Ginos Engineering fined $114,000 for software piracy

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Ginos Engineering fined $114,000 for software piracy

A conversation between an IT consultant and reseller has cost an Adelaide engineering firm more than $114,000 in damages for hosting 27 unlicensed copies of Autodesk software on its computers.

Last week, the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia ordered Ginos Engineers to pay compensatory damages of $38,012.22 plus court costs, for copyright infringement of Autodesk software over a 10-year period.

The Court also made "a number of adverse findings about the behaviour of Ginos Engineers and ordered it to pay additional damages of $76,000 for the flagrancy of the infringement", according to Autodesk.

It had been alleged that an Autodesk reseller, KarelCAD, first learnt of the presence of infringing copies at Ginos Engineering from a conversation with the firm’s IT consultant.

A subsequent audit of the site by KarelCAD allegedly "confirmed the unlicensed reproduction", according to a copy of the judgement cited by iTnews.

Autodesk said it made "numerous" attempts to resolve the matter before commencing legal action in August 2007.

“Autodesk works closely with customers to educate them on sound software asset management practices,” said Hanspeter Eiselt, managing director of Autodesk Australia.

“Taking legal action is always a last resort.”

During the case, Autodesk’s counsel, Gilbert + Tobin, heavily criticised Ginos Engineering for allegedly thwarting attempts by computer forensics experts at Ferrier Hodgson to determine the extent of the infringements.

Three separate visits were made by Ferrier Hodgson to audit 13 computers, the judgement said.

It was alleged that only five computers were available to inspect the first time, including one "in parts".

Ferrier Hodgson’s "attempt to complete the [second] inspection was further frustrated in that seven machines were shown … but only four were switched on with passwords provided".

On the third visit, it is alleged the auditors were "directed to computers not relevant to the inspection", according to the judgement.

Autodesk’s lawyers claimed the whereabouts of the computers was "unchallenged" in later Court appearances.

They also claimed Ginos Engineering had been "unforthcoming" in identifying a person that is alleged to have deleted infringing software off five of the inspected computers.

Eiselt called the judgement "a win for all software producers".

“The use of infringing software is a serious issue in Australia and elsewhere,” said Eiselt.

“As the Court pointed out in this case, an infringer gains an 'entirely undeserved profit' through the use of unlicensed software.

“The software in question was necessary for Ginos to run its business. And clearly Autodesk was entitled to benefit through the purchase of additional licences.”
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