If only spammers had the dough to pay their court-appointed fines, Facebook could make a full-time living in the courtroom. The social networking site slapped Internet marketer Sanford Wallace with a lawsuit alleging he was accessing Facebook accounts without permission and posting fake messages on users' Walls. The judge didn't take kindly to Wallace's actions and awarded Facebook with a little over $711 million in damages.
Not a bad day in court for the social networking site, but Facebook doesn't stand to receive anywhere close to that amount, and it knows that.
"While we dont' expect to receive the vast majority of the award, we hope that this will act as a continued deterrent against these criminals," said Sam O'Rourke in a company blog post.
Maybe it will, maybe it wont. Last November, Facebook won an $873 million judgment against Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital for a phishing scheme, but has yet (if ever) to collect on that. And therein lies the problems with these judgments.
Getting back to Wallace, the exorbitant fine may not be the only thing he has to worry about. The judge in the case referred Wallace to the U.S. Attorney's Office requesting that he be prosecuted for criminal contempt, so it's possible he could serve some jail time.
Sony isn't the only one in hot water with U.S. antitrust regulators. Both Toshiba and Hitachi have also fallen under the watchful eye of the U.S. Department of Justice and will have their optical device divisions investigated, The Inquirerreports.
Once again, not a whole lot of details are yet known, but just like with Sony, it's believed that the DoJ is sniffing out something afoul with each optical makers' Blu-ray line. More specifically, it's likely each company is being probed for potential price fixing allegations.
Before being knocked out of contention, HD-DVD players could be snagged for as low as $99, which coincided with a promotion to receive a small handful of free HD-DVD movies through the mail. For the most part, Blu-ray pricing has yet to come down to the same level. It should also be noted that Sony, Hitachi, and Toshiba account for about 60 percent of the optical drive market, according to some statistics.
According to an anonymous source, Hector Ruiz, 63-year-old former chief executive officer of AMD, is the unnamed "AMD executive" government prosecutors allege provided information to a defendant in the Galleon insider trading case, Bloomberg reports..
Ruiz, who stepped down as AMD's CEO last year and now serves as chairman of chip spinoff Globalfoundries, hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing in the case, nor do prosecutors say he profited from insider trading. But he is accused of discussing with Danielle Chiesi, who is alleged to be part of the Balleon insider trading ring, timing of the chip factory's spinoff in September 2008, ahead of the announcement of the deal.
"You know, we're gonna shock the hell out of everybody," the AMD executive told Chiesi, according a transcript of the September conversation included in court documents.
If the anonymous source turns out to be correct, Ruiz would be the highest ranking executive involved in the case. Other defendants in the case include IBM executive Robert Moffat and Rajiv Goel, who helped direct investments at Intel.
File sharers in France who get caught downloading pirated content could lose internet service for up to a year, and that's okay with the European Parliament, which dropped an amendment to its forthcoming telecoms legislation that would have protected citizens in such scenarios.
"Any such measures liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be taken in exceptional circumstances...and shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, including effective judicial protection and due process," the dropped amendment reads.
Going forward, individual countries have the green light to ask ISPs to disconnect users believed to be software pirates, and do so without any kind of court order.
This has been a hot topic in Europe, and at the core of the issue is whether or not Internet access can be considered a fundamental right. UK prime minister Gordon Brown put Internet access on the same plane as gas, water, and electricity in terms of entitlement, but there's been recent pressure to push through anti-piracy legislation. According to research firm Forrester, 14 percent of European Internet users are involved in illegal file-sharing. However, Forrester doesn't think the solution lies in tougher legislation.
"Piracy will not be solved by legislation alone. Without compelling services, piracy will not be beaten," said Mark Mulligan, an analyst for Forrester.
We’ve all experienced that feeling of dread when a gadget is dropped. The more unlucky among us are also familiar with the horror felt after realizing that our once beloved thingamajig is now junk. Paul Gowder must have felt that after dropping his Kindle 2 recently, leading to a damaged screen. He, however, moved past that and decided to get Amazon to replace his Kindle.
Paul felt that it was pretty unreasonable for the Kindle’s screen to break, seeing as it was in a messenger bag at the time. His story fell on deaf ears at Amazon, where he was offered a replacement unit for $200, provided he returned the broken one. He agreed, but Paul wasn’t through with these Amazon folk.
