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.

    1. 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

      1. el_oscuro

        Re: Article picture

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

    2. 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!

      1. 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.

      2. 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

    3. 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).

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Yada yada, manifest destiny, eminent domain.

        Damn Tam. Holy shit!

  2. 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.

    1. 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!

    2. chris 17 Silver badge

      @ 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Navy deputy program manager emailed them

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

    2. 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 ;)

  5. 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!

    1. 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.!

    2. NotBob

      Re: Yikes!

      Maybe they'll bring it back for another season

      1. JakeMS

        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.

  6. 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".

  7. 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?

  8. GrumpyKiwi

    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?

    1. stanimir

      Re: Number of installs?

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

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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...

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

      1. TRT Silver badge

        But the political fallout...

      2. TheProf Silver badge
        Joke

        "DoD approved hammers."

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

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

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

        Or toilet seats.

  11. 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.'

    1. John McCallum
      Mushroom

      @ Baldy50

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

  12. Sir Barry

    Argh

    thar be pirates...

    Time to send in the Ninjas

    1. Michael Strorm

      Re: Argh

      Did they distribute the pirated software via DVD-ARRRRRRRRRR?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Argh

        Did they distribute the pirated software via DVD-ARRRRRRRRRR?

        A torrent on TOR.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Argh

          A torrent on TOR.

          By the sea shore.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An upvote...

    purely for the use of Playmobil

  14. 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...

    1. 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?

      1. 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....

        1. 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.

        2. 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...

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      3D is so last century.

      4D is all the rage now. Time goes backwards.

    3. cray74

      3D Meetings in a Power Point World?

      WTF is a 3D meeting? Do you mean all these boring meetign I've been sitting through for years have been in 2D?

      I'm sure a lot of US Navy personnel can ask that, as can victims of their meetings. Unless something's changed radically in the past 3-4 years the Navy (and rest of DoD) liked their meeting presentations in Power Point (or .pdf slideshows converted from Power Point). And they liked many other things in Power Point, including engineering and progress reports that never belonged in such formats.

      So even if the Navy has enough computers to put 558,466 copies of this software on - I saw the posts about the number of personnel and users of Navy computers - I have trouble believing there's so many copies in use. Or if the users are even aware it exists on their computers.

      Though, to rebut myself, my employer is always trying to roll out trendy new collaborative tools like TV told them cool Millennials are using: wikis, sharepoints, chat rooms, forums, etc. All the engineers just keep using email and phone calls, and probably couldn't name half the communication tools that've been installed in the past five years.

  15. TeeCee Gold badge
    Headmaster

    Piracy?

    As they are a government fleet, surely they're privateers, not pirates?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Piracy?

      That depends on the point of view, doesn't it?

      (Think "Sir Francis Drake seen through the eyes of the captain of a Spanish ship".)

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Piracy?

      With letters of Marque.

  16. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Bitmanagement Software GmbH - "That wasn't the deal!"

    US Navy - "I'm altering the deal - pray I don't alter it further"

  17. Gert Leboski

    Double standards.

    The septics will get away with this, just by bullying their way through. As always. >:(

  18. Sir Barry

    Just had a thought

    When their fleet is at sea and they run out of supplies do they go to The Pirate Bay?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Just had a thought

      Nah, they go to

      E(quipment)Bay

  19. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Do you think the price has suddenly gone up now that there are half a million installs in place?

    The "negotiations" are gonna get a lot tougher!

  20. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Scrivens! We be hoist on our own yardarm!

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      ...said Cpt Petard.

  21. weevil

    Someone is going to get a very belated, but very substantial commission from this....

  22. inmypjs Silver badge

    "least 558,466 machines"

    Errm the font of all knowledge (wikipedia) tells me the US Navy doesn't quite have 500,000 staff and 1/4 of those are reservists.

    1. Geoffrey W

      Re: "least 558,466 machines"

      Already answered by previous comments - Multiple machines for staff and sub contractors receiving DOD imaged machines...reading before posting is so passe'

      Oh, and the number of installs came directly from the navy. Awesome!

  23. 404

    LMFAO!

    'During that time, Bitmanagement says it disabled the copy-protection software on BS Geo at the Navy's request.'

    Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahaaaaahahahahahahaha!!! <cough cough ackkk>

    WTF did Bitmanagement think was going to happen? The US Navy, just like every other organization, have these animated two-legged noisy things called 'humans', and they do stuff like that. All the time.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: LMFAO!

      Indeed. What the hell were they thinking ?

      "Hello, could you please deactivate your protection for the trial ?"

      "But of course, right away" replied no salesperson ever. Deactivate protection ? WHY ? Pay the licenses, you'll have the app and it will be legally protected.

      I would have liked to be a fly on the wall of that meeting.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LMFAO!

      "WTF did Bitmanagement think was going to happen?"

      My guess is that they knew the risk and that there was a fairly good chance that this would happen- but they also knew that if it did, they could (and would) be able to sue the Navy up the wazoo for a nice fat payout.

  24. Howard Hanek
    Pirate

    Privateers

    ...they had US Government Letters of Mark

    1. nematoad Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Privateers

      "...they had US Government Letters of Mark"

      And Reprisal, which is exactly what this law suit is.

  25. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Better supply a new presidential candidate with that bill

    The US of Trump will declare bankruptcy, settle for an undisclosed amount, counter sue for defamation, then hire a ghostwriter for a book about defeating Germany.

  26. TerryFromCanada

    ummmm....

    Doesn't the Navy HANG pirates....?

  27. Great Southern Land

    History repeats itself

    They should have done their research before selling software to the US Government. Anyone remember the INSLAW affair? Another example of the US Govt stealing software it liked

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