Friday, May 30, 2008

Member of Music Piracy Group Convicted of Conspiracy

Barry Gitarts, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was convicted today by a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. U.S. District Court Judge Liam O'Grady will sentence Gitarts on Aug. 8, 2008. Gitarts faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release as well as being required to make full restitution.

According to the testimony and evidence presented at trial, Gitarts was a significant member of the Internet music piracy group Apocalypse Production Crew (APC) from at least June 2003 through April 2004. Records and testimony introduced at trial showed that Gitarts, using the alias "Dextro," paid for and administered a computer server located in Texas that APC group members used to upload and download hundreds of thousands of copies of pirated music, movies, software and video games. Evidence also showed that Gitarts received payment from the leader of APC.

Testimony showed that APC acted as a "first-provider" or "release group" of pirated content on to the Internet. Release groups are the original sources for a majority of the pirated works distributed and downloaded via the Internet. Once a group prepares a stolen work for distribution, the material is distributed in minutes to secure computer servers throughout the world.

U.S. Attorney Rosenberg stated, "Music piracy is stealing and, unless you want to end up in a federal prison, don't do it."

The case is part of an ongoing federal crackdown against the organized piracy groups responsible for most of the illegal distribution of copyrighted movies, software, games and music on the Internet. To date, there have been 15 criminal convictions of APC members and 56 convictions in Operation FastLink, a massive international enforcement action against organizations involved in the illegal online distribution of copyrighted material.

To date, Operation FastLink has resulted in more than 200 search warrants executed in 15 countries; the confiscation of hundreds of computers and illegal online distribution hubs; and the removal of more than 100 million dollars worth of illegally-copied copyrighted software, games, movies and music from illicit distribution channels. Operation FastLink is the culmination of multiple FBI investigations, including an investigation into pre-release music groups led by FBI agents from the Washington Field Office.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay V. Prabhu of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorneys Josh Goldfoot and Tyler G. Newby of the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Evolution of Legal Music Downloads

Music companies and artists were enraged years ago by Napster, a website that allowed online enthusiasts to download and share music without any charge. As a result record sales dipped and many companies lost millions. People figured that since you can get songs from the internet, there was no reason to buy CDs. Cases were filed at Napster and many people were charged for stealing music. After finally being closed down by record companies, Napster and similar websites have been revamped to provide legal musk download.

Although many online sites still offer free music downloads, most of these music downloads are littered by spyware and virus. These sites are illegal and can wreck havoc to you computer. You may choose to download music from these sites but do at your peril. After being reincarnated Napster is now a safe and legal music download site that offer free membership. Restrictions have been placed on some songs but these are meant to protect the rights of the music companies and the singers who made the song.

Today legal music download sites have replaced the illegal sites of the past and are becoming more popular. After realizing that paying for music downloads help the music industry, many people have become comfortable with paying for the songs they want. MP3 players have also contributed to the rise of modern digital music and legal music downloads. Those who still chose to defy the law to acquire free music are finding out the hard way that the risks of downloading music through illegal means can be costly mistakes.

The risks of downloading music on sites that are not for legal music download far outweigh the gains. With each song you download you also receive a bonus of spyware, malware, and viruses to infect your system. You cannot rely on firewalls and antivirus programs to protect you every time you download free music. Sure, they will be able to detect a few corrupted files but for how long? To be on the safe side and to avoid spyware, virus, and legal charges, support legal music download sites to enjoy junk free music.

About The Author
Morgan Hamilton offers expert advice and great tips regarding all aspects concerning music. Get the information you are seeking now by visiting his website.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Intellectual Property Rights Conference

Canada's inability to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) costs the Canadian economy billions of dollars in lost tax revenue, investment and jobs. Intellectual property rights protection is essential to creating the environment for innovation that drives economic growth through the development and commercialization of new products and services.

Canadian and international IPR experts discuss intellectual property management in a global knowledge economy at Intellectual Property Rights Conference: A Catalyst for Innovation, hosted by the Conference Board of Canada.

When: Monday, May 26, and Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Where: Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, 123 Queen St. W.

For more information, visit:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bloggers 'unclear but concerned' about legal liabilities

Only 5% of internet users are clear on their legal rights and responsibilities when posting comment online, according to new research from global legal services organisation, DLA Piper. Even those who have posted a comment on the internet are unsure about their legal liabilities with over three quarters (77%) of bloggers uncertain or unaware of where the law stands.

The research, conducted by YouGov, revealed a widespread lack of clarity and consensus amongst internet users about the role of the law in relation to blogging and user generated content (UGC). Only a third (33%) of regular internet users have read the legal terms and conditions, disclaimers and guidelines for posting comment on the internet forums they use. This is despite the fact that one in seven (14%) of users have had their comments removed or taken down in the past, rising to more than one in four (28%) amongst those who blog.

Not only are users unaware of their actual legal risks online, they remain to be convinced that they even should be liable for the comments they make. Less than half (42%) of all internet users think bloggers should be held to the same legal standards as journalists when publishing opinions, but of those who actually blog themselves only a quarter (27%) believe they should be subjected to the same rules. Internet users are equally ambivalent on a potential voluntary code of conduct for bloggers and online commentators. Nearly half (46%) agree that a code should be established, 15% are unsure and only 4% are firmly opposed. Opinion is even divided amongst bloggers themselves, with over a third (34%) directly opposed to a code of conduct, but about the same number (32%) in support of it.

