Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2002

FORMER AUSTINITE SENTENCED IN SOFTWARE PIRACY SCHEME

Texas Internet Bureau Acted on Tip from Business Software Alliance

AUSTIN - A former Austin man received a 15-month federal prison sentence today for violating federal software copyright laws, following an investigation by the Texas Internet Bureau, Business Software Alliance (BSA) and FBI into these pirated transactions.

Erick Von Schulz, 35, most recently living in Stockton, Calif., appeared before Sr. U.S. District Judge Harry Lee Hudspeth. The evidence revealed he replicated expensive commercial software onto CD-ROMs and marketed these via email. He pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement last September.

Attorney General John Cornyn's Internet Bureau acted on a tip from the BSA in Washington, D.C., and later prosecuted the case on behalf of the federal government.

The BSA is a consortium whose members include Microsoft, Apple, Dell and others concerned about criminal software piracy. The BSA received information last December about an email solicitation an eBay shopper received from an individual identifying himself as Von Schulz. Von Schulz sent the person an extensive price list of pirated products he sold well below retail prices.

This person turned the information over to the BSA. In turn, an undercover BSA fraud investigator emailed Von Schulz, requesting this list of available software. When he obliged via email, the investigator noted that the list included at least nine copyright-protected titles of BSA-member companies.

The investigator then ordered, and later received, CDs containing Adobe Illustrator 9.0 and Photoshop 6.0 for a price of $29.50, including shipping. The retail value of these software discs alone is about $1,000. However, Von Schulz also included a number of other protected titles in this shipment, with a total retail value of about $3,300. These packages contained Von Schulz's return address on Norwood Lane in Austin. The BSA investigator subsequently made a much larger order via email, resulting in a total retail value of pirated merchandise at about $15,000.

Last May federal officials executed a search warrant at Von Schulz's residence, seizing three servers. These were forensically analyzed by the U.S. Secret Service for evidence in later prosecution.

Von Schulz has a previous criminal record in California. Offenses include a felony conviction related to narcotics, as well as arrests for theft, bad checks and obtaining money under false pretenses.

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