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US Military Settles Software Piracy Claims For $50M

timothy posted about a year ago | from the where's-the-bsa-when-you-need-'em? dept.

The Military 127

Rambo Tribble writes "The BBC reports that the U. S. government has agreed to pay software maker Apptricity $50 million to settle claims that the U.S. Army pirated thousands of copies of the firm's provisioning software. The report indicates 500 licensed copies were sold, but it came to light an army official had mentioned that 'thousands' of devices were running the software." $50 million in tax money could have paid for a whole lot of open source software development, instead.

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Government Development (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551593)

$50 million could have paid for a whole lot of private sector open source software development.

If the military had spent the money on development, they might have finished the request for proposals before running out of funding...

Re:Government Development (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year ago | (#45551805)

Yeah but open source projects don't give principals free vacations, cars and other bennies.

Re:Government Development (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551911)

they also require the source code be distributed, so the program is essentially gifted to the US army's enemies...

Re:Government Development (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45551981)

they also require the source code be distributed, so the program is essentially gifted to the US army's enemies...

I don't know of a single OSS license that requires distribution of source to anybody except recipients of binary versions (who, one hopes, the Pentagon would check for friendliness before sending software to, not that we have a terribly good track record on that...) It's commonly more widely distributed than that, for convenience or philanthropic reasons; but it would be perfectly doable to keep even an aggressively GPLed project in-house/among close collaborators only, with the only caveat being that you'd need to be using only LGPL or less encumbered external components.

Re:Government Development (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552291)

Or get rid of the requirement to distribute source with binary and necessity to worry about LGPL components and just make it permissively licensed, makes more sense if it's an in-house project, it's free and open source without the hassle.

Re: Government Development (1)

will_die (586523) | about a year ago | (#45553439)

Having used a bunch of the military approved open source version there is no need to change the license. The install discs or packages have all come with the source code in a directory.

Re:Government Development (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45552695)

If the software is developed for the US Government (USG), then the terms of the GPL don't really even apply: the GPL requires you to distribute (or make available) the source code to everyone you distribute binaries to. Well, if you're only distributing binaries to yourself, then there's nothing to do. So if the USG doesn't distribute the binaries to anyone else outside the government, then they don't have to distribute source code anywhere.

Re:Government Development (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45552771)

That is true, licenses don't even enter the picture until you are distributing to parties who would otherwise be unlicensed.

I was thinking of use cases like the various 'America+NATO Buddies!' shared or partially shared, or one nation with purchases by allies, etc. weapon system procurement arrangements that we've done over the years. In a situation like that, you aren't just dumping it on github; but there are multiple organizationally distinct groups using and modifying the product, each of which probably has a bevy of contractors operating under their own byzantine procurement rules.

In an instance like that, distribution is still controlled; but having an 'everyone gets to see everyone's customizations on this project' policy could save a lot of quibbling between cooperating parties. Probably wouldn't be accepted for Super Secret Trophy Weapons; but for more mundane utility and logistics (where sharing and common platforms have obvious logistical and efficiency gains, which is why all sorts of things have NATO standards to begin with...), I suspect that it could be a very favorable alternative to doing all the legal and/or diplomatic fighting over exactly who does exactly what parts of the project and who is or isn't sharing.

Re:Government Development (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#45553171)

If you don't want to distribute the source, what's the point of using an open source license?

Re: Government Development (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45553651)

It gives you the freedom to rely on OSS libraries.

Re:Government Development (3, Informative)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year ago | (#45553585)

Software (and any other copyrightable work) developed directly by an employee of the US Government is, unless it qualifies to be secret, required to be released into the Public Domain, which means that you can't even attach the limited restrictions of a permissive/promiscuous license like BSD to it.

Re:Government Development (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45553675)

they also require the source code be distributed, so the program is essentially gifted to the US army's enemies...

GPL and Open Source is not equivalent. (On another not, GPL and Free Source is also not equivalent, GPL doesn't require that you put the source online, you are allowed to charge for the working time and cost of printing out the source and sending it by mail.)
There are plenty of open source licenses that can give you the function you want.

