Sunday, March 30, 2008

No need to cheat: new Internet resource helps students write their own essays

A Sussex-based English tutor, Grant Hudson, has set up an internet service to advise students on essay writing in an attempt to combat plagiarism.

"Plagiarism has become a plague and one which the teaching profession seems powerless to control [where] writing an essay was no more than an exercise in cut and paste," writes Peter Williams, editor of Information World Review (Europe's leading newspaper for the information industry) in a recent IWR blog.

The Inner Circle Writers' Group offers several different services to help students with school and university English essays so that they will be able to avoid the impulse to cheat and buy essays from unscrupulous companies.

"Services are available now whereby someone will write an essay for a school or university student on demand," Mr. Hudson said. "All the student has to do is send in an essay question and someone else does all the work. They charge a lot of money, but some students pay because they worry about their own abilities to reach certain grades. This is against any school's or university's regulations, and a student who makes use of such a service is risking expulsion."

"As well as being unethical, expensive and lazy, having someone else actually write your essay for you is pointless, as the education you're receiving serves no purpose."

Though plagiarism has become much easier with the rise of the World Wide Web, the official examining boards in England have, until recently, only been able to discover less than one percent of students actually copying essays directly from other sources. Now, new software enables universities, in particular, to track down the originals and so catch the plagiarist.

"The problem is that new companies, often based overseas, have found a way around this by offering to write the essay from scratch for the student, which is very difficult to trace," says Mr. Hudson, who also works as the Head of the English Department at Greenfields School in Forest Row, East Sussex. "I decided to tackle this by setting up the Inner Circle Writers' Group which helps with essay coaching, teaching students by e-mail how to write better essays for much less than these other companies charge. Hopefully, students will turn to services like mine and learn to improve their own skills rather than panicking and seeking what seems like an easy way out which could lead to disaster and a wasted education."


Friday, March 28, 2008

New digital archive puts the papers that made copyright history online

Some of the most important copyright documents ever written are being made available online for the first time, reflecting growing public interest in authorial rights in the wake of the internet revolution.

Original papers charting the contributions of thinkers such as Machiavelli, Martin Luther, John Locke, Daniel Defoe, Immanuel Kant, Wordsworth, Balzac and Victor Hugo to the development of copyright law will be available through the Primary Sources on Copyright History Project, which is being launched in London this week.

The website,, will offer users anywhere in the world the chance to examine more than 10,000 pages of rare legal papers, some of which date back to the invention of the printing press itself. It has been compiled by an international team of lawyers and historians, led by experts from the University of Cambridge and Bournemouth University.

Many of the documents, which include writings by some of the greatest scholars of the past 500 years, have until now been stashed away in obscure libraries all over the world. The new digital resource will mean that for the first time anyone who wants to read them can do so at the click of a button.

The website's creators say the resource reflects growing public concern about copyright issues raised, in particular, by the advent of the internet revolution.

"Copyright law used to be a topic that only affected authors and the industries that exploited their works," Professor Lionel Bently, from the University Cambridge and one of the project's general editors, said.

"Today, everyone who uses a computer, operates a web page, accesses online materials, or downloads music from the internet needs to be wary of copyright rules. While in the past copies were made by the exploiters – publishers, broadcasters or the film and record industries – now they are being made by individuals on computers, in their offices or at home."

The documents in the collection will be available both as facsimile images and in transcribed and translated formats. The earliest is Johannes of Speyer's monopoly, awarded to the German craftsman by the Venetian Signoria in 1469, and the first known record of a printing privilege granted by a European government. From there, the history of copyright law in Britain, France, Italy, Germany and the United States is traced up to the 1886 Berne Convention – which broke through the national boundaries restricting copyright law.

Notable among the British papers is the original parchment copy of the Statute of Anne of 1710, the world's first general copyright law, and a model for much subsequent legislation. The Statute granted authors and their publishers an exclusive term of 14 years ( today the duration of copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years ). In order to receive copyright protection, all books had to be registered at Stationers' Hall, London, the livery hall of the ancient guild of printers where the digital archive will be formally opened on Wednesday ( 19 March ).

Users can also examine Martin Luther's indignant Admonition To The Printers, written in 1525 after one of his manuscripts was stolen by a typesetter, who then reaped the profit of having it printed overseas. The father of Protestantism compares his actions to those of "highwaymen and thieves", adding: "God will see to it that the profit you make on this will just suffice for you to smear your shoes with it!"

