The DOJ announced that Gregory William Fair of Falls Church has been sentenced to 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release. It would seem that peddling “counterfeit” computer software is pretty profitable. Fair has to pay just shy of $750,000 in restitution after already forfeiting $144,000 in cash as well as a whole mess of cars: a BMW 5 series, a Hummer H2, Mercedes CL600 and a 69 GTO.
The repeated use of the word counterfeit is interesting, and a funny reflection on the way software is sold and intellectual property in general. No doubt what Fair’s eBay buyers got was in every way the actual, functional software they were looking for, and it did what the buyers expected. We think of “counterfeit” as being different than the actual thing, but in a case like this the only difference is likely the permission of the rights holder. Sometimes that’s the case with knockoff clothing and accessories too – sometimes that purse you buy on the corner in Georgetown is made in the same factory as the real designer’s products, made on the sly and sold out the back door to knockoff vendors.
Also interesting is just how little Fair might have sold. The press release says he sold about a million bucks in Adobe products, retail. With a vanilla copy of Photoshop at $700 and some of the suites selling for $1,800 it probably didn’t take long to hit that $1M.