Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Simple Facts About Plagiarism

Copyright Laws protect copyright holders from having their works plagiarized. The word plagiarism is derived from the word "kidnapper" in Latin. If a person uses another person's words without permission, they have stolen or kidnapped something owned by somebody else. This violates copyright law. Plagiarism is a menacing word in the writing world. Crediting the author of the work will not keep someone immune from violating copyright law. Plagiarism is plagiarism.

The academic world is one of the most common areas which violates plagiarism. Many students will copy and paste information they need for their research papers and essays straight off the Internet and turn it in to their professors. However, these days professors can use special programs to detect this type of cheating. Plagiarism is unethical, not only in the writing world, but in the academic world, as well.

You could plagiarize a work but not violate the copyright. Let's say you are using Abraham Lincoln's exact words in a paper and you did not cite him as the source or give him credit. Well, Lincoln's words aren't copyrighted because they are in the public domain. But, you did plagiarize because you tried to pass off his words as your own.

Alternatively, if you use a picture in a book and you did not gain permission to use the book, you have violated copyright law because you did not source the artist and you did not get permission from the artist to use the picture.

If you are in school, the best way to avoid plagiarism is to list your sources. If you use someone's word, list it in an endnote or in a footnote. List the resource in the bibliography. Another way to avoid plagiarism is to take notes when you are reading. Take notes in your own words; and write your paper from your own words.

No one wants to be singled out for plagiarism, especially a student who is concerned about his or her reputation at school, and writers who need to keep their credibility in good standing. With today's technological advances, it is not too hard to pinpoint plagiarized work. Even webmasters who run websites actively check their content for plagiarized material. They can run their entire sites through a special program to see if their content has been stolen and duplicated elsewhere on the Internet.

If you are writer, either academically or as a profession, it is a good idea that you only use your own words. It was probably easier to get away with plagiarism 20 years ago, but it is not that easy today. The chances are high that if you are plagiarizing, you will be caught. Not only is it embarrassing, but it can cost you a bundle in a lawsuit.

When you hear about people caught of plagiarism, many different things can happen to them. First of all, plagiarism can be both a civil and criminal crime, so people caught of plagiarism are likely to get both sued and tried in criminal court. Because of the nature of copyright laws, if and when people are caught of plagiarism, it’s likely they will get repercussions from far and wide.

Brian Scott is a freelance journalist who covers copyright law for Download his free e-book, "Copyright Basics" at

Don’t Bring Fraud Home for the Holidays

The Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) urges consumers to safeguard their personal data while shopping this holiday season and to monitor online and paper account statements for suspicious activity.

"Criminals consider your personal data the ultimate gift," said Anne Wallace, Executive Director of ITAC. "Taking a few easy precautions while shopping during the holidays will help keep you from being a victim."

"Don't wait for your paper statement to check for suspicious activity," said ITAC board member Terry Nichols, VP-Chief Risk Officer, State Farm Bank®. "Check your account statements by calling your credit card company or bank, or by visiting their websites. You can minimize damage by acting quickly."

ITAC offers the following advice to holiday shoppers:

Don't volunteer any personal information when you use your credit card, other than by displaying personal ID as requested by a merchant.

Don't lend your card to anyone. You are responsible for its use. Some credit card misuse can be traced directly to family and friends.

Guard your PIN when using your debit card. Keep a lookout for suspicious activity. Always guard your PIN and transaction amount, and immediately cancel your transaction and leave if you see something suspicious.

Take your receipt. Always take your receipt. It contains personal information that could be helpful to thieves.

Shop only at Internet merchants you know and trust. If in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau.

Never share your Internet passwords with anyone. Use different passwords for different Web sites.

Do not provide your social security number, birth date, or mother's maiden name in an email or within a Web site.

Install the latest anti-virus software on your computer before shopping online.

The Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) ( is a nonprofit that fights identity theft through victim assistance, research and law enforcement partnerships.

Online Merchants Can Reduce Fraud

Telecentrex LLC has launched a new website,, that aims to help online merchants reduce the number of fraudulent transactions occurring on their websites.

Tim Paulino, Co-Founder and CEO of Telecentrex said, "With $3 billion dollars in online revenue being lost due to online fraud in 2006, as well as over $200 million lost by consumers, reducing Internet fraud benefits everyone. Everyone except the crooks, that is."