The archive also features prints and privileges by the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer, William Hogarth's intervention that led to the 1735 Engraver's Copyright Act, the philosopher Denis Diderot's letter on behalf of the Paris book trade ( 1763 ), and the constitutional clause of the United States ( 1789 ) that gave Congress the power to legislate in the fields of patents and copyright in order "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts".

The editors hope the digital archive will not just prove useful to scholars and legal historians, but inform legislative debates, such as the Government's current review of exceptions to copyright law, and the push by record company executives to extend the European copyright term in sound recordings from 50 to 95 years.

History suggests that legislators should be wary when industrial interests become concerned with the "natural right of authors over the products of their mental labour", as the publishers expressed their argument for the 1710 Statute, and in the subsequent "Battle of the Booksellers". More often than not, this argument has been shown to be a smokescreen for market control.

"History provides useful insights into why copyright was thought to be desirable and how it has expanded," said general editor Professor Martin Kretschmer of Bournemouth University. "The primary sources in this collection show that there are many more ways to reconfigure copyright norms than surface in current debate. The regulation of an information society quite urgently needs a wider perspective."

The archive can be pre-viewed at Its permanent web address is:

Judge Dismisses Copyright Infringement Complaint Against iParadigms

A Virginia judge has issued a summary judgment regarding his dismissal of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by four high school students against iParadigms over the use of the students' written works in the Turnitin plagiarism detection service.

The judge stated that iParadigms' use of archived student works to assess originality of newly-submitted papers constitutes a fair use under US copyright law and is therefore not copyright infringement. In addition, he states that such use "provides a substantial public benefit through the network of institutions using Turnitin."

iParadigms' CEO John Barrie said, "The Turnitin service was created because of the pressing educational need from institutions to help students learn to produce original written work -- especially in our 'cut and paste' digital world. The judge has validated that our service is able to do so without infringing the copyrights of students' work."

U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton said that, "though iParadigms makes a profit in providing this service to educational institutions, its use of student works adds 'a further purpose or different character' to the works." Such "transformative" works do not violate fair use. Further, because student works become part of the database against which other students' work is compared, Turnitin helps protect the papers from being exploited by others who might profitably claim them as their own work.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Don't Sign Your Refund Check Over to Malware Writers

With tax season coming down to the wire, most American households are preparing to fire up their web browsers in order to use one of the main online tax preparation software programs in order to begin the dreary, but necessary, task of filing tax documentation for the year.

Filing tax returns is one of the yearly tasks American households must add to their already-busy schedules. Without proper network security, households risk having not only their networks attacked, but also risk losing personal information. Some think that having a basic antivirus solution is enough to prevent intrusions. Others may not even be aware that their computer could be at risk. To help American households prevent identity theft, BitDefender is offering valuable tips to follow this tax season.

For most, filing taxes has become a routine. Few pause to contemplate the consequence of exposing all their information to the Net -- and with the multitude of viruses, worms, phishing attacks, hacking attempts and other assorted nefarious acts being perpetrated on the Web these days, data and identity theft are not as remote of a possibility as people would like to assume.

"As cybercriminals learn and employ new ways to attempt to steal financial and personal information, consumers need to be aware that their network could be at risk," said Bogdan Dumitru, BitDefender CTO. "Especially during tax season -- when more and more people are turning to the Internet to help file their tax returns -- it is especially important for households to take extra steps ensuring their network security."

There are simple ways to protect your family's identity and financial information, while still doing your taxes from the comfort of your own home:

1. Sweep your system before you start. Make sure your system is clean -- a full system scan with a good antivirus should be enough. You can schedule this to be done overnight, so you don't waste any time.

2. Type the URL into your browser. Phishing websites can be very convincing -- don't follow a link to the IRS website, write the address ( in your browser's address bar yourself.

3. Use an antispam filter and an anti-phishing web filter. Using an antispam and an anti-phishing web filter avoids receiving phishing e-mails or being directed to phishing websites. Good security software includes both.

4. Disable ActiveX and JavaScript in your browser. If you happen to visit a malicious website while doing your taxes online, this lessens the chance of getting infected.

5. Don't send tax-related documents or do tax-related browsing over WiFi. Currently deployed wireless encryption technologies are known to be flawed -- an attacker can eavesdrop on and decrypt all traffic flowing through an access point. Be especially wary about sending through a public location -- places like coffee shops are sometimes "sniffed" upon on a permanent basis by bad guys.