Duncan Calow, a digital media law specialist and partner within DLA Piper's Technology, Media and Commercial practice commented: "The combination of confusion and complacency about the relationship between the law and UGC puts users at risk as they come under increasing scrutiny online. Blogs and online forums may differ from traditional media in their style and purpose, but their content is still publicly consumed and they have the equivalent potential to cause damage and offence and infringe others' rights. Far from being immune from the law, UGC is in particular danger of falling foul of it."

"Many people are aware of the need for care when using the internet at work - as well as issues surrounding online piracy. It is clear, however, that many internet users would also benefit from, if not welcome, some clearer guidance about posting comment online. There is a big difference between censorship and protection – some have called for a code of conduct to provide guidance for bloggers and other users. That won’t change the law and many bloggers may still say they'll "publish and be damned" - but they ought to be damned sure what the law says before they do."

The research also revealed the overall volume of people commenting online is rising – over half (54%) of respondents had posted some form of comment online, whether on a blog, message board or social networking site. 18-24 year olds are particularly active with the vast majority (84%) participating in some form of UGC.

The importance of individual responsibility in posting messages online was raised further last month following the conviction of a blogger in Flintshire, Wales, who posted offensive messages about a police officer’s new-born baby and wrote about his perceived mistreatment at the hands of the police and Crown Prosecution Service. He was prosecuted under the Telecommunications Act, relating to the sending of an electronic message.

UGC: some of the legal pitfalls

Defamation: This country has tough libel laws and from the earliest Web 1.0 bulletin boards posters have got into difficulty with defamatory comments - as have the online services that carry them.

Offensive Messages: There are a range of laws from the Protection from Harassment Act to specific restrictions in the Telecommunications Act that can be invoked.

Incitement: There have been high profile cases relating to terrorism but any encouragement of others to commit unlawful acts can result in prosecution.

Intellectual property: There is a copy and paste culture online, but using other people's material (whether it's an article, photograph, logo or even another blog posting) can cause problems.

Linking: Bloggers need to think about what is on their own site, but also keep an eye on the links they provide to other pages e.g. to offensive or illegal material.

Reporting: The law of contempt and other statutory reporting restrictions carry strict penalties if breached.

Corporate blogging: The legal pitfalls can be even more pronounced in the case of corporate blogs where additional commercial concerns will apply.

$21 Million Texas Verdict Against Nintendo in Game Controller Patent Infringement Lawsuit

The national law firm of McKool Smith announced a $21 million patent infringement verdict in favor of Tyler, Texas-based Anascape Ltd. against Redmond, Wash.-based Nintendo of America Inc., a subsidiary of Japan's Nintendo Co. Ltd. (NTDO.Y).

The verdict handed down on May 14th concludes nearly two years of litigation over a series of protected Anascape patents related to video game controllers. The jury's verdict followed two weeks of trial before the Hon. Ron Clark of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Lufkin Division.

Anascape was represented by a team of attorneys from McKool Smith and Tyler, Texas-based Parker, Bunt & Ainsworth. The McKool Smith team included firm principal and lead counsel Doug Cawley, firm principals Sam Baxter and Ted Stevenson, and firm associates Chris Bovenkamp, Steven Callahan, Jason Cassady, Anthony Garza, and Jamie Shouse. The Parker, Bunt team included Robert M. Parker, Christopher Bunt and Charles Ainsworth.

The jury found that various controllers sold by Nintendo, including the GameCube controller, GameCube Wavebird controller, Wii Classic controller and Wii Remote, infringed Anascape's patents, and awarded Anascape $21 million. Nintendo is one of the largest suppliers of game controllers and related equipment in the multi-billion-dollar video game industry.

SOURCE McKool Smith

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ownership and Copyright Aspects of Interviewing

Newspaper and magazine articles are often based on interviews. Interviews are an integral part of journalism but many people don’t realize that this simple exercise of asking and answering questions has some complex issues of ownership. If you have never conducted and interviewed, then you may not have given any thought to the ownership and copyright aspect of an interview.

An interview is not merely two people having a conversation, but an interaction that has some legal ramifications. The primary issue is who owns the interview: interviewee or interviewer. The US Copyright Act of 1976, defines the copyright ownership as linked to originality and fixation. The ownership is for the "Original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.”

It is the fixation requirement that can be a little troublesome. The interview will be fixed only if it is captured in a copy that is permanent allowing it to be: perceived, reproduced, and communicated. If there is an audio copy, video copy, or if the entire interview is in shorthand then the interview is fixed. But if the interview notes are only from parts of the interview then only the portion of the interview that is detailed will be considered fixed.

To get the maximum protection under Federal Law the interviewee must also give their consent for the interviewer to record the interview. Rosemont Enterprises v. Random House (1966) was one case where the courts decided that interviewer was the copyright owner of an interview. In this case the court's decision was in part based upon the consent of the interviewee. If any of the requirements are not fulfilled, then Federal Laws do not apply. You must however note that ideas discussed in the interview are not protected by copyright law.

Here are some tips if you want to conduct an interview:

1. Make sure you get written consent from the interviewee for maximum protection under the Federal Law.

2. Always inform the interviewee that you wish to use the interview copy for commercial purpose.

3. Resolve any issues regarding the copyright beforehand with the interviewee.

4. Ensure that you have covered the fixed condition for the interview.

Interviews are great ways to access the knowledge that people have, and get their views on issues. They also benefit the interviewee by giving them an opportunity to speak up and make their opinions known. Just take care that all the legal requirements have been met, so it does not become a bad experience for anyone.

Tool Helps Internet Master Top-level Domains

At the request of a worldwide Internet organization, a computer scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed an algorithm that may guide applicants in proposing new "top-level domains"--the last part of an Internet address, such as .com, that people type in navigating the Web. As new top-level domains are added to the familiar .com, .info and .net, the algorithm* checks whether the newly proposed name is confusingly similar to existing ones by looking for visual likenesses in its appearance.

Having visually distinct top-level domain names may help avoid confusion in navigating the ever-expanding Internet and combat fraud, by reducing the potential to create malicious look-alikes: .C0M with a zero instead of .COM, for instance.

Later this year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) plans to launch the process for proposing a new round of "generic" top-level domains (gTLDs), strings such as .net, .gov and .org meant to indicate organizations or interests. In preparing for newly proposed gTLDs, ICANN reached out to various algorithm developers, including NIST's Paul E. Black, as among those engaged to "provide an open, objective, and predictable mechanism for assessing the degree of visual confusion" in gTLDs.

Black's algorithm compares a proposed gTLD with other TLDs and generates a score based on their visual similarities. For example, the domain .C0M scores an 88 percent visual similarity with the familiar .COM. The resulting scores may help indicate whether the newly proposed domain name looks too much like existing ones.

To make its assessments, the algorithm rates the degree of similarity between pairs of alpha-numeric characters. Some pairs, such as the numeral "1" and its dead-ringer, the lowercase letter "l," are assigned the highest scores for visual similarity while other pairs, such as "h" and "n", are given lower scores. The algorithm takes other considerations into account, for example how certain pairs of letters, like "c" and "l," can join to look like a third letter ("d"), as in the case of "close" and "dose." Employing these scores and considerations, the algorithm computes the "cost" of transforming one string of characters into another, such as "opel" into "apple." Lower cost means higher visual similarity. The algorithm then adjusts for the relative lengths of the two strings (different lengths increase their distinctiveness) and converts the final cost into a percent similarity.

ICANN is considering future enhancements to the algorithm, such as having it check for visual confusion between existing domains and future planned Internet top-level domain names in scripts such as Cyrillic.

The algorithm can be found on the NIST Web page "Compute Visual Similarity of Top-Level Domains.".

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Music Copyright in the Digital Age

To address the growing confusion and concern around music copyright, ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, published a position paper to demystify the basic rights of music creators. As the leading performing rights organization, ASCAP developed this position paper in support of their more than 320,000 members, in addition to all aspiring music creators who strive to make a living from their work.

Critical issues addressed in the position paper include:

-- Back to Basics: Defining a Right
What Is a Right?
Copyright Basics?
The Meaning of "Performing Rights"
The Role of the PRO
Copyright's Chain of Benefits

-- Are Rights Still Relevant in the Digital Age?
Two Sides of the Coin
Rights as a Creative Catalyst
Reviewing the "Digital Divide"
Profiting from Content -- The Expanding Debate
Questioning the "Commons"
Promoting Your Work Online

-- Information on ASCAP Itself
Who Is ASCAP and Who Are Its Members?
Who Owns ASCAP?
Who Is a Music Creator?
Who Are Music Publishers?

-- Addendum: "Setting the Record Straight: Questioning the Commons"
The position paper also includes a "Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers," which has collected over 6,000 signatures in support to date online. This section serves as an advocacy and awareness-building initiative and urges all those associated with the music industry to remember and defend the rights of music creators. The "Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers" debuted during ASCAP "I Create Music" Week (April 10-12) in Los Angeles. Centering around 10 core principles, the rights listed include, "We have the right to be compensated for the use of our creative works, and share in the revenues that they generate" and "We have the right to license our works and control the ways in which they are used."

In addition to surpassing 6,000 signatures online, many prominent members of the music community have physically signed a special version of the "Bill," including: Lionel Richie, Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson, Justin Timberlake, Quincy Jones, Desmond Child, Jackson Browne, Steve Miller, Marilyn Bergman, Alan Bergman, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Chamillionaire, Keri Hilson, Johnta Austin and John Rzeznik.

Both the full text of "Music Copyright in the Digital Age: A Position Paper" and the "Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers" can be downloaded at

Author of "The Secret" Needs to Learn to Give to Avoid Attracting Law Suits

It has recently become apparent that Rhonda Byrne, the author of "The Secret," a best-selling motivational movie and book based on the "Law of Attraction," has missed an important step in the manifestation process. The process of receiving what we desire also involves giving – especially to those who help us create our desires. In this case, Byrne appears to be refusing to give the film's co-creator, Drew Heriot profits from sales to which he says he is entitled, a fact that caused her to receive – or attract – a big, fat lawsuit.