In the case of GPL you are only required to make the source available to the ones you distribute the binary to, but if I recall correctly the military have access to the Windows source code too with the clause that they can't distribute it so from the perspective of the military there is essentially no difference between most open source software and proprietary software since they can require access to the source code regardless.

Re:Government Development (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45552565)

Yeah but open source projects don't give principals free vacations, cars and other bennies.

depends largely on the open source project. quite a few have done exactly that...

At least it would be better than that website ... (0)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year ago | (#45552183)

$50 million could have paid for a whole lot of private sector open source software development.

If the military had spent the money on development, they might have finished the request for proposals before running out of funding...

How much of the taxpayer's dough have they wasted on that Obamacare website ?

How well did it perform ?

I have a hunch that if the Military spent the $50M on an open source project it would have come up better than that website.

Open Source Troll much? (4, Insightful)

Mitsoid (837831) | about a year ago | (#45551609)

it could have also paid for the software... and probably be a lot cheaper then $50 million on open source...

I only say this because there is an obvious 'zomg go open source' vibe to the post... Obviously, it would be nice id governments threw money at open source software development, but then o then taxpayers would probably complain since it doesn't directly benefit them in a way their minds can comprehend

Re:Open Source Troll much? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#45551655)

like all those taxpayers complaining about GNAT and tor?

Re:Open Source Troll much? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551665)

No, because opensource lets you quickstart easily and cheaply.

Re:Open Source Troll much? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551673)

I only say this because there is an obvious 'zomg go open source' vibe to the post...

+1 and this is why I stopped frequenting /. as often as I used to.
The Apply fanoboi's, MS-haters and oper-source zealots coupled with obvious product placement stories and instances of posspoor editor-oversight (same story appearing multiple tiems over a few weeks) means I now mostly use main-stream news/media - and filter out the crap there myself.

Re:Open Source Troll much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552777)

+1 and this is why I stopped frequenting /. as often as I used to.

So why did you ever start coming here? /. has always been pro open source, anti-ms, etc. It would be like me going on to modernbride.com and bitching that they don't talk about single bachelor's enough.

Re:Open Source Troll much? (-1, Troll)

Bert64 (520050) | about a year ago | (#45551695)

If a number of different governments, or different government agencies get together (or even with other non government organisations) and develop software jointly, the individual cost will be much less...
One of the main benefits of open source is that you don't need to fund all of the development yourself, other people will have similar requirements and you can share the development costs. This is exactly how commercial software works too, only in the commercial case you have an extra non essential middleman between end users and developers who wants to make a very large profit.

Re:Open Source Troll much? (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#45551755)

But without a clear singular direction you end up with a jack of all trades but a master of none.

Re:Open Source Troll much? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45552701)

That's no different than most commercial software: unless the commercial software is developed for one customer (i.e., it's custom-made software), that software maker needs to try to please as many potential customers as possible, so you end up with "featuritis".

Re:Open Source Troll much? (4, Insightful)

sjwt (161428) | about a year ago | (#45552039)

Spoken like someone who has never dealt with one Government department, let alone two.

Its *much* worse when you let them get involved in the development, Billions of $ wasted on programs that don't do what they should.

Here is a nice list of Billions $ in failed software projects.

http://defense.about.com/od/prodinnovate/a/Government-Software-Project-Failures.htm [about.com]

And a nice little one close to home for me, 8 years and 1.25 Billion $ on payroll software.. Thanks IBM

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/health-payroll-costs-to-hit-125-billion-20120606-1zvub.html [brisbanetimes.com.au]

Re:Open Source Troll much? (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#45552419)

There's a lot of opportunity to funnel money to friends with software or emerging technologies because the accountants have no clue if things are required or not and can't just look up the yellow pages for an independent expert that will let them know.
Also there is a tendency to shift requirements part way through the project.
A third problem is clueless people putting together the requirements and bids, missing a lot of stuff out, and then for the project to succeed there are a lot of costs that were not expected by those who planned the project poorly. So many managers without technical experience put plans together without getting the advice they require to even get ballpark cost and time estimates.

