Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pending Federal Law Threatens All Copyright Owners

The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008 (S. 2913) "Orphan Works Act of 2008" (H.R. 5889) allows anyone to use a copyrighted work without first obtaining permission. The user can later claim that a diligent search was conducted but the owner could not be found in any later action for infringement. This new legislation will apply to all copyright owners whether or not the work was previously registered with the Copyright Office. The legislation threatens the rights of artists, photographers, composers, film makers, publishers, and visual artists says the Hodgson Law Group. The Copyright Office not only endorses this legislation, but also advocates further changes that go beyond the proposed statute in reducing copyright protection. The Registrar of Copyrights seeks to eliminate a proposal in the House Version requiring users to file a Statement of Use in the Copyright Office disclosing unauthorized use, in what has been labeled the "Dark Archive." Elimination of the filing requirement would leave copyright owners with no means to locate unauthorized users claiming the benefit of the "orphan works" legislation.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) have introduced two similar bills in the House and Senate that threaten to dismantle 100 years of copyright protection, rights guaranteed to authors the U.S. Constitution. The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008 (S. 2913) and the Orphan Works Act of 2008 (H.R. 5889) allows anyone to use a copyrighted work without first obtaining permission. The user can later claim as a defense to copyright infringement that a diligent search was conducted, but the owner could not be found. As presently drafted, the infringer is virtually insulated from liability absent court proceedings says the Hodgson Law Group. The copyright owner can learn what, if any, diligent search was actually performed to locate the owner only through discovery in costly federal court litigation.

In other words, anyone can take a copyrighted work, claim they did a "diligent search" for the owner, and then use that work without notice or compensation to the copyright owner. If the copyright owner does become aware of the illegal use through sheer luck, the burden is upon the owner to accept "reasonable" compensation, or take the user to court. The new legislation will apply to all works of authorship, even if registered with the Copyright Office prior to the unauthorized use. Registered works can lose the right to statutory damages and attorneys' fees, long a fundamental legal right in the Copyright Act designed to encourage registration of a work.

"The Orphan Works bill has the potential to erode the protection that copyright owners have fought for over many years," says past President of the California Copyright Conference (CCC) and the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP), attorney Steve Winogradsky. "It puts the burden on the copyright owner to find the offending parties and either negotiate with them without the remedies currently available to bring about reasonable compensation or bring costly litigation. In short, for copyright owners, the Orphan Works bill is a disaster."

The Copyright Office not only endorses these bills, they initiated the Orphan Works legislation. In May 2008, the Registrar of Copyrights submitted a letter to a representative of the Judiciary Committee recommending the elimination of even minimal protection for copyright owners. The House version includes a provision for the so called "Dark Archive," which would require the user to submit a Statement of Use with the Copyright Office. The Registrar opposes this provision on grounds it is too burdensome on the users and too difficult for the Copyright Office to administer. Without a Statement of Use, copyright owners have no way to find out who is using works of authorship, and for what purpose.

Beverly Hills copyright attorney Cheryl Hodgson, current President of the California Copyright Conference explains: "The original premise of this legislation was to protect libraries, museums, and other not-for-profit users in efforts to digitize archives of materials for which owners could not be located. However, as drafted, the legislation goes much further. It applies to any use of a copyrighted work. In short, it creates an incentive to steal first, and pay later if caught! Policing infringing uses on the Internet is already difficult. This raises the bar and places the burden on copyright owners to locate infringers of their works, at the same time threatening to wipe out 100 years of legal protection under U.S. law."

The CCC and the AIMP recently issued a joint position paper opposing S. 2913 and H.R. 5889. An excerpt from this paper outlines some of the reasons why these bills have been created:

"The Internet, computer and consumer electronics industries utilize vast amounts of copyrighted works to attract customers to their websites, from which they derive enormous profits from advertising and subscription fees. These industries have long sought to eliminate copyright protection and to avoid paying for the content they use to lure consumers. At the same time, companies such as Google and other computer-related interests have provided more than million dollars to the Library of Congress, of which the U.S. Copyright Office (which initiated the Orphan Works legislation) is a part."

