Sunday, June 29, 2008

Copyright Act Remains Anti-Student

Today, Canada's campus bookstores lamented that amendments proposed to the Copyright Act will continue to financially and academically hurt Canadian university students. Legislation amending the Copyright Act, Bill C-61, was introduced in the House of Commons last week by Industry Minister Jim Prentice.

Since 1998, the Copyright Act has allowed publishers to establish Canadian import monopolies on books by authors from around the world. These exclusive distributors can in turn add an additional 10 or 15% to the price of a book. This surcharge is not to the direct financial benefit of a book's author, but is instead kept by the exclusive distributor. The Copyright Act makes it a violation for individual bookstores to purchase from foreign distributors, a process known as "parallel importation."

"Restrictions on parallel importation have meant that, over the past decade, millions of dollars have been taken from the wallets of Canadians, particularly students," said Queen's University Bookstore Manager Chris Tabor. "Rather than see the cost of textbooks reduced by as much as 15% overnight, this act will ensure that Canadian students will, with little accountability as to where this money goes, continue to overpay millions of dollars more in the coming decade."

C-61 will also serve to increase the current chill in Canadian libraries with regards to a number of legitimate research activities. Proposed amendments would limit individual users' ability to make single copies of portions of works for academic uses such as research and private study, better known as fair dealing. The Bill would make it a copyright violation for academic users to make such personal copies if content creators opt to put copy restrictions on their work, be it with a warning or by using so-called "digital locks." Even when such copying restrictions are not in place, electronic copies must "self-destruct" after five days.

"For true academic success, Canadian students and the libraries that serve them need to be confident that they will not commit copyright violations as part of the ordinary course of research," said Tabor. "Instead of clarifying the legality of fair dealing, this legislation obfuscates the situation even more."

Canada's Campus bookstores believe that copyright must ensure that authors and other creators are able to benefit from their work, but it is equally important to ensure that users, such as students, are not unduly hindered by creator's protections. "Unfortunately," says Tabor, "the Copyright Act, even with the changes proposed by the government, does not strike this balance. It remains anti-student."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Internet Scammers Defraud Car Buyers Out of Thousands

The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina released a warning today for all online consumers to be mindful of escrow service fraud, especially regarding vehicle purchases.

Now more than ever, shoppers are looking for great deals on used, fuel-efficient cars in order to pay less at the pump. Internet scammers, who have entered the arena by posing as safe escrow services, are defrauding car buyers. Many times, extremely low prices on used cars are too-good-to-be-true, and purchasing them may cost a non-suspecting consumer thousands.

Escrow service scammers know that consumers are more likely to trust their claims if they present a trustworthy identity through sophisticated Web sites and thought-out stories. These criminals will not stop short of tugging on emotional strings, either.

Both the Chicago and Louisville BBBs were contacted by consumers after seeing odd listings on Craigslist. For example, a 2007 Audi was listed for between $2,900 and $3,500. The seller rationalized the low price by claiming the car was his son’s, who was recently killed in Iraq. To supposedly cover shipping costs, fraud victims were told to use an escrow service for transferring money to USA-Transports, the phony company. Despite the fact that USA-Transports sent a tracking number and called to confirm a delivery schedule, the car never arrived.

"The benefit to using an escrow service is the safe environment for parties to complete a fair transaction," said Beverly Baskin, president and CEO of the BBB of Eastern North Carolina. "Unfortunately, these Internet scammers develop believable stories about their cheap prices or previous track record so you will comply with their services."

Online consumers who sent money through wire transfer services account for more than 25 percent of all Internet fraud victims. Requesting payment via wire transfer services is common strategy among scammers, and these wire transfers can be difficult to track. While eBay and Craigslist post warnings on their Web sites about scammers, consumers still fall victim to Internet fraud. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported in 2007 that almost $526 million was lost due to Internet Fraud; the Internet Crime Complaint Center handled 219,553 complaints during the same year.

BBB Advice on Avoiding Escrow Fraud

Take caution when sellers pressure the use of a specific escrow service and check for legitimacy at

Many times escrow scammers will steal the identities of valid companies when setting up their own Web site. After checking with the BBB, contact the company to ensure validity.

A legitimate escrow service will never require buyers to transfer money through Western Union. Trustworthy companies will provide both routing and account numbers for their bank and will instruct buyers to wire money from their bank accounts directly to the company’s financial institution.

