back to article How's this for irony? US Navy hit with $600m software piracy claim

A German software developer has accused the United States Navy of illegally copying $596m worth of its product. Bitmanagement Software GmbH claims that the Navy has copied "hundreds of thousands" of copies of its 3D modeling and tracking software BS Contact Geo without paying. They have filed suit [PDF] in the US Court of …

  1. Grade%
    Trollface

    Yada yada, manifest destiny, eminent domain.

    You know, we have big, er, lawyers, hah, that will re-write the law. Now, there's a good German, run along now. Oh, and WWII, Hitler.

  2. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: Article picture

    Should have just added a pirate flag to this:

    http://www.charterworld.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/USCG-Eagle-Photo-Credit-United-States-Coast-Guard-650x436.jpg

  3. TonyJ Silver badge

    Re: Yada yada, manifest destiny, eminent domain.

    "...You know, we have big, er, lawyers, hah, that will re-write the law. Now, there's a good German, run along now. Oh, and WWII, Hitler..."

    Christ on a bike. Godwin's Law on the very first comment!

  4. Tam Lin

    Re: Yada yada, manifest destiny, eminent domain.

    Extrapolating my limited US Navy experience, there's at least one 2-star+ General/Admiral (retired, or if active, his or her brother-in-law) that has billed (and been paid by) the US Government for the $600m plus up to the usual 400% markup. Plus labour. And insisted that the contract be signed at their daughter's $90 prix fixe clapboard waffle house restaurant.

    But $1 - $3 billion is still way cheaper than any of the many failed Navy software projects. My favourite bit is how the projects always move to and restart from scratch in different colour states/bases depending on which party is in power. If the palace guards don't miscount votes properly and declare Trump emperor, a lot of free-8-year-project-extention cards are going to fail to auto-renew (not that Clinton wouldn't renew them for a cut).

  5. Grade%

    Re: Yada yada, manifest destiny, eminent domain.

    "Christ on a bike. Godwin's Law on the very first comment!"

    Have an upvote sir! That of course was the meta joke, um, lol.

  6. mhenriday
    Boffin

    Re: Yada yada, manifest destiny, eminent domain.

    «Godwin's Law on the very first comment!» You seem to have missed the not irrelevant point, TonyJ, that the OP, Grade%, was not him or herself comparing anybody to Herr Hitler, merely surmising what the US Navy was likely to say when caught with its collective pants down....

    Henri

  7. el_oscuro

    Re: Article picture

    That's one thing El Reg needs, the ability to upload a picture like ARS has.

  8. ecofeco Silver badge

    Re: Yada yada, manifest destiny, eminent domain.

    Damn Tam. Holy shit!

  9. tom dial Silver badge

    This should be interesting. Back before I retired and left all the BS behind, we had an IBM audit that, as I recall it, uncovered a moderate number of violations. The agency where I worked was fairly careful, but hadn't locked down all the desktops and install disks to ensure against license misbehavior. On the other hand, the Navy had engaged in a many year, many billion dollar network security initiative with EDS to secure their network, an exercise that I vaguely recall went years and billions over, and drove those who needed to interface with their systems a bit nuts. It was close to impossible to get arrangements in place to transfer data in or out of their network; in the light of this suit, it's tempting to think that might have been intended to keep others from knowing what went on inside.

  10. ecofeco Silver badge

    Holy shit. This plus Tam's post paints a very revealing picture.

    Son of a bitch! I knew it was bad but not this bad.

    Goddamnit!

  11. chris 17

    @ tom dial

    whilst i have no dealings with the situation, i can assure you that the work was carried out entirely to keep others from knowing what went on inside.

  12. Pliny the Whiner

    Bend over and think of England. Or Trump. Okay, let's make it Trump

    So, Bitmanagement Software Goombah dropped their pants and got buggered. By the Navy. Yeah, who would've seen that one coming.

    If the goddamned Germans would just pay attention to stereotypes, these types of things would never happen.

  13. Archtech Silver badge

    Re: Bend over and think of England. Or Trump. Okay, let's make it Trump

    They shouldn't complain - at least they escaped rum and the lash.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Bend over and think of England. Or Trump. Okay, let's make it Trump

    "at least they escaped rum and the lash."