Re:Open Source Troll much? (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about a year ago | (#45552933)

This is what happens when you spend money that you didn't have to earn.

Re:Open Source Troll much? (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | about a year ago | (#45553275)

The alternative is wasting billions of $ on privately created programs that don't do what they should--the exact amount might be lower, but it'd still be in the billions. The real question is, has any government or other organization made OSS payroll systems that are readily modifiable to complex rules? If there was just one decent one, how much would it cost to modify it to work on even some of the more esoteric rule sets? Because once you get to that point, every one of those "billions of $ wasted on programs that don't do what they should" because a rather clear case of fraud or malfeasance. Perhaps that wouldn't really change anything. But, if you one is pessimistic enough to believe that, then the discussion of the waste is all a moot point anyways, as nothing any of us says or does will matter, so arguing over it is itself a waste of your and my time. :/

Re:Open Source Troll much? (1)

Smauler (915644) | about a year ago | (#45552327)

If a number of different governments, or different government agencies get together (or even with other non government organisations) and develop software jointly, the individual cost will be much less...

Governments and governmental institutions are notoriously bad at software development. This [wikipedia.org] has already cost every man, woman and child in the UK £200 each, with awful returns. No one wanted it in the first place, but that's beside the point.

It's not an open source/closed source problem... it's a "difficult problem" problem, which when selling a solution, people try to make look easier than it is.

Re:Open Source Troll much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551697)

Don't be a "hoarder" bro..... Haven't you heard RMS's free software song [youtube.com] ?

Ah Ha! (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#45551615)

According to court documents filed in 2012, the deal with the military meant up to 500 named users could access the software.

Apptricity later estimated that 9,000 users were accessing the program, in addition to the 500 that had been paid for.

The unauthorised copying only came to light after a US Army official mentioned "thousands" of devices running the software during a presentation on technology.

Well there's your problem right there!

One might have assumed a BSA sting except, well, it's the gub'ment.

Re:Ah Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551641)

Someone's not fired.

Re:Ah Ha! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#45551781)

I doubt the Army official knew they were pirated. Pirating is usually caused by carelessness at the lower levels of an organization, not a general org plan to pirate. Although, it could be argued that higher levels didn't bother to take inventory or were sloppy at record keeping.

Re:Ah Ha! (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#45551815)

I doubt the Army official knew they were pirated.

I don't believe this.

The Army has a professional IT program. Everyone from the commanders down to the bottom have to do CBT's and attend briefings on this subject.

The grunts using the apps might have no clue what / when / where the software was loaded, but the officers from the butter-bars on up certainly did.

Re:Ah Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45553049)

army officials absolutely had no clue, probably no one did. license management is a complete joke in the army, and if you know the term "CBT" then you know that most people click through them as quickly as possible without reading or comprehending anything.

Oh man (1, Insightful)

XPeter (1429763) | about a year ago | (#45551629)

This submitter has the typical Slashdot FOSS douchebag attitude. This case has NOTHING TO DO with open source software, yet you can always find a way to jam it in there eh?

Re:Oh man (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#45551743)

So the Army should have used Open Source, folks say? Which project does the same or close to this commercial product?

Re:Oh man (1)

AIphaWolf_HK (3439155) | about a year ago | (#45551769)

If it doesn't exist, then they could have developed it; probably would have cost much less than this did.

Re:Oh man (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#45551885)

If it doesn't exist, then they could have developed it; probably would have cost much less than this did.

Clearly you are not familiar with both internal and external government software development.

Re:Oh man (1)

AIphaWolf_HK (3439155) | about a year ago | (#45552017)

Frankly, the government (and schools) has no business using proprietary garbage to begin with.

Re:Oh man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552223)

Bullshit. Argue your point or shut the fuck up.

Re:Oh man (2)

AIphaWolf_HK (3439155) | about a year ago | (#45552247)

Bullshit. Argue your point or shut the fuck up. Heh.

Re:Oh man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45553145)

Easy. The government shouldn't pick winners and losers in the market. By backing proprietary solutions instead of open ones, they are doing just that.

Re:Oh man (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about a year ago | (#45552337)

If it doesn't exist, then they could have developed it; probably would have cost much less than this did.

