Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fact or Fiction? Myths Behind the Proactive Fraud Alert

In an effort to alleviate growing concern over identity theft, more and more Americans are placing fraud alerts on credit records even before they have become a victim. Though placing a fraud alert may help lessen the chance for identity theft to occur, Europ Assistance USA, the professional ally for people in crisis or distress, advises concerned Americans to not rely on this as a means of preventing identity theft.

Approximately 15 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2006 according to a Gartner study done in coordination with the Identity Theft Resource Center. And the crime continues to grow specifically due to the increased use of the Internet and online records. Although proactive measures have become more commonplace in the last few years, as reported in 2004, victims still spent an average of 300 hours recovering from this crime, often over a period of several years.

Today, Americans are placing an increased number of proactive fraud alerts on credit records. Due to the fact that the fraud alerts are free of charge to anyone and can be placed repeatedly every 90 days, Americans perceive them to protect more than they do.

Myth: Fraud alerts are the premiere form of protection and prevention against identity theft.

Fact: The alert signals credit agencies to contact you to check that you placed an incoming credit application and that the application is in fact valid. Unfortunately, this is not a foolproof system of preventing new credit from being issued in your name. In fact, some credit issuers do not even see the fraud alert because they do not use credit reports prior to issuing credit. This step also does not prevent criminals from using your existing accounts to commit fraud.

Myth: Fraud alerts protect your credit records and accounts 100 percent of the time.

Fact: Due to the above stated circumstance, the Identity Theft Resource Center believes that proactive fraud alerts are effective only about 70 percent of the time.

Although placing a fraud alert is a proactive way to diminish the chance of identity theft, it is a relatively indirect method of completely preventing the crime for those who have been victims or those who are considerably concerned.

For those who have suffered from such crimes or are particularly worried, Europ Assistance USA recommends placing a credit freeze, or locking access to credit files, on your credit record. A much more complete solution, a credit freeze prevents any lines of credit from being issued -- a helping hand to those suffering from the crime or concerned that they may be at risk.

"A credit freeze is unmatchable to any other prevention method out there at this time. Fraud alerts are an important part of responding to an actual identity theft, but using them before any theft has occurred does not make a person immune to the crime," said Guillaume Deybach, president and CEO of Europ Assistance USA. "In our Gold level identity theft resolution program, customers can freeze and unfreeze their credit at any time free of charge."

Freezing your account and unfreezing it when needed for credit approval is a way to prevent damage to your credit and allows you to maintain control of your credit record and your identity. Although you may be prevented from obtaining instant credit, the reassurance of a higher level of security is a comfort to concerned Americans. When needed, credit reports can be thawed for specific periods of time and for specific companies to see, neither of which affects your credit score. Free for any victim, the service can cost those interested in proactive measures anywhere from $2-$20 for each freeze of unfreezing of a report.


Architectural Designs For Popular Alexander Homes To Be Part Of Public Domain

Architect William Krisel has dismissed his multi-million dollar copyright and trademark lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California against Pro-Active Business Services, Inc. and other defendants.

In William Krisel v. Pro-Active Business Services, Inc., et al., Case No. 06CV507 SGL, Krisel claimed ownership over the design of homes constructed during the 1950s by the George Alexander Construction Company in the Palm Springs area of Riverside County, California. These popular homes contain flat, butterfly, or folded-plate roofs, open plans, and decorative concrete block walls and are collectively known as "Alexanders" or "Alexander Homes".

The complaint alleged that Pro-Active, along with other defendants, misused Krisel's copyrights and trademarks in connection with recently built residences in the Palm Springs, California area, which were inspired by the designs of mid-century Alexanders.

The Quintana Law Group, APC, counsel for defendant Pro-Active, filed a progression of motions challenging Krisel's claims. Principally, Pro-Active argued in papers filed with the court that the 1958 copyright had fallen into the public domain and further that Krisel failed to properly state a cause of action under federal trademark law for his architectural designs.