Be sure to confirm that the service is licensed and bonded with the appropriate state agency and avoid overseas escrow companies.

Canadian Library Association Disappointed with New Copyright Legislation

Today, the Canadian Library Association (CLA) expressed disappointment with the government's newly announced copyright legislation, Bill C-61.

Bill C-61 is a missed opportunity and demonstrates that the government did not consult adequately with the user community, and did not listen to the concerns of Canadians. Overall, the Bill is extremely complex and will need more detailed study, but there are many glaring problems. Fundamentally, the Bill circumvents user rights.

One example is the missed opportunity on perceptual disabilities, where the Bill allows users to circumvent digital rights management (DRM) software, but does not allow them to import the technology to do so.

Another example is desktop delivery of interlibrary loan. Bill C-61 ignores the fact that the 2004 CCH Supreme Court Judgment already allows Canadian libraries to do desktop delivery of interlibrary loan. The provisions in Bill C-61 require libraries to lock up interlibrary loan with DRM, something that most libraries would not have the resources to accomplish. This would force many libraries back to delivering interlibrary loan via paper copies.

There is also a clear problem with criminalizing the circumvention of DRM. For a teenager, the criminal risk involved in shoplifting a CD would be safer rather than circumventing DRM on a CD they purchased to put it on their IPod. "Bill C-61 attempts to provide balance, but misses the boat for ordinary Canadians and over 21 million library users," stated Rob Tiessen, Chair of the CLA Copyright Committee.

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) is Canada's largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Canadian Photographers Coalition (CPC) welcomes copyright reform legislation

The Canadian Photographers Coalition (CPC) congratulates the federal government on the introduction of copyright reform legislation.

"Copyright and the Copyright Act are important policy tools for the promotion of Canada's culture and Canadians' creativity. Amendments to the Copyright Act are an important driver of economic growth and a tool to encourage innovation in Canada, particularly small business. As professional photographers we understand first hand the importance of ensuring a modern Copyright Act that promotes both these objectives," stated Andre Cornellier, Coalition Co-chair.

"The proposed updates to the Copyright Act work toward these objectives, making photographers equals among their creative colleagues. These amendments allow Canadian small business photographers the opportunity to generate additional revenues for their commercial work. At the same time, they strike a balance by allowing consumers the use of commissioned personal photographs for private non-commercial purposes," added Brian Boyle, Coalition Co-chair.

The Canadian Photographers Coalition (CPC) was formed to support the extension of copyright fairness to Canada's working professional photographers. The Coalition represents the interests of two professiona lassociations: the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) and the Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communications (CAPIC).

Together the groups represent professional photographers working in all aspects of the craft and in all regions of the country. There are over 14,000 professional photographers working and living in Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast. Over 95% of professional photographers are small business people, owning, operating and working in their own businesses and dependent on sales of their work to support their families. Like all small business people, photographers are part of the engine that drives the Canadian economy.

Proposed Copyright Law Amendments

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada supports proposed amendments to copyright law, tabled in the House of Commons, regarding educational use of Internet materials and the rules for Internet Service Providers, but is very concerned about the prohibition against circumventing Technological Measures and some of the continuing provisions on statutory damages.

"We are very pleased that the bill contains an exception for educational use of Internet materials and a 'notice and notice' regime for Internet service providers, but we do have serious concerns about the implications for higher education institutions of the provisions dealing with circumvention of technological measures and with statutory damages," said Claire Morris, president and CEO of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

The proposed amendments to Canada's copyright law are aimed primarily at clarifying use of copyrighted work in digital form. Although media attention has been focused on its effects on downloading movies and music, the new legislation has important implications for all educational institutions.

"Professors and students at Canadian universities are both creators and users of copyright works, so Canadian universities recognize the importance of balance between the desire of creators to receive fair remuneration for the use of their works and the public interest in being able to use information for purposes such as research and education," said Ms Morris. "The bill attempts to strike a balance but, in relation to higher education, we will be recommending amendments in a couple of areas to ensure appropriate balance."


- AUCC is very pleased that a new education exception in Bill C-61 will permit the educational use of publicly available Internet materials. Allowing students and teachers to use these resources in teaching and learning remains a key to maintaining an internationally competitive education system in Canada. We believe that Bill C-61 gives students, teachers and educational institutions the assurance they need that common teaching and learning activities that involve the use of publicly available Internet materials will not infringe copyright.

