Sunday, June 24, 2007

Software Piracy Ringleader Sentenced to 51 Months in Prison

The leader of one of the oldest and most infamous Internet software piracy groups was sentenced today to 51 months in prison on one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

In one of the first ever extraditions for an intellectual property offense, Hew Raymond Griffiths, 44, a British national living in Bateau Bay, Australia, was brought to the United States in February 2007 to face criminal charges in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. He pleaded guilty on April 20, 2007, before U.S. District Court Judge Claude M. Hilton. Prior to his arrival in the United States, he had spent nearly three years incarcerated at a detention center in Australia while fighting his extradition in Australian court.

"From his home in Australia, Griffiths became one of the most notorious leaders of the underground Internet piracy community by orchestrating the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in copyrighted material," said Assistant Attorney General Fisher. "The Justice Department is committed to protecting intellectual property rights, and will pursue those who commit such crimes beyond the borders of the United States where necessary."

"Whether committed with a gun or a keyboard -- theft is theft," said U.S. Attorney Rosenberg. "And, for those inclined to steal Intellectual Property here, or from halfway around the world, they are on notice that we can and will reach them."

Griffiths was a leader of an organized criminal group known as DrinkOrDie, which had a reputation as one of the oldest and most security-conscious piracy groups on the Internet. DrinkOrDie was founded in Russia in 1993 and expanded internationally throughout the 1990s. The group was dismantled by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as part of Operation Buccaneer in December 2001, with more than 70 raids conducted in the U.S. and five foreign countries, including the United Kingdom, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Australia. To date, Operation Buccaneer has resulted in more than 30 felony convictions in the United States and 11 convictions of foreign nationals overseas. Prior to its dismantling, DrinkOrDie was estimated to have caused the illegal reproduction and distribution of more than $50 million worth of pirated software, movies, games and music.

Griffiths, known by the screen nickname "Bandido," was a longtime leader of DrinkOrDie and an elder in the highest echelons of the underground Internet piracy community, also known as the warez scene. In an interview published in December 1999 by an online news source, Griffiths boasted that even though he ran all of DrinkOrDie's day-to-day operations and controlled access to more than 20 of the top warez servers worldwide, he would never be caught.

DrinkOrDie specialized in cracking software codes and distributing the cracked versions over the Internet. Their victims included not only well- known companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk, Symantec and Novell, but also smaller companies whose livelihood depended on the sales revenue generated by one or two products. Once cracked, these software versions could be copied, used and distributed without limitation. Members stockpiled the illegal software on huge Internet computer storage sites that were filled with tens of thousands of individual software, game, movie and music titles worth millions of dollars. The group used encryption and an array of other sophisticated technological security measures to hide their activities from law enforcement.

This case was investigated by the Washington field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in conjunction with the Customs Cybercenter in Fairfax, Va.

This case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Michael DuBose and Senior Counsel Jay Prabhu of the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Wiechering of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Illegal Downloads Out of Control

American pop singer-songwriter Benny Mardones, best known for the hit single "Into the Night," which hit the Billboard Hot 100 Top 20 in 1980 and again in 1989, has joined a growing national campaign of artists against illegal Internet music filesharing.

"If retailers and artists do not offer music consumers what they want, when they want it, they will turn to other resources, such as contaminated P2P networks," said Mardones, who is on tour to promote his new Warrior Records CD, "Let's Hear It for Love."

Studies show that more than $2 billion worth of music and more than $20 billion worth of movie content was downloaded illegally last year. SafeMedia Corporation, based in Boca Raton, Fla., has developed technology -- "SafeMedia's 'Clouseau®'" -- that makes it impossible to send or receive illegal Peer-2-Peer transmissions or file sharing.

SafeMedia CEO & President Safwat Fahmy, who created "Clouseau," has submitted testimony to Congress describing his company's global "P2P Disaggregator" (P2PD) technology, which examines incoming and outgoing packets of information and destroys contaminated P2P network, while allowing legal P2P to reach its intended destination.