Go to to download a free copy of this paper. As of May 15, 2008, bill S. 2913 has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar and is scheduled for debate in the near future.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

ACTA copyright negotiations demand scrutiny

InternetNZ (the Internet Society of New Zealand Inc) is concerned at the paucity of detail surrounding the proposed international Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

ACTA seeks to impose a raft of enforcement measures which have the potential to further erode citizens' fair-use rights in respect of digital copyrighted material. For instance, a global legal regime for Internet distribution of copyright protected works may be introduced.

To date, negotiations have been held behind closed doors and publicly-available information is scant, with the exception of an ACTA discussion document leaked online.

In response to a call for submissions from the Ministry of Economic Development, InternetNZ has filed a submission that expresses a range of concerns the Society has with Internet-related aspects understood to be under consideration.

For example, ACTA may see the introduction of procedures enabling rights holders to expeditiously obtain information from ISPs identifying alleged infringers, and could also introduce remedies against circumvention of technological protection measures.

InternetNZ Executive Director Keith Davidson questions the need for New Zealand to be discussing Internet provisions as part of ACTA.

"We already have legislation – the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008 - that covers off the illegal distribution of digital sound and video recordings via the Internet. The Act also deals with circumvention of technological prevention measures and with repeat digital copyright infringers.

"Further, the Act has only recently been passed, with many of its newly-amended and introduced provisions yet to take root and be fully tested," he says.

InternetNZ believes that the proposed ACTA Internet distribution and information technology provisions, if implemented, will do little to strengthen New Zealand's existing measures against digital copyright infringement. We are also concerned that they may coincidentally further restrict what should be the legitimate use of digital content by New Zealanders."

"We strongly urge the Government to adopt a wait-and-see approach with respect to the effectiveness of New Zealand's amended Copyright Act before committing to sweeping multilateral digital copyright enforcement measures as part of ACTA," says Davidson.

A PDF version of InternetNZ's full submission is attached and also available at the following link:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

New Study finds 45% of Online Contests to be Fraudulent

The controversial new study has shed light into the un-regulated and often shady business of online contests. According to the research, over 45% of online contests are fraudulent and the prizes are either un-obtainable due to the terms and conditions or there are simply no winners.

There is a growing sub-culture of people worldwide who spend countless hours participating in online contests. There are over 2 million of them in the US alone. The purpose of these fraudulent contests is to get as many people as possible to reveal personal information. These "contestants" then become the targets of con-men or in the worst cases the victims of identity theft.

There are few regulations to protect online contestants and many of these are un-enforceable as scammers typically work out of unregulated safe heavens.

The study founded by did find however that the majority (55%) of online contests are legitimate. Jenny Williams from Albuquerque, New Mexico confirmed; "My husband and I love Internet contests, we have joined hundreds and we have won some pleasant surprises, including two watches, a poker table, a TV and many smaller items. We haven’t won anything big yet, but we enjoy playing."

There are many types of online contests, from writing and photography competitions, to raffles that require an entry fee (sometimes a significant one) to join. Regardless of the variations, almost all online contests are based in developing countries where there is little to no regulation.

Some major factors to watch for when subscribing to an online contest are:

1 - About Us Page; a real company will have an about us page with information on the company.

2 - Contact; there should always be a way to contact the company in question. Larger companies should have an 800 number, as well as live chat and email.

3 - Google Results; if the name of the company is typed into Google, what are the results? Positive or Negative comments? Search Engines can be the voice of the people.

4 - Realistic Prizes; Many scams use excessively large prizes to lure the unsuspecting. A legitimate contest will have a reasonable prize in line with the size of the usually small business that is holding the contest. The old rule should be heeded that, "if it sounds too good to be true, it generally is".

5 - A Proper Web Site; a real company should have a nice web site with a real .com domain. Be wary of anything ending in .info or .biz.

6 - Proper English; an honest company will have the resources to have a properly written site. Poor English should be considered a red flag.

7 - Sensitive Data Requests; data such as social security numbers should never be given out for any contest purposes. Extra caution should be applied to any requests of passport or other document copies, even in the event of a large prize give-away.

