The Smoking Gun recently published a report identifying the person who hacked into Conde Nast's servers last year and poached an as-yet-unpublished image of Demi Moore's W Magazine cover as 22-year-old college student Ross Ulrich. In addition to the cover, Ulrich apparently also downloaded more than 1100 files. When asked about his motivation, Ulrich's response underscores a troubling trend of image poaching to serve the ever-expanding number of folks desperately interested in fashion on the Web:
Asked about his motivation for accessing the Conde Nast system, Ulrich claimed that it was simply to obtain images that he could be the first to post online. He added that many bloggers and fan sites compete to publish images from paparazzi agencies and fashion photo shoots. The higher res the better, Ulrich noted.
Ulrich posted the images on a forum called The Fashion Spot, and then on a blog called FashionZag. Conde Nast, of course, spotted the image of the W cover quickly after it was posted, reports The Smoking Gun, but then realized by looking at the sheer number of pictures posted to FashionZag just how many images Ulrich had stolen.
The punishment for all this internet thievery? According to The Smoking Gun, two copyright infringement suits (which Ulrich has settled fro $12,500), and an FBI raid on his home, which was surely a less-than-savory experience. Certainly a sobering tale for fashion victims eager to get the exclusive on images in the future.