Police settle 'piracy' dispute with software giant
NSW Police have settled with Micro Focus. Photo: Patrick Cummins
A multimillion-dollar legal claim against NSW law enforcement authorities by a British software giant has been settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Multinational software firm Micro Focus had alleged in a lawsuit filed in 2011 that the NSW Police, Ombudsman, Police Integrity Commission, Department of Corrective Services and other government agencies illegally distributed its Rumba and ViewNow software, which is used to run the intelligence database known as COPS.
NSW Police confirmed in a statement to Fairfax Media that it had now settled but would not disclose details.
"The settlement of this matter is the subject of non-disclosure provisions," a NSW police spokesman said.
The last remaining party to finalise its dispute with Micro Focus was the Department of Corrective Services, which sits under the umbrella of the Department of Attorney-General and Justice.
A spokesman for the department confirmed it had settled this week but also wouldn't discuss details.
According to tech news website iTnews — which spoke to Micro Focus Australia managing director Bruce Craig, who was unavailable for an interview and in meetings on Wednesday — the NSW Police settlement took place in October.
Prior to the revelation of the NSW Police and Corrective Services settlement, other government agencies settled.
Micro Focus sued NSW Police in 2011 for $10 million, but increased the damages sought to $12 million in June last year after reading the results of a court-ordered six-month $120,000 KPMG audit of NSW Police systems.
It alleged police were using 16,500 copies of its software on various NSW Police computers.
Micro Focus's Bruce Craig previously told Fairfax that a contract between his company and police entitled police to 6500 licences of its software — not 16,500 — between 1998 to 2003.
A NSW police spokesman previously told Fairfax that police paid for a site licence that entitled it to unlimited installations for the use of all its officers.
Despite the settlements, all agencies and departments involved have denied any wrongdoing.
In June last year, for example, technology news website ZDNet reported that NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour defended his department secretly settling its dispute with Micro Focus before a NSW parliamentary committee, saying that its out-of-court agreement did not imply an admission of guilt.
"My primary concern was that my organisation must at all times represent integrity and ethical behaviour," ZDNet quoted Mr Barbour as saying.
"From a practical perspective, we wanted to use all of our licences, [and] the legal costs associated with it would have been far and away greater than the costs of settling this matter."
Mr Barbour said police had maintained they had not pirated the software, but if the allegations against them were proven in court, he may need to refer the complaint to the Independent Commission Against Corruption or, alternatively, the auditor-general "in terms of any contractual arrangements that have been breached".
On Wednesday Mr Barbour said he was yet to consider whether a referral to either the ICAC or the Auditor-General was warranted, adding that he was only made aware recently that the matter had been finalised.