Witchita Falls Man Sentenced to 57 Months in Federal Prison on Copyright Infringement Conviction

WICHITA FALLS, TX—James Clayton Baxter, 28, of Wichita Falls, Texas, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor to 57 months in federal prison, following his guilty plea in June 2011 to one count of copyright infringement, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. Judge O’Connor ordered that he surrender to the Bureau of Prisons by March 29, 2012.

“Homeland Security Investigations is one of the primary enforcers of intellectual property rights laws,” said David M. Marwell, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Dallas. “This sentence is part of the ongoing message to potential counterfeiters that there are serious consequences for copyright infringement.” Marwell oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the state of Oklahoma.

According to documents filed in the case, from June 8, 2006 through April 9, 2007, Baxter infringed the copyrighted works of Adobe Systems Incorporated by reproducing copies of their software for his financial gain. The investigation into Baxter’s activities began in May 2007 when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was notified by investigators working for Adobe that they had purchased infringing software from TechKappa.com, a website that sold copies of software titles via download from the Internet. The investigation led investigators to Baxter’s residence on Lou Lane in Wichita Falls.

Also in 2007, the FBI received a separate lead from the Wichita Falls Police Department regarding Baxter’s involvement in selling pirated software. The Wichita Falls Police Department had previously dealt with Baxter selling infringing software in a 2004 investigation of him for credit card abuse and had warned him that he could not sell pirated software on his websites. The Wichita Falls Police Department executed a search warrant at Baxter’s residence in October 2007 and seized computers and external storage media.

The investigation revealed that Baxter owned and operated various websites, including Amerisoftware.com, Costfriendlysoftware.net, TechKappa.com, Ultrabackup.net, Superbuysoftware.net, and Go-E-Soft.com. These sites, which he advertised online, offered “backup” copies of software, owned by Adobe, Microsoft, and Autodesk, Inc., for sale at approximately one-fifth of the manufacturer’s retail value. Baxter would also provide counterfeit product registration codes (serial numbers) that were distributed with the software so that the customer could install the software.

During the June 8, 2006 through April 9, 2007 time frame, Baxter caused more than 90 infringed copies of copyrighted software to be reproduced and distributed, for which he received more than $66,000. These included copies of Adobe’s Photoshop CS2, Adobe Illustrator CS2, and Adobe Photoshop 7, all of which were copyrighted.

Baxter admits that he knew the “backup” copies of Adobe software were illegal reproductions and that he willfully infringed on their works for his personal financial gain. Baxter and the government agree that the government can prove an actual loss of between $400,000 and $1 million.

During the 2004 through 2007 timeframe noted above, Baxter established at least 17 assumed business names with accompanying merchant bank accounts to process credit card payments for software orders. For example, during the brief time period of August 7, 2006 through August 18, 2006, Baxter received a total of $18,036 in his PayPal account. The records further show that these merchant bank accounts processed 3089 approved software orders that totaled $384,380.

The case was investigated by ICE-HSI, the Wichita Falls Police Department, and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aisha Saleem prosecuted.