With the ridiculous budget blowouts on government technology projects i highly doubt that.

Re:Oh man (5, Insightful)

Goody (23843) | about a year ago | (#45551777)

I think timothy added the FOSS douchebag statement, not the submitter.

Re:Oh man (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year ago | (#45551801)

$50 million in tax money could have paid for a whole lot of open source software development, instead.

Buying 10,000 useless items because they are on sale does not make it a good deal. You have less money and 10,000 useless items.

Re:Oh man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552049)

Wait, buying useless items is the American Way!

Re:Oh man (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#45551847)

This submitter has the typical Slashdot FOSS douchebag attitude. This case has NOTHING TO DO with open source software, yet you can always find a way to jam it in there eh?

I am sure that timothy (not the submitter, btw) had done due diligence research and verified that Apptricity offerings are also available or nearly-available in a viable FOSS project. Because otherwise it would be irresponsible to make such statements:

$50 million in tax money could have paid for a whole lot of open source software development, instead.

Re:Oh man (2, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#45552139)

Every government software expenditure on software licences has something to do with the alternate, the development of a free open source software solution. Where the purchase of software licences exceeds the cost of direct development of the software solution, which can then be made available to the public for free those people who paid for the development, then that is money blatantly thrown away and brings to immediate mind, what was the corruption in the process that allowed that poor decision. The only douchebag thing going on is why tax payer dollars are continually being used to favour a few with bloated profits from licensed software solutions whilst the majority miss out on any benefit from free open source solutions.

Government software solutions should always favour open source for two reasons. One it means direct payment to local developers for initialising and customising those solutions, whether as direct salary payments, contracts and or prizes for specific solutions and, two of course those solutions now become available to the tax paying public for free as they have already have paid for them.

So yeah, every time the government spends money on software licences it is money lost to the public for no benefit to the public and this has 'EVERYTHING TO DO' with the future investment of taxpayer dollars in software and should be mentioned 'EACH AND EVERY TIME' a story comes up about the government spending money on software licences rather than investing in free open source software, local developers and future public accessibility to that software.

Re:Oh man (1)

couchslug (175151) | about a year ago | (#45552315)

When your taxes pay for things such as (unclassified) equipment manuals and training guides, they are free to reproduce both in the DoD world and by the public.

If your taxes paid for development of FOSS software solutions, DoD, the rest of the government you also pay for, and the public wouldn't be paying even more for vendor lock.

Paying for the development and maintenance of software is fine, but vendor lock is less fine.

Re:Oh man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552865)

Don't worry someone will also tie it into obomacare.

Simply not true (5, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#45551653)

$50 million in tax money could have paid for a whole lot of open source software development, instead.

Bullshit. A government designed website cost over $600 million, for $50 million you only get the committee that argues about the design, and only for a year or so.

Re:Simply not true (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#45551747)

A government designed website cost over $600 million

You mean HealthCare.gov? It wasn't $600 million. That number came from known shills.

Re:Simply not true (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551761)

If you can't cite anything better than your love for Fuhrer Obama then STFU, cunt.

Re:Simply not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552191)

If you can't cite anything better than your love for Fuhrer Obama then STFU, cunt.

It's funny how the far right views Obama as a Nazi, commie, crony capitalist, Sharia Muslim, and atheist all at the same time. Not even Chris Christie is big enough to be all those contradictory things at the same time ;-P

Re:Simply not true (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45552725)

You're an idiot if you don't think Obama is a crony capitalist. Almost every US politician, including Chris Christie, is a crony capitalist (except maybe Bernie Sanders). Obama is not special or different.

As for the far right, they believe he's a Nazi, commie, Muslim, or atheist, not all at the same time. The people on the far right are not a single person; they're different people who all have different opinions and beliefs, as hard as that might be for you to understand.

Re:Simply not true (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#45551765)

OH I'm sorry, it was ONLY $350 million...

