Sunday, February 24, 2008

Industry Seeks U.S. Assistance In Combating Piracy

Dramatic increases in online piracy in Europe and elsewhere threaten our industry's growth, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reported in a filing submitted today to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The report highlights persistent problems in countries like Canada, China, Malaysia, Russia, and parts of Europe that thwart healthy game industry growth and development.

"Countries that support computer and video game piracy discourage publishers from establishing viable and legitimate markets. The Special 301 process sends a strong message to them to clean up their act to avoid damaging trade sanctions," said Michael D. Gallagher, CEO of the ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. "In 2007, our industry had a record-breaking year with receipts totaling $18.85 billion, but piracy closes off promising markets, artificially limiting our industry's ability to contribute even more economic growth to the American high-tech economy and economies of our trading partners."

Online piracy is only one part of the challenge. The Special 301 Report from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) identifies many other forms of commercial piracy, including factory production of optical discs (such as CDs and DVDs); CD-R and DVD-R "burning;" cartridge counterfeiting; Internet downloading and file trading; as well as Internet café piracy as contributors to piracy levels in domestic markets that can exceed 80 and 90 percent in parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Central and South America.

The 2008 IIPA report is available online at

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Copyright Compliance for PR Practitioners

Addressing an issue that is gaining urgency with the ongoing digitization of news content, BurrellesLuce has produced a white paper that aims to help PR practitioners reduce their risk of unwittingly violating copyright rules.

Copyright Compliance: What Every Media Relations Professional Needs to Know describes the basic concepts of copyright, and identifies simple steps a PR practitioner can take to abide by copyright law.

As the white paper states, "Digital content is easy to share but, unfortunately, even the most well-intentioned sharing can violate copyright law."

Publishers have always allowed media monitoring. With the decline of advertising revenue via print delivery, however, publishers have become less tied to that delivery channel and increasingly attuned to their role as content providers. Seeking other ways to monetize their content, they realize they must protect its distribution and use.

Copyright Compliance: What Every Media Relations Professional Needs to Know is available free of charge from BurrellesLuce. To obtain the document, visit or call 866-260-0851.

Political Phishing and Malware Threats

SPAMfighter is warning e-mail users against the threat of political phishing and malware in political spam mails. With the interest in the upcoming election and more money being raised online for political campaigns, the risk of scams and phishing has grown.

Political campaigns have not been protecting e-mail users and themselves against such threats. For example, in each e-mail, they add a link to a site where those interested can make a contribution to their campaign. This link and e-mail can easily be emulated by phishers wishing to scam e-mail users.

It is difficult to tell whether or not your money has been received by the political campaign or a phisher, as there are no deliverable goods. When purchasing a book, for example, online, the book arrives in the mail. However, with political campaigns, the only form of acknowledgement that the money has been received is by e-mail. This e-mail can also be easily copied by the phisher.

Without taking precaution and using the proper protection, it is difficult for e-mail users to tell the difference between phishing mails and legitimate e-mails. Phishing mails look and link to exact replicas of legitimate e-mails and sites. This makes it very difficult to tell if the money you are contributing is going to the right place, and if the site you are entering your personal information on is secure.

Spammers are also targeting e-mail users with malware. A recent spam mail with a malicious attachment was found with the subject "Hillary Clinton Full Video!!!"

E-mail users are warned to always use caution when clicking links or opening attachments in their e-mail, especially when the user is unknown. In addition, it is important to have credible protection against phishing. The spam filter and anti phishing software, SPAMfighter filters 99% of all phishing mails, and can be downloaded free here:

Michael Geist to Discuss E-Publishing and The Law

On March 6, Dr. Michael Geist will discuss the legal issues that are impacting everyone from the seasoned blogger to the average internet user, followed by a Q&A moderated by Sally Armstrong.

What: Anyone who blogs, comments, sends e-mail or otherwise publishes electronically is subject to the laws of defamation and libel, according to University of Ottawa Law School professor and internationally renowned expert on law and the Internet, Dr. Michael Geist. The Internet and new technologies have ushered in a seemingly unlimited array of possibilities for access to knowledge, creativity, and public participation. Dr. Geist will highlight the role that the Internet is playing for new creativity and knowledge sharing, while identifying the business and policy challenges that this creates for journalists and journalism.

