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Piracy Government Software The Military United States Technology

US Navy Under Fire In Mass Software Piracy Lawsuit ( 121

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: In 2011 and 2012, the U.S. Navy began using BS Contact Geo, a 3D virtual reality application developed by German company Bitmanagement. The Navy reportedly agreed to purchase licenses for use on 38 computers, but things began to escalate. While Bitmanagement was hopeful that it could sell additional licenses to the Navy, the software vendor soon discovered the U.S. Government had already installed it on 100,000 computers without extra compensation. In a Federal Claims Court complaint filed by Bitmanagement two years ago, that figure later increased to hundreds of thousands of computers. Because of the alleged infringement, Bitmanagement demanded damages totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. In the months that followed both parties conducted discovery and a few days ago the software company filed a motion for partial summary judgment, asking the court to rule that the U.S. Government is liable for copyright infringement. According to the software company, it's clear that the U.S. Government crossed a line. In its defense, the U.S. Government had argued that it bought concurrent-use licenses, which permitted the software to be installed across the Navy network. However, Bitmanagement argues that it is impossible as the reseller that sold the software was only authorized to sell PC licenses. In addition, the software company points out that the word "concurrent" doesn't appear in the contracts, nor was there any mention of mass installations. The full motion brings up a wide range of other arguments as well which, according to Bitmanagement, make it clear that the U.S. Government is liable for copyright infringement.
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US Navy Under Fire In Mass Software Piracy Lawsuit

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  • Oh, no! (Score:5, Funny)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @09:04AM (#56251669) Homepage Journal

    Hundreds of millions of dollars? Where will the DoD get that kind of money?

    • by umghhh ( 965931 )
      Yes that is a real worry. But they can claim that the German SW was flawed on purpose to hide CO2 footprint. That would fix it.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      From the US taxpayers, and more debt.

    • Re:Oh, no! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @09:26AM (#56251759)

      Wait - the copyright lobby have yet to peer-review the maths involved. This will be complex because the plaintiff is German and not American, but I believe the formula they apply is something like:

      sue_for_losses = (actual_losses + made_up_losses) * 1000

      Then, because it's a German company:

      america_first_weighting = 0.0001
      sue_for_losses = sue_for_losses * america_first_weighting

      Next up comes the political stuff:

      sue_for_losses = apply_secret_sauce_no_one_understands(sue_for_losses)

      By the time all that gets done, the German state will end up bailing out Bitmanagement so it can be pay the US government for misuse of their equipment.

      • Re:Oh, no! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by henni16 ( 586412 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @03:59PM (#56254577)

        Maybe they can get the RIAA to do the math:
        150k of statutory damages per willful infringement multiplied by 100k infringements makes 15 billion in statutory damages.

        Which leads to the question of who do you call to repo a carrier group.

    • Out of your pocket.
      While I am of the opinion that the U.S. Spends too much on the military, and there is a lot of waste in the military that can probably be cleaned up with some efficiencies, and the fact that they pull the you need to pay us more money or else you will be sorry scheme irresponsible.

      But this is just more money that will be wasted from our tax money and not go towards strengthening our military, paying our troops better salary. Or keeping us more secure.

      • the whole point of damages is that the money is "wasted" by the defendant. if they got to keep it (after possibly a stern lecture), there'd be no incentive to follow the law.

        the german company is not, of course, going to get $number_of_installs*$cost_of_license in the end. they're just starting there because they can and they probably don't have any more information. we'll see how this goes; hopefully there's a semi-reasonable explanation and a settlement. maybe the sysadmin who thought this was a good idea

        • the whole point of damages is that the money is "wasted" by the defendant. if they got to keep it (after possibly a stern lecture), there'd be no incentive to follow the law.

          The point of damages—restitution—is that the plaintiff is "made whole". Damages are not awarded to punish the plaintiff or to serve as a deterrent. Your actions damaged someone, so it's your responsibility to set things right. Punishment (retribution) is separate.

          Of course, this is a copyright case, so the idea that there could be "damages" in any real sense is laughable. The production or distribution of unauthorized copies does not make the copyright holder any worse off than they were before.

