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Micro Focus seeks $10 million from Australian police for pirated software

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It’s a riddle for the age of Internet copyright infringement: Who prosecutes software pirates when cops pirate software?

U.K. software company Micro Focus has accused the New South Wales, Australia, police department of not only pirated their software for the past decade, but also refusing to settle once caught. Instead, the company claims, police pirated different Mirco Focus software to replace it.

Micro Focus is reportedly seeking at least $10 million in damages.

The alleged scandal came to the software company’s attention in Aug. 2010, when someone in the police Ombudsman’s office asked a Micro Focus employee for help with ViewNow software, a program used to manage a massive database of police records. The Micro Focus employee was aware of the limited number of ViewNow licenses purchased by NSW police, however, and that it didn’t extend to the Ombudsman’s office.

An Australian Federal Court later ruled against the Ombudsman’s office claims that they should be exempt from paying for the software license.

A Micro Focus employee reportedly claimed that in response to reminding a police officer that the NSW department had only paid for 6,500 licenses, the officer responded “Oh, fuck. We’ve rolled out 16,000 devices.”

The company previously settled a similar case involving both the Department of Correctives and the Police Integrity commissioner.

"When someone pirates your software, you think who am I going to call, the police?" asked Bruce Craig, the managing director of Micro Focus Australasian.

"In this case, they're the pirates."

Craig claims that upon learning about the lawsuit, the police began uninstalling Micro Focus software. He claims that the NSW police installed a pirated applet by the software company NetManage in ViewNow’s place.

NetManage was acquired by Micro Focus in 2008.

The police, however, say they at least didn’t pirate the NetManage software.

“NSW Police denies these fresh claims in relation to the NetManage Applet and will vigorously contest the matter," the police said in a statement.

Photo by vincegiantesano