- AUCC strongly supports the approach taken in Bill C-61 to clarify the rules regarding copyright liability for Internet Service Providers, including universities. ISPs will continue to be exempt from copyright liability when they provide Internet access, cache materials for network efficiency or host websites for subscribers. In addition, the bill proposes a fair and balanced approach to dealing with the situation where an ISP receives notice from a rights holder that one of its subscribers could be hosting or sharing infringing material. The ISP will be required to forward the notice to the subscriber and keep a record of relevant information. This reflects the existing industry practice of ISPs in Canada, a practice that has served both rights holders and ISPs well.


- AUCC is very concerned with the bill's proposed strict prohibition against the circumvention of Technological Measures used by copyright owners to protect their works in digital format. Circumvention of Technological Measures would be permitted for only a few specific purposes, but these do not include the existing fair dealing provision and educational and library exceptions already in the Copyright Act. In addition, Bill C-61 would ban the provision, marketing or importation of devices, and the provision of services that enable circumvention of TMs. In practice, this means that a visually impaired student could not actually unlock the digital protections because the technology would not be available to do so. Taken together, the new measures go much farther than is required by the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization treaties and transform a measure designed for protection into a means of impeding legitimate uses.

- AUCC also remains concerned that the statutory damages regime in the Copyright Act, created in 1997 and left untouched in the proposed amendments, imposes a chill on the use of fair dealing and has the effect of discouraging university and library staff from using modern technologies to distribute scholarly and scientific research materials. AUCC had recommended that statutory damages not apply to individuals who have reasonable grounds to believe their copying is fair dealing.

AUCC will be studying Bill C-61 in more detail and looks forward to expressing its views on the proposed legislation during hearings of the House of Commons Industry Committee. In the meantime, we will draw to the government's attention the areas of the bill which we feel require amendment to ensure appropriate balance in the legislation.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada is the voice of Canada's universities. It represents 92 Canadian public and private not-for profit universities and university-degree level colleges.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Copyright Alliance Launches One Voice Campaign

The Copyright Alliance is marking its one-year anniversary with the announcement of a campaign to engage, educate and enlist creators across America in the dialogue about copyright and its importance to the U.S. economy and the livelihoods of millions of Americans.

"The Copyright Alliance was formed with the singular purpose of serving as a collective voice and advocate on behalf of the 11 million Americans whose livelihoods depend on the principle of copyright," said Executive Director Patrick Ross. "I can think of no better way to mark this milestone than to launch an effort to bring more individual voices to the discussion."

The Alliance is launching the "one voice" outreach campaign that encourages creators to join the Alliance and "Create your work. Define yourself. Protect your copyrights." The campaign will include both targeted online outreach and a new presence at key trade shows, festivals and other annual events throughout the year.

Individuals who join the effort will have access to a network of other creators concerned about copyright via an interactive members-only web site. The site will also provide helpful resources and information about copyright to creators with questions.

The "one voice" member site debuted today. In addition, the Alliance has updated the look of its public site, and is also unveiling a monthly e-newsletter for policy makers and hosting a reception in Washington, DC, all in conjunction with its one-year anniversary. The Alliance debuted in May of 2007.

The first stops for the "one voice" campaign will include the National Music Publishers' Association Annual Meeting in New York City in June. Also on the agenda is the Annual Americana Music Association Conference in Nashville in September. Other dates and locations will be added.

"The Copyright Alliance is the only organization in the United States that acts on behalf of all artists and creators in all fields -- from the performing arts to the written word to software development -- to promote the importance of copyright and its economic, cultural and educational implications for creators and their communities," Ross said.

In its first year, the Alliance has made strides in a number of mission-critical areas of advocacy and education, including engagement in public discourse, outreach to lawmakers and dialogue with the academic community.


Microsoft Files 21 Lawsuits Against Software Pirates

As part of its ongoing efforts to protect its customers and partners from the risks of pirated and counterfeit software, Microsoft Corp. today announced the filing of 21 lawsuits in federal court in 14 states against resellers allegedly engaging in the sale of pirated software, including some alleged repeat offenders. Microsoft also called attention to several resources available to help consumers to ensure they are getting genuine software, including the (800) RU-LEGIT (785-3448) hot line and online validation tools at In the cases announced today, many of the companies identified in the suits are alleged to have misled customers by repeatedly distributing unlicensed copies of Microsoft software pre-installed on the PCs that they sold. Some of these companies continued with their illegal business practices even after settling previous lawsuits with Microsoft.