          • That depends on your jurisdiction. There is a well known concept of "punitive damage"

          • it's not just copyright infringement, dude. the navy didn't go buy a copy of this software off-the-shelf at best buy. your arguments against prosecuting software piracy in the large are kinda silly when applied to a single organization with, presumably, a legitimate contractual relationship (not just a dumbass click-through EULA) with the vendor.

            and, yes, paying someone to "make them whole" is wasting the money, unless you're the person being made whole. while i could have worded it better, your technical d

    • "discontinue use if experiencing mood swings, nausea or elevated blood pressure."

      There goes puberty. Abandon hope, all ye in 10th grade.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      They could try piracy. Sail the seven seas drinking, murdering and looking for booty, then selling it on the black market.

      Better than the most heinous crime of software piracy.

      • They could try piracy.

        If you do it by yourself . . . you're a pirate.

        If you do it in contract of a country . . . you're a privateer.

        See Sir Francis Drake for details.

        Sail the seven seas drinking, murdering and looking for booty, then selling it on the black market.

        Booze is banned on US Navy ships. The other stuff is OK.

        I can't image a French navy ship without a wine cellar, or a German navy ship without beer taps.

    • Be thankful it was not a music track otherwise Germany would now own the US Navy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @09:09AM (#56251685)

    As an American I hope this will teach the Us government to stop being douchebags about copywrite infringement. And about most everything else too.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'll just assume that the USTR will add the US to the Special 301 report, because we all know how important it is.

    • It won't.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Heh. I can remember, many moons ago, when Siebel sold very expensive licenses for MRI software on SGI hardware. They were quite miffed to discover that I had ported VNC to SGI IRIX, in order to allow clinicians to access the box remotely and use the software rather than buying each their own SGI Indigo box each with their own license. That was in.... dear lord, that was back in 2000. They were *miffed*, but I couldn't find anywhere in the licensing that forbade remote access.

    Now, I would *not* want to permi

    • X servers and clients have the names backwards.


      Clients connect to servers.

    • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @09:49AM (#56251861) Homepage Journal

      Many more moons before that, when you were limited to dialup connections, we set up tunnels for authorized clients, RADIUS and all. The stated purpose was to enable radiologists about 100 miles away to access the Solaris machines and read radiology images for diagnosis.

      Imagine our surprise when we saw connections (logging ANI for auditing) originating from India.

      Imagine further surprise when Sun tried to shut this down, claiming they were constrained from delivering the software offshore due to encryption and munitions regulations.

      Several lawyers later they went away, very disappointed in missing out on not only the licensing for few hundred thousand new end-users, but also for the licensing they missed out on when we figured out how other hospitals could share imaging and use our teleradiology services for the cost of a long-distance call. Which got cheaper when we partnered with a nascent DSL provider (NOT the ILEC, mind you), and they got AOL on the side.

      Good times. that odd adapter with the 02DEADBEEF20 MAC address drove me crazy for a few hours, though. And the infiltration of Ethernet into my pristine Token-Ring network, with all the joy that brought.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But it can be really useful, especially for clients that don't have a built-in X server. And yes, X servers and clients have the names backwards.

      No, your understanding is backwards.

      The X server is where the display is happening ... the clients connect to the servers and ask them to display something for them.

      The server is the thing which waits for requests from clients to do work on its behalf.

      While the work may be happening on what is a server, and you consider yourself a client, in the X architecture, the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @09:13AM (#56251709)

    The Army bankrupted this company due to rampant piracy of their software.

    That's the origin of the US GOV'T RESTRICTED RIGTS in the (c) messages.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Remember PROMIS?

      (not that PROMIS, the older one-"Prosecutors Management and Information System".)

      A bit of software for mainframes and minis, that was comissioned by the US govt but never paid for. It was capable of reading/writing any database or record system at the time. The US govt, instead of paying for the software, instead of complying with court orders, destroyed the company, subverted bankruptcy proceedings to ensure the company was killed off. It likely cost the govt more to do this than to pay the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @09:22AM (#56251739)

    Delightfully missing in TFS is that a library, not linked to any executable software, was on a common desktop image. Not an executable, much less a runnable installation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      On bare copyright terms though, does that even make a difference? The restricted act is copying, not use or benefit.

