back to article Yorkshire cops accused of copyright theft

Police in West Yorkshire are facing High Court accusations they illegally cribbed and sold copyright data from a commercial mobile phone forensics application. Kent-based Forensic Telecommunications Services (FTS) is demanding up to £50,000 from the force for allegedly using material from its software, Hex. The package helps …

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Title goes here: Yay!

Green Dam anyone?

Sound familiar?

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Anonymous Coward

Defence

West Yorkshire police's 'defence' will probably be to wade in with batons swinging, clubbing at all and sundry, whilst hoping none of it is captured on video....

...or is it just the Met that does that?

AC, for obvious reasons...

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WTF?

Whever happened to Police work?

"developed by Steven Hirst, a serving detective constable"

Shouldn't he have been solving crimes instead of writing software?

What's the story with the police these days?

I mean if they aren't pushing innocent people to the ground (and killing them) then they're writing software or planting evidence.

Get out and solve some crimes you twats.

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Coat

Easter egg copied = smoking gun attack

"The claim alleges that CLiVE contained a "tell-tale sign of copying". Errors from a Hex PM Abs table were reproduced in CLiVE's own map to the useful information contained in raw hexidecimal data, it said"

AKA the "smoking gun attack", in software copyright infringement cases.

I.e. the wholesome copying of code (in whichever form) *including* easter eggs.

= superficially (the newsbite is fairly insubstantial), looks like WYP haven't got a leg to stand on this, in view of UK case law in such matters.

Mine's the one with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 in the back pocket.

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FAIL

Found out !

Copying erroneous information is a sure giveaway of plagiarism. Hope they get the book thrown at them. Detectives should be familiar with this through TV's Columbo and the question of his first name:

http://www.columbo-site.freeuk.com/firstnamecourt.htm

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Bronze badge

Classic Deliberate Error

Whether the errors were a deliberate trap or an accident, I reckon they've caught a copyright pirate.

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Anonymous Coward

Do you know what else they do?

If they find any pirated (or legal) media be it films or music on a device it is quickly and gleefully copied for their own use.

Shhhhh, you didn't see me,right.

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Bronze badge
Pirate

You can't copyright facts

"using copyright data from Hex's manuals"

From the *manuals*, not the source code. AFAICT WYP have done no more than made use of a collection of factual information, albeit gathered and supplied by a third-party. Unless WYP were republishing the tables from the Hex manual themselves, I don't see how it's copyright infringement.

FTS could have claimed "Trade Secrets", which seems like it would be more appropriate in this case, but only if WYP (and their other customers) had been made to sign something acknowledging such.

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Hmm...

What's to bet that a whole bunch of pirate-bay supporting freetards are gonig to come out pro IP holders and anit Rozzers here?

(Incidentally, did you know that most quiz based games you can buy have diliberate errors so that they can tell if you copied them. As do OS maps, church with a steeple, where a church with a tower is, etc.)

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Troll

Also...

brilliant if the constable was found to have limewire.

Killing innocent bystanders and copyright infringement?

Tut tut...

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Hex???

*** OUT OF CHEESE ERROR ***

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It might be a common mistake.

Perhaps it was a common and easy to make mistake. You know, obvious but wrong. And 2 people made it.

Lightning does stike twice in the same place. (Especially when police are involved, it would seem).

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FAIL

Copyright on facts

@ Mel Collins:

No, you can't copyright facts, but you can copyright the _arrangement_ of facts. It's called 'database right' and applies to databases (Duh) including phone directories, and seems to be a no-brainer to apply to researched data like the tables at issue in this case. IANAL, of course!

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Unhappy

*sigh*

It isn't theft, as no doubt Plod will be keen to point out.

Even FTS refer to it by its correct name : "infringement".

This is not pedantry or cheap semantics. It's the law and it's that way for a good reason. A decent grasp of it may be useful if we are going to discuss these events sensibly.

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aml
Thumb Up

What's the problem?

Seems like the West Yorkshire police used information provided by FTS to produce their own software. No one owns the copyright on the location in memory of valuable data. If anyone has any claim it'd be the mobile phone operators calling it a trade secret.

Sounds like FTS has just been naive and thought the police wouldn't have the right or the inclination to use it in ways FTS hadn't considered. What they should have done is made all recipients agree to not reuse the information like this before shipping them the trial.

Very interested to see the result on this. I doubt FTS has a chance.

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I'm with the cops.