Re:Simply not true [Obamacare web costs] (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#45551839)

There appears to be no clear boundary between "the website" and "related IT services" such that it's hard to draw an undisputed line. Estimates range from roughly $130 to $350 million, depending on the partitioning used. Left-leaning spinners seem to use the $130 figure and right-leaning spinners use the 350. Because the boundary is fuzzy, neither side is objectively wrong. Funny how that works.

  More info:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2013/10/24/how-much-did-healthcare-gov-cost/ [washingtonpost.com]

Re:Simply not true [Obamacare web costs] (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552649)

Estimates range from roughly $130

<blink>WHICH IS COMPLETELY FUCKING INSANE TO THE POINT OF CRIMINALITY, AT LEAST FROM AN ETHICAL IF NOT LEGAL STANDPOINT.</blink>

Arguing, "Abloobloo, at least it wasn't 135 million!" isn't the freaking point.

Websites do not fucking cost that much. There are no circumstances on the face of the planet - other than incompetence and rewarding cronies - that websites fucking cost anything near that.

Re:Simply not true [Obamacare web costs] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552899)

Websites do not fucking cost that much. There are no circumstances on the face of the planet - other than incompetence and rewarding cronies - that websites fucking cost anything near that.

Websites may not. Database systems that have to be interacted with by potentially dozens of parties? Server hardware to run your website on? Networking bandwidth?

Different story there.

Re:Simply not true (1)

Trogre (513942) | about a year ago | (#45551993)

No it didn't. $600 million was budgeted under the heading of that particular project and supporting IT infrastructure, but that's government accounting. I doubt anyone here knows how much of that actually went on development and how much went straight to pork.

Hint: give me $2m + $3m for infrastructure and I'll get a system up and running that I guarantee would be better than what you got.

Re:Simply not true (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#45553483)

I think if we gave just about anyone over 18 with a slight knowledge of computers $2m + $3m they could go to school, learn what is needed and get a system up and running better then what we got.

That is one of the problems with the expense here. With what was spent, you could have picked high-school kids with little programing background, sent them to college and did better in about the same time span.

Obamacare (0)

x0ra (1249540) | about a year ago | (#45551671)

The same ending comment could be said about Obamacare's website, that is, with +600 millions, you could have funded a whole lot of OpenSource developers to build the stuff, and it might actually have been working. It can be said about everything the government is doing. Note that I don't even bother to say "doing wrong" because I would hate to repeat myself.

It would be an illusion to think the US are a democracy; it is a plutocracy governed by the businesses for the businesses. Open-source is going *against* this principle.

ha? (5, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | about a year ago | (#45551725)

$50 million in tax money could have paid for a whole lot of open source software development, instead.

How would that not be spending tax dollars to compete with private industry? What kind of an ass backwards priority system does this poster have? Take money away from honest citizens at gun point and give this money to their competition? How is this even remotely ethical?

Re:ha? (1)

lapm (750202) | about a year ago | (#45551751)

Whats there stopping this corporation to take some of that money and help develop that opensource solution. Whats wrong with you? Anything government does is away from some private sector people... Example, they could hire private accounting corporation to run the whole tax system.

Re:ha? (2)

superwiz (655733) | about a year ago | (#45551773)

Anything government does is away from some private sector people

No, not everything. There is no private army. There is no private national highway system. There is plenty of things that the government can do that cannot be done by the private industry. But why compete with the private industry while taxing it? That's just so damn obnoxious.

Re:ha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551859)

There is no private national highway system.

so you physically build the highways?
feds: well no.. private contractors do..
so you actually pay for the highways?
feds: well not really, the people do..
so what exactly would you say the federal government does for the interstate highways?
feds: I ALREADY TOLD YOU, I TAKE THE MONEY FROM PEOPLE AND GIVE IT TO THE CONTRACTORS SO THE PEOPLE DON'T HAVE TO.. I HAVE PEOPLE SKILLS, I AM GOOD AT DEALING WITH PEOPLE, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!!

Re:ha? (1)

superwiz (655733) | about a year ago | (#45551889)

No, the President doesn't do every federal job himself. He hires people who hire people, etc. The government at large doesn't do every job itself. It hires people. But the task which it hires people (or companies) to accomplish is either not doable by the private industry. Or it is doable by the private industry. If this task is already done by the private industry, then why the hell should the government try to compete by doing the same thing? It's already done. Why does the government need to get into this business to do it, too? People who think like this are nuts if not downright criminal.