"The technology moves through multi-layered encryptions, analyzes network patterns and updates itself frequently," said Fahmy. "The packet examinations are noninvasive and foolproof. Clouseau prevents the illegal back and forth flow of copyrighted files like you would find through LimeWire, Morpheus or eMule."

"I want better control of the distribution of my music, so everyone gets paid in a fair way," said Mardones. "It's nice to know there is technology out there like SafeMedia, which will help us with the problem of illegal music, downloads."

Earlier this week Singer Eddie Money said: "If you like music, don't steal it." Money is on tour promoting his new Warrior Records CD, "Wanna Go Back." He is one of the first this year to join other musicians and celebrities in the war on illegal Internet filesharing of music and movies.

"Music piracy is illegal and extremely detrimental to all of those who make a living creating original musical works," said Money.

Search Engines May Face Massive Liability from Partnering with Internet Thieves

According to Dr. Norm Zada, President of Perfect 10, Inc., a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has raised the specter that search engines that continue to knowingly partner with or assist hundreds of Internet thieves may subject themselves to potentially massive liability for copyright infringement. At risk are most of the major search engines: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Amazon, and, all of whom continue to accept advertising from and link to websites that are cumulatively selling billions of dollars worth of stolen movies, TV shows, songs, images, and software, for as little as $5 a month.

In an opinion in a case brought by Perfect 10, Inc., the Beverly Hills-based publisher of Perfect 10 Magazine and website against Google, the Appeals Court concluded, “there is no dispute that Google substantially assists websites to distribute their infringing copies to a worldwide market and assists a worldwide audience of users to access infringing materials.”

The Appeals Court went on to suggest that if search engines continue to link to or otherwise facilitate infringement after receiving notice, they could be found liable for copyright infringement. According to Dr. Norm Zada, a former Stanford professor and President of Perfect 10, Inc., most search engines are doing just that, and in a big way.

“I have personally provided Google, MSN, Yahoo!, AOL, and Comcast, with repeated notices regarding the theft of close to 15,000 Perfect 10 images, as well as billions of dollars worth of stolen movies and songs,” says Zada. “But the search engines seem to have disregarded my notices. As far as I can tell, they are turning a blind eye to massive theft. If the search engines would simply remove such thieves from their search results, they would greatly help copyright holders.”

Google’s response to notices of infringement will likely be a significant factor not only in the case filed by Perfect 10, but also in the recent copyright case filed against Google and YouTube by Viacom. According to Zada, “Google’s thieving advertising affiliates sell pirated copies of Viacom’s full-length movies, including just-released movies, full-length movies owned by other studios, and full-length songs. In contrast, YouTube offers primarily clips. A lot is at stake for both copyright holders and search engines. The damage to copyright holders from the theft of virtually every marketable full-length movie, song, and image, is immense.”

Zada also noted, “Google is partnering with hundreds of other pirate websites to display Google ads next to millions of celebrity images without authorization. Google currently has ads next to about 10,000 stolen Perfect 10 images and won’t stop,” says Zada. “Hopefully they won’t get away with it.”

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Antigua Threatens to Act Against U.S. Intellectual Property Rights

Antigua has threatened to act against U.S. trademarks, copyrights and intellectual property rights, in response to the U.S. position in the World Trade Organization dispute regarding internet gambling. The WTO decision, however, does not reveal the extent of the issues relevant to cross border wagering.

Around $100 million has been won from U.S. players through abuse of U.S. intellectual property rights by most Antigua internet casinos. For example, the most popular proprietary casino table game is Three Card Poker. The right to offer Three Card Poker to U.S. players has never been granted to any Antigua internet casino. Yet most Antigua internet casinos offer Three Card Poker to U.S. players, and in the process, knowingly infringe U.S. patents related to Three Card Poker. Ironically, Antigua seeks relief from the WTO, while contrary to WTO principles Antigua fails to rectify infringement of patents and other intellectual property rights.

Antigua is proposing to act against U.S. intellectual property rights as retaliation against the U.S., whilst ignoring that most Antigua internet casinos already abuse U.S. intellectual property rights to deceptively and unethically generate revenue from U.S. players.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

No Shortage of Work for Legal Professionals

Business is healthy for many law firms, a new survey shows. Sixty-nine percent of lawyers polled said their firms are handling more projects and cases compared to one year ago; just 6 percent said their current workloads have decreased.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of attorneys, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 150 attorneys among the largest law firms in the United States and Canada. All respondents have at least three years of experience in the legal field.

