At least five employees of Apple's retail stores have been fired after downloading copies of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, according to reports.

A pre-release edition of Leopard was handed out to developers following Apple's keynote at WWDC. Copies of the beta began leaking online earlier this month.

Employees overheard discussing the merits of the beta reached the ears of Apple corporate and action was taken. Staff were dismissed after admitting to acquiring the software illegally.

"All of us know that we violated our NDA and ethics policy. Therefore, because we had the character to tell the truth and to face the consequences of our actions, we were terminated," said one of the fired employees, who spoke with Think Secret.