Pirates often dupe consumers into buying unlicensed or non-genuine software through hard-disk loading, which is the practice of installing unlicensed software onto a PC and then selling the computer to unsuspecting consumers. In many cases customers who have been sold unlicensed hard-disk loaded computer systems do not receive manuals or the original media, although the resellers often charge them the full price. Many customers do not realize that the software pre-installed on the computer systems they purchased is not legitimate until they perform a check through the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) or Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) online validation tools, which are provided by Microsoft to assist consumers in verifying the legitimacy of their software.

Evidence for some of these cases stemmed from direct customer reports to Microsoft's anti-piracy hot line, (800) RU-LEGIT, as well as from reports received through the WGA online validation tool. Microsoft's investigators received two such leads resulting in today's filing of lawsuits against Computer Center in Encino, Calif., and Delta Computers in Pine Bluff, Ark.

Microsoft is also hearing from its partner community. "Knowing Microsoft is targeting resellers of illegal software in my area gives me one less thing to worry about," said Tim Loney, president and CEO of Solutions Information Systems, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and Small Business Specialist in Houston. "When the economy is struggling, it is difficult to focus on adding value to your customers when other organizations are using unfair practices to gain an advantage, especially when it comes to pricing of software."

This Is Not the First Time

Companies identified in eight of the lawsuits announced today are not new to illegal software sales allegations. Microsoft previously filed and settled lawsuits, which alleged the sale of infringing software, including versions of Microsoft Windows and Office, with these same dealers. Despite the filing of the previous actions, these companies have continued to sell infringing software, putting their customers at risk.

"These legal actions are about protecting Microsoft's customers from falling victim to some dealers who operate a business model of peddling pirated and counterfeit software," said Sharon Cates, attorney at Microsoft. "Some companies previously involved in these lawsuits have discontinued their illegal business practices; others have not. The cases announced today are indicative of the need to ensure that dealers cease their illegal activity so that customers can be sure that they purchase genuine, fully licensed software."

Buyer Beware: What to Watch For and What to Do

Microsoft's customers should also be on the lookout. Piracy and counterfeiting are problems that impact customers and honest businesses both in the U.S. and across the globe. This is especially true for the software industry, and it is important for consumers to be aware of the problem.

Microsoft is committed to ensuring that its customers can obtain genuine, fully licensed Microsoft software in good faith by empowering them through its anti-piracy education programs and technology solutions to make sure they get what they pay for. One such program is helping Microsoft customers validate their software online and avoid situations where they may be defrauded. The WGA and OGA online validation tools allow customers to verify that their copy of software is genuine and fully licensed. If customers learn that they may have non-genuine software, the validation tools will provide an opportunity for the customer to report the source of the software, and customers may even be eligible to receive a genuine replacement copy.

As part of its Genuine Software Initiative, Microsoft also provides a wealth of resources for consumers who are considering a new software purchase. On its Web site dedicated to distinguishing genuine, properly licensed software from pirated software,, Microsoft provides visual clues to look for, as well as other tips to avoid purchasing counterfeit software. In addition, the Web site provides information to help consumers ensure the software they purchased is properly licensed. This is just another of the many tools that Microsoft provides to its customers to ensure that they receive the full value of genuine software.

New Study Highlights Software Piracy Rates

The cases announced today are part of an ongoing challenge that Microsoft is continuing to address. In fact, according to the fifth annual global PC software piracy study, which was released in May by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), more than one-third of PCs around the world are unlicensed or contain pirated or counterfeit software. In the U.S., the piracy rate in 2007 was 20 percent, a one-point decrease from 2006. However, in that same time period, the economic losses from piracy increased from $7.2 billion in 2006 to more than $8 billion in 2007. Microsoft continues to evaluate ways to fight piracy and counterfeiting in an effort to protect its customers and partners.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

E-Mail Scammers Sending Fake Refund Notifications

The FBI is asking the public to be aware of e-mail schemes containing various versions of fraudulent refund notifications claiming to be from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the government of the United Kingdom. The e-mails falsely state that refunds are being made available to compensate the recipients for their losses as victims of Internet fraud.

