Microsoft filed suit against a Wisconsin man for allegedly selling stolen Windows and Office activation codes, claiming in court documents that he is a repeat pirate who still owes the company $1.2 million from an earlier judgment.
In a complaint filed Sept. 8, Microsoft accused Anthony Boldin, of Brookfield, Wisc., of selling software activation codes to company investigators from four different websites he maintained. Two of those websites are now shuttered — only a message stating that the sites are no longer selling software remained Monday — but two others continued to operate.
The 25-character activation codes are a core component of Microsoft’s anti-piracy technology. Although the software can be copied an unlimited number of times, the keys individually lock a license to a device or a specific user. Minus a legitimate key — and thus, activation — Microsoft’s software retreats to a hobbled or even crippled mode.
Although Microsoft did not name the sources for the keys it said Boldin sold illegally, the firm pointed a finger at China. “Over the past several years, criminals in China and elsewhere have created a global black market for decoupled product activation keys that have been stolen from Microsoft’s supply chain,” the complaint stated. “The decoupled product activation keys end up in the hands of downstream distributors, such as Defendants, who then pass off the stolen keys to the general public as licensed software.”
According to that complaint, and other documents Microsoft lawyers submitted to a Wisconsin federal court, company investigators bought activation keys to licenses of Windows 8.1 and several versions of Office, some at significantly reduced prices, from Boldin’s websites. All the keys were illegitimate: Two were issued for use with academic programs in China, one was for Microsoft’s internal use, and four keys were stolen “tokens” assigned to an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for pre-loading software on a new device.
Microsoft also said that Boldin was well known to the company’s legal team.
“Microsoft sued Boldin in this Court on two prior occasions for violating its intellectual property rights (in March 2000 and again in December 2006),” the complaint read. “Notably, this Court entered two separate orders permanently enjoining Boldin from any infringing use or distribution of Microsoft software.”
Not only did Boldin continue to sell stolen or misappropriated activation keys, Microsoft alleged, but a $1.2 million judgment levied in the second case has gone unpaid.
Microsoft asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order preventing Boldin from illegally selling Microsoft software, and to expedite discovery so that the company may determine whether there are others in cahoots with Boldin and locate his financial accounts.
Rhapsody will soon change its name worldwide to Napster, the listening service has announced. It already uses the Napster brand in Europe.
“Napster is coming,” the post said. “No changes to your playlists, favorites, albums, and artists. Same music. Same service. Same price. 100% the music you love. Stay tuned!”
The name change in the U.S. could be another attempt to catch up to Spotify, which recently passed 30 million subscribers. Rhapsody said late last year it had about 3.5 million.
Napster began in the late 1990s as a service for sharing and downloading mp3 music files and quickly attracted a large following, especially among college students. The Recording Industry Association of America sued the company for copyright infringement in late 1999 and won an injunction that shut down Napster in 2001.
A series of acquisitions by companies including music publisher Bertelsmann and retailer Best Buy put Napster on a path to respectability, but it also faded amid the growth of legal music stores like iTunes and then streaming services like Spotify.
Rhapsody, which has been around since 2001, bought Napster in 2011 and set out to replace Napster’s brand with its own in the U.S. Later it bought Napster International to expand into Germany and the U.K., where it decided to keep the Napster brand.
With the latest change, that moniker has won out. A formerly infamous brand now seems to carry more clout than one that once was almost famous.
The move comes amid an explosion in the amount of video viewed on Facebook, posted by regular users, publishers and advertisers alike.
Alongside the uptick in video content, copyright holders have complained about videos posted without their permission. A recent report by video marketing and social media consulting companies Tubular and Social@Ogilvy estimated that a majority of the most popular videos on Facebook were pirated.
On Thursday, Facebook said it would be deploying new video matching technology that will be available to a small group of partners. The tool, Facebook said, will let select media companies, multichannel networks and individual video creators identify matches of their videos posted across Pages, profiles, groups and geographies on the site.
The tool will evaluate millions of video uploads quickly. When matches surface, publishers will be able to report them to Facebook for removal, the company said in a blog post.
Facebook has already been using a system called Audible Magic that uses audio fingerprinting technology to identify and prevent unauthorized videos from making their way to the site.
But the video matching tool, currently in beta, is a new step in Facebook’s broader efforts to establish a content ID system akin to what YouTube uses to quickly identify copyright violations.
On YouTube, copyright owners have the option of running ads against videos that the video sharing site has identified as matches.
A bevy of luxury goods brands filed suit against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, contending the Chinese online shopping giant had knowingly made it possible for counterfeiters to sell their products throughout the world.
The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court by Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and other brands owned by Paris-based Kering SA seeking damages and an injunction for alleged violations of trademark and racketeering laws.
The lawsuit alleged that Alibaba had conspired to manufacture, offer for sale and traffic in counterfeit products bearing their trademarks without their permission.
A spokesman for Alibaba declined to comment.
Concerns over fake products on Alibaba’s platforms, including online marketplace Taobao, have dogged it for years, although the U.S. Trade Representative removed Taobao from its list of “notorious markets” in 2012 in light of progress made.
Friday’s lawsuit marked the second time in less than a year that the Kering brands had sued Alibaba over the alleged sale of counterfeit products.
An earlier lawsuit was filed in July only to be withdrawn the same month with the ability to refile it while the Kering units worked toward a resolution with Alibaba, according to court records.
The lawsuit alleged that Alibaba and its related entities “provide the marketplace advertising and other essential services necessary for counterfeiters to sell their counterfeit products to customers in the United States.”
The lawsuit cited, for example, an alleged fake Gucci bag offered for $2 to $5 each by a Chinese merchant to buyers seeking at least 2,000 units. The authentic Gucci bag retails for $795, the complaint said.
Alibaba has allowed for counterfeit sales to continue even when it had been expressly informed that merchants were selling fake products, the lawsuit said.
“Providing this level of transparency is not without its complications and sometimes means we get tough questions and criticism about our decisions,” wrote Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s senior manager for global legal policy, in a blog post Monday.
Twitter received 2,871 account information requests from various governments, targeting 7,144 accounts, during the second half of 2014, and the company complied in 52% of the cases, it said in a new transparency report.
Russia, Turkey and the U.S. were among the countries where requests for Twitter user information increased significantly.
Twitter received more than 100 requests for account information from the Russian government in the second half of 2014, from previously “having never received a request,” Kessel wrote. Twitter declined to honor any of the Russian requests.
Turkey requests rose by 150%, while those from the U.S. government increased 29%. Turkey didn’t honor any of Turkey’s requests, but it did comply with 80% of the U.S. requests.
Meanwhile, government and government-sanctioned requests for content removal jumped 84%. Leading this category were Turkey with 477 requests, Russia with 91, and Germany with 43.
During the second half of 2014, Twitter received 376 court orders for content removal and 420 other removal requests from police and other government agencies. Twitter honored the removal requests in 13% of those cases, covering 1,982 tweets.
Twitter also saw an 81% increase in the number of copyright infringement takedown notices allowed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA], during the second half of 2014. The company received 16,648 DMCA takedown notices during the six-month period, and the company removed content 66% of the time.
The Rebirth of The Pirate Bay that we reported on recently could be a sham site set up by the FBI with the intention of snagging punters.
It could not be, but there are increasing suspicions that this is the case, and there were probably some clues at the time.
We reported on the Pirate Bay relaunch earlier this week, saying that there was some kind of divide between the members of the site.
The new service was considered to be something of a spin-off that had done away with a number of administrators in order to be more hands-off.
However, it has the hallmarks of something that is hands-on, according to Twitter messages from an account used by the Anonymous hacker collective.
Questions were raised about the new site, including the passing of the old admins and the decision to use Cloudflare integration.
In some cases people pointed to FBI-like flags. The use of Cloudflare suggests that user information might be exposed to the warrant-like demands of the surveillance agencies.
— TheAnonMessage (@TheAnonMessages) February 1, 2015
The Pirate Bay people have denied that the site is a puppet for the FBI and have explained away the use of Cloudflare in a statement sent to TorrentFreak.
“We have seen that there has been some question to why we are using Cloudflare. This is only initially to handle the massive load on the servers. It will be removed shortly,” the statement said.
But, while the Pirate Bay is linked with the US-based Cloudflare it will be associated with the risk of national security investigations and warrants. Cloudflare has not commented.
TorrentFreak added in a later article that the Pirate Bay has moved away from its previous service provider, Trabia, and is now the guest of an unknown, or hidden, provider.
Taken together these things add up to a site that you may choose not to use. Of course, it might not be an FBI plant, and it might be the FBI, or someone else, that has started raising suspicions in order to keep people away from the magnetic phoenix. Take care out there.
