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DrinkOrDie London trial opens

Two in the dock over software piracy charges

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The long awaited trial of a pair of men accused of playing a key role in the DrinkOrDie international computer piracy ring began at London's Old Bailey this week.

Steven Dowd, 39, of Sandpiper Close, Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, and Alex Bell, 29, of Chafford Hundred, Essex, are accused of cracking software protection and posting games and programs on the net. Both deny conspiracy to defraud, the BBC reports.

Bruce Houlder QC, prosecuting, said the duo styled themselves as "latter-day Robin Hoods", stealing goods from companies like Microsoft and making them freely available. In reality they were engaged in a multi-million pound fraud geared towards ripping off copyright holders, he said.

The court heard that a number of admitted members of DrinkOrDie in the US and UK had admitted computer piracy offences following raids that took place almost three years ago in December 2001.

The case against Dowd and Bell continues. ®

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