ESA Welcomes Game Pirate Jail Sentences

The Entertainment Software Association--the industry organization assisting game makers in legal and governmental matters and organizes the annual E3 event-- today applauded the recent jail sentences of two American game pirates in a press release.

Kevin Fuchs of West Amherst, NY, and Kifah Maswadi of Oakland, FL, were sentenced to eight and 15 months in prison, respectively, this summer. Fuchs will follow that up with eight months of house arrest and another 16 months of court supervised release. Maswadi also received three years of court supervision, 50 hours of community service, and an order to pay $415,900 in restitution.

"These decisions illustrate, once again, that game piracy will not be tolerated and the extent at which these criminals will be prosecuted. The ESA and its members will continue to support law enforcement's efforts to protect the intellectual property of our industry," said Michael Gallagher, CEO of the ESA. The sentencing follows a recent United Kingdom ruling which established a legal precedent in their courts.

The news comes at a time when piracy has had increasing influence on the gaming industry, prompting game makers to argue whether fighting piracy directly or finding other means is the right way to solve the problem. Others, like id Software, have responded by diversifying the platforms on which they release games.

In January 2007, Fuchs plead guilty to conspiring to reproduce and distribute copyrighted works. He had worked as a "supplier" in the piracy underground by obtaining pre-release copies of games to hand over to groups that would then "crack" the games by circumventing the games' copy protection systems.

Maswadi, on the other hand, plead guilty to criminal copyright infringement in June 2008. From 2006 to 2007, he had sold "Power Players," consoles pre-loaded with pirated games that connect directly to televisions. Mawadi made over $390,000 from sales and was facing three years in prison but received a reduced sentence for his cooperation with authorities.