Hew Raymond Griffiths, a 44-year-old British national living in Australia and leader of one of the oldest and most widely recognized Internet software piracy groups in the 90s called DrinkOrDie, was extradited to the U.S. in February and sentenced this past Friday to 51 months in prison on one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.
“Whether committed with a gun or a keyboard – theft is theft. And, for those inclined to steal Intellectual Property here, or from half-way around the world, they are on notice that we can and will reach them.” said U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg.
DrinkOrDie (DoD) was an underground software cracking and warez trading network during the 1990s; it was founded 1993 but gained notoriety in 1995 by illegally releasing a copy of Windows 95 two weeks before Microsoft released the official version. The group, primarily consisting of university undergraduates, claimed they made no financial profits from their activities. DrinkOrDie was shut down by the FBI in 2001 as a result of ‘Operation Buccaneer’.
Griffiths spent three years in detention in Australia, fighting extradition. He was ultimately unsuccessful and in early February 2007, was transferred to the US detention system where he pleaded guilty in April. According to a report by The Sunday Age, he was granted 3 years already served and should be out of prison in 15 months.