In a written opinion entered on September 28, 2006, Judge Stephen Larson agreed, ruling that Krisel's 1958 copyright had lapsed into the public domain, and thus no longer protectible, as a result of Krisel's "failure to adhere to the formailities of the [copyright renewal process that was in place at the time." Judge Larson dismissed with prejudice Krisel's copyright claims based on the 1958 copyright. In addition, Judge Larson dismissed Krisel's trademark claims finding that architectural designs, as artistic expressions, are not protectible under trademark law.

Additional motions filed by the Quintana Law Group, APC on behalf of Pro-Active further removed certain requests for relief made by Krisel.

In November of 2007, Krisel dismissed his infringement lawsuit against Pro-Active and all defendants, with prejudice.

Source: Quintana Law Group:

Federal Court Recognizes Copyright Rights In Cease And Desist

The US District Court for the District of Idaho has found that copyright law protects a lawyer demand letter posted online by the recipient (Case No. MS-07-6236-EJL-MHW). The copyright decision, in pertinent part, has been made available by Dozier Internet Law, and is the first known court decision in the US to address the issue directly. The Final Judgment calls into serious question the practice of posting lawyer cease and desist letters online, a common tactic used and touted by First Amendment groups to attack legal efforts at resolving everything from defamation to intellectual property disputes.

In September 2007, Dozier Internet Law, a law firm specializing exclusively in representing business interests on the web, was targeted online by "free speech" and "public participation" interests for asserting copyright ownership rights in a confidential cease and desist letter sent to a "scam reporting site". The issue generated online buzz in the US with commentators such as Google's lead copyright counsel and Ralph Nader's Public Citizen attacking the practice as unlawful, and Dozier Internet Law responding. Bloggers from around the world soon joined the debate, reeling at the thought of losing a valuable counter-attack tool.

The Court, in its decision, found that a copyright had been adequately established in a lawyer's cease and desist letter. The unauthorized publication of the letter, therefore, can expose the publisher to liability. Statutory damages under the US Copyright Act can be as much as $150,000 per occurrence plus attorneys' fees that can average $750,000 through trial. The publisher of the letter raised First Amendment and "fair use" arguments without success.

John W. Dozier, Jr., Esq., President of Dozier Internet Law, PC, was not surprised by the decision. "In today's world, anticipating how the Courts will view 'new age' arguments is not easy. Dozier Internet Law has been using copyright protected cease and desist letters for years with great success in protecting our business clients and preventing an escalation of a situation. The publication of cease and desist letters is an easy way for scofflaws to generate online 'mobosphere' support for illegal activity and, until today, many businesses have been hesitant to take action to address some of the lawlessness online because of possible retaliation and attacks."


Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Copyright Guidelines for Course Content in Digital Formats

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) today announced that three universities --Hofstra, Syracuse and Marquette -- have reached agreement with the AAP on new copyright guidelines affirming that educational content delivered to students in digital formats should be treated under the same copyright principles that apply to printed materials.

The guidelines, which were developed separately by the three universities, govern how librarians and faculty members distribute copyrighted content through library electronic course reserves systems, course management systems, faculty and departmental web pages and other digital formats.

AAP worked with each of the three universities in cooperative efforts to establish easily understood and common-sense standards that help faculty and staff understand and interpret their rights and responsibilities when using copyrighted content in educational settings. Each of the guidelines reflects the specific needs of the particular university and is consistent with the principles of fair use while providing helpful guidance as to when permission from the copyright holder is required to copy or post materials in digital formats. AAP believes the guidelines, which are similar to those adopted by Cornell University last year, will serve as models for others colleges and universities.

“Copyright provides a critical incentive for creative people to invest their time, energy, talent and money in creating new works of original expression for the broader benefit of our society,” said former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder, president of the AAP. “The AAP, our member publishers and the authors of the works they publish applaud these universities for implementing their new copyright guidelines and taking steps to educate their faculty and staff on the proper use of copyrighted works in digital formats.”