It turns out that Paul went to law school, and he set about crafting a seriously frightening letter to Amazon. Among other things, he cited Amazon’s drop test video for the Kindle 2. Since his Kindle broke after a much less severe drop, Paul claimed that Amazon was misrepresenting the product. All he asked was that Amazon pay him $400. Shockingly, they did. Net gain to Paul: $200 and a new Kindle. Well played, sir… well played.
You can check out Paul’s letter, as well as Amazon’s response at the read link.
Robert Moffat, IBM's highest ranking hardware executive and front runner to carry the CEO torch, has been indicted on chargers of insider trading. So has Rajiv Goel, a managing director of Intel subsidiary, Intel Capital, and Anil Kumar, a director at consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and adviser to AMD.
Insider trading carries some serious repercussions, and if found guilty, all three could be looking at prison time. And it's not looking good. Thanks to wiretapped phone conversations and statements from an informant, SEC investigators believe they can show how the trio used inside information and well-timed trades to accumulate more than $25 million in illegal gains.
One alleged illegal instance includes Goel giving billionaire investor Raj Rajaratnam a heads up on January 8, 2007 that Intel share prices would likely rise over the next couple of days. According to the feds, this prompted Rajaratnam to purchase 1 million shares of Intel stock, and then 500,000 more on January 11. On January 16, he unloaded all of his Intel stock, netting about $1 million profits in a matter of four days.
Goel is also accused of alerting Rajaratnam about an impending deal between Clearwire and Sprint, which ended up netting him another $750,000 in profits.
There's a ton more to the scandal, all of which you can read here.
But that is not enough to belittle its courage in setting a precedent for other countries of the world. The Finnish government hopes to implement its latest edict beginning July 2010. Initially, every Finn will have the right to a one-megabit broadband connection. Finland had previously vowed to legally guarantee access to a 100 Mb broadband connection by the end of 2015.
Down but not out, RealNetworks said it will file an appeal and ask that a court ruling to ban sales of its DVD-copying software, RealDVD, be lifted.
The original ruling dates back to August when a federal district judge issued a preliminary injunction to halt sales of the software after film studios successfully argued that RealDVD violated copyright law. The injunction drew major interest from consumers looking for some clarification in the murky Fair Use waters.
RealNetwork's appeal only addresses the injunction, not the case itself, which, barring a resolution, is moving towards a jury trial.
"What they're going to argue is that somehow the legal basis for the injunction is wanting," said Denise Howell, an appellate and technology lawyer. "They will say that there has been an error of law somewhere along the way but they're going to try and undo the injunction. Real is facing an uphill battle."
Google's Voice service is causing quite a stir in Congress, as both Republicans and Democrats have called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate Google's ability to block calls to rural telephone exchanges. But it's the dispute between Google and Apple where things get interesting.
Prompting the probe, Google's Voice app is not available on the iPhone, which led AT&T to argue that Google would have an unfair advantage if not held to the same rules and regulations as telcos. Now here's the kicker - Google Voice would be available on the iPhone, had Apple not rejected it. Apple said it was still looking into how the app works and doesn't feel comfortable with it altering the iPhone's telephone functionality and user interface.
That doesn't necessarily mean AT&T doesn't have a legitimate complaint. The telco points out that Google Voice blocks calls in certain rural areas to cut back costs, something which the phone companies aren't allowed to do. But at least one attorney says the complaint is hypocritical of AT&T.
"The only difference between Google's alleged call blocking and AT&T's refusal to pay terminating access charges for conference and chat-line calls is that the (local carriers) are forced to incur the costs of terminating AT&T's customers' traffic," attorney Ross Buntrock wrote in a letter to the FCC.
So what does Google say about all this? The search giant's stance is that Google Voice isn't a traditional phone service since it uses a Web software tool, and therefor isn't subject to the same rules and regulations as telephone companies.
SkipScreen allows users to bypass the tedious wait times on sharing sites like MediaFire and Rapidshare. This ingenious little add-on will automatically click through whatever hoops necessary to get to the actual download page. Then it will extract and execute the code for the download link. This is how it bypasses those screens that force you to wait ‘X’ seconds, unless you register.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote SkipScreen’s response. They rightly pointed out that the add-on doesn’t technically bypass any screens. It just automates the process of finding a download link. The EFF also pointed out that SkipScreen does not present content from another site. MediaFire has probably just brought more attention to SkipScreen by going through with this complaint. Apparently, they’ve never heard of the Streisand Effect. So… the add-on is still available on the Mozilla site, get it here.