Among the services that offers is a televerification solution that allows online merchants to confirm that the telephone number that a user provides is a legitimate, working telephone number before they can complete their transaction. Brandi Cummings, Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer of Telecentrex, stated, "Thieves are leery about providing a legitimate phone number that can be traced back to them. This solution weeds out fraudulent users before they get a chance to do any damage."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Spam Reaches All-Time High of 95% of All Email

Commtouch® has released its Email Threats Trend Report for the third quarter of 2007, based on the automated analysis of billions of email messages weekly. The report examines the appearance of new kinds of attachment spam such as PDF spam and Excel spam together with the decline of image spam, as well as the growing threat of innocent appearing spam containing links to malicious web sites.

Highlights of the report include:

Global spam levels reached an all-time high of 95% of all emails at its peak during the quarter.

Blended threat messages -- or spam messages with links to malicious URLs -- accounted for up to 8% of all global email traffic during the peaks of various attacks during the quarter.

One massive outbreak mid-quarter utilized over 11,000 dynamic zombie IP addresses to host malicious web sites. Leading zombie locations included the United States (36%) and Russia (8%).
Image spam declined to a level of less than 5% of all spam, down from 30% in the first quarter of 2007; also, image pump-and-dump spam has all but disappeared, with pornographic images taking its place.

PDF Spam represented 10-15% of all spam in early July and then dropped significantly, however a steady stream of PDF spam is still being maintained at 3-5% of all spam messages.

Pharmaceuticals and sexual enhancers were the most popular spam topics, at 30% and 23%, respectively.
Blended Threats: Spam with Malware Hyperlinks Inside

One technique which reached a new high during the quarter was innocent-appearing spam messages that contained hyperlinks to malware-sites. This type of spam utilizes vast zombie botnets to launch ‘drive-by downloads’ and evade detection by most anti-virus engines.

Several blended spam attacks of this type focused on leisure-time activities, such as sports and video games. Messages invited consumers to download "fun" software such as NFL game-tracking and video games from what appeared to be legitimate websites. Instead, consumers voluntarily downloaded malware onto their computers.

"Blended spam demonstrates the ingenuity of spammers to attempt to evade detection," said Amir Lev, Commtouch President and CTO. "Most anti-virus and anti-spam technologies are not capable of blocking these types of messages, so the malware threats are allowed to penetrate the users’ computers."

New Spam Tricks

Spammers experimented with several new techniques to slip past anti-spam engines and into inboxes throughout the quarter. For example, they disguised messages in PDF, Excel, and other popular file formats. This simple trick fools many anti-spam technologies and end users alike, whose guards may be down when they see the popular file attachment ending.

"Spammers and malware distributors are the ultimate in test marketers," Lev continued. "They keep trying different techniques to bypass spam filters and ensure that their messages have high response rates. In the future, I expect to see other file formats such as Word and Powerpoint used for a similar purpose."

More details, including samples of PDF spam and spam messages containing malware, are presented in the Commtouch Q3 2007 Email Threats Trends Report, available from Commtouch Labs at:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Taking A Copyright Thief To Court

If all else fails, you can file a copyright infringement lawsuit. This remedy has some drawbacks.

Litigation can be costly. In many cases, the likely value of the misappropriated material and any damages received will be less than the amount obtainable in a judgment.

You also have to deal with the very real problem of collecting a judgment. In many cases, the offending party will be unable to pay if you prevail, and collecting via wage attachment or other options may be inefficient and impractical.

If the case crosses into a foreign country, things become even more complicated. Enforcing a judgment against a foreign entity can be remarkably problematic.

Copyright infringement cases are governed by federal statute and case law and must be filed in a Federal District Court.

If you own a copyright and can successfully prove a violation, you may be able to win damages that approximate the profits lost from the infringement and the profit generated by the offender during the period of violation. You can also receive statutory damages that may reach as much as $150,000 per violation.

During the case itself, you may also be able to get a restraining order requiring the offending party to remove the material until the matter is resolved.

Fighting copyright infringement in the courts can make sense in the right situations. When the value of the content is significant and you can prove your case effectively, it may be sufficiently lucrative to pursue. A willingness to litigate may also signal that you take copyright infringement seriously, acting as a deterrent to other would-be thieves.

Pursuing a copyright infringement case does require a high level of specialized skill. Thus, anyone considering a case of this sort is advised to seek representation from appropriately qualified legal counsel. This is not a do-it-yourself project.

In most cases, litigation just doesn’t make sense. However, it may be necessary when all other remedies are exhausted and a violating party refuses to take appropriate action.

Before instigating legal action, make sure you have clearly assessed the merits of your case with your attorney and that you are prepared to see the matter through. If you aren’t ready to take that kind of action, it may make more sense to do your best to seek other remedies.

Brian Scott is a freelance journalist who covers copyright law for Download his free e-book, "Copyright Basics" at

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Free Guide to Identity Theft

Independent online financial website,, has launched a free online guide about identity theft - how to prevent it and what to do if you become a victim.

According to statistics released by the Home Office, despite the increased publicity surrounding identity fraud, 79% of people are still being careless with their personal details – getting hold of documents that contain personal details is one of the easiest ways for a potential fraudster to steal an identity.

Government research shows that 19 million households put sensitive materials in their household waste and recycling bins, with a third of people throwing away everything a fraudster needs in order to steal an identity – passports, driving licenses, CVs and utility bills. Furthermore, an alarming 11 per cent of people throw away whole credit and debit card numbers, presenting thieves with the perfect opportunity to start using their card.

In response to the statistics, and in support of National Identity Fraud Awareness Week, has produced a Free Guide to Identity Fraud. The guide has information on what identity theft actually is, how to detect identity fraud, simple measures that people can take to protect themselves, and what to do if it happens to them.

It also contains real life stories from people who have been victims of identity fraud, who talk about the stress and inconvenience it has caused them to help highlight the enormity of the issue.

Download Free Guide to Identity Theft

Commtouch Unveils New Online Malware Outbreak Center

Commtouch has launched a new online tool that publicizes data about global virus outbreaks. The Commtouch Malware Outbreak Center– available on Commtouch's public web site – provides ongoing updates on the latest virus variants and how quickly anti-virus solutions can defend against them.

"Broad zombie distribution networks spread new virus variants across the Internet so quickly that many anti-virus technologies have trouble keeping up," said Haggai Carmon, vice president and head of the Commtouch Virus Outbreak Detection Lab. "Commtouch's unique bird's-eye view of global email traffic allows us to detect new outbreaks from the moment they emerge."

The Commtouch Malware Outbreak Center displays a sample of email-borne malware that has recently been detected and blocked by Commtouch's Zero-Hour™ Virus Outbreak Protection solution. It also incorporates data from, an independent third-party organization that tests most of the commercially available anti-virus scanners.

This data enables the Center to publish comparative detection times for leading AV vendors, a first in this comprehensive format which includes malware variant checksum. Detection times are critical, since individual virus variants often peak and then nearly disappear, all in under three hours. IT managers now have access to an online tool that allows them to verify their AV vendor's performance for each new outbreak, and to download comparative data per malware variant.

MDFS Law Answers Questions Regarding Writer's Strike

With the writer's strike in full swing, attorney, Peter Davidson, a specialist in the field of bankruptcy/receivership law, says if the strike is not resolved soon, the duration of the strike and its far-reaching impact could prove an economic disaster for more than just the entertainment industry's cadre of writers.

Davidson, managing partner at Moldo Davidson Fraioli Seror & Sestanovich in Century City, California (more commonly known as MDFS Law) can answer the following questions or provide commentary, upon request. To reach Mr. Davidson, contact Cherie Kerr at 714 550-9900 (office); 714 271-2140 (cell) or email: You may also contact Jennifer Lee at

1. In addition to writers, what other entertainment industry professionals and businesses are likely to suffer the most financially?

2. What can writers (and others) do to stave off a bankruptcy if the strike lingers?

3. If writers or those whose income is largely dependent upon the entertainment industry are forced to file bankruptcy, when will that impact be seen?

4. What are the hidden dangers entertainment professionals may be surprised by if they should file bankruptcy?

5. How will a long strike affect the Los Angeles economy?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Fine Line Between Plagerism And Copyright Violation

The terms "plagiarism" and "copyright violation" are often used interchangeably. Although that may work well for most dinner table conversations, it's actually incredibly incorrect. Not all acts of plagiarism are copyright violations and the two concepts are actually quite distinct.

Copyright violation refers to the use of protected material without the appropriately expressed consent of the owner. If you take a poem I have written and to which I hold copyright and then place it on your website, you are violating my copyright. You are breaking the law.

Are you plagiarizing? Maybe. If you indicate that I am the author (attribution) you aren't really plagiarizing. You have certainly stolen my poem and you are in violation of copyright law, but you aren't passing it off as your own.

Plagiarism refers to stealing the work or ideas of another person for your own use without properly attributing the source. Being a plagiarist can get you in trouble in academic and professional settings, but it isn't necessarily illegal.

Illegality only enters the picture at the point of a copyright violation.

Plagiarism is, primarily, an ethical issue. It involves whether it is right or wrong to copy or to steal the ideas of another and pretend as if it is your own.

Copyright, on the other hand, is a legal matter. It involves whether your use of someone else's work infringes their intellectual property rights.

All copyright violations aren't plagiarism. Not all plagiarism rises to the level of copyright violation. However, the two phenomena do overlap a great deal. In many cases, the plagiarist will be a copyright infringer. Quite often, the person violating a copyright will be in the process of plagiarizing.

Nonetheless, it does make sense to understand the difference between the two acts. If someone plagiarizes you, you may or may not have recourse. It will usually depend upon whether the act also constitutes an infringement of copyright.

Brian Scott is a freelance journalist who covers copyright law for Download his free e-book, "Copyright Basics" at

Sunday, November 4, 2007

430 Organizations Speak Out Against Proposed Patent Reform Act

Senate leaders today received a letter bearing the names of more than 430 organizations and companies united in opposition to the Patent Reform Act of 2007 as currently written. Spanning a vast range of industries and including every size of entity from startups to the nation's largest corporations, the signatories are based in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Sean Murdock, Executive Director of the NanoBusiness Alliance, expressed his concerns about the bill. "The American economy is a knowledge-based economy and American jobs depend upon continuous innovation. Patent reform should strengthen, not weaken, protection for intellectual property and incentives for innovation. That's why nanotech companies have joined with others from a wide variety of industries including high-tech, financial services, manufacturing, med-tech, green-tech, and pharmaceuticals to express opposition to this bill as drafted."

His concerns were shared by others who endorsed the letter, including William Jones, Chairman of Cummins-Allison Corporation, "Core provisions of the Patent Reform Act imperil the ability of U.S. businesses -- large and small -- to create jobs and protect fundable innovation in every sector of the economy. Any argument that patent reform is a debate between a few special interests has been washed away by the 430+ signatories of this letter. When opposition to a bill is so broad-based that it unites the range of American innovation from large manufacturers to small technology startups across all 50 states and DC, you know that the bill has tremendous capacity to damage the entire American economy."

The letter is signed by innovation leaders from every U.S. state and the District of Columbia in fields as far ranging as agriculture; alternative energy; biotechnology; chemicals; computer hardware, software, networking; cosmetics; entertainment; financial services; food/beverage; health care; heavy industry; life sciences; manufacturing; medical devices; material science; nanotechnology; optics; security; semiconductors; space systems; startup incubation; telecommunications, venture capital and Web-based businesses.

The letter unequivocally states that the bill as passed by the House and under consideration by the Senate "contains provisions that will create uncertainty and weaken the enforceability of validly issued patents."

Opposition to weakening patent protection has continued from prior Congresses to the current one. Among many others, Dean Kamen, President of DEKA Research and inventor of the Segway human transporter, testified against a similar bill in 2005 and 2006. Since introduction of the Patent Reform Act of 2007, opposition has stepped up dramatically. Dozens of executives have traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with lawmakers and personally express the concerns reflected in this letter. Earlier this month, the Innovation Alliance sponsored a Congressional briefing in which Jones, Kamen, Steve Perlman, CEO of Silicon Valley-based startup incubator Rearden and a former executive at Microsoft and principal scientist at Apple, and Richard Faubert, President and CEO of AmberWave Systems expressed their opposition to the bill in its current form. More briefings are planned in the coming weeks.

"If we want to improve the patent system, let's first make sure our changes do no harm, and then craft solutions that advance the interests of all businesses and industries, not just a few," Bryan Lord of the Innovation Alliance and Vice President of AmberWave Systems concluded. "The US patent system has been dramatically altered in the last several months by major Supreme Court decisions and new patent rules. Enacting a radical patent system overhaul before there has been time to understand the full impact of changes already made would be irresponsible and risky. America, backed by a strong patent system, leads the world in innovation. Even in the wake of globalization, this has kept the US at the head of the economic food chain. As this letter shows, large sectors of the American economy have significant concerns with this bill -- concerns that need to be addressed if America is to remain the leader in innovation."

The Innovation Alliance is a coalition of entrepreneurial companies seeking to enhance America's innovation environment by improving the quality of patents granted and protecting the integrity of the U.S. patent system. To learn more, visit

Spammers Redirecting Links in Spam Messages to Avoid Detection, Inc. reported that spammers have escalated their use of redirection techniques to try to get around many anti-spam filters. The latest flurry started about 10:00 AM PDT and by 11:00 AM represented an estimated 4.3% of the spam on the Internet. The technique, most commonly found with pharmaceutical spam in this latest flurry, sends a user to a webpage and the user is then automatically redirected to another webpage. This technique is specifically designed to get around databases of destination URLs that many anti-spam technologies rely upon. Mail-Filters anti-spam/anti-phishing technology is successfully detecting these spam messages.

"Spammers are constantly looking for solutions to avoid detection by anti-spam technologies so that they can reach more eyeballs. We have seen a substantial increase in spam messages being sent where the hyperlinks contained in the messages are actually links to legitimate sites that are then redirected to the spammer sites," explained Ben Westbrook, CTO of Mail-Filters.

Mr. Westbrook continued by explaining, "Because the hyperlink appears to be to a legitimate site, most anti-spam technologies will determine it is a legitimate message or create false-positives by misidentifying legitimate email messages that contain links to these same sites. Mail-Filters technology is correctly blocking the spam messages without causing false-positives. This latest technique is coming in a flurry of messages that sometimes has breaks in the sending -- implying the spammer is evaluating techniques to see what message receives the highest response rate."

Another byproduct of this new spammer technique is that legitimate websites are seeing increased traffic to their websites during the redirect process. This increased traffic could create significant load problems for the sites, potentially even temporarily crashing a site from the increased traffic. In addition, unassuming websites that are being targeted by the spammers find themselves in the embarrassing situation of being associated with spammers.


Friday, November 2, 2007

International Copyright Protection: Fact Or Myth?

There are many myths surrounding the issue of copyright. One of the most common is the idea that there is some sort of universally accepted international copyright protection.

As nice as it would be in our global economy to have some sort of clear international regime in place to govern copyrights and their violations, there is none. There is no international copyright protection.

Generally speaking, protection is governed by the country in which a copyright is claimed or in which a violation is alleged. Most countries do have copyright regulations in place, but their terms may vary considerably.

Some nations actively cooperate with the U.S. on copyright relations and the U.S. Copyright Office provides information about those agreements and methods for handling international copyright disputes.

As mentioned in the introduction to this ebook, there are resources available regarding copyright considerations in other countries. If you have an issue with potential infringement and are willing to do your homework, you may be able to come to grips with the intricacies of international copyright laws and how to apply them to your specific case.

More often than not, however, international copyright issues are too complicated (and often, too costly) for the average person to pursue. This is a particular problem in today’s global economy when a competing website could steal materials from another one without any real fear of legal repercussions. could steal from without too much concern, it might seem, if one site is ran from England and the other from Azerbaijan.

It is worth noting, however, that many web site hosts that aren’t located in the U.S. are still willing to voluntarily enforce the provisions of the DMCA (which we’ll soon discuss in greater detail). One should not, however, assume that a non-U.S. entity will ever bend to U.S. law. They don’t need to do so and they probably won’t absent an international agreement to the contrary.

Fortunately, many international agreements are in place. The Berne Convention, for instance, has more than one hundred signatories to the treaty who are obliged to provide copyright protections to authors.

The General Agreement on Trades and Tariffs (GATT) treaty also contains some copyright protection provisions.

These treaties have successfully allowed many authors to enforce their rights in other jurisdictions. However, when it comes to copyright, the key factors are often very detailed and differences in laws can result in outcomes one may not anticipate.

Additionally, even though various treaty regimes do assist in copyright protection, the rapidly changing nature of online communication has left some gaps in the system, complicating matters for online copyright holders.

About the Author:
Brian Scott is a freelance journalist who covers copyright law for Download his free e-book, "Copyright Basics" at