6. Know the company you are filing your e-taxes with. Do they have a valid address? Does anyone answer the phone? Have you dealt with them in the past? Just about anyone can put up a storefront on the web and claim to be able do your taxes -- not all who do are legit.

In recent years, more people have turned to the Internet to file the tax documentation, research and shop. As the use of the Internet increases, opportunities for cybercriminals to hack into their victim's network arise. Taking a few necessary precautions will ensure that American households are securing their network and preventing the loss of valuable data.


Myxer Launches PROTECT Copyright Protection Program for Rights Holders

Myxer, the leader in ad-supported mobile content, announced details of its PROTECT program, a powerful framework designed to address the concerns of copyright holders in the emerging new mobile economy. As one of the mobile industry's leading service providers, Myxer is working proactively with content owners, such as record labels, film and television studios, to give them unprecedented visibility into and control over the flow of content through the Myxer platform.

Building on the company's longstanding commitment to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the PROTECT program is the culmination of months of technical, legal, and market development efforts. Taking inspiration from leading rights-administration systems, such as eBay's VeRO, PROTECT is a comprehensive, proactive, and powerful tool for content owners in the digital age. Embracing the same principals of openness and simplicity that drive Myxer's core business, PROTECT gives content owners open access to content administration tools enabling direct and immediate results based on the DMCA framework.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Slate Launches Law Blog

Slate, the daily online magazine, today launches a legal blog featuring some of the most prominent voices in law. "Convictions," the law blog, will include daily commentary from a wide range of legal professionals, including Slate's Jurisprudence columnists Dahlia Lithwick and Emily Bazelon and top litigators and law professors across the country.

"The popularity in our Jurisprudence column made it clear to us that readers view Slate as a destination for smart, engaging legal commentary. By launching a law blog, we're able to post immediate reactions to legal cases and headlines, providing an accessible source for legal discourse from a wide-range of qualified experts," said Jacob Weisberg, Slate's Editor. "‘Convictions' is the newest of what we hope to be many more legal features across the site."

Slate approached Phillip Carter, regular contributor on legal and military affairs to Slate, to serve as editor of the blog. Carter practices law with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP in New York City, in the areas of government contracts and litigation. He also served nine years in the Army, including a tour in Iraq from 2005-2006 advising the Iraqi police and courts. "I'm excited about this project. I think ‘Convictions' has the potential to become the destination on the Web for smart legal commentary," said Carter.


Copyright Infringement: Exceptions for Reproducing Photos & Films

The Australian Government is currently reviewing the operation of two copyright exceptions which permit photographs and cinematograph films to be copied in a different format for private use, subject to certain conditions. The act of making these copies would otherwise constitute copyright infringement.

Broadly speaking, under these copyright exceptions you are permitted to reproduce a photograph in hardcopy form in electronic form or reproduce a photograph in electronic form in hardcopy form (section 47J of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)). For example, it is permissible to print a paper copy from a digital photograph.

Under the current copyright exceptions, the owner of a video tape containing a cinematograph film in analogue form is also permitted to copy the film in electronic form for domestic use (section 110AA of the Copyright Act). For example, it is permissible for the owner of a VHS video cassette to make a digital copy of a film on a DVD or computer hard drive.

While these copyright exceptions are not new (they became effective on 11 December, 2006) a review of their operation is now being conducted.

An Issues Paper was recently circulated and interested persons were invited to make submissions addressing:

whether the copyright exceptions are operating satisfactorily and achieving their objectives; and

whether the copyright exceptions should be modified in some way.
With submissions closing at the end of February the copyright review is expected to be completed by March 31, 2008.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism at Highest Levels in Years

Thanks to a new company by the name of CopyTrust (, Web publishers no longer have to worry about content thieves and plagiarism. In fact, because of their newly developed proprietary technology, which scans the Internet looking for cases of copyright infringement, CopyTrust is confident enough to guarantee results or clients don't pay.

The company is offering two unique services:

One Time Copy Protection -- They will track and remove copies of specific posts or sections of a Web site, which have been specified by the client.

Ongoing Copyright Protection -- They will monitor all of the newly published content on the client's Web site to make sure no one is copying it without permission.

"Our pricing structure is a unique one," said managing director Daniel Scocco. "Basically, our clients only pay when an actual infringing Web page is taken down. It's a 'pay per take down', if you will."

