A California resident has been sentenced to 7 years and 3 months to a federal prison for pirating an upwards of $20 million in software from major software vendors.

On Friday, computer-aided design software firm, Autodesk, announced that Nathan Peterson, the 26 year-old operator and owner of iBackups Inc., was ordered to pay $5.4 million in restitution after pleading guilty to charges of infringement and software piracy. Sentenced on September 8, 2006, Peterson will also serve over 7 years in prison.

Peterson has said that most of the software was sold to individual consumers, although he did sell to some companies and to at least one school district, said Sandy Boulton, director of License Compliance at Autodesk. We commend the FBI and Department of Justice for their efforts and hope that consumers will purchase products direct from the developers or from their local authorized resellers to eliminate the risks of engaging in illegal activities.

Peterson profited from selling pirated software, including applications developed legitimately by Autodesk, Adobe, Macromedia and Symantec. His company, claimed to sell the software as backup copies for owners of the original software.

The Software Information Industry Association first alerted the FBI of this possible illegal activity in 2003, which in turn an The sentencing occurred in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.