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Piracy The Courts The Military Government Software The Almighty Buck United States News Technology

US Navy Faces $600M Lawsuit For Allegedly Pirating 3D VR Software (hothardware.com) 115

An anonymous reader quotes a report from HotHardware: The U.S. Navy has been accused of pirating 3D software after first testing a software package offered by Germany company Bitmanagement Software GmbH. The company is suing the United States of America for nearly $600 million. HotHardware reports: "According to the court filing, Bitmanagement licensed its BS Contact Geo software for use on 38 Navy computers from 2011 to 2012. This limited rollout was 'for the purposes of testing, trial runs, and integration into Navy systems.' While this test period was underway, the Navy reportedly began negotiating to license the software for use on thousands of additional computers. However, even as the negotiations were ongoing, the Navy decided to go ahead and initiate its full-scale rollout without actually paying for the software. In total, the initial 38 computers allegedly swelled to 104,922 computers by October 2013. As of today, BS Contact GEO is claimed to be installed on 558,466 Navy computers, although 'likely this unauthorized copying has taken place on an even larger scale' according to the filing. As if the unauthorized installation of software onto hundreds of thousands of computers wasn't enough, Bitmanagement is alleging that the Navy during 2014 began disabling the Flexwrap software that is tasked with tracking the use of BS Contact Geo and helping to prevent it from being duplicated. When this software piracy was taking place, the retail price of a single BS Contact Geo license was $1067.76. With nearly 600,000 computers now in play, Bitmanagement is seeking a whopping $596,308,103 in damages. The lawsuit, which alleges willful copyright infringement was filed on July 15th."
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US Navy Faces $600M Lawsuit For Allegedly Pirating 3D VR Software

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  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @03:53PM (#52549493)

    Given that the maximum penalty for copyright infringement in the US is $150,000 per instance, the Navy is about to be fined $83.7 trillion!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Given that the maximum penalty for copyright infringement in the US is $150,000 per instance, the Navy is about to be fined $83.7 trillion!

      $83.8 Billion, not trillion.

    • Nope. It's not $150,000 per instance, it's $150,000 per "infringed work". So if Bitmanagement Software were to go the statutory damages route, they could only sue for a maximum of $150,000 since only one work was infringed upon. What they're doing is going for actual damages (the license fee for each copy of their program) and since the fee is about $1,000 per copy and they're talking about 500,000 copies, that's quite a bit of money.

      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
        And apparently they should. Geez, 500K copies that are illegal 5 years later? I mean, the gov is slow, but they're not that slow.
    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Good thing they didn't make the penalty for copyright infringement jail time

  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @03:54PM (#52549497)

    http://www.bitmanagement.com/p... [bitmanagement.com]

    Looks like a google earth/GIS type application for loading terrain and city data. It's not a stereo head tracked 360 "VR" application.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    $1067.76 per copy sounds a bit low compared to the typical damages per copied mp3. I'm sure they will come to an arrangement, but it would be fun if using is ok as long as you have the intention to eventually pay for it. maybe.

    • $1067.76 per copy sounds a bit low compared to the typical damages per copied mp3.

      That's because the law about statutory damages leads to strange consequences.

      Statutory damages are up to $150,000 _per infringed work_. If you make one copy of a CD with 20 songs illegally, that's 20 infringed works - up to $3,000,000 damages for ocpying a CD, which is ridiculous. If you make 10 million copies of a CD with 20 songs illegally and sell them, that's 20 infringed works. $3,000,000 for 10 million CDs sold, not bad. If you make 500,000 copies as is claimed here for software that is sold for $1

  • tracking the use of BS Contact Geo

    Maybe military computers should license only special versions lacking this kind of thing in any software that otherwise sends usage reports back to the software vendor. That just might be a security risk.

  • Well, shit. Do you guys take American Express?

    Our card number is 3000-0000-0000-0001, expires 10/1971, zip is 20006.

    The CVV is 000.

    • Well, shit. Do you guys take American Express?

      Our card number is 3000-0000-0000-0001, expires 10/1971, zip is 20006.

      The CVV is 000.

      More appropriately for AmEx: Card number 3000-000-00000-001 CVV is 0000

  • Flexwrap software blocked due to non us IP and there is no DMCA in the navy TS. PS we can send in navy seals can you?

  • Wait a minute (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @04:15PM (#52549627)

    600,000 computers? How big do they think the U.S. Navy is anyway? That's almost two computers for every active duty service member. That's over 2,000 computers per ship. I'm not saying the Navy didn't steal their software, I have no clue about that. I'm just saying that 600,000 installs is A LOT for such an obscure piece of software.

    • Unless they count each system that is part of the software repo system as an install even if it is not installed on each one. Even more so with the blocking of there tracking software so they think we can't tell what systems it is installed on due to that so we thing it is on all of them.

    • by I4ko ( 695382 )
      It's probably somewhere in a SCCM and for whatever reason they count each start of the installer as a new instance. It is not uncommon to reimage less trusted machined each night, if not after each user uses them. - Deploy image, push all software via SCCM, done.
    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

      600,000 computers? How big do they think the U.S. Navy is anyway? That's almost two computers for every active duty service member.

      You presume that the suit is limited to computers actually owned by the Navy. Add in Navy contractors running the software to support the Navy and the number doesn't seem so implausible. 28 USC 1498 [cornell.edu] requires that you sue the government for a contractor's copyright infringement if its done under the terms of their government contract.

    • 600,000 computers? How big do they think the U.S. Navy is anyway? That's almost two computers for every active duty service member. That's over 2,000 computers per ship.