If you believe you or anyone else you know has been the subject of a contest scam, please report the suspected company to the FTC at and the Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reducing Software Piracy Could Have Exponential Effect on Channel Profitability

A new white paper by IDC released today at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2008 highlights the collateral damage that software piracy is causing to companies across the technology industry. Sponsored by Microsoft Corp. and the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners (IAMCP), the white paper shows that every dollar Microsoft loses to software piracy translates to $5.50 in lost opportunity for other companies in the partner ecosystem. The white paper points to a stark reality not often highlighted in industry discussions: Software piracy is a wide-ranging problem that deeply affects small companies as well as large software vendors.

"Even in a healthy ecosystem, illegal software causes hidden costs and friction in the sales and deployment processes," said Michael Beare, director of License Compliance for Microsoft. "At its worst, rampant piracy in some economies is tearing down the opportunity for legitimate businesses to exist and thrive."

According to the white paper, the hidden costs of piracy may occur in several ways. The velocity of sales, the life cycle of a project and the ability to fulfill contracts as negotiated can all be affected. During the course of a deployment project, for instance, consultants and solution providers may have to stop work when illegal software is discovered, or may be unable to sell their product at all upon learning that the customer’s underlying architecture is illegitimate. Worse, in many emerging markets where legally licensed software is difficult even to obtain, it can be next to impossible for a legitimate partner to operate.

"The flip side of this is that within those hidden costs may lie hidden opportunities in helping these customers turn their licensing situation around," said John Gantz, senior vice president of IDC. "Much of the misuse, especially in developed countries, is inadvertent. A savvy vendor can realize an opportunity by helping customers to ‘true up’ their licensing, realizing that every dollar saved from software pirates can translate to over five times that amount for the channel."

According to IDC’s white paper, by working together to curb the problem of piracy, partners can realize broad returns. The white paper estimates that for every dollar Microsoft gains from a reduction in piracy in 2008, the ecosystem that sells, services and develops products on the Microsoft platform could gain $4.37 from faster delivery and sales cycles, enhanced cross-selling and upselling, and the natural market expansion of having more legally licensed customers. In addition, the ecosystem could also realize another $1.13 in efficiencies from each of those dollars, primarily from a lower cost of goods sold, as well as lower development and testing, sales and marketing, research and development, and training costs.

More Information About Piracy’s Effects on the Channel

The white paper, titled "The Impact of Software Piracy and License Misuse on the Channel" and released today, offers a range of insights into the problems that ecosystem partners may face due to software piracy, including customer reactions and motivations, information by geographic region, and strategies for turning the piracy problem into an opportunity for legitimate businesses. Partners can download a copy of the white paper for free at More information on Microsoft’s approach to software piracy is also available at

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Trojans Accounted for More Than 60 Percent of New Malware

Panda Security announced the findings from its second quarterly report of 2008. Published by PandaLabs, the Company's laboratory for detecting and analyzing malware, the report revealed that Trojans comprised over 63 percent of all new malicious codes. Adware followed closely behind, comprising 22.40 percent of all infections. PandaLabs specifically addresses the threat of banker Trojans, as well as specific worm strains that have been most prevalent in malware infections in the last quarter. The report can be downloaded from

Banker Trojans have been identified as the most dangerous and damaging of all types of Trojans in circulation. According to the PandaLabs' Q2 report, Sinowal, Banbra and Bancos are the three most active banker Trojan families. Other families, including Dumador, SpyForms, Bandiv, PowerGrabber and Bankpatch also have numerous variants, while there has been less activity in the Briz, Snatch and Nuklus families of banker Trojans.

"This type of malware is causing serious losses for users around the world, particularly considering the increased use of online banking services. With the millions of online bank users, there is a tremendous pool of potential victims for cyber crooks," explains Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs. "If criminals managed to steal just $100 dollars from one percent of the current base of users, we would be talking about a haul of tens of millions of dollars. And this is a very conservative estimate; the reality could be much worse."

Worms were also on the rise representing 13.5 percent of all malware infections. Corrons states, "Trojans are responsible for the most infections, but they do it with thousands of different variants. Worms, however, operate in a different way, with perhaps one strain being responsible for tens of thousands of infections. In terms of individual malicious code, worms are often the most prevalent." With respect to the virulence of specific examples, the Bagle.RP worm infected most computers, followed by the Puce.E and Bagle.SP worms. The following table indicates the most active malware samples detected by PandaLabs.