The perpetrators of this fraud use the names of people not associated with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, but give them titles in an attempt to make the e-mails appear official. The perpetrators use IC3's logo and the former name of IC3, the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC), as well as the names of the Bank of England and the Metropolitan Police (U.K.) in the e-mails.

The e-mails promise refunds of thousands of dollars which are to be sent via bank wire transfer from the "bank of England [sic]" once the victim signs a "fund release order.” The e-mails contain warnings that failure to sign the order will place the funds on hold and a penalty will be applied.

As with most spam, the content contains elements which are evidence of fraud such as:

Multiple spelling errors
Poor grammar
Government agency names
Signatures of officials and titles to appear authentic
Warning for failure to comply.
"E-mail scammers are looking for every opportunity to steal your money and personal information. These criminals are increasingly attempting to do this by falsely claiming to be various government officials. Don't respond, don't open the attachments, and don't send your money or personal information. We are asking people to be aware of this tactic and to report incidents to IC3," said Special Agent Richard Kolko, Washington, DC.

Everyone should consider the following:

Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.

Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting personal information via e-mail.

Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.

Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.

Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.

Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits information

To receive the latest information about cyber scams please go to the FBI website and sign up for e-mail alerts by clicking on one of the red envelopes. If you have received a scam e-mail please notify IC3 by filing a complaint at

Black Fives Takes Action Against Trademark Infringement

Black Fives, Inc. today sent a cease and desist letter demanding that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stop using its trademarked logos without permission to promote his "On The Shoulders Of Giants" products. According to the letter, Abdul-Jabbar's actions constitute, among other things, federal and common law trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false association.

Abdul-Jabbar is using Black Fives intellectual property associated with the famous New York Renaissance all-black basketball team that won the first World Professional Basketball Tournament in 1939 on his website, in online marketing, and in nationally televised ads, including spots that run during N.B.A. Playoffs and Finals games.

"The Black Fives owned trademarks being used without Black Fives' permission, that we know of so far, are New York Renaissance Big R Five and Rens," said Kimberly Reddick of the law firm Bell Boyd & Lloyd LLP, which represents Black Fives, Inc. in intellectual property matters.

Black Fives, Inc. has license agreements with several companies including Nike and Converse. Neither Abdul-Jabbar nor the company that markets his products, Union/OSG LLC, have been licensed or otherwise authorized to use these trademarks.

"We have a contractual obligation to our existing and potential licensees and sponsors to vigilantly protect our trademarks," said Black Fives, Inc. founder and president Claude Johnson. "We also have a broader social and cultural responsibility to protect and preserve the value of these logos and the history they represent by ensuring their proper use."

The New York Renaissance, also known as the "Rens" or "Harlem Rens," were enshrined as a team into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1963.

"To this day, I have never seen a team play better team basketball," said legendary U.C.L.A. coach and Hall of Fame member John Wooden - who faced the Rens often during the mid-1930s while a player with the Indianapolis Kautskys - in a USA Today interview in 2000.

Wooden coached Abdul-Jabbar at U.C.L.A., where the legendary coach created his famous Pyramid of Success ( Wooden's popular success model includes as its first lesson that "Good Values Attract Good People."

The marks Black Fives, New York Renaissance, New York Rens, Harlem Rens, and Rens are trademarks of Black Fives, Inc., all rights reserved.


Medical Illustrators Denounces 'Orphan Works' Bills

The Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) (, an international organization representing highly trained professional medical illustrators and animators, is slamming proposed legislation known as "The Orphan Works Act of 2008" (H.R. 5889/S. 2913), pending in the House and Senate. An "orphan work" is a creative work, visual or otherwise, whose copyright status and ownership cannot be readily found. Proponents want to use works declared "orphans" without infringement liability.

"If this bill passes, it will radically restructure copyright protections currently guaranteed to creators by making it legal for anyone to use, reproduce and change a creator's painting, illustration or photograph -- without permission, fair or appropriate compensation, or proper legal remedy," says Michael Belknap, AMI's president. Currently copyright owners are guaranteed the exclusive right to reproduce their artwork, prepare derivative images from their original creations, and control how and where their work is used. The proposed legislation would subvert copyright protection by allowing anyone to declare a work an "orphan" and use it without infringement liabilities after engaging in a presumptive "diligent" search for the copyright owner. Neither bill defines what constitutes a "diligent" search.

