The US government is set to wipe a big heaping portion of egg off of its face today, after it was discovered that for several years, the military has been using pirated software, skipping out on over a quarter billion dollars worth of licensing fees. To make the problem go away, the Obama administration has agreed to pay $50 million in compensation.
The licensing company in question, was Apptricity, a producer of warehouse managing and logistics software, which in 2004 signed a deal with the US army to provide it with software to manage supply and troop movements. The programs in question have ultimately been used all over the world, coordinating everything from mundane supply distribution, to critical missions where lives are at stake.
However, it’s been used far more than the original licensing deal gave permission for. While Apptricity licensed its use on five servers and 150 individual devices, the US army went ahead and installed it on thousands. The total? 93 servers and 9,000 standalone devices – a few more than the original deal allowed.
Well if the pirate hat fits… Source: ISAF
Understandably wanting what it was owed, Apptricity then sued the US government in the court of federal claims, accusing it of wilful copyright infringement. While it initially demanded almost $225 million to compensate for the used licenses, it eventually settled for a $50 million payout. Perhaps to maintain a good relationship with a very lucrative customer, even if said customer does appear to have no problem breaking licensing agreements that it expects everyone else to keep to.
As Torrentfreak points out, this is particularly embarrassing for the US, as vice president Joe Biden said not too long ago, that piracy was “theft, clean and simple,” and the US has of course had a big hand in influencing worldwide policy on piracy. It recently pushed for tighter controls and blocks to be set up in Switzerland, by leaning on local government. It also had a big hand in the detaining and subsequent fiasco that has been the Kim Dotcom trial, which is still pending, despite it being nearly two years since the Megaupload founder’s home was raided.
However this sort of hypocrisy has become all too common with the US government as of late. A quick look at its handling of drugs laws will show a similar story. While for many years it has continued to push harsher crackdowns across the world, within its own borders legalisation movements blossomed and ended up with Cannabis being made available recreationally in two states. Similarly medical laws are rampant, despite the government still not legitimising any of it.
KitGuru Says: I vote the US government have its internet connection severed. Clearly it’s a serial pirate. No? Ok let’s use three strikes program. Someone send Obama a letter telling him to stop downloading copyright protected material or we’ll throttle his connection.