Briton gets 51-month sentence over Internet piracy

A British national who headed the 'DrinkOrDie' underground Internet piracy group was sentenced to 51 months in prison on copyright infringement charges, US officials, quoted by an AFP report said.

The AFP report quoting US Justice Department officials said Hew Raymond Griffiths, 44, a British national who had been living in Bateau Bay, Australia, was among the first people to be extradited to the US for an intellectual property offense.

He pleaded guilty on April 20 to US criminal charges after having spent three years incarcerated in Australia while fighting his extradition and was sentenced by District Court Judge Claude Hilton, the AFP report said.

The AFP report quoting officials said Griffiths was the leader of a group known as DrinkOrDie, believed to be one of the oldest software piracy groups on the Internet.

DrinkOrDie was founded in Russia in 1993 and expanded internationally throughout the 1990s.

It specialized in cracking software codes and distributing illegal versions over the Internet of software, games, movies and music titles worth millions of dollars, the AFP report said.

The group was dismantled by a joint operation of US law enforcement in December 2001 with Britain, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Australia, with more than 70 raids conducted, the report further said.