On April 26, the New York Times reported that four days earlier attorneys for Heriot, who co-authored the screenplay and directed "The Secret" movie, had filed a federal lawsuit in the UnitedStates District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois/EasternDivision. However, Heriot didn't file suit against the universal principles of "The Secret" but against the corporate principals behind "The Secret," who he claims "promised at the outset that profits would be shared and who have not kept faith with 'The Secret's' tenets of gratitude and integrity."

The lawsuit alleges that Rhonda Byrne, executive producer of "The Secret," and Robert E. Rainone Jr., a Chicago businessman, conspired to deny Heriot's rights to co-ownership and profits from the movie and related works. The combined gross revenue from DVD and book sales of "The Secret" currently may exceed $300 million.

According to Heriot's attorney, evidence exists that Byrne and Heriot collaborated and shared source materials to produce the original film and book. Heriot simply wants to be compensated for his work and creative contributions.

"I am very disappointed to hear that Ms. Byrne is not sharing her wealth with Mr. Heriot, who seems deserving enough if his claims are true," said Nina Amir, author and maggid (Jewish inspirational speaker) who focuses her work on practical spirituality and human potential and personal growth from a Jewish perspective. "I was very excited to see ‘The Secret' book and DVD hit the stores and to watch its ‘stars' appear on Larry King and Oprah. I had long ago heard about combining thought and feeling to manifest desires, although I had first heard it called conscious creation and creative thought rather than the Law of Attraction, and I knew and respected many of the people Byrne chose to feature. It was wonderful to see these concepts, which really were no secret, go mainstream."

Originally released in March of 2006 for DVD and online sales, "The Secret presents what is called the "Law of Attraction." Embraced by many self-help experts and the subject of extensive media coverage, the film and the corresponding book teach that thoughts and feelings attract real events into individuals' lives, creating a basis for a higher sense of personal and spiritual fulfillment.

Many people have criticized "The Secret" for being too ego-centered, never mentioned God, and failing to tell people how to use its "secret" to help others and or heal the world of its problems. "The fact that Ms. Byrne has attracted these legal issues despite her knowledge of the Law of Attraction does seem to indicate that some element is missing in her teaching. I would agree that she needs to add in a spiritual focus that makes her want to give as well as to receive," said Amir.

Amir, who currently is writing a book called "The Kabbalah of Conscious Creation, Four Steps to Tapping into the Divine Flow of Giving and Receiving," focuses on similar concepts to those put forth in "The Secret." She takes the popular subject, which Byrne and others call the Law of Attraction, and puts it into a Jewish mystical framework. Additionally, she draws on the teachings of Kabbalah to show how God fits into the picture.

"I realized quite a number of years ago -- before "The Secret" mania -- that Kabbalah and Judaism encompassed the same basic ideas but in a much more holistic manner. Within my framework, we move from a place of simply being, where we find desire or inspiration, through the ‘worlds' of thinking, feeling and doing," Amir explained. "We also have an opportunity to use this model, which is based upon the Kabbalistic story of creation, to learn about God, our desires, and our soul's purpose, and to connect with God through the act of learning to both give and to receive."

This approach to the popular topic of wish fulfillment encompasses another popular topic these days: higher consciousness. Indeed, from a Kabbalistic standpoint, the goal revolves around manifesting a desire for a higher consciousness that wants to receive not for the self alone but for the sake of giving to others. "Through the giving we tap into our real ability to ‘attract' what we desire into our lives," Amir explained. "Although, by then we care less about that then we do about giving. By then, we simply want to give, because we feel so many other benefits from this process -– the primary one being that giving removes the separation we often feel between Giver and receiver, Creator and created, God and man."

Byrne, it seems, has missed a lesson integral to her so-called "secret": It's much better to give than to receive. In fact, the whole point really should revolve around giving, and by giving we access the Divine flow that allows us to receive. "Giving and receiving become one and the same. In fact, receiving becomes an act of giving, because we give pleasure to the one that is giving when we accept what they give us. Plus, in the process of accepting gifts from our Creator, we achieve unity with the greatest Giver of all," said Amir.

Source: Nina Amir, author of The Kabbalah of Conscious Creation

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Five-point Blueprint to Reducing Software Piracy

BSA advocates a five-point "blueprint" for reducing software piracy and reaping the economic benefits:

- Increase public education and awareness of the value of intellectual property and the risks of using unlicensed software;

- Update national copyright laws to implement World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) obligations in order to enable better and more effective enforcement against digital and online piracy;

- Create strong enforcement mechanisms as required by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS), including tough anti-piracy laws;

- Dedicate significant government resources to the problem, including national IP enforcement units, cross-border cooperation, and training for local officers and judiciary officials; and

- Lead by example by implementing software management policies and requiring the public sector to use only legitimate software.

The BSA-IDC Global Software Piracy Study covers piracy of all packaged software that runs on personal computers, including desktops, laptops, and ultra-portables. Website:

Canadian Software Piracy Rates Largely Unchanged in Five Years

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) today announced that Canada's PC software piracy rate decreased one percentage point from 34 per cent to 33 per cent in 2007. While Canada remains among the top 20 countries with the lowest software piracy rates globally, the average piracy rate has remained above 33 per cent since 2003, and continues to lag behind the United States, where the rate decreased one percentage point to 20 per cent. Losses to the Canadian economy due to software piracy increased from $784 million to $1.07 billion.

The fifth annual study, conducted by global market research and forecasting firm IDC and released by BSA worldwide, shows the global piracy rate increased from 35 per cent to 38 per cent in 2007, with losses increasing from $39 billion to $48 billion.

"While it's encouraging to see a slight decrease in Canada's software piracy rate, the fact that it has not changed significantly over the past five years indicates there is more work to be done," said Michael Murphy, Chairman of the BSA Canada Committee. "Stricter laws and penalties in other countries including the U.S. have proven effective in helping curb software piracy. If we want to reduce piracy in Canada and its impact on the country's IT industry, copyright reform legislation is long overdue."

Key global findings from the study include:

Among the 108 countries studied, PC software piracy dropped in sixty- four countries, and increased in only eleven. However, because the worldwide PC market grew fastest in high-piracy countries, the worldwide piracy rate increased by three percentage points to 38% in 2007.

Among the larger emerging economies, Russia's piracy rate dropped a remarkable seven percentage points to 73% from 2006 to 2007. The reduction is the result of legalization programs by vendors, enforcement and education by the government and anti-piracy groups, agreements between vendors and local distributors to bundle legal software with hardware.

Lower piracy regions and markets like Japan, North America, and Western Europe have among the highest dollar losses. These markets are so large that piracy at relatively low levels can generate significant losses.

Since the size of the PC market grew significantly in 2007 and the value of the US dollar dropped nearly seven percent against other currencies, global losses from piracy rose by $8.5 billion to $48.2 billion worldwide.

Globally, businesses and consumers will spend nearly $400 billion on PC software over the next four years, according to IDC estimates. Assuming piracy rates do not change during this period, more than $225 billion worth of software will be pirated.

"This study shows that government and industry anti-piracy efforts are delivering software piracy reductions in many countries; however, rapid PC growth in higher-piracy emerging markets translates into an overall increase in global piracy," said John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC. "We expect this trend to continue, meaning industry and government must increasingly focus their efforts on combating piracy in these emerging economies."

A BSA economic impact study released in January found that reducing software piracy in Canada over the next four years by 10 percentage points could contribute $2.7 billion to the economy, generate more than 5,200 high-paying jobs and add $875 million in additional tax revenues for federal, regional and local governments by 2011.

For more details or a copy of the complete study, visit

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bestseller Elizabeth Lowell Illuminates the Shadowy World of Art Fraud

It was recently reported that the IRS claims overevaluation of art work has led to more than $100 million in exaggerated claims in the past two years (Los Angeles Times). The news was no surprise to bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell -- who was researching this crime trend before it hit headlines and features a riveting "case study" of this racket in Blue Smoke and Murder an enthralling new thriller.

Lowell, who has a keen eye for discovering emergent crime trends before preliminary arrests are reported in the news, has 30 million copies of her novels in print. The New York Times bestseller says she found the scandalous art appraisal topic, "irresistible," reasoning, "I have a criminal mind but not a criminal heart-when I see piles of money being spent on the word of one paid expert or another, then see more piles of money being kept through donating expensive art in lieu of paying cash taxes, the possibilities for profit and chicanery are what immediately draws my attention."

But art fraud is just the most recent crime that Lowell has tackled with her novels, which feature St. Kilda Consulting, a shadowy investigative force. Lowell's St. Kilda is a multinational company whose purpose is to help people when governments can't-or won't-get the job done.

The author explains, "The idea for the corporation came from reality. There are many civilian businesses that specialize in ransoming kidnap victims all over the world, or providing military training, or international business intelligence, etc. It was just a matter of looking at the possibilities and then inventing a fictional company."

Innocent as Sin (Avon, On Sale 4/20/08, ISBN: 9780060829841, $7.99) now out in paperback, features St. Kilda Consulting on the hunt for a transnational criminal who specializes in the trade of African "conflict" diamonds.

Lowell says, "The core theme of the St. Kilda Consulting books is the fragility of social order in an increasingly chaotic world. In the 21st century, big central governments seem either to disintegrate like the Soviet Union or move so ponderously that the transnational criminals easily evade national laws. Each victory for the criminals is a loss for civilization."

Blue Smoke and Murder and Innocent as Sin are available wherever books are sold.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project to Represent Filmmakers in Lawsuit

The Fair Use Project of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society today announced that it is signing on to defend Premise Media's right to use a clip of John Lennon's song "Imagine" in its documentary, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," [ ] for the purposes of commentary and criticism.

The film, released in the United States on April 18, 2008, is about alleged discrimination against people who support alternative theories of evolution such as intelligent design. The song is played for roughly 15 seconds to illustrate and criticize the ideas suggested in it — that the world might be a better place without religion.

Lennon's widow Yoko Ono Lennon and sons Sean and Julian, along with EMI Blackwood Music, filed suit on April 22, 2008 claiming that Premise Media's unauthorized use of "Imagine" violates copyright and trademark law. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that Premise Media, C&S Production LP, Premise Media Distribution LP, and Rocky Mountain Pictures misappropriated the composition in violation of the Copyright Act, the Lanham Act, and New York state law. On the same date, EMI Records Ltd. and Capitol Records LLC filed suit against the same defendants in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, alleging violation of their rights in the sound recording under New York state law.

