A court in Suzhou Jiangsu province convicted four people of software copyright infringement, sentencing them to 2 1/2-3 years in prison and fining them US$1.6 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. The four defendants included Hong Lei and Sun Xianzhong, the two founders of Chengdu Gongruan Network Technology and two others within the company. They were charged with illegally distributing software, including Microsoft’s Windows OS, which customers could download for free from their website. Although companies, including Microsoft, have long complained about how little is done to prevent intellectual property theft in China, this is the first case where the defendants have received such a harsh penalty. It’s still not clear if this is an isolated incident or a change in Beijing’s policy against piracy. Microsoft welcomed the verdict as a warning to other software counterfeiters.