US and Chinese officials announced today that they have busted two Chinese software piracy groups in possession of illegal software with an “estimated retail value” of close to $500 million. The groups operated out of Shanghai and Shenzhen, and sold much of the software through the Internet, according to the FBI.
The FBI and Chinese police have also made 25 arrests in connection with the piracy gangs in China since 2005 in an operation code-named “Summer Solstice.” Officials had previously discovered that one of the groups, the MA Ke Pei organization, was conducting deals with suspects in the US, according to the FBI’s Los Angeles division, which kicked off a joint investigation between US and Chinese officials. Since then, officials have seized some 300,000 counterfeit discs from those individuals, which the FBI estimates at over $7 million.
The groups primarily targeted applications made by Microsoft and Symantec (insert smarmy comment about pirates wishing to protect themselves from viruses here). Microsoft claims that these particular groups were responsible for distributing “more than $2 billion worth of counterfeit Microsoft software” since their inception and that copies were available in at least eight different languages. That’s right: the illegal software produced in China wasn’t kept in China. The FBI estimates that 70 percent of the software was sold to the US, with the other 30 percent going to other countries around the world.
[Learn More: ars technica]