Who: Dr. Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, has written numerous academic articles and government reports on the Internet and law and was a member of Canada's National Task Force on Spam. He is an internationally syndicated columnist on technology law issues with his regular column appearing in the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, and the BBC. Dr. Geist serves on the Privacy Commissioner of Canada's Expert Advisory Board and on the Canadian Digital Information Strategy's Review Panel. Moderator Sally Armstrong is a veteran journalist and author of Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan.

When: Thursday, March 6, 2008 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Where: MaRS Discovery District, CR-3 101 College St at the SE corner of College & University.

Join The Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) on Thursday, March 6, for this event, which is free of charge and open to the media and the public. Seating is limited. If you plan to attend, please register at or visit our website to register online.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Equifax Empowers Consumers with Free, Online Fraud Alerts

Equifax Inc. has launched a free, online fraud alert product for consumers who believe their personal information has landed in the hands of an identity thief. Through this streamlined process, consumers now can quickly and easily request initial 90-day fraud alerts and active duty military alerts by visiting

The new Equifax site gives consumers a fast and easy way to add another layer of protection against identity theft -- at no charge.

Nintendo Asks U.S. to Address Video Game Piracy Problems Worldwide

Nintendo of America Inc. has asked the U.S. Trade Representative to encourage specific governments around the world to take a more aggressive stance to combat piracy of Nintendo video games and systems. Nintendo filed its comments under a "Special 301" process, in which the U.S. Trade Representative solicits input from the public to underscore specific areas of concern.

While China remains the primary source of manufacturing pirated Nintendo DS(TM) and Wii(TM) games, Korea has emerged as the leader in distributing illegal game files via the Internet. Despite aggressive anti-piracy actions taken by Nintendo, Brazil and Mexico remain saturated with counterfeit Nintendo software. Meanwhile, Paraguay and Hong Kong continue to serve as major transshipment points for global distribution of illegal goods.

"The unprecedented momentum enjoyed by Nintendo DS and Wii makes Nintendo an attractive target for counterfeiters," said Jodi Daugherty, Nintendo of America's senior director of anti-piracy. "We estimate that in 2007, Nintendo, together with its publishers and developers, suffered nearly $975 million USD worldwide in lost sales as a result of piracy. Nintendo will continue to work with governments around the world to aggressively curtail this illegal activity."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Top Consumer Fraud Complaints

The FTC today released the list of top consumer fraud complaints received by the agency in 2007. The list, contained in the publication "Consumer Fraud and Identity Theft Complaint Data January-December 2007," showed that for the seventh year in a row, identity theft is the number one consumer complaint category. Of 813,899 total complaints received in 2007, 258,427, or 32 percent, were related to identity theft.

The report breaks out complaint data on a state-by-state basis and also contains data about the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest per capita incidence of fraud and the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest incidence of identity theft.

The report states that credit card fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft at 23 percent, followed by utilities fraud at 18 percent, employment fraud at 14 percent, and bank fraud at 13 percent.

Consumers reported fraud losses totaling more than $1.2 billion; the median monetary loss per person was $349, the report states.

The top 20 complaint categories were:

Rank Category Complaints %

1 Identity Theft 258,427 32
2 Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales 62,811 8
3 Internet Services 42,266 5
4 Foreign Money Offers 32,868 4
5 Prizes/Sweepstakes and Lotteries 32,162 4
6 Computer Equipment and Software 27,036 3
7 Internet Auctions 24,376 3
8 Health Care Claims 16,097 2
9 Travel, Vacations, and Timeshares 14,903 2
10 Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection/Repair 14,342 2
11 Investments 13,705 2
12 Magazines and Buyers Clubs 12,970 2
13 Business Opportunities and Work-at-Home Plans 11,362 1
14 Real Estate ( Not Timeshares ) 9,475 1
15 Office Supplies and Services 9,211 1
16 Telephone Services 8,155 1
17 Employ. Agencies/Job Counsel/Overseas Work 5,932 1
18 Debt Management/Credit Counseling 3,442 <1
19 Multi-Level Mktg./Pyramids/Chain Letters 3,092 <1
20 Charitable Solicitations 1,843 <1

To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click or call 1-877-382-4357. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Industry Click Fraud Rate Rises

Click Forensics, Inc. released industry pay-per-click (PPC) fraud figures for the fourth quarter 2007 from the search advertising industry's leading independent click fraud reporting service – the Click Fraud Index(TM) (

The overall industry average click fraud rate rose to 16.6 percent for Q4 2007. That's up from the 14.2 percent click fraud rate for the same quarter in 2006 and 16.2 percent for Q3 2007.

The average click fraud rate of PPC advertisements appearing on search engine content networks, including Google AdSense and the Yahoo Publisher Network, was 28.3 percent in Q4 2007. That's up from the 19.2 percent average click fraud rate for the same quarter in 2006 and 28.1 percent for Q3 2007.

The 2007 industry average click fraud rate grew by 15 percent over the industry average click fraud rate for 2006.

Q4 2007 click fraud traffic from botnets was 15 percent higher than click fraud traffic from botnets in Q3 2007.

In Q4 2007, the greatest percentage of click fraud originating from countries outside North America came from India (4.3 percent) Germany (3.9 percent) and South Korea (3.7 percent).

$900 Million Piracy Ring Busted

News reports today are telling the story of how Microsoft helped bring down a $900 million global software piracy ring. But the damage from these software pirates is only a mere fraction of the overall costs caused by copyright piracy to the U.S. economy each year.

According to a report released last fall by the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), global theft of copyright-protected products, including business and entertainment software, motion pictures, video games and sound recordings has cost the U.S. a staggering $58 billion in economic output and 373,375 jobs annually.

The report, "The True Cost of Copyright Industry Piracy to the U.S. Economy," sheds light on the injuries from copyright piracy to the national economy as a whole, not just to U.S. copyright producers and industries.

Because of global and U.S.-based piracy of copyrighted material, every year:

-- The U.S. economy loses $58 billion;

-- U.S. workers lose 373,375 jobs;

-- U.S. workers lose $16.3 billion in earnings, including $7.2 billion in earnings from workers in the sound recording industry or "downstream" retail industries, and $9.1 billion in earnings by workers in other U.S. industries; and

-- The U.S. government loses at least $2.6 billion in tax revenues, including $1.8 billion in personal income tax and $800 million in lost corporate income and production taxes.

"Piracy harms not only the owners of intellectual property but also U.S. consumers, workers and taxpayers," says Stephen E. Siwek, author of the report and principal with Economists, Inc. "It is clear that the problem of copyright piracy should be afforded a prominent place on the policy agenda in coming years."

It is imperative that policy makers realize the threat of piracy and recognize that intellectual property products, such as copyright-protected materials, are the most important growth drivers in the U.S. economy, responsible for nearly 40% of economic growth and nearly 60% of growth in U.S. exports.

The study is the third and final in a series of intellectual property papers examining the overall economic impact of copyright piracy.

For report copies, visit

Amway Warns of Bogus Internet Charity Scam

Amway Corporation (Quixtar in the U.S. and Canada) has discovered an internet scam that uses a bogus Amway charity as a lure. Amway cautions individuals to be on the lookout for e-mails from a group calling itself the "Amway Children Charity Foundation."

Please be advised that this is not an Amway-sanctioned program and the name, program and people indicated in the e-mails are not related to Amway in any way and do not have Amway's authority or support.

The goal of the scam is to trick people into sending money to the fraudulent charity. The bogus group sends an e-mail informing the recipient that he/she has been selected as a recipient of a grant to help establish a children's help center to assist poor children in the area. A nomination code number may be given, and banking information is requested. If the recipient responds, an indemnity bond of several hundred euros is demanded. The e-mails may be signed from "Dr. Kevin Brown" or someone else claiming to be a grant processing officer.

Fraudulent activities involving payment or release of personal financial information can be committed electronically from a remote location, including overseas. Committing these activities in cyberspace allows scam artists to act quickly and cover their tracks before the victim becomes aware of the theft.

This type of fraud is identified by the FBI as an Advanced Fee scheme which occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value, such as a grant, loan or gift, and then receives little or nothing in return.

This "Amway Children Charity Foundation" scam has been circulated by e- mail in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. Recipients are advised to not respond or reply in any way. Amway is currently investigating the origin of the scam and authorities have been notified. If you have information or questions about this scam, please contact Amway through its Corporate Communications Department at (616) 787-7565.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

New E-Mail and Telephone Scams Using the IRS Name

The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers to beware of several current e-mail and telephone scams that use the IRS name as a lure. The IRS expects such scams to continue through the end of tax return filing season and beyond.

The IRS cautioned taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams involving proposed advance payment checks. Although the government has not yet enacted an economic stimulus package in which the IRS would provide advance payments, known informally as rebates to many Americans, a scam which uses the proposed rebates as bait has already cropped up.

The goal of the scams is to trick people into revealing personal and financial information, such as Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers, which the scammers can use to commit identity theft.

Typically, identity thieves use a victim’s personal and financial data to empty the victim’s financial accounts, run up charges on the victim’s existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards, services or benefits in the victim’s name, file fraudulent tax returns or even commit crimes. Most of these fraudulent activities can be committed electronically from a remote location, including overseas. Committing these activities in cyberspace allows scamsters to act quickly and cover their tracks before the victim becomes aware of the theft.

People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years — and their hard-earned money — cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their reputations and credit records. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, may be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.

The most recent scams brought to IRS attention are described below.

Rebate Phone Call
At least one scheme using the word “rebate” as part of the lure has been identified. In that scam, consumers receive a phone call from someone identifying himself as an IRS employee. The caller tells the targeted victim that he is eligible for a sizable rebate for filing his taxes early. The caller then states that he needs the target’s bank account information for the direct deposit of the rebate. If the target refuses, he is told that he cannot receive the rebate.

This phone call is a scam. No legislation has yet been enacted that would allow the IRS to provide advance payments to taxpayers or that determines the details of those payments. Moreover, the IRS does not force taxpayers to use direct deposit. Those who opt for direct deposit do so by completing the appropriate section of their tax return, with bank routing and account information, when they file; the IRS does not gather the information by telephone.

Refund e-Mail
The IRS has seen several variations of a refund-related bogus e-mail which falsely claims to come from the IRS, tells the recipient that he or she is eligible for a tax refund for a specific amount, and instructs the recipient to click on a link in the e-mail to access a refund claim form. The form asks the recipient to enter personal information that the scamsters can then use to access the e-mail recipient’s bank or credit card account.

In a new wrinkle, the current version of the refund scam includes two paragraphs that appear to be directed toward tax-exempt organizations that distribute funds to other organizations or individuals. The e-mail contains the name and supposed signature of the Director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations business division.

This e-mail is a phony. The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mail about tax account matters to individual, business, tax-exempt or other taxpayers.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Visual-Based Search Aims to End Online Video Copyright Wars

Eyealike Copyright helps media content producers quickly eliminate massive amounts of online copy infringement that result in losses of millions of royalty dollars everyday. The new solution is unique in its ability to automatically analyze every aspect of video content simultaneously by image, motion, and face to deliver unprecedented speed, scale, and relevancy of recognizing and flagging any video content that is being served illegally online. The technology is specifically designed to help enforce copyright laws across User Generated Content (UGC) websites, while also giving both content producers and expediters the necessary tools to support the 'fair use' doctrine, which protects people who use copyrighted material for scholarship or review.

Ending the Copyright Law Wars Online

One need not look any further than the $1B lawsuit Viacom has imposed upon YouTube/Google to realize that copyright infringement is at the top of nearly every media content producers mind. In addition, a report published by the Motion Picture Association of America in May 2006 found that the major U.S. movie studios lost $2.3 billion to Internet piracy in 2005, which doesn't even account for infringement taking place throughout industries like television, music videos, and sports.

While Google/YouTube and MySpace, among others, have been using various forms of copyright filtering technology and even human editors, these solutions in many cases require the utilization of audio, pre-tagged text, meta data, watermarks, and people to identify video clips or certain objects like faces within video clips. The challenge with relying on these approaches is that they can't scale to automatically distinguish between outright copyright infringement and legitimate use of short sections of copyrighted material, especially as infringed content is edited, cropped, and recompressed several times.

A Unique Visual-Based Search Approach

Eyealike Copyright is powered by the patent-pending Eyealike Visual Search Platform (VS), which allows for highly intelligent indexing and analysis to process hundreds of images and video clips per minute by still objects, object movement, and facial recognition.

For more information, visit