Four Chinese hackers have been convicted of copyright infringement after pirating Microsoft's Windows XP operating system.

The hackers modified version of Windows XP, called Tomato Garden, which was downloaded by 10 million people, the Shanghai Daily newspaper said. Tomato Garden stripped out anti-piracy protections built into Windows XP.

The heaviest penalties in the case were levied against Hong Lei, the chief developer and distributor of the software, and Sun Xiansheng, who managed the online marketing efforts for Tomato Garden, the report said. Both were given three and a half year sentences and a 1 million yuan (£88,760) fine.

Two others - Liang Chaoyong and Zhang Tianping - were given two-year sentences and fined 100,000 yuan (£8,800).

Chengdu Share Software Net Science and Technology, the company that operated the Tomato Garden website, was also convicted in the case.

The court confiscated earnings of 2.9 million yuan (£257,000) from the company and fined it an additional 8.7 million yuan (£771,795) - equal to three times the amount it earned from sales of the software, consulting company Marbridge Research said, citing a local media report.

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See also: Pirate Windows 7 copies already on sale