01 W32/Bagle.RP.worm
02 W32/Puce.E.worm
03 W32/Bagle.SP.worm
04 Adware/AdsRevenue
05 W32/Perlovga.A.worm
06 W32/Bagle.KV.worm
07 Adware/Maxifiles
08 Trj/Dropper.UN
09 W32/Whybo.I.worm
10 Trj/Rebooter.J

FBI Tips on Avoiding Charity Fraud

In recent months, several natural disasters throughout the world--including floods, earthquakes, severe storms, tornadoes, and wildfires--have devastated lives and property. In the wake of these events, which cause emotional distress and great monetary loss to numerous victims, individuals across the nation often feel a desire to help by offering charitable donations.

Unfortunately, these tragic incidents have also prompted criminals to take advantage of this good will by illegally soliciting contributions while claiming to represent legitimate charitable organizations.

"We have seen this time and time again--these scam artists will do anything and everything to steal your identity and your money as you try and make donations to well-deserving charities. If you want your money to go to a good cause, exercise caution to ensure it gets to those in need," said Special Agent Richard Kolko from Washington, D.C.

The FBI provides the following tips for consumers wishing to make contributions:

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

Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.

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.

To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.

Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the sit e.

Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.

Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

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 For more information on e-scams, please visit the FBI's New E-Scams and Warnings webpage.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Best Practices in Copyright and Fair Use for User-Generated Content

American University's Center for Social Media has released of a new code of best practices in fair use for creators in the burgeoning online video environment ( The code, grounded in the practices of online video makers and in the law, was collaboratively created by a team of scholars and lawyers from leading universities. It was coordinated by American University professors Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi.

The first of their kind, these best practices will allow users to make remixes, mashups, and other common online genres with the knowledge that they are staying within copyright law. The code identifies, among other things, six kinds of unlicensed uses of copyrighted material that may be considered fair, under certain limitations. They are:

Commenting or critiquing of copyrighted material;
Use for illustration or example;
Incidental or accidental capture of copyrighted material;
Memorializing or rescuing of an experience or event;
Use to launch a discussion;
Recombining to make a new work, such as a mashup or a remix, whose elements depend on relationships between existing works.

For instance, a blogger's critique of mainstream news is commentary. The toddler dancing to the song "Let's Go Crazy" is an example of incidental capture of copyrighted material. Many variations on the popular online video "Dramatic Chipmunk" may be considered fair use, because they recombine existing work to create new meaning.

Until now, anyone uploading a video has run the risk of becoming inadvertently entangled in an industry skirmish, as media companies struggle to keep their programs from circulating on the
Internet. As online providers have begun to negotiate with media companies, everyone has agreed that fair use should be protected. Before the code's release, there was no clear statement
about what constitutes fair use in online video.

"This code of best practices will protect an emerging creative zone -- online video -- from de-facto censorship," said Aufderheide. "Creators, online video providers and copyright holders will be able to know when copying is stealing and when it's legal."

"The fair use doctrine is every bit as relevant in the digital domain as it has been for almost two centuries in the print environment," said Jaszi. "Here we see again the strong connection between the fair use principle in copyright and the guarantee of freedom of speech in the Constitution."

Some public broadcasting organizations and Internet video sharing platforms will recommend the code to their users on the day of its release. They are PBS's P.O.V., the Independent Television Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's National Minority Consortia, Miro, RemixAmerica, Rocketboom, and Witness/The Hub.

"For anyone who has wondered, 'Will I be sued for creating and posting this video online?,' the code of best practices in fair use is an invaluable guide," said Dean Jansen, outreach director for the Participatory Culture Foundation, the organization behind Miro.

The committee that compiled the code is made up of individuals affiliated with Harvard University; Georgetown University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Stanford Law School; University of California, Berkeley; University of Pittsburgh School of Law; and University of Southern California. A complete list of committee members is available at the end of the release.

New Guidelines Aim to Reduce Fraud

New guidelines for fighting fraud have been released jointly by three leading professional organizations.