Re:ha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551995)

why the hell should the government try to compete by doing the same thing? It's already done. Why does the government need to get into this business to do it, too? People who think like this are nuts if not downright criminal.

i think you've seriously misconstrued my post.

the federal government, as it stands, serves no purpose other than to siphon money from the american people under the guise of "helping."

Re:ha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552813)

Right. Why do they siphon money for roads, food safety, and other such non-essential items, but only to steal our money. Everybody knows that private roadways are best, and all corporations only sell food that's safe.

Re:ha? (1)

superwiz (655733) | about a year ago | (#45552879)

If the private industry is not doing, the government can step in. If the private industry is already doing, the government should bud out. That's the argument. Unless you think the private industry already has a national highway system or a private army, those are government functions. Creating logistics software when there are already so many private companies doing that is not a government function.

Re:ha? (1)

hazah (807503) | about a year ago | (#45552523)

I can't stop laughing. Thanks!

Re:ha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552133)

There is no private army. There is no private national highway system. There is plenty of things that the government can do that cannot be done by the private industry.

Cannot is not the same as will not.

It's all a question of profit: there are countless examples of private industry funding private armies to protect their profitable interests. Private armies are not necessary in the US (religious wackos excepted) because the laws are written by private industry and enforced by taxpayer funds.

Re:ha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551843)

Take money away from honest citizens at gun point and give this money to their competition?

Why does it matter if the people are honest? When is money taken away from citizens at gun point? And what is private sector competition to the US military that you're so concerned about?

Re:ha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551865)

Have you heard of a car company named GM?

Re:ha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552071)

Yes, most of their products are inferior, they were poorly managed, and they should be bankrupt.

The new Corvette rocks though, so maybe the bailout was worth it.

Re:ha? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#45553555)

GM did go bankrupt. Unless you think they should do it again but bankruptcy was part of the bailout.

Re:ha? (1)

ewieling (90662) | about a year ago | (#45551923)

I feel it is a government's duty to maximize the good done by the money they spend. I also feel in many cases spending money on open source software development does more good than spending the money on closed source software development.

Re:ha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552087)

Isn't BSD developed by Berkely in CA, mostly funded by taxpayer money. Quite a number of OS developments and advancements come from BSD.

So I think what you are asking for already happens. Even if you don't care for BSD, their TCP stack I believe has made it into just about every other OS out there, not to mention much of what they developed has been turned into Apple's OS.

CAME FROM... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552527)

Berkeley hasn't been directly involved in it since before 386BSD came out. That's part of where Net/Free/OpenBSD came from. And given that OpenBSD is primarily Canadian(?) governed at this point....

Re:ha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552093)

Take money away from honest citizens at gun point

Your view of taxation?

and give this money to their competition?

American corporations write Free and Open Source software too. IBM, Red Hat and even Microsoft (to name a few) have written code released as Free and Open Source.

Re:ha? (1)

superwiz (655733) | about a year ago | (#45553047)

Take money away from honest citizens at gun point

Your view of taxation?

Unless you believe that taxes are paid voluntarily the same way that charitable donations are made, it's your view of the taxes, too.

Re:ha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552135)

Seeing as the US Government allegedly pirated the proprietary software rather than using an open source alternative or using the source code to develop their own, the only money "stolen" from citizens involved the "theft" of the proprietary software.
However, if even a fraction of that money were used to support the open source software, not only would the US government have gotten a better deal, it could've helped a hell of a lot more people get a better bit of software as well.
Ethically, that's the better choice.

Re:ha? (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | about a year ago | (#45552575)

How would that not be spending tax dollars to compete with private industry?

Compared to the US Army committing theft--BSA terms--of at least $50 million on the private sector, only to later begrudgingly pay some sort of settlement on the part they accidentally outed themselves on? At least direct open source software development could be some sort of honorable route. Btw, why aren't we also hearing about dishonorable discharges and criminal trials leading to prison terms? Because I'm pretty sure anyone else in the same boat--not companies, because they're apparently treated the same with the lack of jail time for officials--would be extradited if necessary and threatened with long jail terms.

