The U.S. Court of Federal Claims recently ruled in a copyright infringement case involving the U.S. Navy, ordering it to file 3D virtual reality software BS Contact Geo’s German supplier Bitmanagement Software GmbH pays compensation $154,400.
BS Contact Geo is an extensible 3D viewer.According to the official introduction, the software is based on digital data captured from various sources (land surveys, CAD, satellite imagery, airborne laser scanning, etc.), enabling users toVisualize and interact with state-of-the-art 2D/3D content.
According to foreign media reports,The long-running dispute was first brought up on July 16, 2016.Bitmanagement in its original complaintclaimwhich first partnered with the U.S. Navy in 2011 on a pilot program that called for the installation of 38 copies of BS Contact Geo. After the trial ended, the US Navy notified Bitmanagement that they planned to purchase additional licenses from the company in order to deploy BS Geo on a large scale in 2013.
However, during license purchase negotiations between 2013 and 2015, Bitmanagement noted that the US Navy continued to distribute and reinstall BS Contact Geo on at least 558,466 machines after paying only the initial 38 license fees. “The government knew, or should have known, that a license was required to copy the Bitmanagement software onto every device. But the government has not obtained such permission.“
Bitmanagement estimates that at $1,067.76 per copy, the Navy owes it approximately $596 million for using the software. As a result, the company sued the U.S. government for multiple violations of copyright law.
In response, the U.S. military responded by saying,The license they purchased was to allow additional copies of the software to be made without further payment,The denial of permission is limited to the installation of BS Contact Geo on a total of 38 Navy personal computers.They claim that because Bitmanagement was already paid for the software under the terms of the contract, they should not have been liable for the hundreds of thousands of copies they made, nor should they have paid the company any additional fees.
During a trial in September 2019, Judge Edward J Damich dismissed Bitmanagement’s original lawsuit, saying the company had knowledge of the Navy’s intention to install the software on its intranet and allowed it to proceed. But the Federal Circuit reheard the case in February 2021, ruling that while Damich was correct in his decision that the license permits mass copying, he failed to review the Navy’s compliance with the terms of the license. The terms state that the Navy uses the Flexera license management application to monitor concurrent users and figure out how many additional licenses are needed; however, the Navy fails to do so and is therefore liable for copyright infringement.
Although the company claimsEach license is worth $1,067.76, but the Navy’s expert witness, PricewaterhouseCoopers (CPA) David Kennedy, put it at just $200 per license. Kennedy’s testimony was deemed reliable, according to court documents, “Kennedy testified that he considered the Navy’s concerns, what they had previously agreed to, their eventual use of the software, and the limited amount of use.”
Court of Federal Claims finds Kennedy concluded “fair and reasonable” and awarded $154,400 to Bitmanagement Software GmbH. So far, the U.S. Navy has not yet responded.
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