    • It's sad that it's a legal issue - not one that involves fairness, honesty, justice or any other thing the legal system wants us to believe.
  • Now vee have zee Americans vhere vee vant dem.
  • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @09:41AM (#56251817) Homepage Journal
    In the Navy?

    That's a serious problem.
    • Load the guns and Put up the sweeps! Prepare to come about and PAY THE BILL or we will take possession of one of your ships!

  • 1 - A hundred thousand workstations using VR software? This is a mainstream training tool now?

    2 - We are relying on a German company for must now be military mission-critical software?

    Clearly this is not a big deal. They should have bought and on-shored the company .

  • For some reason, I seem more concerned that the navy would allow some piece of software to phone-home to the company than the fact that they installed the software on multiple machines. I assume that is how they know the navy had 100,000 installs of their software.

    Could the company then release an update that would essentially create a bot net of navy computers?

    • For some reason, I am not sure why you think that is how they found out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I assume that is how they know the navy had 100,000 installs of their software.

      During the lawsuit the Navy stated they believed they had a license that would allow them to include this software in their standard PC deployment image and that the only restrictions were how many copies were running or in use at the same time.

      During the court case, the Navy admitted it has deployed that particular standard system image hundreds of thousands of times since the software inclusion.

    • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @10:39AM (#56252147)

      Incorrect. They learned the scope of the problem through discovery and adjusted their claims to account for the much more massive copying (the original scope was just the single site where the trial happened). The DoD very much does not allow call home.

      • Meh.. ostensibly they don't on classified networks, but the unclass network is pretty porous and network configuration varies widely. In any event, it must have leaked through somewhere in order to tip them off in the first place.

        • My guess is one of those "whistle blower" things where they encourage you to turn in your company for violating software licenses for a reward was involved...

  • by Clueless Nick ( 883532 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @09:54AM (#56251889) Journal

    In Soviet America, the Navy are the Pirates?

  • There has been this company called flex (someone else owns them now I think) that can control software usage in every way imaginable.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This whole thing is a good argument for open source in government. The money that the Navy is going to have to pay to this company could support far, far more software in the open source. yes, sometimes, things are very specific to a task and need to be custom / paid for in a proprietary setting. This is not one of those cases. There are multiple viewers for 3D applications which they can put anywhere.

  • so each reimgae counts as an install? Some systems are re-imaged daily.

    Or do they count the software being in the software deployment system as an app listed for installation but not installed as being installed on each system?

  • blame the reseller with EULA BS? no an hard contract overrides any EULA

  • Estimates (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bestweasel ( 773758 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @10:54AM (#56252247)

    "We need to scope out this Bitmanagement deployment, Lieutenant. How many PCs will need it?"
    "Several hundred thousand Sir".
    "That's a lot of licenses, is there any way we can get by with fewer?"
    "Well Sir, we could switch to a concurrent licensing model."
    "How many would we need then?"
    Scribble, scribble.
    "I make it 38 Sir."
    "That sounds better, we'll do that."

  • The devil's probably in the details of the contract's wording.

    Bitmanagement argues that it is impossible as the reseller that sold the software was only authorized to sell PC licenses.

    That's probably not the Navy's fault. That's an issue between the vendor and reseller if the Navy only made their deal with the reseller.

    the software company points out that the word "concurrent" doesn't appear in the contracts, nor was there any mention of mass installations

    There are different ways to say the same thing. I su

  • ... block the Navy's internet access.

    • The navy wishes they had Comcast speeds. The infrastructure left behind by EDS (and then HP) was barely faster than dial-up. Back when I was in, it was called NMCI (Navy and Marine Core Intranet) and it was so bad that dealing with it was a bigger factor for getting out than getting deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan. It cost ~$300/month to lease a basic 5 year old workstation (all systems were leased btw). The email system had something like a 25MB limit, so we had to contract out file servers for contractors

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.