As it's turning out, the fight against spam might not be so futile after all. Edward Davidson, who became known as the 'spam king' by sending out millions of falsely labeled emails, found himself behind bars in April, and then more recently, the FTC shut down one of the largest organized spam rings in the world in HerbalKing. And less than two weeks ago, the FTC scored another major win by shutting down a web host thought to be responsible for 75 percent of the world's spam. Now it's Facebook who's getting in on the fight.
Ruling on a case filed by Facebook against Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital on August 14, 2008, Federal Judge Jeremy Fogel has awarded Facebook over $873 million in damages. Atlantis Blue Capital found itself under legal fire for allegedly accessing Facebook's servers, setting up phishing websites to acquire Facebook logins and email addresses, and sending out millions of emails to the social networking site's members.
"It's unlikely that Geurbez and Atlantis Blue Capital could ever honor the judgment rendered against them (though we will certainly collect everything we can)," Max Kely, Facebook's director of security, wrote in a blog post. "But we are confident that this award represents a powerful deterrent to anyone and everyone who would seek to abuse Facebook and its users."
The sentence, which is likely to knock Atlantis Blue Capital out of business, also forbids Geurbuez to access, retain, or use Facebook data in any way, nor is he allowed to create or maintain a Facebook profile.
Seven of Hollywood’s most powerful studios which include Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros and Disney are working together to sue an Australian ISP and set a very scary precedent. iiNet, Australia’s third largest internet service provider has been largely credited with rolling out true broadband speeds to residents. Current connection speeds range anywhere from 1.5 to a not so shabby 24 Mbit/s. With all this speed however comes abuse, and allegedly a handful of its users have turned to torrents to saturate these beefy connections with copyright protected video. According to the movie studios represented by AFACT (Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) iiNet is “failing to take reasonable steps, including enforcing its own terms and conditions, to prevent known unauthorized use of copies of the companies films and TV programs”.
Adrianne Pecotic, Executive Director of AFACT claims that they were forced to take action against iiNet seeing as they weren’t pursuing the issue aggressively enough. The studios are demanding that iiNet disconnect known infringers, an action the ISP has so far refused to do. According to an iiNet spokesman, “Our view is pretty straightforward. We don’t condone or support piracy in any form, and people who choose to pirate content should face the force of the law. This is an industry issue, and we’ve been talking with the IIA, and we’ll work with them in terms of handling it.”
iiNet’s CEO Michael Malone strongly disputes AFACT’s claims saying they have merely refused to disconnect users on the basis of an outside allegation. “We can’t go and kick the customer off on the basis of an allegation from someone else’.” The lawsuit was filed in Australia’s Federal Court on November 20th with the first hearings to being within 30 days. A finding in favor of the AFACT will only further empower the studios and might spark future lawsuits abroad.
So has Hollywood crossed the line? Hit the jump and sound off.
Open-source? Freeware? Which is it? Some people frequently interchange the terms as a generic way to say that a piece of software costs nothing to download or use. I mean, it's all free, right?
Open-source software has as much to do with freeware as an apple has to do with an orange. Both are fruits, but each offers a different enough of a texture and flavor to render it completely unique from the other. You cannot, and should not, confuse open-source software with freeware, as there can be grave consequences for such a fatal misstep. Ok, so maybe not grave. But you can get slapped with a lawsuit depending on how you're using the software, and that's certainly not fun. But we're not here to confuse you; we're here to help you. What exactly are the differences between open-source software and freeware? Find out after the jump!
Cry for Google, Argentina. The truth is, they never left you, but given the current legal battle over search results – they just might.
Dozens of fashion models and public figures, such as sports star Diego Maradona, are currently at war with Google over how search results are handed out. While the question as to whether or not certain search results should be censored if they contain a person’s name is answered, Argentine Judges have handed down orders to temporarily abbreviate search results.
These restraints mean that Google has to censor searches from Argentinean sites that contain the plaintiff’s names. Though, this does not apply to those of us in the United States.
Google has recently joined forces with Yahoo and other human rights groups to create the Global Network Initiative, a foundation for communications technology companies to follow in response to laws in various countries that might conflict with an Internet user’s privacy or freedom of expression. While the interest of this initiative is to provide the fullest Internet experience to everyone around the world, it is likely that they will do everything in their power to comply with local law.
And you thought only one person on the entire planet was well and truly pissed at EA for its repeated usage of DRM. However, that was only the beginning. Now, two more criminally dissatisfied customers have rallied their lawyers, hoping to pulverize the mega-publisher's pocketbook into penniless mush.
The first suit, filed by Pennsylvania resident Richard Eldridge, points the all-important blame finger at the Spore Creature Creator trial -- not the full game. According to the suit, the game "secretly" popped his machine's DRM cherry, a feature completely unmentioned in EA's End User License Agreement.
The other DRM-detractor, Dianna Cortez of Missouri, encountered SecuROM DRM in The Sims 2: Bon Voyage. Her computer was never the same after that day.
"After installing Bon Voyage, Ms. Cortez began having problems with her computer," reads the suit. "She had previously made backup Sims 2 game content on CDs, but her computer's disc drive would no longer recognize that content, reporting the CDs as empty. She could not access files that were saved on her USB flash drive or iPod, either."
She also calls EA's practices "immoral, unethical, oppressive [and] unscrupulous" -- a sentiment with which we're sure her fellow lawsuit-slingers would agree.
Now if the entire 0.2% hopped aboard the lawsuit express, we might be onto something. As is, however, EA's gold-encrusted big toe will be more than enough to squash these three valiant musketeers. If nothing else, we can only hope that EA will actually learn something from all this, but we're not counting on it.
Pioneer has to be feeling giddy following its most recent court victory. Pioneer had accused Samsung of willfully infringing on two of its patents -- U.S. Patent Numbers 5,182,489 and 5,640,068 -- covering plasma display technology. It took an eight-day trial to convince Hon. David J. Folsom in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall, who awarded Pioneer with a $59 million verdict, part of which covers lost profits and royalties.
"We are very pleased with the jury's finding," says Mr. Baxter of McKool Smith, the firm who represented Pioneer. "This was a complicated case and we were fortunate to have jurors that closely examined the facts before reaching their verdict."
And fortunate Pioneer was. The jury ruled in favor of the company on every count brought against Samsung. Not surprisingly, Samsung has yet to comment on the ruling.
Google has been a major boon to researchers, with their efforts to scan and index just about everything, but they haven’t exactly endeared themselves to copyright holders, a state of affairs which had cumulated in a lawsuit against the search giant by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. Today, Google announced that they’ve reached an agreement that will allow them to continue their book digitization project with the cooperation of the authors and publishers.
The agreement states that Google will pay a hefty $125 million, mostly to establish a Book Rights Registry. The registry will allow copyright holders to identify themselves and receive royalties.
Under the agreement, users of Google Book Search will be able to view up to 20% of any indexed book for free, a big increase from the “snippets” available before. Users can also view a book in its entirety by paying a fee, which goes to the copyright holder through the Book Rights Registry.
Also, local libraries will be able to offer free access to the entire texts of all of Google’s 7 million (and growing) scanned books.
Right now the settlement will only affect users in the U.S., though Google says they’re attempting to reach similar agreements abroad.
Do you use Google Book Search? How will these changes affect you? Let us know after the jump.
Evidently, software pirates have been passing up on Microsoft’s latest flagship OS, Vista, in order to get their booty plundering hands on a counterfeit version of XP, according to Bonnie MacNaughton, a senior attorney at Microsoft.
“Historically, counterfeiters tend to focus on the 'n-1' version of software," explained MacNaughton. "Because of the more robust antipiracy and security features in Vista, most sophisticated piracy rings still continue to focus on XP. But that's changing over time.” For the very same reasons, counterfeiters are only copying Office 2003, rather than Office 2007.
Given the current future of Windows XP, and the high possibility of its piracy it’s entirely likely that any copy of XP that you get after January 2009 (with the exception of downgrades available through HP and Dell) is pirated. Because of this, Microsoft is planning on rolling out a brand new ad campaign in early 2009 to remind people of XP’s demise, and this possibility. “We're planning [a campaign] in January or February to make sure our customers know what our rules and policies are about Windows XP," stated MacNaughton, "to make sure they understand what may be illegitimate and what may be legitimate. We want to make sure that the XP they might be getting is genuine.”
It’s hard to read a music industry headline these days without finding the words “lawyer” and “lawsuit” somewhere in the body. This time however, the legal cannon of EMI was pointed not just at MP3tunes.com but also its founder Michael Robertson who is likely sleeping much easier this week. A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit against Robertson, but is still allowing the case against his company to continue. Suing the CEO of a company is considered a fairly dirty tactic within the industry but is often an effective means to help intimidate leaders into a settlement. The lawsuit continuing through the courts goes right to the root of MP3tunes current business model which allows customers to upload their music to “digital lockers”. Customers are then able to access their collection on nearly any web enabled device. According to Robertson the case against MP3tunes is unique. Specifically, “it will determine if it is permissible for consumers to store their music in online commercial services for everywhere access, directly analogous to the way they currently store documents, photos, and other personal data in cloud services." The verdict on this case could set an interesting precedent when it comes to storing your copyrighted data in the cloud. Fair use is an evolving definition which is too important to be left to stakeholders to decide. The question here is will the legal system allow common sense and the greater public good to prevail?
RealNetworks has temporarily suspended the sale of its RealDVD software in accordance with Judge Marilyn Hall Patel’s request. The DVD copying tool is the bone of contention between the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) and RealNetworks. The two are currently locked in a legal battle.
The case will come up for hearing in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Tuesday. Judge Marilyn Hall Patel will be hearing the matter. Although most MPC readers are in favor of DVD copying, they have very little sympathy for RealDVD due to its encryption features and $30 price tag.