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US government pays $50 million to settle piracy lawsuit

Army iPhone app (Credit: US Army Flickr)

The US government this week agreed to pay $50 million to a Texas-based company that accused the military of pirating its software. The company, Apptricity, struck a software licensing deal with the Department of Defense in 2004, but filed a copyright infringement claim against the government last year after it discovered that the military had distributed thousands of unauthorized copies among its ranks. The Dallas Morning News first reported the settlement on Monday, before Apptricity announced it one day later.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the licensing agreement authorized the US Army to use its software on five servers and "several thousand" workstations. The government paid $1.35 million for each server, and used the software to track the movements of troops and supplies. In February, 2012 Apptricity filed a suit against the government, asking for $224.5 million in damages after it discovered that the Army had installed its software on nearly 100 servers and 11,000 workstations — about 9,000 more than the authorized limit.

"a mistake had been made, and it needed to be fixed."

Department of Justice lawyers who defended the Army have not commented on the settlement, though it certainly puts the government in an awkward situation. The Obama administration has spoken out against piracy in recent years, and launched an aggressive campaign to combat it in 2010. "Piracy is theft," Vice President Joe Biden said at the time. "Clean and simple."

Apptricity says it will use the $50 million settlement to expand the company, and it won't be losing the Army as a client, either. Company president and co-founder Tim Garcia says both sides treated the matter with professionalism, adding that the lawsuit will not affect Apptricity's relationship with the Department of Defense.

"There was a realization that a mistake had been made, and it needed to be fixed," Garcia told the Dallas Morning News. "It’s like a marriage. Sometimes you really don't want to be around each other, but it doesn't mean you are going to break it off."

The Verge
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