It seems likely the guy did indeed copy the data from the app but the real issue I have a problem with here is that I'm not convinced this is copyright infringement.

I disagree that it's copyright infringement because the idea that you can copyright a listing of memory addresses is frankly stupid as fuck.

I believe there are laws related to reverse engineering making it legal to reverse engineer for the purposes of academic research or for the purpose of producing a competing product. It is for example legal to reverse engineer a Microsoft product to figure out their network protocols or file formats. Does this apply directly? Not really, but it's fairly similar and I'd side with the cops.

Still, the upside is at least the police now are being given a lesson in how idiotic copyright law is, maybe they'll care less about enforcing it... if only.

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RE: *sigh*

While you are correct in your statement -- you do not share your opinion with organisations like FACT who seem to think that "Privacy is Theft". Organisations, I might add, who have the support of the police when carrying out raids on "thieves".

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Anonymous Coward

Music

And was this the police force that wouldn't pay for a PRS licence for the radio in their canteen?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm with the cops

Two things.

1. After being right royaly stitched up by the west yorkshire police I vowed that if I ever were on jury duty I'd find the defendent innocent no matter what evidence they came up with. However I've just realised this was a hasty decision that needs a qualifier which is "unless the defendent is the west yorkshire police" in which case I'd find them guilty.

2. They are not claiming copyright of a memory listing but of the tables used to interpret what the memory contents mean. Introducing deliberate errors into lookup tables is quite common, as an example it is employed in books of logarithm tables.

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Stop

The manual

is subject to copyright and the WYP 'infringed' that copyright.

We'll probably find that plod was just told to use the data in the manual because no-one will ever know, and anyway they brought the manual didn't they.

Anyone want to gamble on how many speeding tickets etc these guy get over the next few months?

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Pint

the idea that you can copyright (addresses) is stupid

O'Really?

Are you old enough to remember the case of the AA vs the Ordance Survey, settled ages ago (2001)?

Either way, you might want to read about it.

Copying information from the Ordance Survey's maps cost the AA £20million and a few other bits and pieces.

Now, whether the OS data should already be freely available is a different discussion, but currently it isn't, and currently the law says "no unauthorised copying".

Decent maps show where pubs are, hence the glass.

http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/media/news/2001/march/centrica.html

Meanwhile, as others have said, police employees who are paid to do front line police duties should ****ing do those duties, we hear enough complaints from their "management" that they don't have enough coppers on the beat, so wtf were this bloke's "superiors" up to? Either they knew he was working on this, in which case they are guilty of being accessories to the crime, or they didn't know he was doing this, in which case they are guilty of dereliction of duty.

Still, they'll sort it out down the Lodge, won't they.

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@Those who say it's not copyright because it's facts

The errors are not facts. The errors are essentially pieces of fiction. West Yorks Police allegedly copied the errors... therefore have copied intellectual property.

Unless you can show the errors to not be errors, but to be facts...

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Black Helicopters

@ Music - AC 15:34

WYP are tighter than a ducks arse.

I used to be a member of a voulunteer organisation that could be called upon by the police... When we were called by South Yorkhire... we were fed (very well I might add) and usually sent home with our petrol tanks topped up. At the expense of the rozzers.

when WYP called... nada.... zilch... nothing

AC for obvious reasons.

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Thumb Down

Par for the course...

Infringement. Copyright. Copying. Ho-hum. Whatever.

Bottom line = police = bent as a 9-bob note = business as usual.

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Big Brother

There's a deeper issue here....

While it's very nauhgty of Plod to have (allegedly) copied the hard work of someone else - is there a way of Hex/Clive proofing your mobile, or at least making the job difficult?

I've nothing to hide (except my ID on this post, naturally), but I'm getting tired of Plod being able to do what he/she likes under the guise of 'protecting' me.

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Anonymous Coward

Public office

Civil servants have a duty to not rip off UK industry, i.e. no nicking information or property that belongs to someone else. The police as public servants are similarly obliged. It's one thing to pinch a company's IP, but to sell it on behind their backs is a bit thick. Symptomatic of a corporate mindset that rather plods along. I'm surprised their front door hasn't been stoved in by the cops on a raid.

It's slightly unbelievable that WYP are so naive. Didn't they stop to think that if they touted mobile phone forensics software around what is surely a very select market place, the originator of parts of that software might just take a keen interest in it?

