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Pirated Software Could Bring Down Predator Drones

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the stealing-the-code dept.

The Military 123

Pickens writes "Fast Company reports that Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Margaret Hinkle will soon issue a decision on an intellectual property-related lawsuit that could ground the CIA's Predator drones. Intelligent Integration Systems (IISi) alleges that their Geospatial Toolkit and Extended SQL Toolkit were pirated by Massachusetts-based Netezza for use by a government client and is seeking an injunction that would halt the use of their two toolkits by Netezza for three years. The dispute goes back to when Netezza and IISi were former partners in a contract to develop software that would be used, among other purposes, for unmanned drones. IISi's suit claims that both the software package used by the CIA and the Netezza Spatial product were built using their intellectual property and according to statements made by IISi CEO Paul Davis, a favorable ruling in the injunction would revoke the CIA's license to use Geospatial. If IISi prevails in court this would either force the CIA to ground Predator drones or to break the law in their use of the pirated software. But there's more. Testimony given by an IISi executive to the court indicates that Netezza illegally and hastily reverse-engineered IISi's code to deliver a faulty version that could cause predator drones to miss their targets by as much as 40 feet. "

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Sarah Connor? (3, Funny)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931004)

Did someone come back in time and start IISi in order to delay the deployment of Skynet by a few years?

Brilliant!

Re:Sarah Connor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931102)

Does that mean that doing anything to prevent skynet would raise my chance to get terminated by Summer?

Eminent Domain (4, Insightful)

thorgil (455385) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931024)

If the CIA really needs the IP, they could just declare it as eminent domain. Problem solved.

Re:Eminent Domain (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931086)

Hugo Grotius [wikipedia.org] for the win!

Re:Eminent Domain (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931162)

If the CIA really needs the IP, they could just declare it as eminent domain. Problem solved.

Maybe IISi could license the software to the CIA? Surely a government contract is worth a pretty penny (especially in this situation). On the flip side, if IISi's headquarters is accidentally hit by a drone using the pirated software it would be just a tad ironic (the CIA could just cliam the software was trying to get home while in 'homing pigeon' mode).

Re:Eminent Domain (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931166)

You still need to pay for eminent domain. If you want to maintain the appearance of being a "free country", at any rate.

Re:Eminent Domain (4, Insightful)

thorgil (455385) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931222)

Just declare the IP a state secret. The market value is then zero, as the company cant sell it legally. Buy it from the company for 1 cent. Then classify the contract as top secret. If the company complains, send the people to jail or gitmo.

Re:Eminent Domain (3, Funny)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931300)

I take it you went down the road of 'screw appearances' :)

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

FrozenFOXX (1048276) | more than 3 years ago | (#33934980)

I take it you went down the road of 'screw appearances' :)

Dude, it's CIA. I severely doubt they're worried about appearances. :P

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931354)

Like when the NSA makes you an offer. The tech just drops away and you walk away with a smile.
The problem is contractors want to milk the system for generations, the life of a platform and its next revisions.
They also want in on the next gen and zero bid. So they get their hooks in some experimental proof of concept deal and then expect to grow with the system.
The problem is this was so rushed and now its all catching up with the US gov. The US gov could set up its own people to do it, but that would be evil.
The US gov could have asked for a real drone system, that takes time.
What they got was perfect for the time - 24/7 death.
A tame US media and psyops can keep it all clean until the next gen is released.

Re:Eminent Domain (0, Flamebait)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931548)

Just declare the IP a state secret. The market value is then zero, as the company cant sell it legally. Buy it from the company for 1 cent. Then classify the contract as top secret. If the company complains, send the people to jail or gitmo.

Mr. President Bush, is that you? I wondered what you've been doing since retirement it seems trolling slashdot is the answer.

Re:Eminent Domain (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33932024)

Pretty sure that's Cheney, actually.

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933164)

This is why we don't put people like you in positions of power.

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

bluie- (1172769) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933384)

you should copyright that idea, so that if the CIA does it you can sue and try to stop them from doing it, only to have them do it again to you...