In the last two years AAP has initiated discussions with a number of universities after observing that unlicensed digital copies of course materials were gradually replacing the licensed physical copying of articles, book chapters and other copyrighted works. While it is well established that physical copying of materials for distribution to multiple students, often in compilations known as coursepacks, generally requires permission from the copyright holder, faculty and staff seem less aware that permission is similarly required for distribution of electronic copies of such copyrighted materials.

The new guidelines at each university clarify that the use of copyrighted works in digital formats requires such permission. At Marquette, for example, the guidelines explain that “The same copyright and fair use principles that apply to educational use of copyrighted works in printed form apply equally to their use in digital form.” Similar statements are included in the new guidelines adopted by Hofstra and Syracuse.

In addition to the development of new copyright guidelines for digital course content, Syracuse recently announced the creation of a University Committee on Copyright and the inclusion of library reserve materials within the Blackboard course management system.

In the Syracuse University News article “New SU program provides copyright guidance, education”, Syracuse Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina reports, "It is the right time for our University community to build a copyright program that is a model for others, including our students, who will move into the broader world with a better understanding of the complexities of fair use and copyright protection.”

To view the copyright guidelines, go to:

A Wallet Holds a lot More than Money

Privacy Matters Identity (SM), a leading security and privacy membership program from Adaptive Marketing LLC, knows that a lost wallet can mean instant panic. And those first few seconds of helplessness -- followed by everything from self-deprecation to worry, even to anger -- are perfectly normal. Still, if it happens, consumers need to have a recovery plan in place.

In today's world, it's just too easy for personal information to fall into the wrong hands, notes PMIdentity. So, first and foremost, make sure to stash away all important account numbers elsewhere, separate from that wallet or purse -- especially your Social Security number. Just in case someone else has the chance to go on a no-holds-barred shopping spree or clean out a personal bank account with no reprisals.

Sure, it's inconvenient to have to deal with the loss of critical and personal items -- not to mention cash -- but no one else will do the legwork. So if that trusty billfold or favorite hand bag should suddenly goes missing, PMIdentity recommends creating some semblance of the following "Lost Wallet" recovery plan:

-- Practice the three "Cs." Easier said than done, but this is a good time to try to be cool, calm and collected. Count to 10, and think about retracing those steps to the last time the wallet was accounted for. Anyone can freak out or punch a hole in a wall in a fit of rage. Dare to be different, and breathe deeply instead.

-- Dial for dials. Don't give up "the hunt" right away, but don't dally either. If there's sensitive and personal information in that wallet, anyone who can read can use it for personal gain. Keep those phone skills sharp, think about canceling all the credit and charge cards, and get replacement account numbers. A lost wallet will mean some extra time on the phone, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

-- Sound the alarm. So once those account numbers have been canceled through the individual credit companies, call up the major credit reporting agencies, and ask them to flag accounts with a "fraud alert." In case the cards have already been used by someone else, adding a "victim's statement" to the account history will build in added protection.

-- Meanwhile, back on the busy phones … Once all the financials have been handled, get on the phone with everybody else -- utility companies, the bank and the phone company -- just in case someone out there feels like becoming an identity thief might be an interesting career move.

So before panic takes over, reconstruct the situation. Maybe that missing wallet is in another pair of pants or in the glove compartment of the car. If not, play it safe and get ready to borrow a tip or two from IK9 Privacy Matters Identity.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Beyonce Wins Appeal for Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the 2006 trial court decision dismissing a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against Beyoncé and the co-authors of the Grammy(r) Award-winning, number one hit song "Baby Boy."
In response to the appellate court's decision, Beyoncé said, "It's unfortunate that we had to endure this long legal process but I am hopeful this decision will allow all of us that were involved to finally move on."

The plaintiff, Jennifer Armour, asserted in the lawsuit that her former manager submitted demo recordings of a song to Mathew Knowles (President, Music World Entertainment), representatives of Beyoncé's record label Columbia Records, a division of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and others, in late February or early March 2003. She discovered in the litigation, however, that the writing and recording of "Baby Boy" was substantially complete before Armour claimed to have submitted her demo recording.