Premise Media contends it has the right to use the song under the fair use doctrine, which among other things permits the use of copyrighted material for the purpose of comment, criticism, and discussion.

"The right to quote from copyrighted works in order to criticize them and discuss the views they may represent lies at the heart of the fair use doctrine," said Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project. "These rights are under attack here, and we plan to defend them."

Falzone will serve as counsel on the case along with Stanford Law colleagues Julie A. Ahrens and Brandy Karl. The Stanford team will be joined by Roy Hardin and April Terry, partners at the Dallas office of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP.

The producers of "Expelled" spent two years interviewing scores of scientists, doctors, philosophers, and public leaders, including University of Minnesota biology professor P.Z. Myers, who does not support alternative theories of evolution. The clip of "Imagine," which is audible for approximately 15 seconds, is used in a segment of the documentary in which the film's narrator and author Ben Stein comments on statements made by Myers and others about the place of religion. In the documentary Stein says: "Dr. Myers would like you to think that he's being original but he's merely lifting a page out of John Lennon's songbook." This is followed by an audio clip of Lennon's song "Imagine," specifically, the lyrics "Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too."

"We included the 'Imagine' clip not only to illuminate Ben Stein's commentary but to criticize the ideas expressed in the song," says Logan Craft, chairman and executive producer of Premise Media.

"Yoko Ono and the other plaintiffs are trying to redefine the Constitution and the free speech protection it affords," Craft continued. "Our movie is about freedom — the freedom to discuss alternative views of how life began on our planet, the freedom to ask reasonable questions about the adequacy of Darwin's theory, and the freedom to challenge an entrenched establishment. Now we find that we also have to fight for our free speech rights."

The plaintiffs in both cases have filed motions asking the court to issue a nationwide injunction against showing the film in its present form. These motions are likely to be heard in the next few weeks.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Copyright Guidebook Helps Instructors Avoid Copyright Violations

University Readers, a custom-publishing company servicing the academic market, is introducing the Copyright Guidebook to help instructors avoid copyright violations.

The New York Times recently reported a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by multiple publishers against Georgia State University (and several university administrators) for allegedly improperly distributing the publishers' content without permission. According to University Readers, this legal action highlights the need to educate instructors on copyright laws as they apply to the classroom, as well as the implications of not following best practices.

Its creators say the University Readers Copyright Guidebook was designed to clarify impressions and assumptions that many academics have about using an assortment of copyrighted material as a substitute for textbooks. For more information on proper classroom use of copyrighted materials, visit University Readers Copyright Page.

According to University Readers, the increasing use of previously published materials for custom textbooks, course packs and course readers is in part a response to the much-criticized increase in the price of off-the-shelf textbooks. However, many instructors who want students to read specific excerpts from books, articles, essays and other works are unclear about which content requires copyright clearance and how they can obtain proper clearance.

Furthermore, the company says many instructors are unaware of the personal repercussions for violations, which can be as much as $150,000 per infringement. Since securing copyright clearances is time-consuming and can be cumbersome, many professors simply don't spend the time or effort required to do so correctly. In turn, they unwittingly put their school or department at risk as a result.

The Georgia State lawsuit is an example of what can happen if proper copyright practices are not followed, says University Readers. In the lawsuit, according to The New York Times, 'Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Sage Publications sued four university officials, asserting 'systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works' by Georgia State, which the university distributes through its Web site.'

The University Readers Copyright Guidebook was written to help instructors avoid getting tangled in this kind of legal mess. The guidebook is an easy-to-read primer on best copyright practices. Written in 'plain English' by a team of on-staff, custom-publishing experts -- and available on the University Readers Web site as a downloadable PDF-- the Copyright Guidebook condenses and summarizes a 24-page House Subcommittee Report on fair use and appropriate copying in educational settings.


Profits generated by popular product line subject of federal lawsuit

"The Secret," a motivational movie and book based on the "Law of Attraction," has spawned a worldwide phenomenon of DVD and book sales. Now, "The Secret" has prompted a lawsuit from the film's co-creator, Drew Heriot, who says he was denied profits from sales and is entitled to compensation.

Attorneys for Mr. Heriot, who co-authored the screenplay and directed "The Secret" movie, filed the federal lawsuit last week in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois/Eastern Division.

"To all who have been inspired by 'The Secret,' please know that I am not suing the universal principles of 'The Secret'" says Mr. Heriot. "Rather, I am suing the corporate principals behind 'The Secret,' who promised at the outset that profits would be shared, and who have not kept faith with 'The Secret's' tenets of gratitude and integrity."

The lawsuit alleges that Rhonda Byrne, executive producer of "The Secret," and Robert E. Rainone Jr., a Chicago businessman, conspired to deny Mr. Heriot's rights to co-ownership and profits from the movie and related works through a maze of U.S. and foreign-based companies. It is estimated that the combined gross revenue from DVD and book sales of "The Secret" currently exceeds $300 million.