Re:Eminent Domain (3, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933394)

Too late secrets out, "The identity of the person whose cell phone signal has moved from one tower to another, according to IISi's court filings. Such techniques - quickly combining intelligence with live mobile phone surveillance from the air - are reportedly central to the CIA's targeting of missile strikes by unmanned aircraft" http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/24/cia_netezza/ [theregister.co.uk] . See proof positive that using a mobile phone or allowing someone to use it near could get you killed ;D.

New terrorist weapon of choice planting a mobile phone from a dodgy account on your enemies (or one that's had naughty voices picked up via filtering and analysis). Personally I think that is really dodgy data to base mass murdering a group of people without trial or review of evidence, really dodgy, borrow someone's phone to make a call and it gets your family killed, there is some really callously indifferent decision making going on at the CIA.

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33934500)

    No, no, no, you have it all wrong.

    In the middle of the night, "someone" goes in, collects everything, and it's replaced with dummy supplies. (i.e., filing cabinets full of blank paper, computers with blank hard drives, etc). Then the actual developers are suddenly and quietly moved off to another site, but that's ok, because replacements were left in place where necessary.

    It's a terrible shame, but it seems there was some sort of gas leak in the building(s), which ignited at approximately 11pm. Everyone (cadavers) in the building(s) were killed and burned beyond recognition or dental analysis. Oh well, I guess everything was lost.

    Meanwhile, in some black ops building in some god forsaken location, the work goes on. :)

    It's a lot easier to disappear someone, than it is to put them in jail or even gitmo. In jail, they'll likely be able to talk to someone. Keeping someone quiet means keeping them from talking to anyone. You really don't want classified materials wandering around with unvetted individuals. Jail is not the place most conducive to people keeping secrets for you. It's just a very little bit harder to get them out.

Re:Eminent Domain (2, Interesting)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#33935034)

Actually there is a bit of relevant history. Certain encryption programs have been declared "munitions" in the past. The purpose was to keep those programs from being exported. But the same laws could be used to keep drone guidance programs from being sold to anyone but the US government and perhaps even grant seizure powers such that the government gets all the existing software for free.
                          Also it would be very, very difficult to get any data about the military using that software so if the creators of that software are told the military suddenly no longer uses the software they would be forced to toddle off hat in hand.
                          Frankly with the RC hobby as active as it is I'll bet there are quite a few pretty good guidance programs almost ready to use as it is.

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931508)

"You still need to pay for eminent domain. If you want to maintain the appearance of being a "free country", at any rate."

There is enough money available to simply acquire the whole company, or pay whatever they like for the software.

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33932462)

Yeah but that would take taxpayer money whereas if you use eminent domain or quash the suit you don't have to spend more than a small fraction of that.

I'm always a bit curious as to why people are more comfortable with eminent domain than just paying the assessed value of whatever. Sure it costs tax payers more, but with a lot of it there's no real way of knowing that you're not going to be the next one that gets screwed by it in some fashion.

Re:Eminent Domain (2, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33934832)

Or they could use a front company to buy this company out and kill the whole suit. Why use taxpayer money when they can use money from one of their front operations, or other "off budget" stuff. One would assume that they still get a piece of cocaine shipments here and there. Or illegal arms sales. The CIA has never exactly been sticklers for the rules.

-Steve

Re:Eminent Domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33933806)

The CIA pays for everything else, so this would be no exception. If the drone vendor agreed to provide the software, the CIA could recoup the money from them. Problem solved.

Re:Eminent Domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931182)

I agree just take it. IRON MAN 2!

I meant just take the software, not the movie. Or should it be both?

Re:Eminent Domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931484)

the IRON MAN 2 code that runs on the AT91R40008 cpu is out there.

Re:Eminent Domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931196)

Or they could just say "go away" and keep the software. It has happened before.

Re:Eminent Domain (2, Interesting)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#33932328)

Promis [wikipedia.org] me you won't make slurs like that against the Justice department again.

Re:Eminent Domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931372)

No. The CIA would just break the law. There is no problem to solve.

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931458)

Or they will do what they do best, ignore the problem and keep using it anyways.

There are still those in the CIA who believe they answer to no one. Do you really think a lawsuit will make the CIA ground their predator fleet? They will still use it but just won't know about it.

