NSW Police faces wider software audit

 

KPMG to look into licensing at a cost of up to $40,000.

The Federal Court has expanded the scope of a copyright dispute between NSW Police and Micro Focus to explicitly include two more versions of the vendor's mainframe terminal software.

When Micro Focus filed the suit in May, it alleged that Police infringed copyright by installing more copies of its ViewNow software than the authority had licensed.

The lawsuit pertained to a software licensing agreement first struck for Micro Focus' NS mainframe terminal software in 1998 and amended in 1999 and 2000.

According to Micro Focus, the 2000 version of the contract allowed NSW Police to install only 6500 copies of NS and all new versions of the software, including ViewNow and Rumba.

Police, which use ViewNow to access the computerised operations policing system (COPS) database, argued that the 2000 agreement was for a "site license" and covered an unlimited number of installations.

That agreement was negotiated with IT distributor NST Worldwide and software company NetManage, which owned the NS suite at the time and was acquired by Micro Focus in June 2008.

Micro Focus sought to have Court-appointed auditor Stan Gallo, of KPMG, audit NSW Police systems to determine how many copies of NS, ViewNow and Rumba were installed.

But NSW Police argued it was a "fishing expedition" and sought to have the audit confined to ViewNow, which was the product mentioned in Micro Focus' original claim.

The parties' disagreement over the scope of the audit led Micro Focus to submit to the Federal Court in Sydney a "further amended statement of claim" to include all versions of software in the NS suite.

Federal Court Justice Jayne Jagot approved the submission on Thursday afternoon, despite Police's objections.

She ordered Micro Focus to file the amended claim by November 22 and pay costs incurred by NSW Police due to the amendment.

Police raised concerns that Micro Focus was "seeking some sort of open-ended discovery" through the audit by trying to catalogue all of its mainframe terminal software.

But Justice Jagot assured parties that the cost of the audit was capped at $40,000 and Gallo would not be bound by the Court's instructions if he had better suggestions.

"This is all the lawyers' version of what they think they want," she said. "Often, my experience says that technical people gather we've all got the wrong end of the stick anyway.

"The parties and the Court expect the Court-appointed expert to exercise his own independent judgement about the most efficient and cost-effective way to achieve the actual objectives of the audit as opposed to implementing the instructions line-by-line.

"The obligation is on the Court-appointed expert to inform the parties in a timely manner as to the practicality of the instructions that have been given and to make recommendations ... about any more appropriate way to proceed."

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