The trial court dismissed the plaintiff's case because, the court determined, no reasonable person could conclude that the two songs sounded substantially similar to one another. The appellate court did not reach that question, but instead upheld the dismissal of the case on the grounds that "Baby Boy" was in existence before Armour allegedly submitted her demos.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Copyright Registration for the Arts Community

Artists frequently sacrifice their financial well-being to focus on their artwork. Whether it is a lack of customers or because they funnel any extra money toward art projects, many live on a limited income. As a result, it is not uncommon for artists to forgo spending the fee to register their works with the U.S. Copyright Office, especially if it means getting an expensive lawyer to help.

What these artists do not understand is that by not registering their works with the Copyright Office, they are neglecting to get important legal protections. Critical for artists to realize however, is that these legal protections can be the best shield against copyright infringement. is a copyright registration service designed to help artists get the legal protection they deserve. It achieves this mission by making the copyright registration service low-cost, and by working with artists to fit as many artworks as possible on a single copyright application. is a website that offers a range of information and materials about copyrights, and can assist the artist with submitting his or her work electronically to the U.S. Copyright Office.


Intellectual Property Protection: Key to Entrepreneur Success

Ensuring your intellectual property is safeguarded against theft is one of the first steps every entrepreneur should take. From processes to ideas to inventions, intellectual property is often more valuable than physical assets and its theft costs U.S. companies roughly $300 billion annually.

Types of intellectual property

There are four legally defined categories of intellectual property: patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Each category offers entrepreneurs special protections and violators on state and federal levels are subject to prosecution.

-- Copyrights protect your ideas and how you express them. Books, songs and movies are common examples covered by copyright protection.

-- Trade secrets cover the information giving you a commercial advantage the general public doesn't possess. A good example is Coca-Cola: trade secrets protect everything from Coca-Cola's formulas to customer lists to manufacturing processes.

-- Trademarks protect the visual aspects of your business that distinguish you from competitors, including logos, names and general visual attributes.

-- Patents cover inventions that are useful to the public and prevent anyone else from making, using or selling these devices or processes. Business method patents protect a method of doing business, like's "one-click" ordering. Receiving a patent can take several years, so it's important to apply as soon as possible.

Ensuring your legal bases are covered through copyrights, patents and trademarks is a solid start to protecting your intellectual property. But catching and prosecuting offenders is difficult and expensive, and often times by then the damage has been done -- your critical information is now in the public domain. Consider these steps to further protect your company's ideas, processes and inside secrets for success:

-- Prioritize your intellectual property. What company assets would sting the most if stolen and which are most at risk?

-- Tag it. If it's yours, put your name on it. Otherwise you'll have a difficult time proving the information was protected.

-- Lock it. Lock up servers and storage, and control the keys.

-- Educate employees. Humans are often the weakest link in the intellectual property protection chain. Make sure your team is aware of what's at stake and how to protect it.

-- Think like a competitor. If you were a competitor and wanted to steal secrets from your company, how would you do it? Use your own insights as an entrepreneur to further identify what intellectual property needs protection as you refine your plan for doing so.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Cookbook Author Sues Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld for Copyright Infringement

Attorneys for Missy Chase Lapine, author of "The Sneaky Chef," today filed a lawsuit against Jessica Seinfeld and Jerry Seinfeld for copyright and trademark infringement and defamation in Federal District Court in New York.

The lawsuit alleges that Jessica Seinfeld blatantly plagiarized Ms. Lapine's book, "The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals," a critically-acclaimed and commercially successful cookbook with an innovative approach to improving children's eating habits. "The Sneaky Chef" shows parents how to, among other things, camouflage purees of carefully selected fruits and vegetables as ingredients in less healthy foods that kids like, such as cheeseburgers, pizza and brownies. Running Press Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, published "The Sneaky Chef" in April, 2007, generating positive reviews and quickly becoming a New York Times bestseller.

Six months later, in October, 2007, Jessica Seinfeld released a substantially similar book, "Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Getting Your Kids Eating Good Food."

