Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How unsurprising: Crooks even in the NSW Police "Integrity" branch

They admit to being in the wrong but think that they can bully their way out of paying what they owe

THEY are meant to serve and protect, but NSW Police has been hauled to court for alleged breach of software copyright. Similar accusations have been levelled against the Police Integrity Commission and NSW Ombudsman.

Mainframe software provider Micro Focus has launched proceedings against the trio in the Federal Court in Sydney, claiming the unauthorised use and distribution of its mainframe software, ViewNow.

The primary claim in the breach of copyright civil suit is against NSW Police, which Micro Focus claims, copied its software and handed it out to third party agencies without its approval. It had licences to install ViewNow on up to 6500 computers across its organisation but Micro Focus claims that 16,000 copies in total were in use.

According to the statement of claim file by Micro Focus, NSW Police is accused of making and distributing unauthorised copies of ViewNow, which is used to access the computerised operations policing system application, dubbed COPS.

COPS is essentially the mega police database that holds every morsel of operational information police officers require to do their jobs. This includes data on criminals, speeding tickets and warrants.

ViewNow is a mainframe terminal emulator that connects a user's PC with COPS. NSW Police has been using the software since 1998. Other agencies such as the NSW Roads and Transport Authority have licences to use ViewNow, as they would need to access certain information in COPS.

It is also claimed that police personally installed unauthorised copies of the software at the Police Integrity Commission, and provided the PIC with installation guidance for 47 computers, the document, served more than a week ago, said. In addition, NSW Police allegedly copied and distributed another Micro Focus software, called Rumba.

Micro Focus local chief Bruce Craig claimed the company had lost millions of dollars in licensing fees because of the alleged intellectual property infringement by NSW Police. Mr Craig said Micro Focus had entered into dialogue with NSW Police on several occasions to resolve the matter, but to no avail.

NSW Police did not comment on the claimed loss in licensing revenue, but said it acted in good faith to resolve a number of issues in relation to contractual arrangements for software licenses with Micro Focus. "Police has offered to undergo mediation in relation to these issues and regretfully that offer has been rejected.

"Police has made what it believes to be a reasonable financial offer following disputation over the number of licenses purchased by the force," a NSW Police spokeswoman said. She said NSW Police had also offered to participate in an independent audit with regard to Micro Focus software obtained by other NSW government agencies via its police force.

"That audit would extend to the use by Police of an enhanced software product for which the appropriate licensing arrangements were not in place. Police has made a further financial offer in relation to that matter. "Both the audit and financial offer have been rejected," she said.

The police spokeswoman stressed that NSW Police was "strongly of the view that a mediated outcome remains the best option for both parties in reaching an amicable outcome".

The Police Integrity Commission declined to comment.

The NSW Ombudsman said it was not in a position to comment, as the matter was in court. "This office has acted at all times in good faith and is committed to resolving this issue," a spokeswoman said.

According to the statement of claim, Micro Focus has asked to conduct "discovery" to ascertain the full extent of alleged damages.


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