Once CopyTrust identifies a copyright violation, their legal department begins the process of having the page (or pages) removed.

"We have a standard procedure divided in layers," said Ron Pagano, head lawyer of the company. "Initially we notify the Web site owner about the copyright infringement, asking him either to use a quote of your content and link back to the original version (that way our clients also gain backlinks on the process) or to remove it completely."

Should the initial step fail, CopyTrust pushes forward on their client's behalf. Going as far as contacting the service provider that is hosting the copied content by fax and phone, or in extreme cases, discussing the possibility of filing a civil lawsuit.

Microchip fingerprints used to lock out chip pirates

Pirated microchips -- chips stolen from legitimate factories or made from stolen blueprints -- account for billions of dollars in annual losses to chipmakers.

But a series of novel techniques developed at Rice University over the past year could stop pirates by allowing chip designers to lock and remotely activate chips with a unique ID tag. When a chip is locked with the new technology, only the patent-holder can decipher the key and activate the chip -- meaning knockoffs and stolen chips are worthless.

"Ours is the first remote-activation scheme that protects integrated circuits against piracy by exploiting their inherent, unclonable variability," said the technology's original inventor, Farinaz Koushanfar, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering at Rice. "We use slight variations that arise in modern manufacturing to create a unique, digital identification that acts like a fingerprint for each chip, and we integrate that into the chip's functionality."

The original work was presented last August at the USENIX Security Symposium in Boston. Since the invention of the method, Koushanfar has collaborated with a number of researchers to build upon her original scheme. Last October, at the International Conference in Computer Aided Designs, Koushanfar and Rice graduate student Yousra Alkabani, in collaboration with Miodrag Potkonjak from UCLA, showed the first method that could continuously check, control, enable and disable a chip's operation online by integrating the chip's fingerprints into its functionality and actively checking them during operation.

This month, Koushanfar and colleagues at the University of Michigan, Igor Markov and Jarrod Roy, unveiled a new form of the technology called “EPIC: Ending Piracy of Integrated Circuits" at the IEEE Design Automation and Test Conference in Europe. The latest method is based on public key cryptography and works for chips that already have a built-in cryptography module. In all tests and research published during the past year, the new technology has proven to be stable, unclonable and attack-resilient.

"The public tends to overlook hardware piracy and focus instead on the well-known and oft-publicized problem of software piracy," Koushanfar said. "But some intellectual-property experts who have studied both estimate that the economic losses from hardware piracy is more severe compared to software piracy."

Hardware piracy has become increasingly problematic as the skyrocketing costs of microchip production have led chip-design companies to get out of the manufacturing business. When design and manufacturing are done by different companies, the design company's sole asset is the intellectual property (IP) associated with the integrated circuit's (IP) blueprints.

Hardware makers have tried a number of approaches to safeguard designers' IP, including stamping chips with watermarks, registering legitimate chips in databases and requiring the one-time use of an ID to unlock a chip's functionality. But safeguarding individual ICs – and not IPs – is the unique aspect and contribution of Koushanfar’s work.

Koushanfar said her original technology and her subsequent collaborative work stand apart from previously tried schemes because the ID generated in her scheme is derived directly from the chip itself, and without the ID, the chip will not function.

"The chip itself provides the key," she said. "There is no way to steal it because it doesn't exist until the chip is actually made, and once made, only the designer knows how to decipher the key."

For her original invention, Koushanfar has received the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award last year. Both the National Science Foundation and DARPA presently fund Koushanfar’s research. Koushanfar is also the director of the Texas Instruments DSP Leadership University program at Rice and has close industrial-level collaborations on her hardware security projects.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Prevent Identity Theft This Tax Season

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a record 77 million taxpayers had their tax returns filed electronically in 2007, a figure sure to increase in 2008. For an identity thief, tax time is prime time. Tax documents are a gold mine for hackers as they contain social security numbers, addresses, and financial information. Over 8 million Americans have their identity stolen each year and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that in 2007, the highest category of complaints was identity theft, attributing to 32% of total complaints received. Consumers reported fraud losses totaling more than $1.2 billion, almost double that of 2005.

The makers of Identity Finder -- software designed specifically to prevent identity theft -- offer tax-time tips to prevent identity theft and benefit every taxpayer.

1. Password-protect all tax returns that you print to PDF from your tax software so your SSN is secure.

2. Configure all peer-to-peer file sharing programs to disable the sharing of your personal folders so identity thieves can't download your tax return.