What kind of an ass backwards priority system does this poster have?

Probably the kind that says "don't reinvent the wheel" and doesn't suffer too much from "not invented here" syndrome to see the value of open source software and how tax money can be better spent in a more open, transparent system? That it might have a negative effect on the private industry is just a natural side effect of them not sufficiently covering a niche. What next? Are you going to bitch that the US Army doesn't outsource its troops to private contractors and how their in-house work and how it is utilized competes too much with private industry?

Take money away from honest citizens at gun point and give this money to their competition?

99.9999% of people aren't "their competition". And if you're in an industry that can be readily subsumed as a duty of a governmental department, you're inherently on thin ice when it comes to long-term stability of your business. The only major argument you could have is that what the US Army needs isn't per se under the envelope of their duty and should be outsourced to someone. But, that argument calls upon the construction of a federal governmental IT department to construct a lot of the software that can and would be used by federal, state, and local governance over a lot of areas. Why? Precisely because even a horribly budgeted $50 million to have developed the software instead of buying it out from a private company would put the government in a better position: they'd have the software source and in-house developers knowledgeable enough to make requested modifications they particularly want without worrying about a middle-man company that may choose to be wholly uncooperative.

How is this even remotely ethical?

Well, the other major alternative would be to not buy software at all nor pirate it. Because once you starting how it's somehow unethical to take the more cost effective approach because it might deter the private sector, all bets are off on even involving yourself in that sector of the economy. Oh, you're okay with it so long as it involves a company sucking on the government's teet, right? Nothing like that sweet, sweet corporate welfare.

PS - I love the quote in the article: '"Piracy is theft, clean and simple," remarked vice-president Joe Biden at the time [in 2010].' Where's your moral outrage upon that?

Re:ha? (1)

couchslug (175151) | about a year ago | (#45552929)

Pay private industry to develop the open source software, just as anyone else in the market is free to do.

There is no obligation to vendor lock.

Re:ha? (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about a year ago | (#45553011)

Even the incumbent makers of hammers would be happier living in a world where it isn't illegal to make a better hammer. They might moan and cry about it, and pretend like their case is special, but everyone is worse off when policy becomes "hinder technological progress to protect the economy of old technology".

Presumably the poster is trying to say that making the software open source is promoting the technology available to everyone, and since it is progress in technology, there is no need to protect the makers of the old costly technology.

Consider this, what if you had a magic button that you could push, and if you did then free versions of software would be created that provide the same functionality as every piece of proprietary software ever written? Would you push the button?

Goverment (2)

lapm (750202) | about a year ago | (#45551741)

Its the government, what did you expect :P Government does everything in way its most expensive as possible.

Companies do this all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551823)

Reminds me of when I worked at eBay, they refuse to upgrade Macro Express because they don't want to pay for new licenses. Apparently at the time they got a license for it, it was extremely cheap or something. IT would not upgrade it citing software license cost reasons. http://www.macros.com/order.htm

The RIAA (1)

Mistakill (965922) | about a year ago | (#45551853)

This company should have hired the RIAA's lawyers...

buy vs. build (2)

Tom (822) | about a year ago | (#45551913)

$50 million in tax money could have paid for a whole lot of open source software development, instead.

Maybe, but then again maybe they needed something that works today, so funding development of something that will work in two years simply wasn't an option? Not everything in this world is a conspiracy, you know?

Re:buy vs. build (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45551967)

The whole point of open source software is that you don't need to build everything from scratch and it doesn't need to be expensive. There's open source alternatives for just about anything you can think of. Just find what you need, use it, and if you need improvements you can either do it yourself of pay someone else to do it. Either of those options benefit not only themselves, but everyone.

Re:buy vs. build (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45553643)

There's open source alternatives for just about anything you can think of.

That is utter bullshit.