Re:Eminent Domain (2, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931670)

ahahah the CIA... obey laws? ROTFL they are little more than a criminal gang. Legalities didn't stop them from testing aersolized LSD on a small town in france. It didn't stop them from hiring prostitutes to slip LSD to johns in NYC to study their reactions. It didn't stop them from importing cocaine in the 80s, or illegally funneling weapons (against the decisions of congress), it didn't stop them from kidnapping, or torture.....

Now ... copyright is going to stop them. Sure it is.

-Steve

Linux? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931036)

Predator drones should use only open source software created by the community at large...

so all of us can help contribute to their accuracy and make sure they kill the right people...

Uhh.... wait... what?

Re:Linux? (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931070)

so all of us can help contribute to their accuracy and make sure they kill the right people...

Exactly, guiding the drones those who pushed the button for button destruction (and potentially the operator).

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931080)

Predator drones should use only open source software created by the community at large...

so all of us can help contribute to their accuracy and make sure they kill the right people...

Uhh.... wait... what?

Oh shit! They will miss by up to FORTY FEET!!! I guess we're lucky that the blast radius of most of the warheads they shoot is... well... much greater than forty feet...

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931312)

Uh, even if it's true that the blast radius is larger than 40 feet (which I don't think it is), if you miss your target by 40 feet using a bomb with a a 40 foot blast radius, your target would be 20 feet outside of the blast radius.

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931550)

Math fail.

Re:Linux? (1)

Silfax (1246468) | more than 3 years ago | (#33932438)

Uh, even if it's true that the blast radius is larger than 40 feet (which I don't think it is), if you miss your target by 40 feet using a bomb with a a 40 foot blast radius, your target would be 20 feet outside of the blast radius.

So the obvious solution is to use bombs with a blast radius > 40 feet. Lets say 200 feet to be on the safe side. No need for overkill.

Re:Linux? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931206)

Created by the community, maybe not. Free Software? Definitely. The buyer (in this case, the DoD) absolutely should require the FSF's four freedoms for any code that they buy. If they can't audit the code, fix bugs, or deploy modified versions, they are selling national security to commercial interests. If they can't get another company to come in and maintain the software or use it in the next generation, then they are locked in to a single supplier.

Re:Linux? (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#33934132)

That would violate their priority of spending a lot of money. National security can neither be strengthened nor harmed much at this point, but political careers and defense profits are at stake.

Re:Linux? (1)

Jarik_Tentsu (1065748) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931440)

Surely it wasn't just me who read that title and envisioned something along the lines of:

*Two figures meet in a dark alley way*
MPAA Executive: General, we have new targets for you.
General: Hmm, the PirateBay server cluster. Interesting. Shouldn't be a problem for our Predator drones. And our deal?
MPAA Executive: Don't worry, next war movie will be focused on the 'war crimes' of Iran.
General: And who will play the, ahem, brave general who saves the day?
MPAA Executive: No less than Tom Cruise of course.

Re:Linux? (3, Funny)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#33934656)

General: that screwball?! What's Bruce Willis doing? He played a general in Red, see if he's available.

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931620)

Predatix?

The CIA might need to break the law?!?!? (2, Funny)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931094)

Oh nooooooooo. :|

Bad headline (4, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931104)

"Take down" and "prevent from flying due to a legal injuction" are not synonyms.

Re:Bad headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931132)

My thoughts exactly

Re:Bad headline (1)

geogob (569250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931188)

I guess they all went to the same find-a-title-school as the people from The Enquirer, or something...

I'm always a little surprised when I see slashdot falling to this level. Listing in my mind the people I personally know as /. regulars, it really doesn't add up.

Re:Bad headline (3, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931218)

Bat Boy Involved In Predator Drone Takedown! *



* a former bat boy for the Boston Red Sox was one of the law clerks who made copies of the lawsuit before it was submitted to the MA courts.

Re:Bad headline (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931476)

a former bat boy for the Boston Red Sox

Darn, and I was hoping to see Bat Boy slugging it out with the Predator's henchmen in their 45 degrees shifted lair, with lot of comic pop-ups saying, "Pow!", "Whack!" and "Sock!"

