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Navy STEALS? US sailors dispute piracy claim

Brass says Bitmanagement case doesn't hold water

Ronnie Barker and Tenniel Evans in The Navy Lark

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 the BS Contact Geo mapping and tracking software, then after a short test period installing the tools on hundreds of thousands of Navy computers without paying. The tab for the software would add up to roughly $596m, with additional damages possible.

In its response, the Navy does not dispute that it only purchased 38 licenses for BS Contact Geo, or that it had asked the developer to deliberately disable the copy protection tools that prevent the software from being installed on other machines. But it says that those licenses allowed it to make the additional copies of the software without need for further payment.

"Defendant denies that the licenses were limited to installation of BS Contact Geo on a total of 38 Navy personal computers," the filing argues. "Defendant further avers that the Navy procured concurrent-use network-installation licenses of BS Contact Geo."

The Navy goes on to assert that because it had paid the reseller of BS Contact Geo for the software under the terms of its contract, it should not be on the hook for charges for the hundreds of thousands of copies it made.

The Navy lawyers also deny the claims by Bitmanagement that Navy officers were in talks with the company to purchase the licenses for more copies of the software – a claim that Bitmanagement says proved the Navy knew it did not have the rights to pass the software around to multiple machines.

Thus, the Navy concludes, it does not owe any additional payments to Bitmanagement for the software.

The case, Bitmanagement Software GMBH v United States, is being heard in the US Court of Federal Claims. ®

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