There is open source alternatives to very little of what you can think of in the business segement. There are open source alternatives for the most common software (OS, database, content management, word processing), but once you move out of the mainstream there is close to nothing. And when there is, it is seriously lacking in functionality. Just check out the portfolio of Quest software. Open source alternatives? Nothing. Check out identity management. Open source? Nothing even close to the commercial alternatives.

I will take open source any day when it is good, but pretending that there are open source alternatives for "just about everyting" is misrepresenting the fact.

Re:buy vs. build (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552051)

You're assuming that what they got works today. It's more likely that what they paid for took two (or more) years of 'customization' to almost do what they need and is still hated by nearly everyone one who uses it. Some things in the world deserve to be treated more like a conspiracy, you know?

Cutbacks so no site licenses? (3, Insightful)

deviated_prevert (1146403) | about a year ago | (#45551933)

Most likely what happened is the US Military bought the software, which may or may not be the best solution but clearly it was the most viable software solution available suited for the specific needs of modern arm forces logistics. Then what happened is the user seat requirements outstripped the original purchase numbers. BECAUSE THE FRIGGIN' SOFTWARE is written on a per seat basis and most likely a timed rental lease. And this is why the distribution became a warez situation.

EVERYBODY wants to pull a Microsoft and create something that becomes a cash cow that feeds them beyond the actual value of the original creation, is timed to expire and cause the users to send more cash.

Now we complicate the situation with the recent cutbacks in military funding for procurement of frills like this software. Someone with a hand on the accounting made the decision that increasing the site license numbers was not financially justified. This in turn caused the military IT person(s) responsible for deployment of this software to but heads with staff that was lower down than the pencil necks that cut their procurement budgets. So most likely some Colonel somewhere reamed out the poor IT staff so bad about not having the rights to deploy more copies without the budget that they just turned a blind eye and handed out copies instead of facing some Colonel Blowhard every time Lieutenant Hothead complained about the IT department not letting them accomplish their mission.

Re:Cutbacks so no site licenses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552011)

Speaking as a soldier, you hit the nail on the head. Bravo.

Consistency would be great (4, Insightful)

aiadot (3055455) | about a year ago | (#45552599)

Random teenager downloads enough music CDs to fill his iPod -> millions in damage representing the sum of the full price of each song

US government downloads software on more devices it's licensed to -> get's a 90% discount in the fine and not even a warning

hello.. they didn't pay for the software to begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45552629)

$50 million in tax money could have paid for a whole lot of open source software development, instead.

If they used open source software they would have paid nothing, just like they originally did to the companies whose software they pirated.

Does the OP really not understand? (1)

MasseKid (1294554) | about a year ago | (#45552957)

Seriously. Does the OP of the summary really not understand that open source != free? Publishing the source code has nothing to do with licensing. If the military had paid for 500 copies of open source software and installed it on thousands of machines, they would STILL BE PIRATING IT.

Open Source for Military? (1)

nuckfuts (690967) | about a year ago | (#45553243)

$50 million in tax money could have paid for a whole lot of open source software development

I'm a staunch advocate of open source software, but for military applications? Would it be wise to share your military's tools with every other country on the planet? Would that not be assisting your enemies?

Named user licensing (2)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#45553261)

Apptricity later estimated that 9,000 users were accessing the program, in addition to the 500 that had been paid for.

This is equivalent to Microsoft claiming you pirated windows server, because you only bought 500 CALs, but your organization has 9000 employees.

Through some bit of magic, they say you get this license thingie, that you have to permanently assign to a specific piece of flesh and blood ---- no matter how many computers you have running the software; or how many employees you have on the job at a particular moment -- you don't count those: you count the total number of people your organization hired.

50 million divided by 8500 is close to $6000 per employee.

I would call that predatory + difficult to comply with licensing, not "piracy" --- the folks making out like bandits here is the software company.

I'm sure a fraction of the 50 million could have funded a contractor to build the product, and provide the military the rights to the software --- and unlimited, perpetual licenses.

Ask Jammie Thomas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45554055)

Only 6 grand? Cheap compared to what was demanded off her...

Does that mean the US will put itself on the list? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45554173)

Doesn't the US publish a list of "high piracy" countries? Since the US government pirates will they be put it on the list?

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