Unauthorized software downloads did not violate Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Cassetica Software, Inc. v. Computer Sciences Corp, 2009 WL 1703015 (N.D.Ill. 2009)

Cassetica Software made an application available for download on the web and entered into a license agreement for that application with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). Cassetica alleged that CSC continued to download the application after the license agreement expired.


So Cassetica sued in federal court, alleging a number of causes of action, including violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 USC 1030 et seq. (CFAA). CSC moved to dismiss pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. The court granted the motion, finding that Cassetica did not plead either damage or loss as required by the CFAA.

What the CFAA requires

Interpreting the CFAA differently that at least one other judge in the Northern District of Illinois has (cf. Garelli Wong & Assoc. v. Nichols, 551 F.Supp.2d 704 (N.D.Ill. 2008)), Judge Kendall held that Cassetica was required to plead either damage or loss as such terms are defined in the CFAA. (In Garelli Wong, the court held that both damage and loss must be pled.)

Under the CFAA, “damage” is defined as “any impairment to the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system, or information.” “Loss” is defined as “any reasonable cost to any victim, including the cost of responding to an offense, conducting a damage assessment, and restoring the data, program, system, or information to its condition prior to the offense, and any revenue lost, cost incurred, or other consequential damages incurred because of interruption of service.”

Insufficient damage allegations

The bare allegations of damage in the complaint were not enough. The court found that Cassetica did not allege any facts that would plausibly suggest that the software downloads — authorized or not — caused a diminution in the computers or usability of [Cassetica’s] computerized data.” The court went on to observe that “[c]ritically absent from the Complaint are allegations that CSC’s downloads resulted in lost data, the inability to offer downloads to its customers, or that the downloads affected the availability of the software.”

Insufficient loss allegations

Cassetica’s complaint also failed to plead loss. The allegations primarily dealt with the lost fees Cassetica would have received had the alleged unauthorized downloading not taken place. Because Cassetica did not allege that it lost revenues as a result of an interruption in service caused by CSC, its claim for lost revenue fell outside the CFAA’s definition of “loss.”

Download picture courtesy Flickr user soren_nb under this Creative Commons license.

One thought on “Unauthorized software downloads did not violate Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

  1. Joe - June 30, 2009

    So, basically Cassetica sued for nothing?

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