"Managing the Business Risk of Fraud: A Practical Guide" is sponsored by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). Principles for establishing effective fraud risk management, regardless of the type or size of an organization, are outlined in the guide.

"Regulations throughout the world assign the responsibility for preventing fraud to management," said ACFE President James D. Ratley, CFE. "But beyond regulatory requirements, organizations that value ethical behavior as a core principle and actively manage their fraud risks ultimately will be more competitive and earn and preserve a more positive corporate reputation."

The new guidance provides a practical approach for companies committed to preserving stakeholder value. It can be used to assess or improve an organization's fraud risk management program, or to develop an effective program where none exists.

Five key principles within the guidance address governance, risk assessment, fraud prevention and detection, investigation, and corrective action. Following the guidance will help ensure that there is suitable oversight of fraud risk management, that fraud exposures are identified and evaluated, that appropriate processes and procedures are in place to manage those exposures, and that fraud allegations are addressed in a timely manner.

"Many organizations need to do more to deter fraud," said AICPA President and Chief Executive Officer Barry C. Melancon, CPA. "Preventing fraud requires a dedicated commitment from management. This guide provides best practices, tools, and examples that organizations can use to help manage their fraud risks."

The guidance outlines the relationship between fraud prevention and governance, pointing out that the board's role is critically important because most major frauds have historically been perpetrated by senior management in collusion with other employees. The guidance further explains that personnel at all levels of an organization have responsibility for confronting fraud risk. Those from the board room to the mailroom should understand how the organization is responding to heightened regulations and public and stakeholder scrutiny; what form of fraud risk management program is in place; how fraud risks are identified; what is being done to prevent and detect fraud, and what processes are in place to investigate fraud and take corrective action.

"In many cases, boards of directors and management do not expect to have fraud in their organizations -- and articulate that loudly," said IIA President David A. Richards, CIA. "But just saying 'we don't want fraud' or 'we don't tolerate fraud' does not ensure that fraud will not occur. Organizations must take a proactive stance to ensure that effective fraud prevention and detection techniques are properly used in response to key risks."

A team of more than 20 fraud management experts from the private and public sectors, as well as academia, worked to compile the guidelines over a two-year period. The guidance is endorsed by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Institute of Management Accountants, the Open Compliance & Ethics Group, the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, and The Value Alliance.

According to the ACFE's 2006 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud, U.S. organizations lose an estimated 5 percent of their annual revenues due to fraud. When applied to the estimated 2006 GDP, those losses added up to approximately $653 billion. The report also concluded that organizations without anti-fraud programs -- such as fraud hotlines, internal audit departments, and anti-fraud training -- lost approximately twice the amount of revenue to fraud when compared to organizations with anti-fraud programs. For example, organizations without an anonymous fraud hotline suffered a median annual loss of $200,000, whereas organizations with hotlines suffered a median annual loss of only $100,000.

"Managing the Business Risk of Fraud: A Practical Guide" can be downloaded for free from the sponsoring organizations' Web sites at,, and

Free Guide: MySpace Identity Theft Protection Guide, a leading provider of independent service reviews for consumers, is launching its free MySpace Identity Theft Protection Guide to help users of North America's largest social network protect themselves from falling victim to identity theft.

"MySpace's 110 million active users potentially represent a very large target for criminals of all kinds, including identity thieves," said Caitlin Podiak, Associate Editor at "Our guide is designed to raise awareness of the identity theft risks that face MySpace users and to provide some simple preventative measures that they can take to protect themselves."

The MySpace Identity Theft Protection Guide encourages users to take control of their personal MySpace profile page by proactively managing their privacy settings. For example, MySpace users should consider blocking unknown users from viewing their profile page.

The guide also suggests that users eliminate as much personally identifiable information, such as full date of birth, phone number and home address, from their MySpace profile page as possible. "MySpace users shouldn't publish anything on their profile page that they wouldn't divulge to a complete stranger," said Podiak. has also previously released a Facebook Identity Theft Protection Guide that includes similar tips for preventing identity theft on Facebook.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Proposed Copyright Law Amendments

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada supports proposed amendments to copyright law, tabled yesterday 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.

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.