A Boston man who claims he was threatened with a lawsuit when he refused to buy software he didn't want has turned around and sued the application's maker for privacy violations, claiming the software "phoned home" and gave a company consultant enough information to track him down.
In a lawsuit filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston, Miguel Pimentel is seeking to become the lead plaintiff in a $5-million class action suit against Transmagic, which makes computer-assisted design software, ITCA, a consulting firm that specializes in going after software pirates, and LTL, which makes licensing software.
Pimentel says he downloaded an evaluation copy of a Transmagic application, played with it enough to realize it wouldn't suit his needs and uninstalled it the same day. But, Pimentel says, three months later, he got a phone call from ITCA demanding he either buy a $10,000 annual contract for the software or face a $150,000 lawsuit for piracy - and notification to his employer that he was a software pirate.
Pimentel says ITCA found him via a copy of LTL's software embedded in the CAD application, which had forwarded a copy of Pimentel's IP, MAC and e-mail addresses to Transmagic. Pimentel charges he was not notified the software would be doing this when he downloaded it.
As part of the suit, Pimentel notes that ITCA's founder participated in a Webinar titled Converting software pirates to customers: Best practices from lead generation to closing.
Plaintiffs do not contest Transmagic's right, in principle, to implement technology to protect its intellectual property. In this case, however, Defendants exceeded the boundaries of permissible self-protection and violated consumers' privacy and property rights by surreptiously and indiscriminately engaging in surveillance and information-harvesting.