NDI, chart pirates?
I have no tolerance for boaters who rip off electronic charts; the practice hurts decent companies and has understandably led to copy protection schemes the rest of us have to cope with. But one chart manufacturer, Nautical Data International (NDI), has earned its own reputation for pirate practices. It ticked off customers for years with extra high prices, flawed encryption code, and even a “time out” mechanism that rendered charts you owned useless after a certain period. Two years ago, a nasty royalty fight erupted between NDI and the two big chart card companies C-Map and Navionics. You see, in 1993 NDI somehow wrangled not only the exclusive right to market electronic versions of Canadian Hydrographic Office (CHS) charts, but also exclusive right to negotiate royalty arrangements with other vendors. Many lawsuits followed, some still in court, but last winter CHS announced that it would terminate its relationship to NDI. Hence the strange press releases featured on NDI’s home page (right) proclaiming its ability to continue “business as usual” and its success suing the government office it’s dependent on. I bring this up because I recently helped a friend prepare for a Newfoundland cruise and can confirm that charts he bought from NDI five years ago will not run or reinstall on his PC. He will use paper charts rather than ever do business with NDI again.