I'm not really sure that pissing off the CIA is such a grand idea. Back in the 70's, they were ordered not to operate in the USA. But after 9/11, fuck knows what they can do. SEAL Team 6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Naval_Special_Warfare_Development_Group [wikipedia.org] is allowed to operate on US soil.

At any rate, not the folks that you want on your enemies list . . .

Re:Bad headline (1)

Ambiguous Puzuma (1134017) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931536)

a former bat boy for the Boston Red Sox

Darn, and I was hoping to see Bat Boy slugging it out with the Predator's henchmen in their 45 degrees shifted lair, with lot of comic pop-ups saying, "Pow!", "Whack!" and "Sock!"

Batman Involved in Predator Takedown [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Bad headline (3, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931194)

They are synonymous for Afghan peasants and Pakistani merchants in NWFP.

They are not synonymous for Mujahedeen: there is no reward if they are taken down because your Kafkaesque system stumbled upon itself.

Re:Bad headline (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931450)

Yeah, we all know that it's ninja software which takes down drones (but only when you're not looking, of course).

Re:Bad headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931988)

Agreed, and I'm not so sure "Pirated" was the best choice either as both these companies were entered into the same contract for this very purpose. The smells like sour grapes of a company that was left in the cold by the DoD, CIA or otherwise. In any case, the title of the post was ridiculously inflammatory for no reason other than to bring eyeballs to more ads.

This story is almost a month old (0, Offtopic)

upside (574799) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931106)

I know, it's Slashdot. But still ..

Re:This story is almost a month old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931148)

And, in fact, has already been posted on slashdot.

Re:This story is almost a month old (0, Offtopic)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931292)

I know, it's Slashdot. But still .

And, in fact, has already been posted on slashdot.

So it's a month old AND a dupe?
Well, yeah, this is Slashdot.

Re:This story is almost a month old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931318)

Indeed. Here is the link:
http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/09/24/1854229/CIA-Drones-May-Have-Used-Illegal-Inaccurate-Code

The CIA (-1, Redundant)

Zenaku (821866) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931146)

The CIA might have to break the law?? OH NOES!! Such a thing has never happened before!

Medieval units (1, Funny)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931152)

... by as much as 40 feet

It's a good thing drones don't have feet then.

Eminent Domain (1)

crrkrieger (160555) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931156)

The preditors will not have to stop flying based on a ruling that the intellectual property of IISI was stolen. See the last clause of the fifth amendment to our Constitution: "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation." This means the CIA doesn't need a license, it just needs to be willing to pay just compensation.

Of course, what constitutes "just compensation" tends to be considerably less than fair market value in practice. Fortunately for the tax payors, CIA might have a breach of contract claim against Netezza if the facts are as reported.

Yes, IAAL, but I am not YOUR L.

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931230)

Copyrights are not property.

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931264)

Then why do courts allow the term intellectual property in court documents? Since it has no legal definition it should either be defined or banned for legal use.

Re:Eminent Domain (2, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931294)

Perhaps the courts don't mind confusing terminology? Personally, I agree, the term "intellectual property" should be abolished entirely -- it creates too much confusion between copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and real property.

Humpty Dumpty was a lawyer (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931938)

The courts don't consider it confusing terminology because they are of one mind with Humpty Dumpty: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humpty_Dumpty#In_Through_the_Looking-Glass [wikipedia.org] .

I can't decide whether I consider it funny or scary that that passage has appeared in 250 judicial decisions in the U.S., including two Supreme Court decisions.

Re:Eminent Domain (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933472)

Perhaps the courts don't mind confusing terminology? Personally, I agree, the term "intellectual property" should be abolished entirely -- it creates too much confusion between copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and real property.

Yes, because it's the name that causes all the problems, and obviously by abolishing the name the problems will just clear themselves up.

Re:Eminent Domain (2, Interesting)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931248)

The preditors will not have to stop flying based on a ruling that the intellectual property of IISI was stolen. See the last clause of the fifth amendment to our Constitution: "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation." This means the CIA doesn't need a license, it just needs to be willing to pay just compensation.

You're going by the assumption that intellectual rights are property. If the government uses someone's software they are not 'taking' it away from the owner. The government could just as well revoke the copyright (granted for "limited times") as buy the software outright. I challenge you to use your legal skills and resources to find a precedent that takes copyright via eminent domain.