    But - but - that is the best bit?

  15. JLV Silver badge
    Joke

    Re: Bend over and think of England. Or Trump. Okay, let's make it Trump

    >best bit?

    Nah, that's the sodomy bit.

  16. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Pirate

    So how do they know this number?

    That's an awful precise count of installs. Does their software phone home? Even from classified networks?

    Edit: the Navy deputy program manager emailed them the number of installs. Ouch.

  17. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Navy deputy program manager emailed them

    haha , wonder what that'll so for his career.

  18. Kumar2012

    Re: So how do they know this number?

    "Edit: the Navy deputy program manager emailed them the number of installs. Ouch."

    Obviously he needed a sit down chat with Hillary on the proper usage of email ;)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yikes!

    Looks like our friends over at JAG have got their work cut out with this one.

    Hope they are able to fix this!

  20. Mephistro Silver badge
    Devil

    Re: Yikes!

    "Looks like our friends over at JAG have got their work cut out with this one."

    Yes, they're sending a commando force to Germany! To investigate the matter, honest, Guv.!

  21. NotBob

    Re: Yikes!

    Maybe they'll bring it back for another season

  22. JakeMS Silver badge

    Re: Yikes!

    The TV series was awesome, but alas, Don decided to move on to the much more popular NCIS instead.

    But JAG (and NCIS) are very much real things. Granted Don changed them a bit for entertainment purposes, but they do exist.

  23. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Oh goodie.... more grist for the election mills... Let's see.. Obama will get blamed. The Dems will blame it on the Republicans in Congress, and so on, so forth... ad nauseum. Personally... I think the government ought to just cut them a check and say "oops, our lousy post office didn't deliver the bill".

  24. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    In the best of hands?

    What else are the ferals mucking up because they can not conveniently keep proper records?

  25. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

    Number of installs?

    Weird. From the USN currently has only 330,000 personnel (plus about 100,000 reservists). I wouldn't have thought that they all needed a computer, nor that they'd all need such software installed. Even taking into account servers and specialist application workstations and so forth I wouldn't have thought there would be 500,000+ computers in total.

    Unless it was included in a group deployment package or something?

  26. stanimir

    Re: Number of installs?

    Desktop at work, laptop at home/on the go - I'd imagine this could be fairly spread.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Number of installs?

    Contractors working on Navy projects will get a Navy imaged laptop. I had a DoD imaged laptop when I did a contract for them.

  28. tom dial Silver badge

    Re: Number of installs?

    Anyone with a requirement for NIPRNET access (pretty much everyone) would have a computer for that. That would include quite a few civilian employees in addition to active duty Navy and possibly Marine Corps personnel. Reserve military personnel with a training requirement have .mil email addresses, but do not necessarily have computers, although reserve centers would have a fair number scattered about, as do ships and other installations.

    Anyone with SIPRNET access would have a second computer for that.

    The nearly 560K computers probably is less that the total Navy inventory, maybe by quite a lot.

  29. DougS Silver badge

    Was this a mistake, or are all personnel actually using it?

    I'm not sure what the law says about the distinction, but if for example by mistake Adobe Acrobat was added to every laptop in a large organization, when the intent was to provide them Adobe Reader and only graphics design department actually used Acrobat I would hope they couldn't be found liable for the full whack due to a mistake from a low level flunky.

    Obviously the $600m bill is just the starting point in negotiations, and if they didn't intend to put on everyone's image they'll remove it from those who don't need it and negotiate for the what they really owe plus some damages for installing it more widely for a time. Or if they do all use it hopefully they can get a volume discount, what with a half a million installs and all...

  30. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: Was this a mistake, or are all personnel actually using it?

    "a volume discount, what with a half a million installs and all..."

    That was probably the original intention, but since they didn't pay even that, good will goes out the window. I'm surprised the starting sum wasn't at least double. A US company would certainly be asking for a hell of a lot more as a starting sum for negotiations, eg compensation, willfull act etc. More than likely the USN will end up paying the original volume licence price plus a little something extra for the cockup.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple. Open negotiations with something like "Withdraw your suit and we'll talk enterprise licensing..." That should cut the cost to just a few mil...pocket change to the Navy.