"Although Rhonda Byrne has repeatedly claimed to be the sole creator of 'The Secret' and associated works, we have evidence that she and Drew Heriot collaborated and shared source materials to produce the original film and book," says Mr. Heriot's attorney Mark Werbner of the Dallas-based trial firm Sayles Werbner. "'The Secret' franchise would never have existed if it weren't for Drew, and all he's asking is to be compensated for his work and creative contributions."

Originally released in March of 2006 for DVD and online sales, "The Secret" uses a documentary format of interviews and dramatized sequences to present what is called the "Law of Attraction." Embraced by many self-help experts and the subject of extensive media coverage, the film teaches that thoughts and feelings attract real events into individuals' lives, creating a basis for a higher sense of personal and spiritual fulfillment.

"As Director, Drew gave 'The Secret' its distinctive approach and style. He created the structure and order for the film, conducted the vast majority of those interviews, worked for months on the screenplay, directed the most important dramatic scenes and supervised the editing and post production," says Mr. Werbner. "The book is essentially a transcript of the movie. Drew's pivotal role and ownership rights in these materials should be upheld, and we look forward to our day in court."

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that, as co-author and copyright holder, Mr. Heriot has a right to a full accounting of proceeds from all creative forms of "The Secret," as well as a percentage of those profits. The lawsuit also seeks financial compensation to Mr. Heriot for copyright infringement and unjust enrichment on the part of Ms. Byrne and other defendants.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Illinois Man Involved In Online Piracy Ring Is Sentenced

SCOTT CARRERA, 33, of Darien, Illinois, was sentenced today by Chief United States District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to three years of probation, the first six months of which CARRERA must spend in home confinement. Judge Chatigny also ordered CARRERA to pay a fine in the amount of $7500 and to perform 120 hours of community service. On May 7, 2007, CARRERA pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. This matter stems from a multinational software piracy investigation known as "Operation Higher Education."

In pleading guilty, CARRERA admitted that, for more than two years, he was a participant in the "warez scene," an underground online community consisting of individuals and organized groups who engage in the large scale reproduction, modification and distribution of copyrighted software over the Internet. CARRERA served as a site administrator for a warez site known as "HOP" and assisted in the administration of a second warez server identified as "TOP." CARRERA assisted in the construction and maintenance of the "HOP" warez server, which contained a library of copyright-protected software, including movies, music, games and business software. As the site administrator, CARRERA allowed others to have access to the "HOP" server with the knowledge that they would upload new material to the server and download material for their own use. The "HOP" server contained more than 5000 pirated works, and CARRERA has admitted that he uploaded more than 180 and downloaded more than 2600 copyright-protected software titles.

"Operation Higher Education" is the largest component of the global law enforcement action known as "Operation Fastlink," announced by the Department of Justice on April 22, 2004. Twelve nations participated in "Operation Higher Education." The investigation yielded searches and seizures of more 70 high-level targets that were conducted in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, the United States, as well as Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward Chang and Matthew Bassiur from the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Global Piracy Hurts Owners of Copyright - Big and Small

The damage of global intellectual property theft harms not only large content companies but individual creators as well, the Copyright Alliance pointed out today as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual report on worldwide intellectual property rights and enforcement.

"From the biggest multi-media company to the individual graphic artist working out of her home, global intellectual property theft is placing ever-increasing strain on an already stressed economy," said Alliance Executive Director Patrick Ross.

"Enforcing the intellectual property rights of creators - large and small - on a global scale is daunting but is also critical for a strong and vibrant U.S. economy.

"Demand for America's copyrighted works drives the nation's economy, creates personally and financially rewarding jobs and contributes to the positive side of the trade books. But intellectual property theft on a global scale is threatening America's creators.

"For example, just this week I learned of a graphic artist whose works, as well as others' illustrations, had been scraped off of his web site and repackaged without permission by a Hong Kong publisher that is now charging $100 for the book."

Ross applauded USTR for shining a spotlight on the issue of global intellectual property rights with its annual report and pointed to two recent studies about copyright, piracy and the economy.


Global piracy costs the U.S. economy $58 billion annually, nearly 375,000 jobs, $16.3 billion in annual earnings and $2.6 billion in tax revenue. SOURCE: "The True Cost of Copyright Industry Piracy to the U.S. Economy"; Stephen E. Siwek, Economists Inc. for the Institute for Policy Innovation, October 2007

Strong IP means strong GDP There is a direct relationship between strong property rights - including intellectual property rights - and per capita GDP. SOURCE: "2008 International Property Rights Index"; Property Rights Alliance, February 2008

Both studies can be found at the Copyright Alliance web site at

India's $4 Billion A Year Loss In Entertainment Industry Piracy

Veteran Indian filmmaker Bobby Bedi warned members of Congress about the massive problems of piracy and counterfeiting plaguing the entertainment industries in India and other developing countries at a special event leading up to World Intellectual Property Day on April 26. Bedi offered remarks in response to a recent study released by Ernst & Young stating that piracy and counterfeiting cost the Indian entertainment industry more than $4 billion a year representing almost 40 percent of their potential annual revenue.

Representative Diane Watson ( D-Calif. ), chair of the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus, noted the rampant piracy problems facing filmmakers like Bedi. "On World Intellectual Property Day we recognize the talent of creators around the globe who enrich our lives with their artistry and innovation. Tonight we hear the story of one filmmaker who has made a tremendous contribution to India's burgeoning entertainment industry. He represents one of the thousands of filmmakers around the world who are victims of piracy."