Finally, are we going to be treated to the sight of policemen being arrested and having their DNA placed on the national database, just in case they turn out to be murderers / rapists / kiddie fiddlers too? I'd buy tickets to watch that.

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Headmaster

"books of logarithm tables"

They have errors in them?

What would happen if someone designs a bridge, or a unclear reactor, or whatever based on the incorrect numbers? Surely that would be illegal and the police would have to investigate?

No, none of my log tables ever had errors in them. I checked.

Yours,

Frank Castle Fan

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Flame

No surprise from that bunch

Many moons ago I was a travel rep working in the french alpes.

We had a group of 9 all from yorkshire police come out but our records showed they had only pre bought 8 lift passes.

They insisted they had bought 9 so we supplied 9 whilst we checked with there travel agent and card payment etc. After all, they where police officers, they must be honest.

We had the evidence they only paid for 8 yet they refused point blank to pay for the ninth they hadnt ordered even when presented with there own handwritten booking form showing they only ordered 8.

Consequently that came from our pockets as we had to cover the payment to the lift pass office.

Bunch of thieving arseholes.

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FAIL

Mel is right

FTS is going far out on a limb trying to mount a case based on database rights. To quote OutLaw's article on database rights: 'In order for copyright protection to arise the selection and/or arrangement of the contents of the database must be original. A special test of originality applies in relation to databases created after 27 March 1996. Such databases are original "if, and only if, by reason of the selection or arrangement of the contents of the database the database constitutes the author's own intellectual creation".' I assume the Yorkies have rearranged the data a bit for their software.

OTOH, the contents of the database (which is what's really at stake here) are clearly Trade Secrets. This attempt to use Copyright instead suggests that FTS badly messed up the wording of their EULA.

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Joke

Nah then!

Izter awreet CLIVE?

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WTF?

info in manuals used- amazing

Why then did they publish if the information was not to be used? Why would I ever purchase a book- Let's say the CIA world fact-book - if i was not allowed to use the information it contained? Is it a catalog of information I may negotiate a license to use?

Now if they took copyrighted works and reproduced them, this I would understand. But if I referred to a standard manual of physics when writing an article on Plank's constant and it's implications to ultra-small integrated circuit design, and was then sued by the manual's copyright holder FOR PRINTING THE CONSTANT- this would be the same thing morally. Prehaps there are details left out of this article that would clarify the matter better. Can it be that such policies are a tad overboard?

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Stop

@Nah then

Dunt tha thee tha me.

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Grenade

@AC

//Civil servants have a duty to not rip off UK industry, i.e. no nicking information or property that belongs to someone else. The police as public servants are similarly obliged//

Civil Servants have a duty to protect the state and uphold the power the Monarchy, not quite the same as being whiter than white with business and citizens....

and for for West Yorkshire police vs The Met and their tactics.... I think the miners strike illustrated this! Back then (I still think its hods treu) All ranks in the Met wore White Shirts, and in the provences coppers wore blue and inspectors and above wore white. The TV footage shows that the most confrontational and aggressive actions were undertaken by the white shirted MEt who were bussed up to pits to sort out the locals. Much in the way that China ships in soldiers from other provences to qwell unrest, that way they have no affinety with or loyalty to the locals.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "books of logarithm tables"

Google: logarithm tables "deliberate errors"

with quotes.

Also may I just say in a constructive and helpful manner that if you checked every value in a book of logarithm tables you really should get out more.

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FAIL

Thick as two short ones?

@ Anonymous Coward 01:51 GMT

I think you'll find that's "Planck" and not "Plank". One was a distinguished physicist who was the father of quantum theory, the other is a piece of wood.

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I'll put it another way..

As some people don't seem to have the technical understanding to see what has been "copied" here I'll explain the issue differently.

The problem is that the data that this company has produced is effectively just a copy of the way the mobile phone works in the first place, that is, the phone must know what piece of memory is where to work with it. What this companies program does is store a record of what is where much like the phone must. So effectively this company is suggesting they have copyright on data that they've copied from the real original manufacturer through reverse engineering which is clearly nonsensical.

I do not believe errors are a sensible argument for original work or content else the music industry would be even more screwed than it is now in that you could claim an MP3 of a CD audio track isn't a copy of their material because it's a completely different set of binary data due to the MP3 encoding.

I'm not sure what the relevance of the OS maps case was, it's irrelevant as original material was copied in the OS map case, whilst the police have indeed copied original material here, they have copied it from a copier. This is akin to a pirate suing another pirate for downloading an MP3 off them on a P2P sharing site rather than the original producer of the music not caring at all.