The staff of The Pirate Bay have been telling the world+dog how it uses a mix of servers to avoid detection and police raids. Speaking to Torrent Freak, the site said the site uses a series of virtual machines to fool companies into hosting the torrent site.
The Pirate Bay doesn’t own any physical servers. Rather, the site is spread across different commercial cloud hosting providers. Twenty-one “virtual machines” are scattered around the world and are used to handle different functions of the site. The Pirate Bay uses the virtual machines to break the site’s functions down onto different hosting platforms. The cloud hosting is split up amongst its virtual machines: eight web, six search, two database, one Linux virtual server as a load balancer, one stats and one handles proxy sites. Another runs torrents and another is the control.
The load balancer distributes the traffic to the virtual machines and masks what they are actually doing. Investigators can’t actually “see” where Pirate Bay’s web site actually is, and Pirate Bay can host its site on commercial cloud hosting servers without worrying about discovery.
The sophisticated hosting set-up means that if anything happens to one of the site’s hosting providers, the virtual machine can be quickly moved to another hosting company.
But cloud hosting means that The Pirate Bay is virtually raid-proof as there are no physical servers to seize. The underlying servers powering the virtual servers don’t know they’re hosting Pirate Bay — so it’s difficult for police to actually take the site down.
The Pirate Bay, the self-styled “world’s most resilient torrent site”, has released a mobile version of its website for the first time.
The Mobile Bay taps into the increasing storage capacity of mobile devices and the growing number of uncapped 4G data plans.
Offering millions of uploaded torrents from blockbuster movies and TV shows, cracked software packages and pornography, the vast majority of its content is considered illegal in almost every country of the world, leading to a global game of cat and mouse as the outfit adapts to stay online.
Up to now, the only version of the website has been the desktop version which simply resizes, however a spokesperson for The Pirate Bay admitted to Torrentfreak that “the normal version of the site renders like crap on a mobile device”.
The mobile website appears not to have been blocked by UK ISPs as yet, as we were able to access it this afternoon. It has all the functionality of the regular website but with a mobile friendly page format.
Unfortunately, that includes the many adverts for casinos, clandestine video websites and other nasties that manifest as pop-unders on the desktop version.
The Pirate Bay already has its own web browser for the desktop, an adapted version of Firefox that uses privacy tool Tor, and a number of unofficial web browsing apps exist for The Pirate Bay in mobile app stores.
Peter Sunde, a co-founder of the Swedish torrent tracker was recently arrested after being on the run for eight years, having been convicted of aiding copyright infringement in 2009.
A battle over the name iPhone has resulted in Apple’s Mexican business partners being forbidden from advertising the iPhone.
Earlier this year, the tame Apple press claimed that Apple had won a trademark lawsuit against Mexican telecommunications company iFone over the use of the phonetically-identical “iPhone” brand. The iFone trademark was originally filed in 2003, and in 2009 the company filed a suit against Apple to stop it confusing its telecommunications busienss.
The press claimed that Apple won that war on the basis that iFone flogged telecommunications services, Apple sells smartphones. But the problem with the ruling was that Jobs’ Mob’s carrier chums offer telecommunications services, the IMPI (Mexico’s equivalent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) ruled that carriers selling the iPhone could no longer use the name in their advertising materials.
To make matters worse Telcel, Movistar, and Iusacell are now being charged fines for infringing on iFone’s trademark and have been ordered to remove the word “iPhone” from all marketing materials within the next 15 days. Needless to say the Presstitutes in the Tame Apple Press are saying this is terrible because Apple was found blameless in its actions and pure as the driven snow.
However what is clear from the result was that original reports claiming that Apple had won the ruling were incorrect and spun in Apple’s favour. iFone had successfully defended its trademark against Apple and the company’s cargo cult could not use the name to interfere with iFone’s business.
This is one of the problems when journalists sell out to companies and interpret news stories in favour of their corporate sponsors. The facts of the case were lost and now people are wondering why Apple can’t really advertise in Mexico.
The two companies, both major players in the smartphone industry, said they have agreed on a “patent and technology collaboration” that will settle all outstanding litigation.
Precise details were not revealed, but the companies said HTC will pay Nokia an undisclosed sum and the collaboration will involve HTC’s patents on LTE technology. LTE, often called 4G, is a high-speed wireless data transmission technology being rolled out by carriers in many countries.
