Tag Archive for 'software'

Forever 21 Was Caught Pirating Software from Adobe

Everyone knows that stealing is wrong. If you walk out of a store without paying for merchandise, you shouldn’t be surprised when an alarm sounds.

forever 21 sued by adobeForever 21, a retail-clothing store, would agree with this premise in the context of someone stealing a blouse or a skirt. You would think that they would also agree with this premise when it comes to software programs?

In January of this year, Adobe filed a lawsuit against Forever 21 for copyright infringement. Autodesk and Corel joined Adobe in the lawsuit and alleged that Forever 21 pirated software such as:

  • Photoshop
  • Acrobat
  • Illustrator
  • WinZip
  • Autodesk
  • PaintShopPro

The companies alleged that the piracy happened on 63 different occasions. It’s still unclear how Adobe became aware of the infringing acts, but the company has been encouraging employees to turn in their employers for using unauthorized copies of its software programs.

The alarms have been set off. Now Forever 21 has to show proof of purchase or face an expensive legal battle.

Don’t Worry NSA, Google Has E-mail Surveillance Covered

It shouldn’t be surprising that Google monitors Gmail for child pornography. After all, this is the same company that scans e-mails and bombards uers with advertising for legal services. However, the scans of John Skillern’s Gmail will likely result in a lengthy prison sentence rather than annoying advertisements.

gmail surveillanceIn 2008, Google applied new software to its e-mail system. The software consists of a “database” of child abuse images (only data, no actual pictures!) which is compared to Gmail attachments. If there is a match, child protection agencies are alerted, who then send tips to local police.

The system is automatic, so Google employees aren’t involved in the process. Since Google’s e-mail system is the world’s largest web-based e-mail service, with about 425 million users worldwide, this system is one of the largest surveillance systems in human history.

A few weeks ago, Google’s new software led to the arrest of John Skillern. Skillern is a registered sex offender, convicted of sexually assaulting an eight year old boy in 1994. After Google scanned Skillern’s Gmail, police obtained a search warrant and allegedly found child pornography on his phone and tablet. The 41 year old Houston City restaurant cook was charged with one count of possession of child pornography and one count of the promotion of child pornography.

“Those Who Sacrifice Liberty for Security Deserve Neither”

Pedophiles who thought the “right to be forgotten” could shield their evil online are in for a rude awakening. There is no doubt that child pornography and the child abuse it promotes is profoundly wrong and people like Skillern deserve to rot in the deepest prison cells.

However, this type of surveillance is morally ambiguous at best and outright dangerous at worst. First, there’s the slippery slope argument. If Google can monitor private communications for child pornography, could they also monitor Gmail for drug use or criminal conspiracies? Can the software scan for politically sensitive issues like religion or terrorism? How about activists’ movements like Occupy or Tea Party? Surveillance always starts with good intentions. If the NSA has proven anything, it’s that employees of massive surveillance technology abuse it at the first opportunity.

Of course, slippery slopes are an easy argument, even if America’s legal system tends to ride slippery slopes all the way to crazy town. Google currently has little potential for employee abuse since Google’s system is automatic, with almost no human control. The software automatically compares data, not even actual photos, for a match. When Detective David Nettles said “I can’t see that photo, but Google can,” he was misleading reporters.

So what could go wrong when a computer system does all the surveillance? Ignoring the obvious Terminator reference, machines don’t understand context. Many child pornography laws require that the defendant have a certain state of mind, a criminal intent, for the defendant to be convicted. Suppose a defendant’s Gmail was hacked. Or a virus spread images of child pornography across random computers. Or if a child protection agency employee Gmailed a district attorney the photos as evidence. Google would pick out the transmissions, even though none of these cases would result in a conviction. Skillern looks like he possessed child pornography for the purpose of looking at and selling young children, but with 425 million users, there could easily be grey area cases.

“Paperless in One Hour for Lawyers”

Going paperless is not only a trendy movement, it’s also a highly practical step to achieving an efficient law office. Many large law firms are already there. However, if you are a sole practitioner and you don’t have your own IT department to carry out the technicalities, then going paperless probably sounds more like a hassle than a revolution.

paperless in one hour for lawyersPaperless in One Hour for Lawyers” by Sheila M. Blackford and Donna S. M. Neff provides a quick and easy guide that is specifically intended for solo practitioners and small firms. Ms. Blackford, a paperless attorney in Oregon as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Law Practice magazine, clearly explains the benefits of going paperless. For example: “It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is an enormous loss of productivity when you spend even fifteen minutes a day searching for a specific document. If your billable rate is $200 an hour, the cost of fifteen minutes of unproductive time is $50 a day…or $13,000 a year.”

Important information found in “Paperless in One Hour for Lawyers” includes a guide to the essential hardware and software you will need, a review of the apps that are available, and an overview of the business practices that should be implemented. The sections are easy to follow and graciously concise. Read the book in one sitting—in one hour—and you’ll be good to go.

Authored by Peter ClarkeLegalMatch Content Manager 

New Software Revealing Photoshopped Images; Likely Lawsuits Against Publishers

Finally, the world will be getting technology to show us just how gross-looking Kim Kardashian really is.

A couple of computer scientists over at the Dartmouth College’s Department of Science have developed software that will measure how much photographs have been digitally altered, or as the cool kids say “Photoshopped.”  The developers, Eric Kee and Hany Farid, say the software is capable of analyzing the geometric and photometric changes in a picture and then assign a number rating that correlates with the level of Photoshopping that has occurred.  You can take a look at the software tool in action here.  The before and after shots range from startling to downright disturbing – especially the ones featuring Kim Kardashian and Kim Cattrall, woof.

Now aside from the software being a cool novelty and gossip magazine news article-generating machine, there are some serious and practical applications for it.  Chief among them is its ability to combat the growing low self-esteem and personal image issues plaguing today’s youths and adults.   For years, magazine gawkers have been killing themselves to attain the unattainable beauty filling every page of today’s periodicals, all the while never knowing the true extent of each picture’s falsities.  And in all honesty, I’d like to say I was never fooled by these sorts of images, but as I later learned after the proliferation of high-definition television I was right in line with the rest of the sheep.  I mean, who would’ve guessed that the only thing needed to reveal all the wrinkles and blemishes on television was an extra 240 pixels?

But I think another more interesting and potentially more lucrative use for the software comes to play in the field of new venues for lawsuits.  For years, people have criticized the fashion and media industries for putting out digitally altered pictures.  These critics argue that the images damage the self-esteem of viewers by causing them physical and emotional distress.  The problem has always been getting concrete data as to the extent of the damage these sorts of images can cause to a person.  This software could serve as an important step for other researchers to draw further correlations between the level of digital alterations in photos and the amount of distress they’ve caused to people.  This data in turn can then be used as possible evidence in lawsuits against publishers.  As crazy as all this might sound, many countries, such as Norway and France, currently have legislation pending in their respective governments that would require publishers to include warning labels telling viewers that a photo has been digitally altered.  So don’t be surprised if you see similar bills popping up on our side of the pond.

Furthermore, the software tool could also be used as a scientifically-based method to assist plaintiffs in calculating the amount of compensatory damages they should receive in any potential lawsuits based on Photoshopped images.  Calculating damages is always a difficult and long process.  Our country’s legal system is one that requires plaintiffs to not only show the harm they’ve suffered, but also the amount of monetary damages that stems from it.  It’s through this way that court awards can be justified as fair, because not having such a system in place could potentially lead to awards that are wildly out of sync with a plaintiff’s initial harm.  A rating system for digitally altered photos would do wonders in helping to provide some firm numbers on a plaintiff’s pain and suffering.

So what do you guys out there think about Dartmouth College’s latest computer experiment?  Do you think digitally altered images are really all that bad for society or is this another case of people with too much time on their hands?

Sony’s Fight To End PlayStation 3 Software Piracy Is Futile

Sony seems to have gotten itself locked and loaded for yet another battle against the little man.  I swear, who is running their public relations department?  Whoever it is, it seems like their goal is to help Sony alienate as much of its consumer base as possible.

In case you haven’t been following this story, last week Sony announced that it would be suing famed computer hacker George “Geohot” Hotz as well as a group of hackers working under the team name “failOverflow.”  Hotz, who is well-known in the hacker world for being the first person to jailbreak Apple’s iPhone, with his failOverflow team recently cracked the encryption codes to Sony’s current generation video game console, PlayStation 3 (PS3).  The defendants then created their own respective software programs that would allow the PS3 to run unsigned software not authorized by Sony.

The significance of this feat is huge since it would not only allow software developers to bypass Sony’s content filters and run their own programs on the PS3, but more importantly it would also potentially allow video game piracy to run rampant on the system.  This would be a huge hit against Sony as piracy has been estimated to already account for a large portion of lost profits to the company handheld gaming system, the PlayStation Portable (PSP).

Though software piracy is already possible on the PS3, Sony is hoping to nip it in the bud by filing suit against the defendants.  Sony charges defendants with a number of causes of actions including violating provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and various other federal computer fraud laws.  Without getting too deep into the legal nitty gritty, essentially Sony is seeking to stop the spread of the cracked code, which have already been released onto the internet.

Anyone notice something wrong with that statement?  When was the last time anyone was able to keep anything that was released on the internet to go away completely?  Don’t you think that Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Lindsay Lohan, etc. or some even wealthier person would’ve been able to accomplish that by now if it was possible?  Unless Sony has some magical internet kill switch that I’m unaware of, I don’t think there is any possibility of doing this.

So why proceed with a futile lawsuit?  Rarely do I agree with a parties’ position right off the bat, but in Sony’s case, I’m leaning toward believing Hotz when he says that he’s being sued because he made Sony mad.

From a legal perspective, as far as I can tell Sony’s argument doesn’t have much muster.  The U.S. Supreme Court has already established that consumers are allowed to “jailbreak” products purchased from manufacturers.  Furthermore, in this case Hotz and the failOverflow team aren’t actually encouraging piracy nor have they released any software that specifically allows for PS3 games to be copied and played illegally.  All they’ve done is release the means that potentially allow such circumstances to occur.  Nothing illegal there, as far as I can tell.

However, legal arguments aside, the fact of the matter is with the type of information released by Hotz and the failOverflow team, piracy is possible and will likely occur, much in the same way it has for the iPhone, PSP, Nintendo Wii and DS, PC games, music, movies, the list goes on and on.  Piracy for the PS3, it would seem is inevitable now, and regardless of what Sony does in court to try and deter people from committing it (which I suspect is the ultimate goal of this lawsuit), will likely do little to stop it.