Again a guilty verdict against the police in this case would effectively create a DMCA like atmosphere in the UK but without the provisions for acceptable reverse engineering (i.e. to create a competing product). You could not reverse engineer Exchange to produce an Exchange compatible competitor to Outlook for example, this is a bad thing.

We do not have software patents in Europe as in the US so simply copying a method for storing and reading memory references would also not have any standing in patent law.

Again I hope the police win, not because I support the police, but because I do not support the repeated flagrant abuses or attempts at abuse of copyright law by many companies, especially when as in this case, the companys product in question is based off the same sort of reverse engineering of another companys product that they're complaining about in the first place.

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Thumb Down

RE: Trade secrets?

I doubt they could go down the trade secret route in court when the information has been clearly published in the software's manual (and without a confidentiality agreement).

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Big Brother

Question to the people addressing the technical issue

The technical discussion of whether the information in question is actually copyrightable or not is genuinely interesting. However, If you are of the opinion that the police are legally at liberty to copy and sell on this data, please answer the following question:

Do you believe the cops made the decision to copy and sell on the data because they have the same understanding of the legal and technical issues as you do?

Or do you believe they sold on the data because they believe that they are the law and they can do what the hell they like without worrying about the consequences?

Copyright infringement isn't a particularly heinous outrage compared to beating and killing people or openly stealing cash from safety deposit boxes, after all. I would say the latter is far more likely, and that is why people are angry about this. The technical and legal argument is rather beside the point as far as what this story means for plebs like us.

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Go

@@ Nah then!

Sori me owd kok sparer.

Izter rapi wee that then?

Ah munt tha thee tha me but ah dunt no thi name so, tha noz, I ev ti tha thee that tween me an thee an t'otherz tha noz int ah?

Soni natewral t'int it?

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Grenade

plod are very bad at software copyright violation

having had quite a few friends in "the job" in the past, I recall they were all software "pirates" - most had "backup copies" of windows and office installed on their computers, even more senior officers who really should have known better.

posted anonymously for obvious reasons.

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Boffin

@Ian

"The problem is that the data that this company has produced is effectively just a copy of the way the mobile phone works in the first place, that is, the phone must know what piece of memory is where to work with it. What this companies program does is store a record of what is where much like the phone must. So effectively this company is suggesting they have copyright on data that they've copied from the real original manufacturer through reverse engineering which is clearly nonsensical."

Incorrect. The company has authored an original work (a data table) which, although 'functionally equivalent' to pre-existing data structures (in the phone), is not an identical (or substantially identical) expression of these pre-existing data structures.

Do not mix the field of patents (concerning itself with the function of data) with the field of copyright (concerning itself with the expression of data). Patents exist precisely because copyright is not suited to protect functional aspects of technology.

"I do not believe errors are a sensible argument for original work or content else the music industry would be even more screwed than it is now in that you could claim an MP3 of a CD audio track isn't a copy of their material because it's a completely different set of binary data due to the MP3 encoding"

Errors can be appreciated in a two-fold manner: either as bona fide mistakes, or as easter eggs deliberately planted in the work to catch infringers out (and of course, bona fide mistakes can double as involuntary easter eggs). Regardless, errors are part and parcel of the original work (the work, for copyright purposes, is just the expression, the function/merit/beauty/etc. of the work is entirely irrelevant).

With reference to the MP3/CD argument, a recording copyright applies to the sound recording, and the artist(s) also benefit from a performance copyright (besides many other types), both of which are at least present in any copy of the work, irrespectively of the medium on which it is stored. Don't matter how you arrange the 0s and 1s, they are always copies of these at least 2 works: whether playing a CD or an MP3, the song/instrumental is the same.

"I'm not sure what the relevance of the OS maps case was, it's irrelevant as original material was copied in the OS map case, whilst the police have indeed copied original material here, they have copied it from a copier. This is akin to a pirate suing another pirate for downloading an MP3 off them on a P2P sharing site rather than the original producer of the music not caring at all."

Again, incorrect. There is little doubt the company's data tables are original works, which therefore enjoy full copyright protection. Your argument would be correct IF the company's data tables were copies of mobile phone manufacturers data tables (not "data structures in memory").

Perhaps the phone manufacturers have such data tables (as part of R&D material). However, if the company has built its own data tables without sight of these, then the company's data tables are original and enjoy full copyright protection.

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