"These bills are a recipe for legal chaos and have numerous large companies expecting to sweep up these 'orphaned' visual materials for free or for minimal payments to the owners and creators," says Bill Westwood, an AMI past president. "The bills will excuse thieves from any significant financial liability for such infringement and even allow them to make minor modifications and copyright the original artwork in their name. This violates the exclusive rights guaranteed to the original creator under copyright law."

In these bills a safe harbor is extended to nonprofits relieving them of any monetary compensation to creators. Because medical illustrators create critically accurate visualizations for nonprofit organizations, universities and research foundations this will exert a special harm on medical education and the advancement of science. AMI believes there should be no loophole for nonprofit educational institutions, and no orphan works exemption for educational use. Fair use already generously covers scholarship. Any other use needs to be licensed according to existing copyright law that protects an artist's exclusive rights, regardless of whether the use is "commercial" or not.

If the bills are enacted, to attempt to keep their works from being declared "orphans" all visual artists must register their works in commercial visual databases or registries. The cost to register hundreds or thousands of illustrations could force many professionals into bankruptcy. Adding to the problem, there is no available visual recognition technology that can guarantee 100 percent accurate image identification. "Orphan Works" legislation would affect millions of visual imagery copyright holders worldwide, including medical illustrators, commercial illustrators, fine artists, graphic artists and photographers. AMI strongly opposes both bills.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Copyright and the Public Domain

ALM's Law Journal Press, a leading publisher of books for legal professionals, has released "Copyright and the Public Domain" by Stephen Fishman. The book brings new clarity to the question of how works of authorship enter the public domain and what can be protected by copyright. A detailed table of contents, as well as ordering information on this and other Law Journal Press books, is available at

Fishman is the author of fifteen legal reference works, including three books on copyright law. His publications have won the American Library Association's Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title and the Publishing Marketing Association's Benjamin Franklin Award. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Law and a member of the California bar.

"Copyright and the Public Domain" provides in-depth coverage of the copyright regime, including copyright duration, expiration and renewal; the publication requirement and what it means; copyright forfeiture and abandonment; public domain elements within copyrighted works; copyrighting new uses of public domain material; restoration of copyrights to foreign works under GATT; non-copyright restrictions that may apply to some works in the public domain; and many other related subjects.

The book fills an important gap in legal literature. William F. Patry, senior copyright counsel of Google Inc. and author of a multi-volume copyright treatise, has praised Fishman's latest work as "richly insightful and readable," adding "there has never been such a comprehensive look at the public domain."

Law Journal Press offers more than 100 titles in print on a wide variety of topics for legal and business professionals.

Free Report : Privacy and Digital Identity - Implications for the Internet

The Internet is no longer just a communications network, says Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian. "It is becoming a platform for computing - a vast, interconnected, virtual supercomputer, which presents complex security and privacy challenges."

Today, identity data is increasingly being created, stored and used exclusively in the networked "Cloud." In telecommunications, a "Cloud" is the unpredictable part of any network through which data passes between two end points. "The Cloud is getting bigger," said the Commissioner. "Do you know where your personal data is and how it is being used or misused?"

The Commissioner is releasing a white paper, Privacy in the Clouds: Privacy and Digital Identity - Implications for the Internet, at the First International Workshop on Identity in the Information Society, in Arona, Italy, today.

For the purposes of the white paper, the term Clouds is used to refer generally to any computer network or system through which personal information is transmitted, processed and stored, and over which individuals have little direct knowledge, involvement or control.

The paper explores possible technological solutions to ensure that individuals will be able to exercise information self-determination, or privacy, in an era of networked grid computing, exponential data creation, ubiquitous surveillance and rampant online fraud.

The paper describes typical "Web 2.0" use scenarios, suggests a number of technology building blocks for protecting and promoting privacy online, and concludes with a call to develop a privacy-respective information technology ecosystem for identity management.

It will not be possible, says Commissioner Cavoukian, to realize the full potential of the next generation of the Internet and "Cloud computing" without developing better ways of establishing digital identity and protecting privacy.

In the white paper, she outlines four fundamental technological approaches, covering:

- new privacy-enhancing information technologies;

- personal devices (from cell phones to PDAs to smart cards);

- intelligent software agents, and

- intermediary identity providers.

