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SAP To Plead Guilty For Downloading Oracle Software

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-to-imprison-a-corporation dept.

Businesses 43

itwbennett writes "Slashdot readers will remember that on Sept. 1, a federal judge overturned a $1.3 billion judgment and approved SAP's request that Oracle accept a lower award of $272 million. Now, according to court documents filed this week, former SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow will plead guilty to criminal charges of copyright infringement for downloading software from Oracle's servers. Sentencing will take place at a hearing on Sept. 14."

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43 comments

I like turtles! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37361634)

And, I love lamp!

Was the award due to lost sale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37361658)

Because if SAP had no intention of buying Oracle software then clearly no sale was lost ;)

Re:Was the award due to lost sale? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37362084)

No, but in this case, with a definite commercial interest in the illegal download, I can understand the fine.

Re:Was the award due to lost sale? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37362744)

Lost sales to potential Oracle customers [itworld.com] is the part you are missing.

[Lost sales] quantified by Oracle's expert at $408.7 million, and alternatively at $272 million, and by SAP's expert at $28 million

The judge is taking the middle number.

Lucky it wasn't MP3s (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37361694)

That would've bankrupted them.

Re:Lucky it wasn't MP3s (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37361920)

That would've bankrupted them ...and their children, and grandchildren, and...

FTFU

Re:Lucky it wasn't MP3s (4, Funny)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 2 years ago | (#37362248)

FTFY

FTFY.

Re:Lucky it wasn't MP3s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37364068)

FTFU could be a newer, more "in your face" version of FTFY that signals you fixed a persons post, while simultaneously showing contempt.

Re:Lucky it wasn't MP3s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37364578)

You're thinking of FT;FU.

Hard luck, Mr Ellison (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37361736)

No new yacht, you weasel-faced cunt.

free alternatives (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37361776)

considering there are many high quality open source alternatives that perform quite well, it's silly to pirate Oracle's software.

Re:free alternatives (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37362728)

Really? Do tell, only thing I can think of that does anything like any Oracle software is Android vs. JAVA.

Databases? Postgres does come close, but is still lacking hugely in clustered environments (they have gotten the message and 9 series are getting better, but they are no where near).

So what alternatives do you mean are matching oracle?

Re:free alternatives (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37363862)

About half the Oracle installations out there because "We have a high-powered very special application and only the best will do" could actually run OK on Access. There are a few out there who really do need Oracle (a few less if they're willing to do some programming), but there's a lot of Oracle installations that could easily switch.

I'm a little confused... (1)

thePuck77 (1311533) | more than 2 years ago | (#37361786)

I download stuff from Oracle all the time. What were they downloading that makes them evil wrong and bad?

And yes, I did read the linked articles. All it says was they downloaded software and docs as part of offering support to their clients. Like I said, I do that all the time. What were they downloading that makes it illegal?

Re:I'm a little confused... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37361804)

Most likely Oracle Database, which requires no CD keys, activation, or any of that, and you can download the full Enterprise Editions right from oracle directly. (the CDs actually are all identical too, it's kind of assumed licensees are honest on the installation screen and actually don't select "Enterprise Edition" when they only own Standard :P)

Re:I'm a little confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37361814)

You probably have a license. TomorrowNow/SAP was copying software for support customers, but without buying a license to access the content. Then they made tons of copies of that software that they illegally obtained and resold it with their third party support to their own customers.

Re:I'm a little confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37361816)

Well if I read it correctly ("illegally downloaded Oracle software and support materials in the course of providing lower-cost support to Oracle customers") and if I remember previous articles correctly...

What they were doing wrong is downloading licensed software that Oracle charges fees for (or for a service contract) and giving it to their customers without Oracle getting their customary fees.

Re:I'm a little confused... (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#37362224)

I once worked for a company that was sort of in that position. We were supposed to become Oracle reseller and we'd gone through all the steps of becoming a reseller but one: taking the exam on Oracle licensing policies.

Nobody on the sales team wanted to take the exam, but everyone assumed that because they *intended* to give Oracle the money *eventually*, it would be OK to go ahead and sell the product. Technicians were going onto customer sites with CDs or Oracle products they'd burned and were installing it assuming everything would be OK.

