Dead, 3 Wounded in Daycare Piracy Raid
August 26, 2002
Working off an anonymous tip, agents from the Business Software Alliance conducted their deadliest--and most successful--software piracy audit to date. The raid took place at Children's World Daycare Center in Faribault, Minnesota, where it was suspected that employees had installed unauthorized copies of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Junior Puzzle Challenge on at least thirteen Compaq PCs, a spokesman for the BSA said.
Blood on the walls of the cubby area at
The early morning raid took place Monday as busy parents dropped their preschool-aged children at the door of the
Children's World compound and headed off to work. A little over half of the center's 48 children had arrived by the time the raid began. In full riot gear, agents of the BSA fired three rounds of tear gas pellets through first-floor windows of the small building and then stormed in through both the front and rear entrances. The plan was to seize all thirteen suspect computers and immediately return them to headquarters for license key analysis. However, BSA agents say they encountered fierce resistance in the cubby room area, as children began hurling rocks and broken bottles at the officers and chanting anti-American slogans. It's not clear whether the first shot came from the agents or from the angry child mob, but after the
volley of gunfire had subsided, one toddler was dead and three others were hospitalized in serious condition. One agent suffered a bruised shin, while another accidentally inhaled a dangerous amount of tear gas.
Results of the audit concluded that staff members of the daycare center had indeed violated Microsoft End-User License Agreements by installing the same copy of Windows and Junior Puzzle Challenge on every PC in the compound. The EULA clearly states separate copies must be purchased and registered for each individual PC, with the exception of large corporations participating in Microsoft's "Software Assurance"
annual subscription plan. Microsoft estimates the damage caused by Children's World to the overall US economy to be nearly 8 billion dollars.
"We make no distinction between software pirates and those that harbor them," the BSA wrote in a statement. "Anyone who installs or uses unlicensed software is threat to both Microsoft interests and national security, and will be dealt with in a harsh and swift manner." All Children's World students and staff are currently being held without bail in Rice County as they await federal charges.
Under the new USA Patriot Act, even extended family members of users of unlicensed Microsoft software can face steep criminal penalties. The mother of the slain boy was arraigned in Minnesota Superior Court today for harboring a user of pirated software. If convicted, the woman, whose name has not been released to the media, could face up to $50 million in fines or two years in prison. Parents of the children who were wounded are also facing criminal charges.
All thirteen Compaq PCs had their hard drives removed and then destroyed in a quarantined area to prevent the unlicensed software from infecting other PCs. Agents say at least one mp3 file was found on one of the hard drives but declined to name the title or artist, citing infringement concerns.
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