"The goal of a flexible user-centric identity infrastructure must be to allow the user to quickly determine what information will be revealed to which parties and for what purposes, how trustworthy those parties are and how they will handle the information, and what the consequences of sharing their information will be," said the Commissioner. "The individual must be in control at all times."

The paper is available on the Commissioner's website,

Friday, June 6, 2008

Privacy Principles for Digital Watermarking

The Center for Democracy & Technology today released a set of privacy principles for digital watermarking. The principles are intended to provide guidance on how those deploying the technology can and should take privacy into account.

Digital watermarking technology embeds information, in machine-readable form, within the content of a digital media file (typically image, audio, or video). In some applications, watermarks signal basic identifying information about the media file itself, such as its title or author. In other applications, watermarks can provide individualized user or transaction information. CDT's principles address privacy questions that may arise when watermarks provide information about individual consumers or users.

"Watermarking seems to be getting increased attention as a tool for facilitating digital content distribution," said David Sohn, Senior Policy Counsel for CDT. "But people are bound to wonder what it means if their media files contain embedded information that can be used to identify them. From both the consumer and content distributor perspective, it would be best to address these kinds of privacy questions in advance, on a proactive basis."

In developing its privacy principles for digital watermarking, CDT consulted with industry representatives and interested privacy advocates. The principles fall into the following eight categories:

1. Privacy by design - address privacy considerations in the early design and planning phases of digital watermarking applications, not late in the process as an afterthought;

2. Avoid embedding independently useful identifying information directly in watermark – so that even if unauthorized third parties learn how to read the watermarks, no meaningful information will be exposed;

3. Provide notice to end users - disclose the existence and other key information about individualized watermarks, with a prominence appropriate to the extent and likelihood of any possible privacy impact;

4. Control access to reading capability - so that members of the public who happen to obtain a watermarked file will not have easy access to the devices or software needed to read the watermarks;

5. Respond appropriately when algorithms are compromised - reconsider how much reliance to place on watermarking systems whose workings have been exposed, particularly if there is a risk that watermarks could be altered or forged;

6. Provide security and access controls for back-end databases - adopt rules and security safeguards to protect databases containing information about individuals from unauthorized access;

7. Limit uses for secondary purposes - design watermarking applications to avoid "mission creep," by collecting, retaining, and disclosing individualized information only as necessary for the application's intended purpose; and

8. Provide reasonable access and correction procedures for personally identifiable information - so that individuals have reasonable opportunity to correct inaccuracies in the data stored about them.

Yahoo! Files Lawsuit Against Lottery Spammers

As part of its continued commitment to protect Internet users from e-mail scams, Yahoo! Inc. is filing a lawsuit against "Yahoo! Lottery Spammers" for unlawfully sending e-mail messages to Internet users for the purpose of deceiving them into believing that they have won a lottery or prize offered by Yahoo!. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in New York City, under the Federal Trademark Act, the Federal CAN-SPAM Act, and related state laws.

The complaint alleges that without permission or authorization, and with full knowledge and notice of Yahoo!'s trademark rights, the spammers willfully masqueraded as Yahoo!, and sent e-mails claiming that the recipient had won a lottery, prize or other award from Yahoo!. Yahoo! does not offer any such awards and has no affiliation or any connection with the spammers or their e-mail communications. This type of lottery scam is a hoax designed to trick unsuspecting e-mail users into revealing valuable personal data like passwords, credit card information, and social security numbers. Commonly known as a "phishing" scam, in this confidence game, perpetrators typically use the stolen information to access recipients' bank accounts and credit cards, to apply for unauthorized credit cards or loans, or to fraudulently create documents bearing the victims' personal identification and then use or sell it in a wide variety of credit and identity scams. Some of the "winners" are also deceived into sending the defendants money for processing and mailing charges.

"The unauthorized use of Yahoo!'s trademarks is misleading, fraudulent, and has actually confused, misled, and deceived the public. Yahoo! will vigorously enforce its intellectual property rights and will not tolerate lottery hoax emails," said Joe Siino, Senior Vice President, Yahoo! Global IP and Business Strategy.