3. Don't email tax documents to your accountant unless they are encrypted to prevent anyone snooping on your network from gaining access to your financial information.

4. If downloading your IRS W2 forms, 1099s, and other personal tax documents from your employer, create a strong password when registering to download them so it is not easily guessed by strangers.

5. If you receive an email purporting to be from the IRS that requires personal information to process your return, rebate, or refund, do not respond to it. The IRS does not contact you via email and this is more likely a phishing attack.

6. When you postal mail your tax return to the IRS, mail it from a secured location, like the post office or an official USPS collection box, and do not let it sit in the box overnight as it could be stolen. For added security use certified mail.

7. If you receive an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to represent the IRS, do not give personal information over the phone. Hang up and call the IRS directly.

8. Permanently shred unsecured documents from your computer that contain personal information used to prepare your tax return. Printed documents should be traditionally shredded.

9. Don't save your password in your web browser when accessing banks and other institutions that keep your personal information because it could be leaked if you ever get a virus, Trojan, or are hacked.

10. Install the latest updates to your operating system to prevent known Windows or Mac vulnerabilities from being exploited by hackers.

11. If making photocopies of your financial documents, make sure the photocopier does not store images of them in memory.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Digital Music Sharing Impossible to Enforce

Report Buyer has added a new report called "Music Publishers in the US - IBISWorld Industry Report" (

Every time a song is used or performed the copyright owner, traditionally, music publishers, must grant permission and issue a license to collect payment. However, this is becoming increasingly harder to enforce with the advent of digital music sharing and downloading technology. Adding to music publishers woes are artists who are becoming more reluctant to commit to a contract which relinquishes control of their intellectual property as the need for assistance with promotion and distribution diminishes.

Enforcing existing regulations against file sharing and lobbying to limit its use, is futile as the growth of online music continues apace. New digital environments and opportunities for growth in new markets including online commercials and mobile phone ringtones, are being sourced and incorporated into the savvy music publishers business model.

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in acquiring and registering copyrights for musical compositions in accordance with law and promoting and authorizing the use of these compositions in recordings, radio, television, motion pictures, live performances, print, or other media. These establishments may own the copyright or act as administrators of the music copyrights on behalf of copyright owners.They generally derive revenues through licensing agreements.

This report covers the scope, size, disposition and growth of the industry including the key sensitivities and success factors. Also included are five year industry forecasts, growth rates and an analysis of the industry key players and their market shares.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Alliance Offers Free Copyright Resources to Educators

The Copyright Alliance, in the lead-up to Copyright Awareness Week, March 10-14, is rolling out a comprehensive online education resource and reaching out to more than 150 leading educators and education associations, connecting them with free, K-12 educational materials.

Available on the Copyright Alliance web site, an expanded, "For Educators" section offers age-appropriate curricula and is the most comprehensive collection of educational materials on the subject of copyright. The web resource includes lesson plans for grades K-12 from respected educational and online safety organizations such as the Close Up Foundation, Weekly Reader and I-Safe.

Copyright Awareness Week, sponsored annually by the Copyright Society every March, provides educators time to focus students on better understanding and appreciating copyright's role in society.

Throughout Copyright Awareness Week, March 10-14, a different curriculum will be featured on the Copyright Alliance blog. For more information on the educational resources, visit "For Educators" at

Better Business Bureau Warns of Tax Fraud Schemes

As the April 15 deadline for filing your 2007 income tax return approaches, Better Business Bureau Connecticut has a warning: Tax fraud is heading your way to a mailbox, telephone or e-mail inbox near you.

The President of Better Business Bureau Connecticut, Paulette Hotton, says, "Identity thieves, con artists and others who are looking to obtain your personal information may pose as agents of the Internal Revenue Service, causing Connecticut taxpayers to get caught in their trap.

Income tax time is a stressful time of year and tax-time scammers often prey upon consumers' anxiety and trust.

"These scammers," explains Hotton, are very adept at posing as I.R.S. representatives whether over the phone, by mail or e-mail. Once they get consumers' trust they move quickly to fooling victims into giving out precious personal and financial information."

Many victims are caught off guard by official-looking e-mails with a logo from the I.R.S., credit card companies or financial institutions and in many cases are addressed to the recipient by name.

Know the Red Flags:

1. If the I.R.S. has questions or concerns about a tax return they typically contact the consumer by telephone, not e-mail. Some of these schemes are executed outside the United States and may have spelling or grammatical errors.

