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Australia Piracy Your Rights Online

Australia's Largest Police Force Accused of Widespread Piracy 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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Australia's Largest Police Force Accused of Widespread Piracy

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  • Re:How dare they! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:44AM (#39781149)

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

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:47AM (#39781165) Homepage
    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.
  • by lwoggardner ( 825111 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:03AM (#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.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:09AM (#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:Thieves (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:15AM (#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.

  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:30AM (#39781595) Homepage Journal

    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:How dare they! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:34AM (#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.

  • by mezion ( 936475 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:51AM (#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.

  • by Painted ( 1343347 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @11:54AM (#39782781) Homepage
    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?


10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.