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Code-Stealing Drone Vendor Settles With Devs 28

An anonymous reader writes with an update to a story we discussed in September about allegations that copied, inaccurate software was being used in unmanned CIA drones. The lawsuit that publicized these allegations has now ended in a settlement. Quoting: "The breach-of-contract lawsuit, initiated in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts in November 2009, revolved around a series of claims and counterclaims related to a sophisticated, analytical software program, known as Geospatial, that was developed by Boston-based IISI. The software is capable of integrating at high speeds spatial data, such as maps and visual images, with non-visual data, such as names and phone numbers. Netezza, in its pleadings, claimed that IISI, per contract, was required to upgrade the Geospatial software code to make it work on Netezza’s new data-warehouse computer platform, called the TwinFin. IISI argued, and the court ultimately agreed, that it was under no such obligation. IISI officials also indicated that such an upgrade effort would be quite challenging and costly. In the wake of IISI refusing to adapt the Geospatial software to the TwinFin on Netezza’s timeline, IISI asserted in court pleadings that Netezza proceeded to develop a re-engineered, flawed version of the software that was loaded on the TwinFin platform that Netezza allegedly sold to the CIA.
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Code-Stealing Drone Vendor Settles With Devs

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  • All's well that ends well or will a drone happen to go off course and ruin IISi's Thanksgiving?
    • by PDX ( 412820 )

      The borg queen was not happy about her drones going to Cabo San Lucas. The stolen code was assimilated but not properly checked for HUMAN errors.

  • Nothing inflammatory about the headline here, is there? (Even though it appears the allegations are true, but still).

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by spun ( 1352 )

      Telling the truth is "inflammatory" now? Maybe those offended should try Preparation H to reduce the inflammation.

  • It seems IBM spent its money on the wrong company (assuming the claims of IISi were true). IISi as the original developer might have been a better buy.

    Instead, IBM spent lots of money on a bunch of software pirates that cannot even produce good hacks ;-)

  • I want one! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So, does ThinkGeek sell code-stealing drones yet? My previous vendor for code-stealing drones got bought out by the NRO.

  • Did anybody else wonder about the technology behind a drone that you can set to work autonomously stealing code for you?
  • Why would anyone spend so much time building a drone just to steal code? It's much easier to just wait for it to be released on wikilwaks.

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @06:21PM (#34311224)
    Don't let your sales people write your contracts. I've seen it happen when I used to work for Oracle -- a sales person would write a contract with custom features that would cost more to develop than the total revenue for the contract. The sales person would meet their numbers and take home a hefty commission and bonus, and the developers would then have to clean up the mess (and lose money in the process). Sounds like exactly what happened here -- somebody made promises they couldn't deliver on. I say fire the bastards and make sure they never work in the industry again.
    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      a sales person would write a contract with custom features that would cost more to develop than the total revenue for the contract.

      Do I know you? That's what has happened in most of my recent projects.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Perhaps it's time to turn things around a bit. Count sales as the money sink. Development produces a useful product that customers with money will want. Sales is just the expense you have to pay to get the two parties offering value together. Without a product or service, any sales success will only lead to court. Without a customer, there's nobody to sell to.

  • Did this story confuse anyone else?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Vendor wrote a program to run on a particular computer. Sold it to a company, which resold it to a customer.
      Company decided to switch computers. Told vendor to port to new computer on a rough timeline. Vendor told them no.
      Company proceeded to somehow make the code run on the new computer, but missed some quality control so that bugs would cause it to misidentify locations.
      Which is a problem, since this software is used to decide where to kill people.
      Vendor is rather upset that their code was taken, and tha

  • Totally read the title as Code-Stealing DROID Vendor Settles With Devs. Thought to myself "fuck, they're even taking Jawas to court these days"?
  • Another gov. contractor stealing OSS code? REALLY!!?!?!?!
  • Is it not true that development and delivery effort hit the fan when Netezza changed the computational platform on the drones from IBM to Intel processor architecture to save money?
  • There are only few things that make me more happy and less worried than unmanned aerial vehicles capable of blowing shit up: One of them is unmanned aerial vehicles capable of blowing shit up that are coordinated by buggy navigation software.

    Nothing can possibly go wrong.

  • Because it's difficult to come up with a cogent legal counterargument to a person who has your iPhone's Google coordinates and can put a couple of Predator drones through your corner office window.

    "Yes, we used your geospatial mapping software to run our killbots. It works really well. Well, with a few meters of error, but we compensated by putting a bigger warhead on it. Would you like a demonstration, or would you like to be purchased by IBM? No pressure."

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:04PM (#34312760)
    This follows the classic path of corporate criminal behavior.

    1. Company makes product, sells it and makes profit. In this case there is a main contractor and a sub-contractor.

    2. Corporate greed leads to faulty product. In this case innocent people die.

    3. Bad result eventually is discovered. In this case by sub-contractor.

    4. A civil court case makes the problem public.

    5. Parties settle out of court for undisclosed amount. Given Netezza's purchase for $1.7Bn, IISI walked away with $250 million or more.

    6. No legal blame is assigned anyone. No criminal charges are brought.

    7. There is no public disclosure that is meaningful in a court of law, only allegations.

    8. No one in the company suffers any negative career, financial, or legal repercussions. Most end up being rewarded.

    9. None of the harmed parties or their survivors has any recourse or get any compensation.

    10. Harm from bad product continues.

    This is just normal business practice, and the costs are baked into the economic model before anything starts. Lawyers get rich, along with corporate executives no matter how much damage they do. The negative economic cost is born by the injured parties and investors, not management. There is no incentive to change corporate behavior, and overall insiders do better when greed wins no matter what the result.

    As long as this is normal, do you expect anything to change?

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351