Lawyers were asked, "Is your law firm experiencing an increase or decrease in new cases or client projects compared to one year ago?" Their responses:

Significant increase 26%
Slight increase 43%
Neither an increase nor a decrease 20%
Slight decrease 5%
Significant decrease 1%
Don't know 5%

"Companies are looking to outside counsel to provide support for a growing volume of casework, ranging from large-scale litigation and patent and copyright issues to commercial real estate transactions and mergers and acquisitions," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal.

Volkert added, "Because projects may require special resources, many law firms are hiring legal professionals on a project-by-project basis to quickly access specific skill sets and expertise to handle complex discovery requests and other legal matters that have the potential to overtax current staff."

Internet Radio Files for Emergency Stay

An emergency stay filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit could delay the looming D-Day for Internet radio. The motion, filed by the Digital Media Association in conjunction with National Public Radio, and the Small Commercial Webcasters, formally requests the court delay the implementation of a "radical and arbitrary" recording royalty rate increase imposed by the Copyright Royalty Board May 1. Legislation that would repeal the rate increase is pending in the Senate and the House, but may not be brought to a vote in either chamber before July 15th, the day the first payments for the newly increased rates for webcasters are due.

"July 15th, D-day for Internet radio, is fast approaching," SaveNetRadio spokesperson, Jake Ward said, "and we are hopeful that today's motion for an emergency stay will afford the Internet radio industry crucial time to rehear this case. We have every confidence that Congress will continue to give the Internet Radio Equality Act the attention it deserves with the urgency it requires, as evidenced by the over 100 cosponsors who have signed on H.R. 2060 since its April 26th introduction. SaveNetRadio and the millions of webcasters, artists and listeners we represent urge the Court to give this motion full consideration."

For complete language of the motion for an emergency stay filed today visit

Sunday, June 3, 2007

College Students Experiencing Negative Consequences From Unlicensed Software Use

More than half of college and university students who download unlicensed software and other digital copyrighted files are experiencing computer viruses and spyware from their downloading activities, according to a new survey released today by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs*, shows that 55 percent of the students surveyed who download have personally experienced virus and spyware problems. Furthermore, students who download or file-share also have experienced hard drive crashes (20 percent) and document and file losses (18 percent).

"Clearly, the risks associated with using pirated software are very real," said Diane Smiroldo, BSA's vice president for public affairs. "Yet, many students continue to ignore these warnings and continue to illegally download and file-share software. They need to realize that this activity jeopardizes their computer and files."

A majority of students (55 percent) who download report rarely or never paying for downloaded software. This compares to 61 percent of students who downloaded without paying surveyed in 2005 and 68 percent in 2003.

Among faculty and academics who have downloaded commercial software, only 33 percent report rarely or never paying when they are downloading commercial software. Twenty-nine percent of academics reported this activity in 2005 and 38 percent in 2003.

The 2007 BSA-Ipsos survey is the third study of the higher education community's attitudes and behaviors around downloading and uses of copyrighted digital files, with previous studies conducted in 2005 and 2003.

Smiroldo added, "The higher education community are significant technology users, and these survey results indicate that too many students are paying the heavy price for lax attitudes and behaviors around illegal downloading."

Other results from the students surveyed:

-- Of the higher education students surveyed, 30 percent are concerned
about viruses and spyware.

-- 30 percent of students are afraid of getting in trouble if they
downloaded software illegally.

-- 27 percent are concerned about being fined by authorities.

BSA will be releasing B4UCopy, a cybersafety video for college students that emphasizes the serious consequences of software piracy and the importance of making the right choices about using and sharing digital media and information. Featured in the video is a former college student who is awaiting sentencing for pirating commercial software and other digital works. College students are also interviewed about sharing and copying digital copyrighted software. B4UCopy also offers tips to help students be "smart" about piracy and make the right choices when using digital media. The video, another resource for BSA's higher education program, will be posted on the BSA Web site,

And, BSA's "Define the Line" ( program is an example of how the commercial software industry is working with higher education institutions to prevent digital piracy. The campaign also educates students of the consequences they could experience if they engage in illegal downloading.

For a copy of the 2003, 2005 and 2007 Student and Academic Surveys and topline reports as well as digital copyright education resources, visit

For more information, visit

How to Avoid Being A Target of Identity Theft, Fraud and Scams

People who share their files on the Internet may be playing with fire a new study says. The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) report reveals people who store any type of sensitive data on their home computers--particularly computers to which children, teenagers, or college students might have access--confront circumstances similar to those faced by governmental or corporate IT managers.

"I don't think parents would allow their children to download free music or movies if they knew who their kids were sharing files with," said Safwat Fahmy, CEO & president, SafeMedia Corp., Boca Raton, Fl. "Parents should know that free illegal downloading of music and movies (via Peer-2-Peer filesharing) can be dangerous."

The USPTO report "Filesharing Programs and Technological Features to Induce Users to Share" found that "home computers are often used by multiple people and the person who best understands which files are sensitive and where they are stored may not be the person who installs and runs a filesharing program."

The report reveals that at least four of the (P-2-P filesharing) programs analyzed have deployed partial-uninstall features: If users uninstall one of these programs from their computers, the process will leave behind a file that will cause any subsequent installation of any version of the same program to share all folders shared by the "uninstalled" copy of the program. Whenever a computer is used by more than one person, this feature ensures that users cannot know which files and folders these programs will share by default.

Federal prosecutors are now requiring social websites to reveal the emails of registered sex offenders. "If teenagers are filesharing music, who knows how many criminals might be sharing personal information, credit cards, bank passwords and social security numbers with scheme operators who buy them," said Fahmy, who created Clouseau®, a practical and inexpensive technology to stop illegal downloading of copyrighted materials on P-2-P networks. "They're also sharing family photo files with everyone," he noted.

To avoid becoming a victim, Safwat offers this advice when parents allow their children to surf the internet.

1) Visit legitimate websites that have secured seals.

2) Do not offer personal information on any websites.

3) Report any suspicious websites that offer items that seem too good to be true.

"The damage being caused by P-2-P networks goes unnoticed, because its free, and most often it is an illegal transfer of copyright protected files," explained Fahmy. The USPTO report "Technological Features to Induce Users to Share," published in November, 2006 disclosed five user-dangerous features hidden or disguised in P2P programs. The programs included everything from allowing hackers to exploit computer networks to stealing sensitive data to infecting computers or networks with malicious code.

"Unknowing Internet users are duped into breaking the law and jeopardizing their standing and their futures as law-abiding citizens," explained Fahmy.

Meantime, social website MySpace is being pressured by the attorney general of eight states to hand over information on sex offenders using the site by May 29, although the company is declining to do so. It claims both federal and state laws prohibit the release of such information.

Those states requesting the release of data were: Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and New Hampshire.

Congress is also sending an ultimatum and survey to universities to respond by the end of the month to a laundry list of questions of Internet piracy on campus (using taxpayer facilities).

The strong letters were sent to the presidents of 19 Universities, including University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Boston University, Columbia University, Duke University, Howard University and Michigan State University to name a few.

And nearly two dozen California Universities received an order to enforce copyright infringement laws from state Chancellor Charles B. Reed.

"Even when parents know that their children are using popular sites like LimeWire, eMule, uTorrent and dozens of others, most of them are not techies enough to understand these illegal P-2-P networks features," explained Fahmy. "The problem is, on the surface they appear to be so easy to use; parents believe that they are safe."

And finally, the USPTO study, which reviewed half dozen programs, found that, "The damage being caused by P2P goes well beyond the knowing, illegal transfer of copyright protected files and a disregard for intellectual property. As you would expect, when files often come from anonymous and uncertified sources, the risk of that file containing a virus greatly increases. Research by the security company TruSecure found that 45 percent of popular downloaded files concealed malicious code."

For more about SafeMedia Corp.'s Technology and the Clouseau® visit: Visit their Blog at: