Hell hath no fury like a sysadmin scorned. Just ask Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems Inc; after the organization fired 52-year old Walter Powell in 2009, the IT manager went on a hack attack against his former employer, breaking into the network and installing keyloggers on company computers. With his former CEO's password firmly in hand, he unleashed his coup de grace. And yes, it involves porn, as many humorous computer-related stories do.
The U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency has been the Dirty Harry of the World Wide Web the past year or so, shooting its virtual guns and taking down websites playing host to copyrighted materials. Fire first and silly legal questions be damned! Now, the gung-ho nature of "Operation in Our Sites" (see what they did there?) could be coming back to haunt ICE. Puerto 80, the owner of Spanish sports site Rojadirecta.com, has petitioned the courts for the return of its seized website – and it has the EFF in its corner.
Maximum PC readers probably already know that sysadmins can be your best friend if you treat them right – or your worst enemy if you don't. Just ask the city of San Francisco, whose FiberWAN network was held hostage for 12 days in 2008 by rogue sysadmin Terry Childs.
Taking a leaf out of the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) book, the producers of the Hurt Locker on Monday instituted legal proceedings against people who illegally downloaded the critically acclaimed film from the internet. Voltage Pictures, the production company responsible for the film, fired the first salvo in the form of a copyright infringement complaint against 5,000 people. The scope of the complaint might even be expanded to accommodate more downloaders later on.
“The true names of Defendants are unknown to the Plaintiff at this time. Each Defendant is known to the Plaintiff only by the Internet Protocol (“IP”) address assigned to the Defendant by his or her Internet Service Provider on the date and at the time which the infringing activity of each Defendant was observed,” reads the complaint.
Voltage Pictures told the court that it will amend the complaint to reflect the true names of the defendants as and when it is able to identify them. And yes, the complaint also mentions the Hurt Lockers's amazing feat of six Oscar victories (probably in a bid to make a strong first impression).
The production company believes it is entitled to recover from the downloaders actual or statutory damages, costs of filing the suit and attorney fees. It is also seeking “injunctive relief” in the matter, asking the court to prohibit illegal downloaders from further downloading, pirating or hosting/storing unauthorized versions of its films.
Although RIAA has abandoned the mass lawsuit strategy, the contagion seems to be sweeping the film industry, with a consortium of film studios called the US Copyright Group filing a similar complaint against 20,000 downloaders in March.
News spreads like wildfire on the internet. However, print publications and news agencies, which spend their precious human and financial resources on accumulation of news stories, are forgotten in this rapidity. Though many major websites do compensate news agencies, a lot of the websites don’t even bother with properly crediting them. The Associated Press has now adopted a more stringent approach towards unauthorized reproduction of its content.
Dean Singleton, the man who heads the news cooperative, delivered a stern warning to websites that unlawfully reproduce content owned by it. Singleton threatened intransigent offenders with legal action at the cooperative’s annual meeting in San Diego. You will have to make the jump to read Google's riposte.
Four Google employees have been slapped with criminal charges of defamation and privacy violation in Italy. Their legal woes began when an Italian organization complained against a video on Google Video – uploaded a couple of years ago – that shows four imbeciles tormenting a disabled person.
Although Google removed the video as soon as the complaint was made, Italian prosecutors decided to persist with personal criminal charges – an unprecedented move - against the four Google executives. Their trial will begin on Tuesday in Milan, Italy. These Google execs may even be consigned to an Italian prison for up to three years, if the charges against them are upheld.
It has vowed to “vigorously defend” its employees. "Seeking to hold neutral platforms liable for content posted on them is a direct attack on a free, open Internet" a spokeswoman for Google argued.
The ghosts from Apple’s past have returned to haunt the company. A couple of years ago, an internal inquest was launched into the alleged backdating of stock options grants at Apple made between 1997 and 2001. The investigation uncovered several irregularities - and forgeries - that eventually prompted the Securities and Exchange Commission to step in.
Although SEC filed charges against then Apple CFO Fred D. Anderson and general counsel Nancy R. Heinen, the company’s top brass including Steve Jobs were given the clean chit and lauded for their cooperation in the investigation.
However, disgruntled Apple stockholders Martin Vogel and Kenneth Mahoney believe there is more to the stock-option-backdating story than what met SEC’ keen eye. They have initiated a class-action suit against Apple CEO Steve Jobs, already beleaguered Anderson and Heinen, and four others from the Board of Directors.
The plaintiffs alleged that Apple’s blue-eyed boy Steve Jobs was the beneficiary of one such backdated stock option and profited to the tune of $20 million, and that Apple’s account department didn’t deem it necessary to record this spending in their books.
Also up for legal debate will be the catastrophic decline in Apple stocks – that wiped $7 billion in share value within two weeks – after Apple’s announcement of the internal investigation and whether shareholders deserve to be redressed for it.