At least.. (3, Insightful)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931158)

This is what copyright law was intended for, not for going after high-school students and grandmas.

Re:At least.. (3, Interesting)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 3 years ago | (#33932590)

I'm curious why you think a law's intent includes a list of those against whom it may be used. Have you not heard the phrase "equal in the eyes of the law?"

Re:At least.. (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933068)

Its hard to argue that copyright law is not being abused.

Re:At least.. (2, Insightful)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933742)

Copyright law is being abused by copyright holders. The damn law wasn't intended to be "forever minus a day", it was supposed to be for limited time. It protected the non-functional creations for about 2 decades, after that it was public domain - anyone could use it, sell it, buy it, modify it, make other crap based on it after that.

What happened to copyright now? They violated it so much that, it never expires! Does none of the things it was intended to do, and is in fact used against the very people it was supposed to protect.

So, yes: copyright law is being abused.

Re:At least.. (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933902)

It's also hard to argue that zebras can fly, but what does that have to do with the conversation at hand?

Re:At least.. (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933082)

Oh, hey, I can answer that. The OP was using a rhetorical device called synecdoche [wikipedia.org] . This is extremely common in natural language. In the case of IP law, the original intent of the law was to stop for-profit copying of 'intellectual property'. Then, the OP used 'high-school students and grandmas' synecdochally to stand in for non-profit-seeking copiers.

But, the OP is somewhat mistaken, because in the late 1990s a federal law criminalized not-for-profit copying.

Re:At least.. (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933746)

"the original intent of the law was to stop for-profit copying of 'intellectual property'"

You are factually mistaken. The purpose of IP law is and always was to promote the creative and useful arts by preserving the interests of the rights-holder, regardless of any commercial interest on the part of a potential infringer. You can go all the way back to the Constitution and you will find no mention of this notion that copyright were only to keep other people from profitting.

Re:At least.. (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#33935326)

Hmmm, that's a good point. I could have phrased my post better. Yes, the "intent" is to promote the arts (in theory, anyway). What word describes the essence of a law, its direction, its target? American law, for hundreds of years, specifically and purposely applied only to for-profit copying; and it was that which I described as "intent", but I think you are right, that's close to "intent" but it's something slightly different.

Re:At least.. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33934890)

Yes, I heard about it. I believe the correct quote is. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Re:At least.. (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933392)

No, copyright law was intended for encouraging arts and sciences, specifically by giving artists control over distribution of their works, even more specifically by giving artists the right to sue anyone who distributes their work without their permission. So, while the purpose not to make high-school students and grandmas suffer financially, granting immunity to high-school students and grandmas (or equivalently, abridging the artist's right to sue them for their wrongdoings) would directly contravene the intended purpose of copyright law.

I realise how unpopular this opinion is around slashdot (especially with the moderators, it seems), but it's true. If you're worried about your dear old granny, or your teenage child, you should be warning them about the potential consequences for their actions.

Re:At least.. (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933804)

Suing high-school students and grandmas encourages the arts and sciences?? It's one thing to allow creators to derive some benefits from the work, but it's an altogether different thing letting publishers put all culture behind a paywall for more than a century while instating draconian laws to protect their profits.

If content creators could see what copyright has become today they'd be seething with anger.

Re:At least.. (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33934564)

Isn't it great that with the publishing power of the Internet even high-school students and grandmas can bring publishing for revenue to an end?

CIA break the law? (-1, Redundant)

headhot (137860) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931178)

By continuing to use the drones with unlicensed software? No why they would do that! Not a chance!

Hearts and Minds... (3, Interesting)

Apocryphon (1849660) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931258)

This may be a rare case in which a narrow ruling (e.g., on an IP scuffle) might just have the ability to affect broader policy and policy debate - on at least two important fronts, to boot. Indeed, this is likely why this particular case made it all the way to a state Supreme Court in the first place - replace "drones" with any other disruptive technology and this action likely never gets the traction to do so.