Since I was the only person who didn't think everything would be OK, I stepped in and took the exam. First I had to watch about four hours of "training videos" (this is not an exaggeration). These were films of the extremely un-charismatic Oracle licensing committee members sitting around a conference table discussing (in a monotone) all the things that you weren't allowed to do. There was no other option because there was no written documentation of the policies available for those of us who like to read. It wasn't hard to ace the exam, though. You could figure out most of the things by remembering that Oracle's philosophy is to never give a sucker a break.

Re:I'm a little confused... (2)

Tauvix (97917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37361850)

From what I can tell, it's not that they downloaded freely available software; it's that they downloaded software behind a paywall - certain patches, etc, only available via a support contract.

I believe the crux of the issue would be that SAP was downloading and providing those patches to other companies wholesale, in the course of providing a competing service. So, SAP had a support contract with Oracle, and then using the resources of that support contract to provide services that allowed other companies to get all the benefits of the support contract without paying for it.

I can see why Oracle might be a little grumpy about this. It would be different if SAP was making their own patches and support documents and providing those.

The DOJ is also likely involved because of the sheer dollar amount of the support contracts that they allowed customers to circumvent buying.

Re:I'm a little confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37361874)

Exactly. If this is somehow considered "theft", are they going to give the software back to Oracle? Was Oracle incapable of selling the software for the duration SAP had it? Can't SAP just put it on an external hard drive, place it on a pedestal and call it a work of art [slashdot.org]? And indeed the biggest WTF here: if SAP didn't outright hack Oracles servers but just downloaded the software from their site, why would Oracle sue them? Shouldn't have freaking put it up there in the first place.

I, for one, am guilty of having downloaded Java JRE, Java JDK, Database 11g and NetBeans from www.oracle.com. Not that I'm still using them but that matters not.

Re:I'm a little confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37362106)

So businesses that want to incorporate FOSS into their own offerings can ignore the terms of the GPL and other licenses, because all the same arguments you made would apply in that case. Right?

Re:I'm a little confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37361900)

They downloaded software and documents for which their clients had not actually purchased licences. Gotta read those EULAs and terms. If they grant you access to a site hosting their software to download things relating to your purchases, and you scarf down other things, you've violated the terms of access. Especially if you go on to use those things for which they do not have a license.

BTW, that's why I buy HP switching gear. Free firmware upgrades, lower price per port, and lifetime hardware warranty. I cannot legally get basic -software- updates for my Cisco -hardware- without having a Cisco service account. That's retarded.

The big companies want to charge you outrageously for basic support of the software/hardware they are selling. I'm not worried about major new capabilities, just regular old "crap works" updates that I can pull quickly without requiring authentication and complex registration schemes.

Re:I'm a little confused... (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37361906)

I download stuff from Oracle all the time. No shit! How long before we find out it is the same bullshit Cisco pulled with updates to equipment? ie. "You downloaded an update of IOS for the hardware you bought without paying for an account to access the updates" == "You downloaded updates for OCI" or whatever the fuck it was they used.

Re:I'm a little confused... (5, Informative)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37362024)

First, it wasn't "SAP" but a support company SAP bought, then discovered was doing this after the deal was done. Oracle waited to sue SAP and not the tiny little company SAP bought.

The company was using it's one customer support connection to Oracle's website to support OTHER ORACLE CUSTOMERS that needed security patches locked behind a paywall.

Unfortunately, the suit doesn't address the real problem.. Of Oracle structuring "support" rates as their own little piggy bank... How many companies have "maintenance" as X% of "current market price" ... Then jack that price to 200% and grant "discounts" to anybody shopping for NEW licenses.

My own company ran into this with some other companies software that wanted more for "hardware transfer" and " maintenance" in one year than we paid for the initial license. The yearly "20%" is more like 50% of what we initially paid...

Should alert the purchasing managers that they need to limit "yearly increase" to 5% or an audit of their "sold" pricing for the year. Gotta be clever! The FUN companies are ones that want you to may maintenance AND separately for UPGRADES.

Re:I'm a little confused... (1)

rta (559125) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365722)

Yeah, the world of enterprise software/hardware pricing and licensing is "interesting" that way. You really have to look at TCO type numbers rather than initial price due to the various schemes that marketing departments have come up with.

Sad thing is though that even though you have to pay for support in order to get the patches and upgrades, if you actually have any problems the support is usually pretty useless if you already have decently good people in-house. Say you run into a bug with Oracle DB... are they going to fix it ? Maybe if you're the federal government or something. Otherwise it's like anywhere else. For a long while they'll tell you it's not their fault. Then if you're persistent enough and jump through enough hoops they'll admit that it is a real bug.... and then it'll sit there for months and years. By the time it's fixed it's irrelevant for your project and probably for your product overall. Heck at today's pace your company may already be gone altogether by the time they get around to doing something about it (though really only big slow moving companies buy Oracle nowadays so that's not as true as it was during bubble 1.0). Smaller companies are usually better since they actually care about your small company 5 and 6 figure purchases unlike the big guys.

hu wha? (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37361872)

I can see criminal charges for this "Unauthorized Access to a Protected Computer with Intent to Defraud and Obtaining Something of Value" but this "criminal infringement of a copyright"? Why do I have the feeling their "access to the protected computer" was a machine containing content they once shared using the same passwords they had when they had a partnership with Oracle? It is that feeling one gets when a corporate spokes person opens their mouth. ~Shiver~ And wtf is up with criminal infringement of a copyright? Did they hold a gun to someone's head while infringing? Sure, sue the fuck out of them for making money off of your work but criminal charges?!?

They should get exactly the same punishment.... (1)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37362068)

as the bankers got for defauding investors....

Oh... wait...

Re:They should get exactly the same punishment.... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37362100)

We were pondering that for a moment, but realized that that could really be the last straw on the budget's back.

Re:hu wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37362840)

You are correct.

What SAP (Actually the subsidiary did) was download support documents. Oracle has a huge trove of support documents behind a paywall called Metalink (or support.oracle.com) - available only to customers and partners. Suppose a client has an issue with a DB - say it is not slow for whatever reason, you can go in, search for the documents and then, fix the issue with a patch or ask Oracle Support to mark the issue as a bug and get a fix etc. So these documents have trade secrets (ex. latest DB cannot retrieve blobs correctly.. or whatever), and are copyrighted.

So if you want to support a company that has oracle DB - then you need access to this trove. What the subsidiary did was to access the paywall and break the terms and conditions. Further - they probably used some kind of a spider to crawl and pick up all the documents they could. So trade secrets and copyrights cases are for this.

The criminal complaint is for reproducing the copyrighted documents and using it as their own.

Re:hu wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37363008)

[...] Suppose a client has an issue with a DB - say it is not slow for whatever reason, you can go in, search for the documents and then, fix the issue with a patch or ask Oracle Support to mark the issue as a bug and get a fix etc [...]

Typically customers don't complain about the database not being slow as a bug ;-)

But, then again, this is Oracle... If the database went too fast the customer might not feel like it was doing any work!

you can't copyright basic facts (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365560)

1. you cant copyright basic facts. this goes back to Feist v Rural Telephone.

2. breaking 'terms and conditions' is not a violation of the CFAA, its probably a violation of copyright law. but EULAs are not always enforcable in the US.

3. if Oracle's business model is based on copyrighting their user manual, (rather than say, building good products, having good customer service, and a good marketing department) then they should have disclosed that to their investors in their SEC filings, otherwise the Oracle executives who signed off on those SEC filings should be prosecuted for Securities Fraud.

Let the fight for it (1)

udachny (2454394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37362098)

You know what be better than a court decision like this? A full scale battle between Oracle and SAP. Battlestations, fighter planes, aircraft carriers, tanks, bombs, missiles, rifles, grenade launchers. Oh, the entertainment value alone.... And they would spend much more than 272 Million, this would "create stimulus" (in the words of Krugman), but come one! It would be fun. Larry Ellison on a white horse, Bill McDermott on a black one. 2 spears. 2 shields. 2 big swords. Last man standing wins. Come on. COME ON!!!

Corporations are not people! (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37363668)

How can a company be found guilty of something? I hate this legalese bullshit. We need to clearly distinguish between corporations and people in our laws. The conflating of the two is a corrupting influence.

Let that be a lesson to everyone (1)

Hyperhaplo (575219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37373268)

TomorrowNow will plead guilty to criminal charges of copyright infringement for downloading software from Oracle's servers

Now, if only everyone who downloaded and used Oracle software could be found guilty ... :-)

Yes, I'm a fan of DB2 and dislike what Oracle have done as a corporation recently. Can you tell?

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