  32. Ian Emery Silver badge

    $500 million IS small change, it is barely enough to buy a box of DoD approved hammers.

  33. TRT Silver badge

    But the political fallout...

  34. TheProf
    Joke

    "DoD approved hammers."

    Are they like NASA hammers? Normal hammers but with a wrist strap and rope snap.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: DOD Approved Hammers

    The Navy has their own special hammers. they are stainless steel, so they don't rust from all the water, and like NASA hammers they have the wrist strap and rope so you don't drop it over the side of the boat, and of coarse cost more and NASA hammers, because you know rust and stuff.

  36. Midnight

    Re: RE: DOD Approved Hammers

    "...and of course cost more and NASA hammers..."

    ...because NASA is just a bunch of fly boys, and the Navy needs to have better hammers than the Air Force. If they didn't... then... Well, the Russians would just come in and take over with their superior hammers.

    Er... Wait. It's not the Russians now? Well, then who's the real enemy the Navy is fighting against today? Beside the Army and Air Force, of course.

  37. ecofeco Silver badge

    $500 million IS small change, it is barely enough to buy a box of DoD approved hammers

    Or toilet seats.

  38. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  39. Baldy50

    'The United States Government has been an active participant in protecting the rights of copyright owners. When the Business Software Alliance (BSA) conducts a raid, Federal Marshals or local law enforcement officers also participate. Federal Judges have shown their intolerance of copyright violators by handling down increasingly large damage awards against infringer’s.'

    'United States law prohibits duplicating software for profit, making multiple copies for use by different users within an organization, and giving an unauthorized copy to another individual. If caught with pirated software, you or your company may be tried under both civil and criminal law.'

    'A civil action may be instituted for injunction, actual damages (including infringer's profits), or statutory damages up to $100,000 per infringement. Criminal penalties for copyright infringement include fines up to $250,000 and jail terms up to five years, or both.'

  40. John McCallum
    Mushroom

    @ Baldy50

    So? Who gets the fine and who gets the invite to Leavenworth?

  41. Sir Barry

    Argh

    thar be pirates...

    Time to send in the Ninjas

  42. Michael Strorm

    Re: Argh

    Did they distribute the pirated software via DVD-ARRRRRRRRRR?

  43. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Devil

    Re: Argh

    Did they distribute the pirated software via DVD-ARRRRRRRRRR?

    A torrent on TOR.

  44. ecofeco Silver badge

    Re: Argh

    A torrent on TOR.

    By the sea shore.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An upvote...

    purely for the use of Playmobil

  46. BoldMan
    Coat

    WTF is a 3D meeting? Do you mean all these boring meetign I've been sitting through for years have been in 2D? No wonder I felt a bit flat through them...

  47. Cynical Observer

    @BoldMan

    Clearly a 3D meeting is one where time stands still - one of those meetings that seems interminably long, with pointless points on the agenda agenda and lots of AOB - Any old Bollocks?

  48. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Fourth Dimension...

    "Clearly a 3D meeting is one where time stands still - one of those meetings that seems interminably long, with pointless points on the agenda agenda and lots of AOB - Any old Bollocks?"

    - That's all office meetings that I can remember, even the teleconferenced ones. Vitally important to include the fourth dimension.

    Better still invite participants from all dimension, hopefully some of them are brain-suckers or soul-suckers, it'd be a relief (actually I usually feel sucked dry after some meetings, so maybe that already happens).

    Damnit, now I thinking of Sapphire and Steel and the original Time Machine Movie....

  49. BoldMan

    Re: Fourth Dimension...

    All irregularities will be handled by the forces controlling each dimension. Transuranic heavy elements may not be used where there is life. Medium atomic weights are available: Gold, Lead, Copper, Jet, Diamond, Radium, Sapphire, Silver and Steel. Sapphire and Steel have been assigned.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Fourth Dimension...

    "Better still invite participants from all dimensions, hopefully some of them are brain-suckers or soul-suckers"

    I invited a bunch of people from The Fifth Dimension for that reason, but it turned out they were soul singers...

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