Obviously, by "Hearts & Minds," I was attempting to evoke the cost of drone-deployment in combat zones, which are many, i.e.,10 civilians killed for each "militant" in these "targeted killings" alone (Brookings - 2009), wherein this sort of murdering of civilians has made the United States' combat efforts so much more difficult and extensive as each of those ten civilians' friends and family are each pushed marginally closer to becoming an "enemy combatant" themselves....

But the "Hearts and Minds" of Americans are at stake too, and not only because the question, "How long until we bring UAVs home for domestic 'policing'?" might very well frighten a broad swath of the U.S. political spectrum.

The hearts and minds of Americans, saturated by war coverage and often passionate in one way or another, may also be incidentally opened to:
- The costs and consequences of current intellectual property law;
- The ubiquity of unscrutinized "black box" software systems running the complicated machinery that runs our lives - runaway Toyatas, meet runaway Drones;
- The extent of the government's ability to quickly circumvent the Codes and laws that hinder individuals and corporations alike.

Of course, TFA says "some sort of face-saving resolution" is most likely, but, one might hope that the passion that Americans' seem to harbor about their war effort might trickle over into other issues that ./ spends much time debating to, again, even if only marginally, raise those issues' profile in Americans' consciousness.

At least, that is, before the next news cycle.

Predator Drones aren't very accurate anyway (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931262)

After hearing repeated stories of these drones missing their targets or hitting innocents, how do we know they are accurate with or without pirated software?
Does anyone REALLY know if they did hit their intended targets? No one is actually on the ground to confirm the accuracy of their hits.
After all, they are remote-controlled and target based on information that could easily be inaccurate.

Re:Predator Drones aren't very accurate anyway (3, Insightful)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931466)

Yea, we should scrap them and go back to B-17's. 100% of the ordinance they dropped hit their intended targets. Course it's pretty hard to miss the ground...

In all seriousness though, you're aiming a missile at a spot on the ground and you have a flying video camera that can stick around. It's not very hard to figure out if you hit the spot on the ground you were aiming at. Anything beyond that is a target selection/ordinance effectiveness issue and would have absolutely nothing to do with the predator software, pirated or not. In addition, I'm not that well versed with the predator company, but they just make the plane right? If that's the case if whatever ordinance it's carrying detaches from the mount correctly it's done it's job. Wouldn't the missile guidance/software belong to whatever company manufactures the missile?

old story (4, Interesting)

nten (709128) | more than 3 years ago | (#33932066)

The Reg had this a few weeks back. If the plane tells a bomb/missile the wrong coordinates it would be the plane at fault. Netazza didn't have permission to port the code, but they did tell the CIA about the potential error they had introduced by their unauthorized port from ppc to x86. The CIA said "we can accept that" probably while mumbling something about horseshoes, hand-grenades, and hellfires. The CIA later said "actually we think the discrepancy is an indication of inaccuracy in the *previous* system." Which if you think about it seems more likely in that the x86 has larger fpu registers than the ppc, but either way the customer knew about the defects of the sold software. They probably didn't know that it was violating a contract between the provider and its subcontractor.

Re:Predator Drones aren't very accurate anyway (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931546)

"missing their targets or hitting innocents"

This is a case of ambiguously using the word "target" and "accurate". There is the tactical target that the military plans to engage (which could be based on faulty information) and there is the physical target from the drones' perspective designated by the crosshairs (or whatever sighting system).

There is accuracy as in success rate of them engaging their tactical targets and there is accuracy as in deviation from where those crosshairs were pointing.

The pirated software can be tested against the latter during routine upgrades/weapon tests.

The former is reliant on the accuracy of information that the military gets when deciding targets and has no relation to the drone software.

What sort of Imaginary Property? (2, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931350)

Patents, trademarks, copyrights, contracts, trade secrets?

I ask because the obvious interpretation, that it's a copyright claim, might not be so black and white.

The claim appears to be that the software was reverse engineered and then modified, which would make the resultant system a derivative work with significant transformation. As anyone who's actually reverse engineered a non-trivial binary will tell you, whatever you get to compile in the end will pretty much be an "influenced by" ground up re-write.

And since copyright only covers the particular expression of an idea, not the idea itself, this might turn into a pretty entertaining bun fight.

