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IDG News Service - A federal judge has ruled that Rimini Street infringed copyrights on Oracle's PeopleSoft ERP (enterprise resource planning) software in the course of providing third-party support to customers, but decided in favor of Rimini on other points.
Judge Larry Hicks found that Rimini Street violated the copyrights when it installed copies of PeopleSoft on its computer systems so it could create software updates for customers, according to his ruling filed Feb. 13 in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
Hicks' ruling was based on an examination of software license agreements from two Rimini Street customers who use PeopleSoft: The city of Flint, Michigan, and the school district of Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, the judge ruled in favor of Rimini Street with respect to how it made copies of Oracle's J.D. Edwards and Siebel software while serving two other customers, Giant Cement and Novell.
Giant Cement's license for J.D. Edwards does not allow Rimini Street to tap into the source code in order to create updates, Hicks wrote. However, "the court finds that having a copy of the software on Rimini's systems for archival purposes does not violate this license restriction so long as Rimini does not access the software's source code," he added.
Oracle failed to offer any evidence that Rimini had indeed accessed the source code, according to Hicks.
As for Siebel, Hicks concluded that Novell's license "allows for archival and/or back-up copies of the software on a third-party system."
But the judge's ruling also rejected Rimini's legal argument that actions by Oracle over time had given Rimini an "implied license" and consent to make copies of its software.
Oracle shipped "at least 90 back-up copies of licensed software installation media to Rimini's facilities for different Oracle customers" between 2007 and 2009, Hicks wrote.
Rimini Street had argued that Oracle knew not only that it was providing support to Oracle customers but also that it was creating the copies for its systems, the ruling states. Since Oracle continued to ship the back-ups, that amounted to consent and there could be no copyright infringement, Rimini argued.
That argument "is not supported by the evidence," Hicks wrote.
In many cases, the backups "were shipped after Oracle's customers submitted requests to Oracle describing Rimini's address as the customers' 'secondary offsite backup location," Hicks wrote.
"Rimini admits that the purpose behind the obfuscated shipping requests was to allow Rimini to create development environments to service Rimini's customers without Oracle's knowledge," he added. Therefore, "no reasonable jury" could conclude that Oracle was giving Rimini authorization to copy the software onto its systems, Hicks wrote.
Oracle sued Rimini in 2010, claiming the company had engaged in "massive theft" of its software via "an illegal business model."
Rimini Street is one of a handful of companies that say they can provide superior software support for far less money than what customers pay vendors in annual maintenance fees.