prosecutions alleging conspiracy to infringe
    copyright from 1999 to 2001.
    Several US members of the gang have been jailed for up to four years
    for their role and more are awaiting trial or sentence. A Downing
    Centre Local Court magistrate will hand down his ruling on the
    extradition move in two weeks.
    While Mr Griffiths Snr spoke to The Sunday Telegraph, his son sat
    inside watching television, refusing to come out. His father said
    media attention previously had forced them to move to another home.
    A former neighbour said Griffiths had lived with his elderly father in
    Berkeley Vale, near Tuggerah Lake, for about 10 years.
    The neighbour said he only rarely saw Griffiths outside the house in
    that time. He said Griffiths usually had long hair, bare feet, and
    wore shorts and a T-shirt.
    The accused computer whiz wore his hair almost to his shoulders until
    he was served with legal papers and required to attend court, when he
    had a haircut.
    The FBI launched prosecutions against the alleged Internet
    conspirators in the US state of Virginia two years ago, but Australian
    Federal Police did not receive a request to extradite Griffiths until
    If convicted in the US, he faces a maximum jail term of 10 years and a
    fine of up to $US500,000 ($680,000).
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