"Yahoo! is 100% committed to protecting our users from fraudulent e-mail messages and this lawsuit sends a clear message to spammers," said John Kremer, Vice President, Yahoo! Mail. "We are going after individuals who have attempted to negatively impact the e-mail experience for consumers across the Internet. Through our continued litigation efforts, our top goal and priority is to further protect Yahoo! Mail users and the public from this type of fraudulent activity."

Yahoo! takes trademark infringement and the issue of e-mail scams very seriously. This case, as well as previous litigation efforts, are a part of Yahoo!'s multi-faceted approach to fighting spam and e-mail fraud which also includes the use of advanced technologies, industry collaboration, and raising consumer awareness by providing Yahoo! Mail users with detailed tips on how to avoid online scams at

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Citysearch Sued for Click Fraud is defrauding its advertising customers of millions of dollars by not only turning a blind eye to click fraud, but in fact encouraging it as well, according to a lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court by Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP.

"Most click fraud cases involve companies that simply turn a blind eye to it," said the victims' attorney, Brian S. Kabateck, Managing Partner of Kabateck Brown Kellner. "Citysearch does this too, since it has no real program to prevent click fraud. But Citysearch goes beyond indifference to actively incentivizing click fraud. Citysearch's motive is simple: clicks equal cash, whether they're fraudulent or not."

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. He also recently filed a federal class action suit against Google for fraud within its "AdWords" pay-per-click advertising system.

Citysearch, part of IAC/InterActiveCorp, which is headed by Barry Diller, pays commissions to its salespeople based on the number of clicks their customers' ads receive, providing an incentive for click fraud, according to the lawsuit. Furthermore, the suit contends, contrary to Citysearch's own representations to its advertisers, it takes no real steps to prevent click fraud. And when customers become victims of click fraud, Citysearch fails to adequately advise them that they have been victimized or refund the money paid to Citysearch for that fraudulent activity.

The lawsuit seeks to represent all people or entities in the United States who paid money for pay-per-click advertising through

As detailed within the suit, the case of plaintiff Tom Lambotte shows Citysearch refusing to acknowledge blatant indications of click fraud.

Lambotte's Citysearch ad received a total of 7 clicks (plus two more that he generated) between December 11 and 25, 2007. On December 26 he received a response from Citysearch to his December 22 request to cancel his ad. Suddenly, his ad began receiving 12 to 16 clicks a day, for a total of 69 clicks between December 26 and December 31, when his ad was finally cancelled. He received in these five days 10 times as many clicks as he had received in the previous two weeks. Despite this, Citysearch refused his repeated requests to reverse these charges.

Click fraud can be detected by software that can track suspicious patterns, such as repeated clicks from the same source. Although Citysearch assures its customers that it applies this technology, the experiences of many of its customers shows otherwise, according to the suit. Still, customers are led to believe that Citysearch is in fact actively fighting against click fraud.

According to Citysearch's "Invalid Click Policy": "Citysearch also has sophisticated algorithms to track sessions and user behavior on our site to assist us in identifying click patterns that would indicate invalid clicks. In the event we identify a click as invalid, our customers are not charged for such clicks."

"Citysearch is operating contrary to its own contract with its customers," Kabateck said.

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.

What To Do If You Find Unauthorized Transactions On Your Account

If you find unauthorized transactions on your credit card account, follow the steps below to find out whether you can be reimbursed:

Step 1: Contact your credit card issuer immediately to report the unauthorized transactions.

Step 2: Check your credit card agreement. By law, your agreement must contain a section that explains your maximum liability (usually $50) in the case of lost or stolen credit cards, or the unauthorized use of your credit card account number.

Step 3: Find out if your credit card issuer offers "Zero-Liability" on unauthorized transactions. For example, Visa and MasterCard cardholders are protected beyond the maximum liability found in their credit card agreements. This is done through a public commitment Visa and MasterCard call the "Zero-Liability Policy". If your Visa or MasterCard is lost or stolen, or if someone uses your Visa or MasterCard account number to make transactions you did not authorize, you can usually be reimbursed.

This policy applies to transactions made on the Internet, by phone or at retailers, but may exclude personal identification number (PIN)-based transactions - for example, a cash advance made on your card at an automated banking machine (ABM) - and transactions made on corporate credit cards. Find out from your credit card issuer whether they have such a policy and how it can protect you. Note that these policies are not listed in credit card agreements, since they are public commitments and not legal requirements.

Source: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada