Commonwealth seeks access to Attachmate's database

Attachmate fights hard at interlocutory hearing against the Commonwealth of Australia to avoid database disclosure in copyright battle.

The Commonwealth of Australia has urged the Federal Court of Australia to consider allowing it more access to software vendor Attachmate's database so it can conduct a "reasonable search" on information on licensing and copyright compliance revenue dating back to 1999.

In an interlocutory hearing on Wednesday, the Commonwealth told the court that it was facing two contending issues. The first was what information should be discovered in the Attachmate database and the actual search that was being conducted for the material.

Attachmate defended that while it is not disallowing the Commonwealth access to its database, and said it "won't be too difficult because large corporations keep large databases of their agreements", the information the Commonwealth has been after from the database does not exist.

Attachmate also described some of the Commonwealth's ways of searching through the database so far as "complete frivolity" and are "unusual demands". Examples of these "odd enquiries" include asking questions such as what are the precise fields of each database, what form of interrogation is used, can you search the content in word search or form, how many people were employed, and what were their responsibilities.

In light of this, Federal Court Judge Perram pointed out such queries about the database should not be so difficult to answer, especially given that Attachmate is a software company. He said he will pass judgement on the case in two weeks time.

The Commonwealth is responding in a suit involving the Department of Defence, which used Attachmate's Extra IBM 3270 terminal emulation software. The department had rights to use Extra on 8,000 machines, but following a 2009 audit, Attachmate discovered that the software was being used on more machines and has sued for copyright infringement.

In October last year, the Federal Court ordered Attachmate to provide discovery three depositions made in a US copyright lawsuit after a successful application by the Commonwealth. Those depositions relate to how Attachmate incentivises its license compliance team and suggestions the incentive structure encourages them to "look the other way" while alleged copyright breaches mount up.