      0.o
       
      There's more to the Navy than ships... there's hundreds of shore facilities and commands. In the same way, there's also untold number of DoD and DoN civilian employees and contractors at those facilities and commands.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      600,000 computers? How big do they think the U.S. Navy is anyway?

      The problem here is that all they know is how big the Navy is. They don't have any clue how much their software is being used. So they are taking the biggest number they can find.

      Paragraph 18 in their court filing references an email from a NAVFAC Deputy Program Manager "indicating the planned installation of BS Contact Geo on 558,466 Navy computers." I seriously doubt the email said anything like that. It's interesting that they don't actual

      • by wcrowe ( 94389 )

        This is a very thorough, and the best explanation I've read so far. Thank you. I think this is what's really going on.

  • Fishy case (Score:4, Informative)

    by HBI ( 604924 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @04:20PM (#52549677) Journal

    arf arf. But seriously, almost 600,000 copies of a piece of software when the Department of the Navy has fewer official user workstations than that...much fewer. That's Army level of personnel, not Navy.

    Then, there's some data online about the system in question. Seems like it's a system to support infrastructure for Navy bases and such. [navy.mil] Seems like Northrop Grumman is involved, as well as some smaller contractors. [diversebus...ystems.com] Like this one, Synergy Software Design, with the terrible web site. [http] Also appears that Synergy is the sole vendor and technical support provider for Bitmanagement Software GmbH in the US. [govtribe.com]

    The conclusion I come to is that Synergy fucked over Bitmanagement somehow, and the Navy is being held in.

    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

      arf arf. But seriously, almost 600,000 copies of a piece of software when the Department of the Navy has fewer official user workstations than that...much fewer. That's Army level of personnel, not Navy.

      You cannot sue a government contractor for patent or copyright infringement separately and apart from the relevant government department or agency running the contract. 28 USC 1498 [cornell.edu] requires that you sue the government for the contractor's infringement of any copyright, such as in this case.

      The Department of

      • Re:Fishy case (Score:4, Informative)

        by HBI ( 604924 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @04:41PM (#52549809) Journal

        OK, I know this business, and I can tell you that the contractors supporting the system are doing so with minimum personnel, so that can't be it. Maximum of 500 people involved in dev and support, and probably less. The system itself is not useful to a general purpose user. Let's assume 50,000 people ever touch it, that's probably a generous estimate. I imagine if we saw their usage data, it would be in the four figures, not six.

        • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

          Well, the neat thing is that they claim to have have an email from NAVFAC Deputy Program Manager Alexandre Viana with a deployment schedule for installation onto 558,466 Navy computers.

          Either they have that email or they don't. Unless you have personal knowledge of this deal or could be qualified as an expert by a party with the approval of the court, your estimate is, frankly, meaningless.

          • by HBI ( 604924 )

            Are you this much of a douche normally? Friends might be hard to come by, if so.

            It's my business and I know how such projects are run. I stand by the small numbers. Their letter is assuredly not representative of the actual number of clients installed.

            • by Ultra64 ( 318705 )

              You're the one being a douche here.

            • by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @07:58AM (#52553255)

              Yes, in these situations, I am this much of a douche.

              If you'd bothered to read the complaint, Bitmanagement cites a specific email sent on a specific date by a specific NAVFAC employee with a specific document allegedly planning for deployment of the software onto a specific number of computers.

              Your first post in this chain demonstrates that you are not familiar with the Navy program, not familiar with the contractor(s) involved, and for some reason assume that contractors would only include software technical support rather than, say, the engineering services, construction services, and other services that would be incolved in assessing and repairing all that infrastructure.

              Then you double down and announce "OK, I know this business," which you clearly do not, and pull some numbers out of your nether regions that we should totally trust. You know better than the plantiff, who merely developed the software and was negotiating the agreement with the Navy. You also know better than the people who actually read the complaint and know that, no matter what, you do not make material misstatements of fact in documents that you submit to a Federal judge.

              Finally, when it's pointed out to you that the complaint identifies a specific basis for the numbers used, you announce "It's my business and I know how such projects are run" and
              I stand by the small numbers." You demonstrably do not know how this project is deployed and run, and your pseudononymous, fact-free postings do not "stand[] behind your numbers." I could create another Slashdot pseudonym tomorrow and then stand behind a claim that there are actually only 20 million people on the entire Earth. Neither the identify nor the self-declared expertise are verifiable, so there is nothing standing behind those posts.

              You are an uninformed blow-hard helicoptering into a dispute that will be resolved in a U.S. Federal Court based upon actual evidence. Yes, your estimate is meaningless, and I don't feel remotely "douchy" for pointing that out.

        • OK, I know this business, and I can tell you that the contractors supporting the system are doing so with minimum personnel, so that can't be it. Maximum of 500 people involved in dev and support, and probably less. The system itself is not useful to a general purpose user. Let's assume 50,000 people ever touch it, that's probably a generous estimate. I imagine if we saw their usage data, it would be in the four figures, not six.

          LOL, no. The minimum personnel is only used when the money begins to dry. Contractors will attempt to put as many bodies as possible and rake the hours. I've been in this business, too, and I've seen this unfold (with predictable results, mind you.)

          • by HBI ( 604924 )

            To risk revealing who I work for, this software is in PPSS, which tells me that the money has indeed dried up. The dump trucks of cash are in the PDSS phase.

  • The government should be required to only use open source software.

  • I understand that this is about the Navy who is actually capable of piracy.
    Reading further however makes it clear that it's just another case of copyright infringement.
    Piracy is, in fact, an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea.

    https://www.gnu.org/philosophy... [gnu.org]
    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/... [findlaw.com]

  • Avast, we be no pirates. Make the lubbers walk the plank!

  • "It's better to be a pirate, than join the Navy."

    And now we can do both!

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