Biggest WinXP Piracy Case Lands 'Founders' in Jail

Dennis Faas's picture

Four parties responsible for the widespread bootleg version of Microsoft's Windows XP in China have been found guilty and sentenced to spend as much as three and a half years in a Chinese prison.

China has long been linked with international cyber crime and foreign malware. However, according to Xinhua -- the official news agency of the People's Republic of China -- the hundreds of thousands of other cases of online deviance pales in comparison to the bootlegged "Tomato Garden" version of Windows XP.

Biggest Piracy Case in Chinese History

Created in 2004, the Tomato Garden has had a hemorrhaging spread throughout China, and has been dubbed 'the biggest software piracy case in Chinese history' according to Xinhua news agency.

The illicit software was created by Hong Lei and distributed via, where it was consumed by the millions. Lei was able to turn his situation profitable thanks in large part to the earnings made from a number of advertisements found on the site.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, the hacked version of Windows XP Tomato Garden caused a crippling effect on program authentication and certification barriers. (Source:

BSA Cracks Down on Piracy

In June 2008, the Business Software Alliance (a coalition set up to rid the world of commercial piracy) stumbled upon and complained to Chinese authorities. Now, Lei finds himself facing a three and a half year prison sentence via a court ruling in Suzhou, located in eastern China. (Source:

Another one of Lei's accomplices was handed the same prison sentence while the two remaining parties each received two year sentences.

The four may consider themselves fortunate, however. As founding fathers of the "biggest software piracy case" in the history of the globe's most populated nation, their situation is exacerbated by pressure from Washington to make examples out of online deviants. Now, more than ever, China must prove to the world their seriousness when attempting to stamp out abuse of copyrighted and patented products.

It is not known if the four intend to appeal the court ruling.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet