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Australia's Largest Police Force Accused of Widespread Piracy

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the professional-research-purposes-only dept.

Australia 112

beaverdownunder writes "UK software giant Micro Focus is demanding at least $10 million in damages from the New South Wales police for widespread use of unlicensed copies of its ViewNow software it is alleged were used by members to access the COPS criminal intelligence database. Although other government organisations also alleged to have mis-used the software have settled with Micro Focus, the NSW police refuse to do so, instead seeking to fight out a battle in Federal court."

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The U.S. demands extradition (5, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781031)

We acknowledge that the crime didn't happen in the U.S., and the company involved is British. But we feel we have jurisdiction.

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781109)

We acknowledge that the crime didn't happen in the U.S., and the company involved is British. But we feel we have jurisdiction.

Meh. Just fine the entire australian police force, several times the world's combined wealth. And waterboard those who don't comply.

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (4, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781209)

The U.S. also demands extradition of those cool police interceptors from Mad Max.

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781351)

And Kylie Minogue, too.

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781695)

While her interrogation will be definitely "enhanced", it won't be by waterboarding.

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (4, Funny)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781771)

I know we are not involved in this, but we can send Celine Dion.

Kind regards,

Canada

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (1, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781909)

Ew. You can keep 'er.

Nelly Furtado, on the other hand...

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39782639)

I know we are not involved in this, but we can send Celine Dion.

Kind regards,

Canada

We appreciate your concern, but I believe we have terminated the last of the Canada-to-US cross-border trash export deals. Sorry.

We will be attempting to return Justin Bieber as well.

Kind regards,

The United States of America

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39785203)

You grabbed him, you're stuck with him. That's punishment for the softwood lumber thing.

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789075)

Have we not suffered enough already?

Waiting for Tonight (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782921)

Waiting for Tonight... Oh OoOoH!

Get her opinion of "hot grits" please!

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (2)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782845)

The U.S. also demands extradition of those cool police interceptors from Mad Max.

The Chevrolet Caprice police car is a rebranded Aussie built Holden Commodore. (untill '09 out was available to the public as the Pontiac G8)

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788315)

Sure just cruise around wrecking yards and the second hand market then weld interesting bits on to them. Thats what the producers did.

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (2)

c (8461) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781113)

Screw extradition. The TSA is always hiring, and the people involved here are obviously upper management material.

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781653)

We acknowledge that the crime didn't happen in the U.S., and the company involved is British. But we feel we have jurisdiction.

So... We send in the Seals and the drones?

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (5, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781701)

Well, the obvious course of action is to extradite them to the UK for trial, and if found guilty punish them by sending them to Australia!

Re:The U.S. demands extradition (1)

Everything Else Was (786676) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788819)

Oh yeah, we're *really peeved* our ancestors were sent to Australia. Please don't send us back there!

Ah well... (0, Troll)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781059)

Paid software is dead anyway

How dare they! (5, Funny)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781073)

Those cops put their lives on the line everyday! Who else would protect us from murderers, robbers and people who don't ....pay for....things they use...

nevermind

Re:How dare they! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781149)

Everyone knows that the only difference between cops and criminals (or pirates) is the uniform....

Re:How dare they! (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781187)

This is why my minions will all have stylish uniforms. It gives them legitimacy.

Re:How dare they! (0, Offtopic)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781473)

Replying to undo accidental overrated mod, please ignore

Re:How dare they! (5, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781647)

This is why my minions will all have stylish uniforms. It gives them legitimacy.

You'd be amazed at where you can go with a clipboard and a high-viz jacket.

Re:How dare they! (2)

trum4n (982031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782107)

Also, white ford vans can park ANYWHERE. The high-viz makes it so the cops don't even ask who you work for!

Re:How dare they! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39786399)

You're missing the keychain. You have to have an official looking keyring filled with keys indicating that you have all the access.

Re:How dare they! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788833)

And a security strap with official looking printing on it, complete with an ID card showing your picture.

Re:How dare they! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781201)

And they have government backing.

Re:How dare they! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781479)

Those cops put their lives on the line everyday! Who else would protect us from murderers, robbers and people who don't ....pay for....things they use...nevermind

The sheeple are definitely not awake - it's the MPAA/RIAA trying to lend legitimacy toward their plight by getting us to rally against the pigs - don't fall for it.

Re:How dare they! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781927)

Oh c'mon, this isn't piracy. It's a preemptive acquisition of software to determine if it's cost is worth the expenditure of purchase. It was a test run.

Re:How dare they! (2)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788213)

Exactly! All 16,000 illegal copies, installed and working.
Then they deleted it and replaced it with another pirated front end from the same company.
Word on the street is that they sourced it from the Bikies.

We should have known! (2, Funny)

Troyusrex (2446430) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781093)

The eye patches, hooks for hands and tendency to say "Argh" a lot should have been a dead giveaway!

Re:We should have known! (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781199)

Also both groups have some creature sitting on their shoulders that keep on repeating the same phrases over and over. One is a beautiful pet though, while the other is usually ugly and rather vicious.

Re:We should have known! (2)

gnick (1211984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781491)

Somehow "Argh! G'day!" just doesn't have much of a ring to it...

Re:We should have known! (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781845)

The eye patches, hooks for hands and tendency to say "Argh" a lot should have been a dead giveaway!

Also not much of a handicap down under :)

Are the cops getting cut off from the internet? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781119)

That's what they want ISPs to do to others...

Also note that when Micro Focus started investigating the cops illegal software copying, the cops began deleting the software from a number of systems.

That is willful destruction of evidence of a crime.

Re:Are the cops getting cut off from the internet? (0, Flamebait)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781327)

Also note that when Micro Focus started investigating the cops illegal software copying, the cops began deleting the software from a number of systems.

That is willful destruction of evidence of a crime.

Sure, right, because that could have been in no way a move to cease breaking the law by keeping it.

Re:Are the cops getting cut off from the internet? (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781355)

Also note that when Micro Focus started investigating the cops illegal software copying, the cops began deleting the software from a number of systems.

That is willful destruction of evidence of a crime.

Sure, right, because that could have been in no way a move to cease breaking the law by keeping it.

Kind of the same way a drug dealer flushes his goods down the toilet when the police arrive to serve a warrant - he's not destroying evidence, he's just trying to cease breaking the law.

Re:Are the cops getting cut off from the internet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781445)

The cops had been using the software illegally for 10years. Just because they're deleting the software now (without keeping a record of which system had it installed) doesn't mean that Micro Focus isn't entitled to receive compensation for the time that they were using it.

Re:Are the cops getting cut off from the internet? (0)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781567)

The cops had been using the software illegally for 10years. Just because they're deleting the software now (without keeping a record of which system had it installed) doesn't mean that Micro Focus isn't entitled to receive compensation for the time that they were using it.

That's right. And if they have to pay for its use, they probably don't want to pay more than they need to, so why keep it? It's not like they can't reinstall it if they decide to buy it.

Re:Are the cops getting cut off from the internet? (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781785)

Gee officer, I slowed down from 150 MPH to stop breaking the law, its cool right?

Re:Are the cops getting cut off from the internet? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782337)

Gee officer, I slowed down from 150 MPH to stop breaking the law, its cool right?

After you pay the fine, you're still not allowed to drive at 150 mph. That's the point here.

stick it to the man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781137)

which 'the man' is doing the sticking, and which 'the man' is getting stuck?

Re:stick it to the man (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781183)

Here's a hint: you and I are not doing the sticking.

Re:stick it to the man (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781219)

which 'the man' is doing the sticking, and which 'the man' is getting stuck?

Based on what I can gather from TV, the "top" is doing the sticking and the "bottom" is getting stuck. You should probably use Google images to find out more ;-)

why are we even using this word. (5, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781165)

it seems whenever a major multinational corporation or government entity is charged with piracy, they arent. theyre simply "out of compliance" or "underlicensed" or some other equally innocuous amorphity they can escape through hiring a compliance officer, cutting a comparatively insignificant check, and saying theyre sorry. when a private citizen is charged with piracy its almost always widespread, intractable, correlated to violent terrorism, and prosecuted at the fervor of a rape case. its exactly the opposite of what it should be.
if as numerous industries do you are trying to make the case for intellectual property, it seems to do irreparable harm to the thesis to have a double standard for something so dire. if indeed using BusyBox and not adhering to the GPL or downloading the latest Nine Inch Nails album and not paying for it is just the same as stealing a car, then the logical conclusion is this police department should be disbanded. but if in practice we see a double standard then we're led to consider legitimately that piracy probably isnt as demonic as copyright clearing houses would hope you will believe.

corporation licensing is not the same as music dow (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781241)

corporation licensing is not the same as music downloads and being in compliance is not easy. Also trying to take a compliance case to the courts may set a bad precedence. What happens when the judge or jury can't work out the licensing rules that are different for each piece of software or get confused about what is the right paper work needed to say that you have a good license. Some times COA do not count other times they do.

Re:corporation licensing is not the same as music (4, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781509)

corporation licensing is not the same as music downloads and being in compliance is not easy

Bullshit.

Under the law, they are the same. Copyright law does not distinguish between software, multimedia, or books.

--
BMO

Re:corporation licensing is not the same as music (0)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781627)

Thanks for the laugh... I needed that.

The corporation is treated just like a human being... except when it isn't.

Re:corporation licensing is not the same as music (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39784565)

And this has nothing whatsoever to do with what I said. How is this even a reply?

--
BMO

Re:corporation licensing is not the same as music (1)

Mabhatter (126906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781525)

All those apply for REGULAR PEOPLE (ie small businesses) right now. Courts happily buy into these cases all the time.

Corporate licensing is like complaining you have "too many" cars to keep valid insurance and tags on... That's just another piece of "complex paperwork" too. Wonder what the Police opinion on that is?

Re:corporation licensing is not the same as music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781749)

how come this isn't at 5, Funny?

Re:why are we even using this word. (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781413)

What happened with the government IPs showing up on the youhavedownloaded site?

Re:why are we even using this word. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781555)

Maybe the BSA learned their lesson from the Ernie Ball incident. [cnet.com]

Re:why are we even using this word. (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781595)

The corporation has become the biggest scam of human history.

Mod me down if you like, but here is why: it's a system where they have managed to make it so that NO ONE can ever be held legally responsible for anything. You have a CEO that make millions in many companies that can't be held to account for anything (or even elected to governor in the case of that medicare fraudster Rick Scott). You have such concentration of wealth and power that ever case doesn't become a matter of law, but who has paid the most for lawyers where, in most cases, the individual is TOTALLY locked out of the process of civil justice. And even if you get a judgment, all the corporation has to do is refuse to pay it and then the legal process starts up all over again. As a nation we still hold the option of revocation of charter since a corporation is a legal entity, but our politicians are paid-off dupes and they would never have the nerve to use it, even in cases like Monsanto where their poison can *literally* be found in every human body on the planet.

Say hello to the new boss... same as the old boss. We're back where we were when it comes to monarchy, friends. It's just a different type.

Re:why are we even using this word. (3, Insightful)

Painted (1343347) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782781)

It's almost like the legal system is set up to generate more and more lawsuits, isn't it? It seems like the people who are in charge of creating the laws have some sort of vested interest in keeping the legal system complex, thus requiring more and more specialists in law (I dunno, I'll use the term "Lawyers" to describe these specialists).

Remind me, what percentage of politicians are lawyers?

:-/

Re:why are we even using this word. (5, Informative)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781735)

downloading the latest Nine Inch Nails album

Odd choice of example, there. The Slip was released under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike license. You may distribute it without contravening the licensing terms as long as you do not profit from the distribution, and you don't attribute the work to anyone other than Trent Reznor.

I understand the point you're making, but that kind of mistake is the sort of thing idiots will jump on to "prove" you know nothing of the subject.

Re:why are we even using this word. (2)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782013)

Letting slide the inflammatory language, they are different.

Pirates are quite frank about their intentions - they usually want to get something for free because they don't see why they should have to pay for it. A pirate who is illegally downloading music or movies or software will admit they know what they're doing is copyright infringement, but claim it is justifiable because of the pricing structure or because of evilness on the part of the MPAA or because they wouldn't buy it anyway or some other rationale.

In the case of a corporation with a site license, their intentions are usually (not always) to be in compliance with the licensing structures. Enterprise licenses can get extremely complicated, based on how many seats you have, are you external facing, how many CPUs are being used, are you running on a VM, etc., etc. It is very easy to want to be good and buy the licenses you're supposed to, but get it wrong somewhere. This is allegedly what happened in this story - 6500 licenses purchased, many more in use.

The intentions are completely different, and because a corporation is usually intending to do the right thing, a vendor will frequently have a quiet word with them and say "look, honest mistake, we understand, these things happen, and we know you want to do the right thing, so here's the true-up bill and let's all keep on being friends". Why? Because they want to keep their large customers happy and they know that the intention is good.

Unlike a pirate who will proudly acknowledge that their intention is to "stick it to the man" or something equally silly asinine.

Re:why are we even using this word. (2)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39784387)

Piracy is not as simple and black and white as you make out. How about: Hard drive with legit copy of Windows crashes. Pirate copy of Windows installed on replacement hard drive. Or the other way around: Hard drive with legit copy of Windows is moved to a new computer, where it refuses to work. Replaced by pirated copy. Old computer junked. Another one: Thanks to a bug in the DRM, a legit copy refuses to run. Customer service is unable to resolve the issue. Problem solved by replacing legit copy with pirated version. Or this: Is software licensed to a person or a seat? Can I install software on 2 computers (1 desktop and 1 notebook), both for my use only? Why should I have to pay for 2 copies for that? It didn't cost the vendor anything-- they didn't have to provide another set of installation CDs, manuals, etc. Many games work just fine that way. Do you see anything morally wrong with any of that? None of that was "get something for free", that was all hacking to get some use out of something that was paid for, and to get around restrictions that infringe on the customer's rights.

Vendors have made it very burdensome to maintain compliance. It's a real nightmare to track licensing for dozens of software packages on hundreds of computers. There's really no good reason why enterprise licensing should be so complicated, and should depend on details that are really none of the vendor's business. If I was in NSW's shoes, I'd dump that COPS software in favor of something open.

Now the law is caught in their own web. They're the ones who let software licensing become such a mess. Perhaps this will inspire them to change their attitudes a bit.

Re:why are we even using this word. (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39785747)

If I was in NSW's shoes, I'd dump that COPS software in favor of something open.

Who says there's any version of the software that's 'open'? It sounds like it interfaces with international criminal databases. It's probably quite specialized.

ALWAYS follow the money! (2)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782199)

If you EVER question why something is happening that seems unfair or inequitable .... If you EVER see failed logic in a situation where the obvious solution or answer isn't the one chosen -- just follow the money!

Almost every time, it winds up explaining things.

When you're a major multinational corporation or a govt. agency using software and you're not paying for all of it? The best strategy for the software publisher is to give you every opportunity to get compliant. It's established that those users have deep enough pockets so they can pay you back!

Individuals who get "thrown under the bus" over a few music copyright violations, or small businesses who get nailed to the wall in the courts over a few software programs they didn't pay for aren't nearly as lucrative for the rights-holders. In these cases, the rights-holder stands to gain more by using them as examples .... Let the law come down on them and give them some prison time or some unreasonably huge fine, and they'll act as a deterrent. Otherwise, all they'd get is a paltry few more sales for the music CDs they listened to, or several licenses the business in question should have paid for.

Re:why are we even using this word. (1)

Malvineous (1459757) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789305)

it seems whenever a major multinational corporation or government entity is charged with piracy, they arent. theyre simply "out of compliance" or "underlicensed" or some other equally innocuous amorphity they can escape through hiring a compliance officer, cutting a comparatively insignificant check, and saying theyre sorry. when a private citizen is charged with piracy its almost always widespread, intractable, correlated to violent terrorism, and prosecuted at the fervor of a rape case. its exactly the opposite of what it should be.

Not from a copyright holder's financial standpoint. If you sue a private citizen you won't get much money out of the endeavour, so the idea is to make piracy seem so bad individuals won't do it, because it's not worth suing them all. But when you sue a company for piracy, they are very likely to send you a lot of money. So having businesses pirate software is a great way to get more out of them than you would with normal licence fees (since they are probably using more copies than they would have willingly purchased.)

Thieves (3, Interesting)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781197)

Police department wants to fight it out in federal court to try and establish their right to steal software? Hmm...

Re:Thieves (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781399)

Police department wants to fight it out in federal court to try and establish their right to steal software? Hmm...

It's possible that the contract is not as clear as Micro Focus makes out it to be and the police department thought they had a site license. Since the police department is willing to fight rather than pay up, it's quite possible that the contract is unclear enough that they could win - if it was really a clear 6500 seat license contract, it's not likely that the police department would pay millions in legal costs to delay an inevitable $10M penalty.

Re:Thieves (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788337)

Police claim that they lost the contract. Also after deleting the illegal copies, they replaced it with pirated versions of another front end also by Micro Focus.

COPyright (-1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781221)

Am I right?

lawyers are no better (0, Offtopic)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781223)

A friend who has worked for several lawyer firms says they never buy more than one copy of anything and often swap software with other firms. He thought it pretty much standard legal firm behaviour from what his collegues had said.

Re:lawyers are no better (1)

mathew42 (2475458) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781729)

A good rule of thumb is avoid providing services to lawyers.

My father-in-law was burnt badly by a firm of lawyers renting a property. They refused to pay rent and were well prepared to fight payment through the courts. The costs of hiring lawyers to pursue the rent made it cheaper to evict them. Eviction still required lawyers, but it was cheaper.

Standard practice until recently in Australia was for Barristers to declare themselves bankrupt every couple of years to avoid paying tax.

Re:lawyers are no better (4, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782435)

This is very true, on the whole.... There are exceptions out there, of course. (I do some computer service work for a law firm I've worked with for years, and while they're always a little slow to pay their bills, they always do pay - and with a certain consistency in the delay. Not only that, but they even send me gifts every Christmas season.)

Law firms are high-risk clients though, in the sense that if *anything* goes wrong (even something they perceive as wrong but is simply a misunderstanding on their part) -- you can bet they'll want to resolve it via the channel they're most comfortable with. Most small businesses want to AVOID the courtroom at all costs, since they don't really have A) good enough documentation/record keeping to successfully fight a court battle, B) enough spare time to devote to one, or C) enough money to cover the legal expenses.

Plus, one thing I've learned over the years is that most lawyers in a given area seem to know each other. (EG. I had hired an attorney one time, who I wasn't very pleased with. I did some computer work for someone else who I found out was also a lawyer, though not in the same specialty of law. During our conversation, I mentioned a few of my concerns, in passing. Next thing I know? My attorney is calling me on my cellphone on a Sunday morning, demanding to know why I'm dissatisfied with his work and trying to defend his actions! Turns out the two of them occasionally saw each other at the restaurants they frequent for lunch during the week and my concerns were "gossiped" from one to the other!)

IMO, there's a really good chance that if you hire a lawyer against another lawyer you're having issues with -- the two of them will "have a talk:" off the record, and agree to some sort of resolution in advance that benefits BOTH of them more than you!

Re:lawyers are no better (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781741)

Maybe the would-be plaintiffs realize that they might sue the offending law firm "successfully", but so expensively that you and your lawyer "adversaries" can all have a very nice dinner on the new yacht, while laughing at the "winner" of the lawsuit.

Jail them! (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781235)

Copyright infringement? I would sentence them all to life in a remote penal colony...oh, wait.

Re:Jail them! (2)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781305)

Sorry, but I believe both the US and UK are full. Can't even give them hard labour in an Asian sweatshop since Apple spoiled it for everyone. I was going to suggest some time doing IT support in a Call Centre, but apparently USAid pulled funding from those just this morning and I don't really want a cruel and unusual punishment rap.

TANJ, damn it!

Re:Jail them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789223)

Yes. Jail time, criminal record, lose their job, their house and destroy their lives.

After all, that's what they do to kids who download music.

Corporate contract dispute != Piracy (3, Insightful)

lwoggardner (825111) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781313)

Someone screwed up, or misinterpreted the contract. Maybe thats the NSW Police or maybe it was an overeager MF salesperson a decade ago. Vendor says you owe us big time, org says nu-uh we'll just remove the software. Most corps and vendors settle before the lawyers get involved but occasionally things go further.

The massive beat up about the cops being untouchable and the vendor not being able to get the police to investigate themselves is complete bollocks. Seriously since when do the cops get involved in corporate contract disputes?

National media coverage of MicroFocus suing their customers is probably not a good way for them to drum up business.

Re:Corporate contract dispute != Piracy (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39785813)

Seriously since when do the cops get involved in corporate contract disputes?

When they're one of the parties in the contract, paying licenses for the software?

National media coverage of MicroFocus suing their customers is probably not a good way for them to drum up business.

To me it sounds like they pretty much have a lock on that market. People who need regular access to those police databases need the software, there's no other options that aren't vastly more expensive due to 'duplicating the wheel' problems.

Amusing (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781319)

Australian police pirates...

join the Party!

All Crooks (0)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781381)

Is this a surprise? The Brits sent boatload (metric units of course) of murderers and crooks... I'm sure a few pirates would have gone through too.

Re:All Crooks (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39785607)

Murder wasn't a transportable offence - it was a capital offence. I'm sure a few slipped though but not boatloads of them.

Piracy was also capital not tranportable.

Crooks aplenty of course.

Win, lose or draw (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781389)

It may prove to be interesing to live where the police hate you!

The NSW Police engaging in illegal activities? (1)

arglebargle_xiv (2212710) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781551)

Say it ain't so! [nsw.gov.au]

.

The NSFW police can kiss my ass! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39781629)

Or stretch it horribly wide ....

Summary for the lazy people: (4, Insightful)

mezion (936475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39781853)

Simply comes down to the contract, which we can't see.

The software in question is called ViewNow. It is a mainframe computer program NSW Police began using in 1998 to access the COPS database, which holds the highly confidential details of just about every citizen in the state.

Mr Craig ... says police were allowed to use up to 6,500 ViewNow licences and if they wanted any more, they would have to pay for them.

They made software with no copy protection, and were suprised that noone could be bothered to write down every computer they installed it one - especially at 6500+ copies?

Micro Focus say when they asked police just how many ... licenses they were using, a police employee allegedly told them: "Oh f--k. We've rolled out 16,000 devices".

Maybe they made up some new terms after the fact and no-one can remember nor has a paper trail to prove otherwise.

Mr Craig said."The minute we advised police there was an issue they began de-installing our software. They de-installed it without keeping records."

If you realize you are in breach of the licencing terms, isn't the requirement to stop using the software and uninstalling it the correct procedure?

In essence, the NSW Police defence is that it has all been a terrible misunderstanding.

NSW Police say on their reading of their contract... gave them the right to reproduce as many licenses as they wanted.

Simply comes down to the contract, which we can't see.

Re:Summary for the lazy people: (2)

Hyperhaplo (575219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782247)

If you realize you are in breach of the licencing terms, isn't the requirement to stop using the software and uninstalling it the correct procedure?

Short version: Yes. Goes for just about any situation where you are running software you don't have licence for. If you delete all of the offending copies there really isn't much they can do in court except try to extract past-payments.. and that can be flogging a dead horse and can make courts quite irritable.

Having been the IT guy on the wrong side of a couple of much lower level versions of one of these audits, it is my experience that the software vendor generally doesn't want you to uninstall the software.. they want a nice juicy fat long term contact. The real wolves out there play all sorts of games to get licence by the seat software bumped up.. it's worth millions.

Yes, it is all down to the contract.

However, if they take pre-emptive action and purge all of the software before any court documents are lodged and served.. there is a very good chance that this vendor just blew their case and hastened the demise of their contract.

Most likely the AU police will either:
1) Re-neg the contract
2) Keep the current contact and be absolutely certain to keep the software under the contracted limits
3) Are absolutely legally certain of their 'unlimited licence' position (if this is the case) and will fight to the death in court of the black and white of the contract .. bearing in mind that in a lot of cases if the contract is fuzzy it can be damn hard to squeeze a client let alone win this type of case. Generally.. everyone loses.
4) Replace this software either inhouse or with another vendor. Would not shock me at all if CA was at the AU NSW police's front door on Monday briefcase and business plan in hand ready to do a deal

Note that I am not a lawyer.

Note that I have never been part of an active court case to defend against this type of problem. Although, at one point it got quite close and heated.

Every business should have a software licence registry...

Re:Summary for the lazy people: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39782661)

as they surely included the MF app in their SOE builds, its only a matter of counting how many desktops and notebooks are in use...and there is your number of CAL's!

its not that hard and to make out like it is , is a lie but then again thats what NSW police do oh so well, lie.

Re:Summary for the lazy people: (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39787295)

If you realize you are in breach of the licencing terms, isn't the requirement to stop using the software and uninstalling it the correct procedure?

NSW Police say on their reading of their contract... gave them the right to reproduce as many licenses as they wanted

Makes no sense to uninstall software to avoid breaching licensing terms you say you aren't breaching...

Just an X server. (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782031)

>> The software in question is called ViewNow. It is a mainframe computer program NSW Police began using in 1998

Uhh no it isn't. Its (just) an X server that runs on a PC.

Re:Just an X server. (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#39784857)

True. According to this page [bomara.com] this is X server software that runs on Windows. The article is a bit misleading, suggesting the software in question runs on a mainframe. This is unlikely as the claim is they need 6500+ licenses, and it is unlikely they have over 6500 mainframes! This is PC software that lets them access data on a mainframe, presumably through an X11 type interface. Given that they need so many licenses, it would seem to make more sense to use a free alternative, such as Cygwin/X.

Re:Just an X server. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39786661)

It's neither, the variant they used is used to access mainframes, it is a glorified 3270 terminal in other words

Bad cops bad cops whatcha gonna do (1)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39782079)

whatcha gonna do when they pirate YOU.

You 1nsensitiv3 clod!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39784137)

Micro Focus tried to screw us for $60000 once (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39785157)

Regular Slashdotter but posting AC. Back in the late 90's we used Windows Micro Focus COBOL a lot but we needed the Y2K version for our server that we complied the code on. Had a nice chat with the sales guy who asked what we did with it, and then a letter arrived saying we were in violation of our license and we needed a RTL for every PC we had it installed, which would have cost $60000 or they'd see us in court. Thank goodness we had a copy of our original license which allowed us unlimited clients as part of the original server install. Our legal team then wrote back telling them to piss off (in legal speak obviously). After that we migrated off their platform ASAP, wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw them.

It's here in the US as well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39785163)

I find it quite interesting that those in charge of the law would do this, since they are responsible for upholding the law. Anyhow my story:

I was recently in court a few weeks ago for a settlement hearing (where the judge beats up on both parties to come to an agreement) where a lady slipped and fell in our parking lot (imagine that, in March, in Michigan, there could possibly be ice in a parking lot... it boggles the mind). In the process of waiting for our turn for judicial abuse I had a chance to just hang out and see what was going on.

The bailiff was busy doing not much of anything except for.... watching movies on his laptop. Not through netflix. Not original DVDs. These were burned copies and he was quite openly talking about burning copies for the court clerk -and- the court recorder. And we're not talking about older ones either, we're talking about recent theatrical releases. That this would happen inside a Wayne County Circuit Court, with members of the court sworn to uphold the law, just goes to show how far down in peoples perception as to how serious the issue of copyright infringement is.

I mean seriously, if even the people -inside- the court system could care less about infringement, why in the world does it seem that the MPAA and Congress appear to care about little else? Well, I guess the MPAA has their reasons...

Losing trust in police (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39785251)

The police could mitigate the damage their reputation if they just admitted the mistake and paid what is due to the company. Here in Canada, at the airport in the city of Vancouver, four RCMP police officiers tasered a man to death. It was not the tasering that the police officiers got in trouble for, it was the lying that they did in their written reports. These four officiers severely damaged the reputation of the RCMP, Canada's national police force. The four officiers have been charged. You cannot trust a police force that the public thinks is dishonest. That is the reputation that the RCMP now has and it may destroy the 139 year old organization.

It's not just seats, they gave away copies (1)

solanum (80810) | more than 2 years ago | (#39785631)

There's a lot of comment here about whether it was piracy, but note that it isn't just about the 6500 seats, they actually gave copies of the software to other organisations so that they could access the police systems. In fact, that was how Micro Focus came to hear about what was going on.

I'm not surprised (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39785657)

Whether police or not, government agencies often turn a willfully blind eye to licensing requirements. For some perverse reason, they think that because they're government they can do whatever they want.

Here's a clue for government agencies: You're subject to the same laws and restrictions as citizens, and then some, not less.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788773)

Here's a clue for government agencies: You're subject to the same laws and restrictions as citizens, and then some, not less.

Sorry, I can't hear you over Sylvester Stallone yelling (in a bad fake Australian General accent [wikipedia.org] ) "I AM THE LAW!"

Although, in an ironic twist that kind of ruins an already poor joke, Judges of the Judge Dredd milieu are supposed to be bound to a higher duty to the law, such that their punishment for infringements are supposed to be more harsh than the equivalent for a citizen.

NYUK NYUK (1)

Droog57 (2516452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39786441)

Keystone Kops

I always thought... (1)

MooseDontBounce (989375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39786785)

Main Force Patrol (MPF) was the only police force in Australia.

The old Government agency defence. (2)

pbjones (315127) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788301)

Although I think that people should pay for what they use, It may be a case where the EULA didn't include Government Agencies, but the Government should pay, especially since the current convervative would be right behind and anti-piracy action.

New brushes (1)

NorthWay (1066176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788843)

This company has some old products. And some new license agreements. Possibly by the appearance of some new brushes in management who had ideas about how clients should be paying them.

I suggest you take a good look at what you have signed and see if it matches what you _think_ you have rights to. Always good advice anyway.

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