Prior to the publication of "Deceptively Delicious," Ms. Lapine saw promotional material and alerted her publisher to the striking similarities between the two books, including cover art, subtitles, structure, design and overall look and feel. Running Press, seeking to prevent any violation of Ms. Lapine's rights, brought the striking similarities to the attention of Jessica Seinfeld's publisher. Jessica Seinfeld's publisher, which had earlier reviewed and passed up a book proposal by Ms. Lapine, nonetheless published the book with only insignificant changes. The lawsuit lists detailed examples of identical language in the two books.

At the same time, Jerry Seinfeld went on a malicious campaign against Ms. Lapine, publicly calling her a "nut job" and "hysterical." On an appearance on 'Late Show with David Letterman' in October 2007, Mr. Seinfeld called Ms. Lapine a "wacko" who had been "waiting in the woodwork" for a chance to attack the Seinfelds. He also asserted, incorrectly, that the two books came out "at the same time." The lawsuit cites several examples of defamatory language by Mr. Seinfeld, apparently intended to intimidate Ms. Lapine.

"This action for copyright and trademark infringement and defamation arises from conduct that gives new meaning to the terms 'arrogance' and 'greed,'" states the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also points out that Ms. Lapine is the former publisher of Eating Well magazine, is on the faculty of the New School and has extensive experience in child nutrition. She also serves on the Children's Advisory Council of Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, where "The Sneaky Chef" recipes are used with pediatric patients.

The lawsuit also notes that Ms. Lapine began researching methods for getting children to eat healthier foods five years before her book came out. She conducted numerous taste tests, focus groups and interviews, consulting extensively with leading nutritionists, pediatricians and chefs.

Ms. Lapine is represented by Marc E. Kasowitz and Mark P. Ressler of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, LLP.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Top 10 Law Firm Practice Areas

Law firms that position their attorneys as legal thought leaders and educators in key 2008 news stories will leverage their expertise and increase name recognition via a proven public relations strategy. According to Margaret Grisdela, President of the legal marketing firm Legal Expert Connections ( and author of the new legal marketing book Courting Your Clients, attorneys in hot practice areas should take advantage of current media news coverage and emerging trends to capture a leadership position and competitive advantage in their areas of expertise.

"This approach is really Public Relations 101: offering high level legal insight and expertise to a variety of media outlets to garner the third party credibility and broad-based exposure in print, radio, television and on the web that PR offers," affirms Ms. Grisdela. "Journalists and radio and TV producers are always seeking experts on timely news topics. The following legal practice areas are poised to generate a high level of interest from the media in 2008, meaning that attorneys and their marketing advisors should strategize now to ensure that their name is top of mind with the media."

1. Real estate. As home sales continue to decline, attorneys with a real estate practice serving consumers or developers will find many opportunities to educate the market in areas of foreclosure, bankruptcy, mortgage fraud, and short sales.

2. Government. The 2008 presidential election will dominate the news, giving attorneys with an angle on leading voter concerns like the Iraq war, civil rights, the U.S. economy and education a big potential stage.

3. Intellectual Property. The U.S. Congress is evaluating major patent legislation, while Europe is actively implementing sweeping "EPC 2000" patent changes in 2008. IP attorneys have an unprecedented opportunity to explain digital rights, licensing, infringement and the need for trade secret protection.

4. International. In 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission paved the way for likely adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which could ultimately replace U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). As business goes global, corporate and securities attorneys can educate audiences on business legalities in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and other rapidly growing countries.

5. Privacy. With digital consumer data growing exponentially, attorneys can address matters involving privacy policies, identify theft, data security, e-discovery, background checks, medical record protection, credit reports and more.

6. Immigration. Congress could not reach agreement on immigration reform in 2007 despite heated public debate, leaving this is a hot button for 2008 politics.

7. Trusts & Estates. 2008 is the first year Baby Boomers start turning 62 and become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. Attorneys with a concentration in wills, trusts, and estates should position themselves as a credible legal partner for aging Boomers in need of retirement planning.

8. Environment. Leading world scientists documented an "unequivocal" warming in the global climate in 2007. Law firms can address a range of green topics, including alternative energy, recycling, energy efficiency, toxic tort litigation and more.

9. Employment. Wage and hour litigation brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) tripled in the past few years, according to court records. Employment law attorneys should be prepared to speak on a full range of employment law matters including overtime, discrimination, family leave, and other personnel policies.

10. Health Care. Universal coverage will be a big focus of media attention during the 2008 elections, giving health care attorneys a natural platform to address insurance haves and have-nots, HIPAA, health care fraud, billing practices, medical reimbursements and more.

In addition to direct media outreach on these topics, other public relations and communications opportunities for attorneys include speeches, articles and editorials, blogs, letters to the editor, newspaper columns, web site postings, white papers, client alerts, and educational seminars.

21 Million Library Users Concerned About Copyright

Today, the Canadian Library Association (CLA) outlined the concerns of over 21 million library users and member librarians about pending copyright legislation.

"Our members are hearing from a growing chorus of public library users that copyright laws must reflect the public interest," commented Don Butcher, CLA's Executive Director. "Whether it is through library blogs, Facebook groups, or at the library front desks, we are getting the message that Canadians want a fair and balanced copyright approach."

As a result of this public debate and feedback, CLA is making public its core issues that it wants to see in any new copyright legislation. "As the voice of library users and professionals, we have an obligation to let the Government know that copyright issues are striking a cord with average Canadians and that this is an issue that will impact any election," added Butcher.

"Just one simple Facebook group on copyright gained 30,000 members in a few short weeks with another Canadian joining the group every 30 seconds. There have been public rallies in Calgary and Toronto. The Government needs to listen to average Canadians," concluded Butcher.

The most important change in copyright in recent years both for libraries and for all Canadians has been the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada judgment in CCH Canada Ltd. v. The Law Society of Upper Canada. Should the Government introduce amendments to the Copyright Act, any change must reflect the broad interpretation of fair dealing outlined in this judgment and ensure that users' rights are well-protected.

The library community's key concerns were outlined in a letter to the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage released to the public today. These concerns include:

- Any new copyright legislation must be carefully crafted so that it punishes copyright-infringing behaviour but does not ban devices that might be used to circumvent technological prevention measures. "Technological measures can be used to invade privacy and prevent Canadians from invoking their rights," Butcher said.

"The legislation must protect Canadians who are merely upholding their rights."

- The Government needs to recognize that government documents and government data belong to all Canadians and that all Canadians should have liberal access to these materials.

"Current Crown copyright rules can mean Canadians pay multiple times for the same information," Butcher said. "The increased costs are barriers to learning."

- Persons with perceptual disabilities must have the same right to access copyrighted materials as all Canadians have. This right should apply regardless of format in order to accommodate their particular needs. Legislation is required to give persons with perceptual disabilities access equity with others.

"Digital information is extraordinarily useful in overcoming physical, learning and perceptual disabilities," Butcher said. "This is a real opportunity to level the playing field."

- Libraries oppose legislation that makes the same mistakes as the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act. American law makes no differentiation in penalty between a counterfeiter circumventing technical protection measures for illegal profit and an individual circumventing technical protection measures to make a single copy.

"Even one of the architects of the DMCA has admitted it is flawed legislation," said Butcher. "Let's not make the same mistakes."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Ebay Goes Into the Law Enforcement Business

In an effort to protect its customers' trust, eBay has gone into the law enforcement business.

Romania is the home to many legal start-up Internet companies, but it is also a safe haven for homegrown hackers who pull off millions of dollars of credit card scams each year. Although it is not legally liable for financial losses incurred by its customers, eBay has decided to pursue the criminals who are undermining the company's reputation of bringing together buyer and seller in a mutually trusting atmosphere.

The reason that Romania has such a well-developed IT industry is due to its Cold War cooperation with the Soviet Union; Romania actually wrote its own software for personal computers made in Bulgaria -- another home to Internet criminals.

To read about this story as well as many other topics, visit Technology Today at