Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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11/4/2008
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Presidential Election Voting Machines Violate Copyrights, Suit Claims

Election systems made by a Diebold subsidiary infringe on a widely used printing software tool, according to the court action.

A California software company has filed a lawsuit against Diebold and its subsidiary, Premier Election Solutions, claiming that PES' electronic voting machines violate its copyrights.

Artifex Software, of San Rafael, Calif., claims that PES systems infringe on its copyrighted Ghostscript PDF interpretation and printing software. Artifex claims PES is using Ghostscript in its electronic election systems even though Diebold and PES "have not been granted a license to modify, copy, or distribute any of Artifex's copyrighted works," Artifex claims in court papers filed late last month in U.S. District Court for Northern California.

PES voting machines are widely used in state and federal elections -- including Tuesday's presidential contest. More than 24,000 PES optical scanning machines were used in the 2006 federal elections in Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Utah, and other states, according to the company's Web site.

The suit does not specify how PES is allegedly using Ghostscript, but presumably it's to create print outs of electronic voting records. In its lawsuit, Artifex calls Ghostscript "the most widely used PDF interpreter not developed by Adobe itself."

The alleged infringement "has contributed to [Diebold and PES] profits and is adversely affecting the potential market for and value of Artifex's copyrighted works," according to the court papers.

Artifex is seeking unspecified monetary damages in excess of $150,000 and also wants the court to impound PES equipment that allegedly violates Artifex copyrights.

The court has yet to rule on the case. Diebold and PES have yet to file formal responses. Artifex is represented by attorney Darin Snyder of San Franciso-based O'Melveny & Myers.

PES officials didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

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