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Federal Judge Orders County Imaging Software Destroyed

Fourteen Counties in Texas receive cease and desist orders

David Bloys

 

In a default judgment by the U.S. District Court Eastern Division in Michigan, the court found that Akhilesh Argawal and Aditya International of India infringed on a copyright held by Digital Filing Systems of Novi, Michigan. The court awarded the default judgment citing copyright infringement and awarded Digital the right to issue cease and desist orders to anyone using DigiCourt, DigiFile, Profile, or any similar software. Fourteen counties in Texas have received cease and desist orders from Digital Filing Systems, LLC.

 

Most individuals would be surprised to learn it is not simply the software that is at risk, but the images and indexes created by the pirated program, as well. Software companies often routinely claim ownership and control over the images that result from the use of their programs. This claim is made under the same laws that provide photographers with ownership rights over negatives. Unless the software contract specifically gives ownership rights to the software user, the rights to the images may remain with the software developer.

 

The number of affected counties in Texas and nationwide is likely to grow as Digital uncovers resellers and government agencies who may have unknowingly distributed or implemented the pirated programs under their various names.

 

In an effort to assist county officials in determining if their counties or citizens may be at risk, News For Public Officials has identified many of the trade names, resellers, and publishers of the suspect programs. Frontier Consulting announced themselves as the publisher and Aditya as the developer of DigiCourt some time prior to January 25, 2005 when Google cached the Frontier Site. Frontier continued to offer DigiCourt at least until September 11, 2005. Frontier may have since severed their bond with Aditya as we found no references to either Aditya or DigiCourt on the current Website. In place of DigiCourt, Frontier now offers Frontier CMS. Greater information about Frontier Consulting and the Frontier-Aditya-India connection will be provided later in this report.

 

It was uncovered that while cash-strapped counties were negotiating with Aditya resellers for the best possible fee, Aditya was offering insurance companies free variations of the same software. Freeware and Shareware sites offered DigiFile Lite as a free-to-try, $500.00 to buy program. Strangely, DigiFile Pro was offered on the same sites as free-to-try and only $5.00 to buy. The ads targeted insurance companies and brokers suggesting they use the software to image and store agent files, client files, medical records, correspondence, and claims.

 

Software analysts were asked if the software contained a "back door" that could allow someone to harvest sensitive data contained in the images and indices with or without the knowledge of the users. They said yes and added that this access could allow spiders or other programs to be installed remotely into a user's computer without the user's knowledge. 

 

Michael Mims was the only reseller identified by Digital in the court documents. Mims is a value-added reseller from Alvord, Texas. He was probably unaware that the software he sold to Texas counties included pirated components.  Value-added resellers typically assemble products, such as computers, peripherals, and specialized software to market as a package. Other value-added resellers who may have included the pirated software in their packages are Don Crespino, Computer Repair Service, Arkansas; Greg Feltz, OCR Plus, Illinois; and Hans Zwakenberg, Atec Systems, Inc. of  Ontario, Canada.

 

As publisher of DigiCourt, Frontier Consulting offered the program on their website as late as September 11, 2005. This program was the only product listed under "Products and Solutions." As of October 3, 2005, the reference to DigiCourt is gone and in its place, the web site is offering Frontier CMS (Court Management Systems).

 

Aditya,  FCI, value added resellers, and shareware distributors  marketed several variations of the software under different names including, DigiFile, DigiCourt, DigiFile Pro, DigiFile Lite,  and DigiFile Viewer. Other names may have been used by VAR's when packaging the software for distribution with scanners or printers.

 

Frontier Consulting, Inc. is an information technology and offshore development firm that maintains an office in Houston, Texas and an offshore development site in Secunderabad, India under the name, Offshore Frontier Consulting Pvt., LTD. In addition to information technology and offshore development, Frontier also offers onsite staffing from their pool of domestic and foreign workers working under H-1B visas.

 

According to the Small Business Administration, FCI is headed by Geetha Donthi, CEO, and Reddy Donthi, President. The company, founded in 1996, has an annual gross of $3 million with 40 employees. They are shown as consultants and exporters.

FCI  holds several government certifications including:

  • SBA 8(a) Certification

  • SBA SDB Certification

  • State of Texas (HUB, CMBL)

  • State of Texas (Catalog Information Systems Vendor, CISV)

  • State of North Carolina (HUB)

  • Texas Department of Transportation (DBE)

  • City of Houston (MBE)

  • Port of Houston (Small Business)

  • METRO (Small Business)

  • Houston Minority Business Council

They are currently in the process of obtaining a GSA Federal Supply Schedules contract.

 

As a result of their Asian-Pacific-American female ownership status, the company received Small / Disadvantaged Business Certification July, 2005. FCI listed two contracts with Randolph Air Force Base/ACS Government Solutions as federal government references.

 

FCI became the target of an Immigration and Naturalization Service investigation while working as a subcontractor to ACS Government Solutions Group, Inc in January 2000 when the I.N.S. conducted a raid at the Air Force Personnel Centers located at Randolph Air Force Base. The AFPC oversees personnel matters affecting 352,263 active-duty troops and more than 182,900 civilian workers worldwide. A statement from the Air Force said the workers did not have access to any classified information, only the personal records of active duty troops, civilian workers and their families. It is not clear if the pirated software may have been installed on AFPC computers or incorporated into the prime contractors products.


The crackdown was the culmination of a six-month I.N.S. probe into an alleged visa scam at the Alamo City defense installation. The I.N.S. arrested 40 employees from ACS, FCI and Softech Consulting, Inc. Charges against the employees were dropped and the I.N.S. turned its focus on the two subcontractors.  The U.S. Department of Labor eventually filed charges against FCI and Softech alleging violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Both firms agreed to pay fines without admitting they violated the act as of February 2002.

 

UPDATE: Clerk's Pirated Software Case Remanded for Further Finding of Facts

 

 

 Is Your Clerk's Imaging Software Pirated?  by Jarrod Clabaugh.


 

 

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