back to article Navy STEALS? US sailors dispute piracy claim

The US Navy is hitting back at the allegations it illegally copied more than a half-billion dollars worth of software. The military branch has filed a response [PDF] to the copyright infringement claims filed earlier this year by German developer Bitmanagement. Those claims accuse the Navy of paying for just 38 licenses of …


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  1. Youngone Silver badge

    I must be missing something

    Either this is being poorly reported, or I am missing something.

    The US Navy purchased 38 licenses and installed the software on hundreds of thousands of machines.

    They are now claiming they are allowed to do this under the terms of the license.

    Shirley they can point to the license clause that spells this out, but if they can, then why are they in court?

    Something weird is happening here.

    1. goldcd

      The reporting sounds fine.

      1) The Navy bought licenses to install on 38 machines

      2) The Navy asked the publisher to remove the per-machine restriction on the software

      (and I can see why they might, key validation in the middle of a war is possibly an unnecessary risk).

      3) The publisher did remove the restriction at the Navy's request.

      4) The Navy then distributed the software over a ~bazillion machines, once the restriction had been removed.

      5) It all seems to pivot (unless a license agreement can be produced by the Navy) on their ability to install this software on anything they wanted being synonymous with their legal right to install it on anything they wanted.

    2. elf25s

      Re: I must be missing something

      if you wish try looking it up on torrent freak its a little more detailed

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: I must be missing something

        The Navy bought 38 licenses but denies that a license was required to install it on others. One might wonder why a license was required for those particular machines and not for others, or why there was a license in the first place. Nevertheless the argument is a common one in the, so called, world of piracy, though I wouldn't have thought the Navy was of that persuasion.

    3. Mark 65

      Re: I must be missing something

      They are claiming they bought 38 "concurrent use" licenses. Mathworks offers similar licensing for their products. What it essentially means is that you can install it on a potentially unlimited number of machines but that only 38 instances of the software could be used at once (across the US Navy). Usually this sort of thing is managed by a Flex license manager. Another similar type of license is the "network named user" license. This also enables the product to be installed in many more locations but is then only usable by specific named users (specifically their network logon). Concurrent usage licenses are normally pretty expensive compared to single-seat.

      As the OP states, if they bought concurrent then the vendor is fvcked and if not then the Navy is instead.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: I must be missing something

        sounds to me like the Navy confused

        "we have disabled Licence protection for ease of installation and use"


        "Do whatever the hell you want"

      2. littlejohnny

        Re: if they bought concurrent

        One is left to puzzle why the USN bothered to install it on hundreds of thousands of systems when only 38 licenses can be used simultaneously. That would be a ratio in the range 1:10000. Maybe the brave sailors have put a very sophisticated license usage tracking system in place but its details are classified. It will work on land and sea, use the battlefield networking capabilities, etc. Or the names of the "named users" cannot be revealed for national security reasons. All what is needed is a good lawyer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: if they bought concurrent

          Obviously it was put into their standard install image. That would make sense even if only 5% of their users might want to use it, as long as it isn't a large application. Maybe it is something that those who might use it would only use occasionally.

        2. Mark 65

          Re: if they bought concurrent

          Maybe the brave sailors have put a very sophisticated license usage tracking system in place

          Concurrent licenses are normally "checked out" and "checked in" by the application against the license manager (Flex etc).

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. tapemonkey

      Re: I must be missing something

      And don't call me Shirley

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It may be more detailed but it doesn't paint a better picture of the USN's behaviour other than to allege that the duplication was permitted while negotiations for additional licences were ongoing - licences which they didn't end up buying. You also know the government's run out of decent arguments when it trots out sovereign immunity as a possible defence.

  3. veti Silver badge

    The government also adds that as a German corporation, Bitmanagement’s claim “may be jurisdictionally” barred by 28 U.S.C. § 2502(a), but it doesn’t stop there.

    “To the extent that Plaintiff’s claims are premised on ‘willful infringement’ or any other basis beyond the scope of 28 U.S.C. § 1498(b)…Plaintiff’s claims are barred by sovereign immunity,” it adds.

    Wow. In other words, the navy is actively trying to burn its boats, no pun intended, and close off any option it may want to exercise in future to buy software from any foreign provider.

    That's ... sane.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lawyer normal

      No, this is perfectly normal lawyer logic. A lawyer will argue simultaneously that (a) my client didn't do it, (b) nobody saw him and (c) you can't prove a damn thing. And neither (b) nor (c) is considered in any way an admission that (a) is untrue.

      In other words, lawyers are weird.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Lawyer normal

        "neither (b) nor (c) is considered in any way an admission that (a) is untrue."

        That's accepted. But falling back on "We're the Gubbinment, we don't have to pay" as your (c) is tantamount to saying "Remove my credit rating for all future deals".

      2. nichomach

        Re: Lawyer normal

        1. There were no cabbages.

        2. If there were cabbages, they were not eaten.

        3. If they were eaten, they were not eaten by a goat.

        4. If they were eaten by a goat, they were not eaten by MY goat.

        5. If they WERE eaten by my goat, my goat was insane.

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      Thinking of the WTO

      As a signatory to the Berne Convention, the US government is responsible for not having any laws that allow any body, public or private, to rip off the copyright of anyone from outside their country.

      That should in theory mean that if the court finds against the complainant, they'll be able to take it to the WTO and get a judgement against the US. The way that works is that they can then ignore copyright of anybody the hell they like from the US to the value of the debt.

      What would be really cool would be for them to decide to make fully legal clones of MacOS or iOS devices.

  4. fidodogbreath
    Big Brother

    As Josef Stalin might say

    "How many divisions does Bitmanagement have?"

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    They won't win.

    Uncle Sam never loses the war. Ok, they always seem to arrive on the scene a tad late but they don't lose (apart from that little thing in S.E Asia) especially in the courtoom.

    Good luck to this German company selling any more licenses in the USA not that Drump is (almost) in charge. He'll make America great again by mandating that the US Armed Services buy only from US Companies and that even the $1000 hammer must be made by his blue collar pals, sorry voters.

    That US Debt display in NYC is gonna need a few more digits before the end of the Drump term in the White House.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They won't win.

      Allegedly Trump knows some guys that have a special deal on concrete. Perfect for a contact to build a very long wall of sub-standard crap. (or indeed any future infra-structure in the USA)

      1. SeymourHolz


        MOAR SALT

    2. Hollerithevo

      Re: They won't win.

      And the beauty is: once the American companies win the contacts and fulfill, they'll get ten cents on the dollar for their pains. It's the (heavily documented) Trump way.

    3. JohnG

      Re: They won't win.

      Given that the USA is generally the instigator of tighter intellectual property legislation/treaties/rules and enjoys significant income from the export of software and related services, this doesn't look like a winning strategy for the USA. They already lost the battle about the resale of secondhand software licenses in the EU - allowing Europeans to legitimately buy MS Office Professional Plus 2016 for £20 or less.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We'll one answer.... service pack make each install require a unique license number after 180 days key obtained over the phone, in German.

    1. hplasm

      Re: We'll one answer....

      ...And remove Germany from the Geomaps, just in case...the USN have any idea where it is...

  7. chivo243 Silver badge

    Haarr! They're the same matey!

    Navy? Pirates? One is sanctioned, one is not...

    1. mics39

      Re: Haarr! They're the same matey!

      You can bet some bigoted judge in a dusty Texas town will rule in favour of US Navy.

      Vietnam has shown the world that US military lies, rapes, pillages and massacres as well as any other force out there.

  8. Cynical Observer

    Typical military procurement - paying over the odds!

    If the Navy is correct someone is going to get chewed out for spend 38 times more on software than they needed to.

    After all, one unrestricted copy is only 6 steps away from having at least the 38 that they paid for.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now I get it

    Lauri Love can prove "concurrent use" over the licensed number of seats so he needs to be silenced (how else could the software house know about it?).

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