Congressional Intellectual Property Promotion and Piracy Prevention Caucus Chairs Tom Feeney ( R-Fla. ) and Robert Wexler ( D-Fla. ) also called for efforts to combat piracy here in the United States and abroad.

Michael P. Ryan, director of the Creative and Innovative Economy at the GW Law School, remarked, "Originality and innovation are essential to driving long-term growth in developing economies." He said that piracy creates a real dilemma for filmmakers like Bedi and curtails their imagination. "So long as pirates earn a high share of movie revenues, producers must focus on making relatively inexpensive movies. To finance a grander vision, the creators must receive not just the critical but also the monetary rewards of inventiveness." The Indian film industry is the largest in the world with more than 1,000 films produced each year.

Bedi is critically acclaimed for his work on films including Bandit Queen, Fire and Saathya. He currently is producing a three-film series on the Indian legend, the Mahabharata, which at an estimated cost of $70 million, will be India's most expensive movie venture ever. A television program, entertainment software, and a merchandising campaign also are planned.

World Intellectual Property Day celebrations take place in countries around the globe every year on April 26 and seek to increase public understanding intellectual property and how it shapes our world. This year's Capitol Hill event was organized in advance of the official date designated by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The George Washington University Law School's Creative and Innovative Economy Center believes creativity and innovation are critical tools in fighting the war on poverty, eradicating disease, and improving the quality of human life through the arts and technology. The center's faculty conduct research and organize educational programs that demonstrate how creativity and innovation drive global economic development and contribute to advancements in healthcare.

For more information about the CIEC visit

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Protect Your Art Without Hiring a Lawyer

Learn how to register your own copyright with the United States Copyright Office without an expensive attorney or costly registration service when you download COPYRIGHT FOR ARTISTS: QUICK AND EASY COPYRIGHT PROTECTION, a new e-book written by attorney and jeweler Sarah Feingold, Esq. ($14.00 at or

"You've worked really hard to produce your work, why not protect it?" says Feingold. "Attorneys usually charge upwards of $100.00 an hour to file a copyright registration. Copyright registration services can charge $150.00 for the same service. With my e-book, you can do this yourself!"

Whether you create art for fun, for profit, or both, Feingold says it is always advisable to register for copyright protection for your work: "Rights to your own original designs remain protected, and you will be prepared if anyone alleges that you violated someone's intellectual property rights. As an artist, it is important for you to know our rights, exercise your rights, and protect your rights."

Written in clear, simple-to-understand language, Feingold provides expert guidance and valuable advice about protecting your original works. More than 30 pages of basic definitions, examples, friendly at-a-glance charts, and important web links makes COPYRIGHT FOR ARTISTS an indispensable legal reference for business people, artists, teachers, and students associated with the craft industry.

In COPYRIGHT FOR ARTISTS, you will find ... basic copyright information; information about trademark law, patent law, trade secret law, and contract law; steps you need to take to register copyright for a work of visual art; links to U.S. Copyright registration forms; answers to frequently asked questions; and so much more!

Google Sued for Ad Program Fraud

Google is deceiving its customers into paying for ads they don't want, according to a federal class action lawsuit filed today by Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California in San Jose.

"This debunks Google's carefully cultivated image," said Brian Kabateck, who is lead counsel on the case and Managing Partner of Kabateck Brown Kellner.

"Google is hurting its customers on two fronts. Google is not only taking money out of customers' pockets, it's derailing their advertising strategies as well."

Kabateck recently won a multi-million dollar settlement from Yahoo! and was part of an earlier $90 million settlement from Google on behalf of advertisers who were victimized by "click fraud" to which the company turned a blind eye.

AdWords is Google's primary advertising program and is the main source of its revenue. AdWords ads appear on as well as on Google partner sites like AdWords ads, however, may also appear on third-party Web sites, which use AdSense, the other side of the Google advertising model.

Google charges its advertising customers when someone "clicks" on one of their ads. During the sign-up process, users tell Google the maximum that they are willing to pay per "click."

During this process, users encounter two adjacent boxes. Into the first, customers enter the amount they wish to pay per "click" of an ad displayed on The second box is marked "optional." Into this box, a user can enter the amount they would be willing to pay per "click" of an ad appearing on a third party web page. But leaving the box blank does not prevent ads from appearing on third-party sites. (NOTE: a screen cap is available upon request.)

Instead, Google places the ads on third-party sites anyway. And users are automatically charged per click based on the amount they entered into the first box. This suit arises from the fact that both actions occur without the user being informed.

Ads on third-party sites are widely-acknowledged to be far less effective (and therefore less valuable to the advertiser) than ads on Google, of course, still profits greatly from these ads.

"People go to Google hoping that some of its magic will rub off on them," Kabateck added. "Instead, Google's sleight of hand deception is making their money disappear."

Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP is one of the nation's foremost consumer law firms. Its clients have won more than $750 million against Coca Cola, Farmer's Insurance, Eli Lilly and other major corporations. As a plaintiff's-only firm, Kabateck Brown Kellner is always on the consumers' side.