EXCLUSIVE: Louisville pinned against Microsoft in usage dispute

Updated: Sep. 15, 2017 at 11:42 PM EDT
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The City of Louisville IT director Jason Ballard recently quit. His city profile was promptly...
The City of Louisville IT director Jason Ballard recently quit. His city profile was promptly taken down. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The city of Louisville now finds itself pinned against technology giant Microsoft.

It's a fight over just how many city employees were legally using the software.

"Software licensing is, is a bit of an animal," UofL Computer Science Assistant Professor Adrian Lauf told us.

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He says, if busted, software sharing could be expensive, between $20,000 to $250,000 per infringement.

"Start adding that up per work station, per computer, per user. Those fines can become absolutely enormous," Lauf said.

The city did not confirm just how much money Microsoft says they owe. They did say it was less than a million, but would not specify by how much.

A city spokesperson confirmed the dispute started a few months ago when Microsoft said the city was using more software than allotted.

The County Attorney's office said they are examining possible litigation.

The news comes just days after the city's nationally recognized IT director Jason Ballard quit. His city profile was promptly taken down. The city would not say whether his resignation had anything to do with the Microsoft dispute.

In the meantime, Lauf says piracy is a $10 billion problem in the US alone and $60 billion worldwide.

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He did share a bit of good news for the city, explaining Microsoft usually opts to play nice.

"They key is Microsoft wants you to purchase the software," Lauf said. "In terms of lawsuits that's typically more of a last resort."

The city said Microsoft is looking at 20 years worth of usage.

We did try to reach Ballard to ask why he resigned, but did not hear back.

Ballard was an Air Force Veteran and was with the City of Louisville for three years.

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