2. Better Business Bureau warns consumers about one particular scam in which the con artists pose as Internal Revenue Service representatives, saying they are calling to verify a taxpayer's bank account number because the I.R.S. "has noticed the individual has not yet cashed their tax refund check." The I.R.S. does not monitor whether taxpayers cash refund checks or not, and the Service primarily communicates with taxpayers by telephone or in writing through the U.S. Postal Service.

3. In a new twist aimed at non-U.S. residents subject to the U.S. tax code, the I.R.S. reports that non-U.S. residents are receiving bogus letters in the mail along with a fake form W-8BEN to establish appropriate tax withholding. Recipients are asked to fill out the form and include account numbers, Personal Identification (PIN) numbers, their mother's maiden name and their passport number. If you receive any tax-related forms, you should go online and verify the authenticity of the forms on the I.R.S. web site to those sent via e-mail. Form W-8BEN, for example, does not ask for personal information.

4. The scammers may also be after your tax refund check. With the approval of the 2008 economic stimulus package, consumers are advised to be on the lookout for refund scams. They may come in the form of e-mails, letters and telephone solicitations designed to separate consumers from their tax refunds.

While they have no specific information on any tax refund scams so far this year, Better Business Bureau says it is only a matter of time. BBB is advising consumers that they may receive what looks like a legitimate I.R.S. check in the mail, including instructions to wire money back to the I.R.S. or some other third party whom is supposedly processing the check on behalf of the I.R.S. to cover "fees" or "taxes." Better Business Bureau is also advising taxpayers they will almost assuredly receive phone calls or e-mail trying to trick them into submitting personal information to receive their refund checks.

"The bottom line is that consumers do not need to divulge any information beyond filing tax returns, nor wire money for any purpose to receive their refund check. Our web site,, provides trustworthy advice on tax season issues and other personal finance topics," adds Hotton

Brothers Sentenced for Selling More Than $6 Million in Pirated Software

Two brothers were sentenced today in federal court to 30 months and three years in prison for selling massive amounts of pirated computer software.

At the federal court in Alexandria, Va., U.S. District Court Judge Claude M. Hilton sentenced Maurice A. Robberson, 48, to three years in prison and ordered him to pay $855,917 in restitution while his brother Thomas K. Robberson, 55, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $151,488 in restitution. On Nov. 7, 2007, Maurice Robberson pled guilty to conspiracy and felony copyright infringement, while his brother Thomas Robberson pled guilty to a single count of felony copyright infringement.

Thomas Robberson grossed more than $150,000 selling software with a retail value of nearly $1 million by operating the websites and Maurice Robberson grossed more than $855,000 selling software with a retail value of nearly $5.6 million through his operation of the websites and Both the Robbersons have agreed to forfeit all their proceeds from these illegal businesses.

Two other individuals who conspired with Maurice Robberson to commit copyright infringement have previously been sentenced. Danny Ferrer, 39, was sentenced to 72 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III on Aug. 25, 2006, for selling more than $4 million in pirated software with a retail value of nearly $20 million on the website Alton Lee Grooms, 56, who helped initiate some of the illegal businesses and profited more than $150,000 from them, was sentenced on Jan. 18, 2008, by Judge Hilton to one year and one day in prison, after he cooperated with the government's investigation.

Copyright Protects the Little Guy, Too

The International Trademark Association (INTA) is partnering with the Copyright Society of the USA (CSUSA) to draw attention to the concept and importance of copyright protections during Copyright Awareness Week, which runs March 10 –14.

Copyright Awareness Week is a public education program that highlights the role of copyrights in society's music, literature, art and film.

As a type of intellectual property law, copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software and architecture. The copyright protection is granted to all works, both published and unpublished.

Copyright is a critical component of the intellectual property law family, and the protection applies to all works, great and small. Educating consumers about the importance of copyright helps protect the artistic contributions that add depth and meaning to our culture.

Trademark and copyright law are related because each statute seeks to protect an original and recognizable work. The distinction between the two is that copyright protects music, art and literature, where trademarks safeguard words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one brand from another.

For additional information about copyright law or Copyright Awareness Week 2008, please visit and

To learn more about the importance of trademarks, visit

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Performance Right Would Harmonize Copyright Policy

A performance-right for recording artists would correct a needless exception in U.S. copyright law, states Tom Sydnor in, "A Performance Right for Recording Artists: Sound Policy at Home and Abroad" (free .pdf file), a Progress on Point released today by The Progress & Freedom Foundation. In addition, Sydnor concludes, the Passage of the Performance Rights Act would harmonize U.S. copyright law with those of other countries, benefiting both U.S. recording artists and the U.S. economy.