Slightly OT (4, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933510)

Physical property is just as imaginary as intellectual property. Physical possession is not, but property is. If someone robs you of a possession, the only thing that connects you to that object is a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo, similar to the legal mumbo jumbo which makes up intellectual property. The main difference? Everyone is now used to physical property, since we've had a few odd centuries to become accustomed to it.

Re:Slightly OT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33935124)

That and the fact that depriving someone of physical property is theft, while intellectual property right state that you can be wronged without losing anything.

Re:What sort of Imaginary Property? (1)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933858)

Actually, it is more likely that Netezza had the source code for the ppc version, and ported it themselves. IISi had quoted for the port, but it was considered to take too long.
Which would definitely put this into the "Copyright violation" category as an unauthorized derivative work has been created. Which was sold commercially...

Very misleading... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931388)

Clearly nobody did their homework. The IP in question is used by the data mining software used to identify and select targets. The reverse-engineered part doesn't handle the geometry correctly, and can give the Predators the wrong location to shoot at.

The lawsuit was dropped... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931400)

The company's president and his lawyers died in a mysterious pair of unexplained explosions where something from the sky hit their buildings and exploded.

The US government has a press release that says the explosions were the cause of swamp gas reflecting off of venus.

Re:The lawsuit was dropped... (2, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931704)

Hit 40 feet left of their buildings you mean.

Get a grip, people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33931586)

Quit the breathless hyperbole, slashdot editors. Absolutely NOTHING is going to happen to the Predator drones. End of story.

nope.. (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 3 years ago | (#33931654)

it'll be declared a national security issue and buried in the courts forever.
Their great-grandchildren might get a notice someday.

So... (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#33932118)

So if the bits in a file are media, copying them isn't theft since they are still there so the 'pirating' is A-OK.

If the bits in a file are under the GPL or some other open source license it is now somehow wrong to pirate them even though all the bits are still there.

Got it.

No, wait, don't got it.

Break the law?? The CIA?? (2, Informative)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33932304)

Never!

Navigation Code, Not Weapons Aiming Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33932534)

This software apparently affects the ability of the drone to arrive/fly directly over a specific pre-plotted location, (missing by up to 40 feet? Sounds like someone fubbed their Quaternions!) and from what I understand would not affect the actual employment of the laser guided hellfire missiles, which are aimed by the ground operator to his (the drone's) line of sight.

Now the navigational errors seem somewhat small, but multiple misses across waypoints could add up to a couple seconds difference in arrival times and corresponding locations, and headaches in trying to zero an inertial navigation system if the drones have them.
 

What about the Air Force ? (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#33932586)

So this only affects the CIA run Predators? What about those flown by the Air Force ? I know they have some Predator drones they use. (Some are controlled in Grand Forks and by the 199th in Fargo.

Remember.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33932622)

the INSLAW affair?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inslaw

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1.01/inslaw.html

To Catch a Predator Drone (0, Offtopic)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33932710)

Hi, I'm Chris Hansen. What are you doing here? Why don't you take a seat, right over there.

Only two options?? (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 3 years ago | (#33932830)

If IISi prevails in court this would either force the CIA to ground Predator drones or to break the law in their use of the pirated software.

Why are those the only two options? Seems to me the most logical option is for the CIA to license IISi's software and drop the real toolkit in place of the badly pirated one. Yes, I know Netezza is seeking an injunction but I bet if the CIA came along with several million dollars it would be accepted. The drones keep flying, Netezza makes the profit they wanted to, etc. Or is that too sensible a course of action?

Oh, what bullshit (1)

whoda (569082) | more than 3 years ago | (#33933644)

Be real, the CIA will keep the drones flying no matter what some piss ant judge says.

Please no ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33934340)

No one wants IIS anywhere in or near a drone. Just imagine the security holes ! Anyway, wouldn't Apache be a more catchier name for a drone ?!

Takedown for IP? (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#33934830)

Am I the only one concerned that some IP legal battle could ground the planes? If GM steals some contractors software and puts it in their new SUVs does it mean people who own those SUVs can't drive them? I understand that no more predators should be built using the code, but to render useless all the predators already in use seems wrong. According to US law if I purchase stolen property I have to give it back for free even if I didn't know it was stolen, so if a company stole property on a grand scale would all the purchasers have to hand it back?
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