In the paper, Tom Sydnor, Director of the Center for the Study of Digital Property at The Progress & Freedom Foundation, explains that lack performance rights for over-the-air broadcasts is an exception in U.S. copyright law. He counters two often cited arguments for the discrepancy: promotional value for the recording artist and the public interest obligations put on broadcast platforms. Sydnor explains that if one party invests in and creates a resource with value to the public, "governments should not let others appropriate that resource for their own commercial gain just by showing that the creator might therefore derive some incidental benefit."

While airplay may indeed have some promotional benefit to the recording artist, the recording artist also confers benefits to the radio broadcasters by producing songs that people want to hear. Therefore, one party should not possess property rights while the other does not. Moreover, the artist now has multiple channels to exploit for promotional purposes, bringing to question the actual promotional value of the broadcast medium. Sydnor also addresses the argument that over-the-air broadcasters should be exempt from performance rights because they are saddled with public interest obligations that other platforms are not. The author explains that the burden of public interest obligations should cause policymakers to re-think broadcast regulation, not punish performers.

Sydnor states that lack of public performance rights puts the U.S. at odds with laws in other countries. As a result, U.S. artists do not receive performance royalties abroad in reciprocation of the failure of the U.S. to compensate foreign artists. "The international implications of the performance-right debate are critical," Sydnor explains. "The lack of a general public-performance right for sound recordings unquestionably constitutes a net loss to U.S. artists, the U.S. music industry, the U.S. economy, and U.S. credibility as an advocate of reasoned, harmonized, and effect copyright policy."

Sydnor concludes that the enactment of performance rights promote both sound copyright policy and the economic interest of the U.S. "It would also," he explains, "restore its moral authority as a proponent of effective and internationally harmonized protection of all the intellectual property rights that have helped make the United States a uniquely successful producer and exporter of both expression and innovation."

How to Protect Intellectual Property

AngelNetwork stresses the importance of protecting intellectual property. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, intellectual property is defined as creations of the mind - inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. "Protecting intellectual property is essential to success," says Edward Bracken, Co-Founder of

AngelNetwork examines the ways of protecting intellectual property by identifying the four legally defined categories which include: patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Patents protect invention ideas for twenty years. Trademarks are defined as a name, phrase, symbol, or sound used in connection with a product or service. Trademarks remain in effect for ten years after being registered however a business does not have to officially register a trademark. AngelNetwork also points out that a business may use the TM symbol to protect their trademark.

A copyright protects written material and artistic expressions. A copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author plus an additional fifty years. Trade secrets are defined as devices, formulas, patterns or compilation of data that grants the user an advantage over their competitors. The trade secret must prove to add value to the company. AngelNetwork offers a plethora of information as a part of its memberships that assist entrepreneurs in making wise business decisions.


New Research Confirms Identity Fraud Is On Decline

The 2008 Identity Fraud Survey Report - released by Javelin Strategy & Research ( - confirms that identity fraud is declining in most parts of the United States, and that fraudsters are turning to unexpected channels to commit fraud. This year's report reinforces a three-year trend that criminals mostly obtain the majority of information from stolen personal belongings, and through telephone calls, rather than online. For the first time, a key new finding identifies California and Illinois among five states whose residents are most at risk of identity fraud.

Key Survey Findings

Overall identity fraud is declining in the United States – Down by an estimated
12 percent over 2006, which represents a total fraud reduction of $6 billion.

Traditional methods still pose the greatest risk – Fraudsters are turning to lower-tech methods by utilizing telephone theft more than ever before. Access through mail and telephone transactions grew from 3 percent of ID theft in 2006 to 40 percent in 2007.

States are not affected equally – Fraud risk is lowest in the Northeast while residents in California and other states are at the highest risk.

Fraud response varies by age – Young adults who fall victim to fraud are most likely to purchase ID fraud insurance and sign up for fraud alerts. Older adults who fall victim often react by no longer sending bill payments and checks through unsecured mailboxes.

For Additional Educational Tips, visit:
CheckFree Corporation, now part of Fiserv,
To take an identity fraud safety quiz and download a free consumer ID fraud report, visit