Nokia’s chief intellectual property officer, Paul Melin, hailed the agreement as validating Nokia’s patents while HTC’s general counsel, Grace Lei, said her company was “pleased to come to this agreement.”
Nokia had asserted since 2012 that HTC infringed on about 50 of its patents and engaged in unauthorized use of proprietary innovations.
The cases had been making their way through the courts in countries including the U.K., Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S.
In March 2013, Nokia won an injunction in Germany against some HTC smartphones that were found to infringe upon a power-saving technology.
In September, the U.S. International Trade Commission A ruled HTC infringed two patents held by Nokia related to cellphones and tablets, and in October the High Court of England and Wales ruled that some HTC devices infringed on a Nokia mobile network standard patent.
Nokia won a sales ban against the HTC One Minismartphone in the U.K. as a result of that latter judgment.
Patent battles between major smartphone manufacturers have become a common part of the industry in the years since Apple introduced the iPhone and sparked the smartphone boom. Faced with a highly competitive marketplace, companies have been suing each other when one considers a competitor’s products look too similar to their own.
Twitter Inc has purchased 900 patents and inked a cross-licensing agreement with IBM, making peace with Big Blue and bulking up on its intellectual property portfolio as it takes on larger rivals Google and Facebook.
The agreement announced on Friday comes after International Business Machines Corp accused Twitter in November – on the eve of its high-profile initial public offering – of infringing three of its patents. At the time, it underscored how few patents the six-year-old social media company possessed in relation to more established rivals.
A cross-licensing agreement will help safeguard Twitter against similar claims in the future.
IBM is one of the industry’s largest research spenders and stockpilers of intellectual property, a consistent leader in U.S. patent filings and the owner of some 41,000 patents.
Twitter is following on the heels of Facebook, which itself faced similar claims before its own 2012 IPO. The world’s largest social network has since gone on a patent-buying spree, acquiring intellectual property from tech bellwethers, including Microsoft Corp and IBM.
“This acquisition of patents from IBM and licensing agreement provide us with greater intellectual property protection and give us freedom of action to innovate on behalf of all those who use our service,” Ben Lee, Twitter’s legal director, said in a joint statement with IBM on Friday.
Microsoft announced that it will rename its SkyDrive online storage services as OneDrive, picking a name six months after striking a deal with a British broadcaster that had taken the technology giant to trademark court.
“Changing the name of a product as loved as SkyDrive wasn’t easy,” Microsoft acknowledged in a post to a new blog. “We believe the new OneDrive name conveys the value we can deliver for you and best represents our vision for the future.”
Microsoft was forced to rebrand the service — as well as its for-business SkyDrive Pro, which took the name OneDrive for Business — after it lost a trademark infringement case last year brought by British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB), the massive television and broadband Internet service provider owned in part by Rupert Murdoch.
In early August, Microsoft and BSkyB announced a settlement that gave the former a “reasonable period of time to allow for an orderly transition to a new brand” for SkyDrive. In return, Microsoft pledged to drop its plans to appeal the U.K. court’s ruling.
Current users of SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro need do nothing as the name change propagates through Microsoft’s properties. “The service will continue to operate as you expect and all of your content will be available on OneDrive and OneDrive for Business respectively as the new name is rolled out across the portfolio,” said Ryan Gavin, general manager of Microsoft’s consumer apps and services group, in the blog.
It wasn’t the first time that Microsoft stumbled with a brand name.
In mid-2012, the Redmond, Wash. companydropped the term “Metro” — which it had used to describe the tile-based, touch-first interface in Windows 8 and the apps that ran in the UI — after Metro AG, a Dusseldorf, Germany-based retail conglomerate, threatened the company. Microsoft has failed to find a catchy replacement for Metro. At one point it cited “Modern” as the new term, then settled on the forgettable “Windows Store” to label the apps, all to little avail: Most references to the UI and apps continue to use Metro.
One public relations expert took Microsoft to the woodshed last year for flailing a second time in branding. “It’s unbelievable to me that Microsoft did not see this coming,” said Peter LaMotte, an analyst with Washington, D.C.-based strategic communications consultancy Levick.
According to a WHOIS search of domain registrations, onedrive.com was originally claimed in 1998. On Jan. 23, 2014, the status of the domain was updated; it now shows as owned by Dynadot, a San Jose, Calif. domain nameregistrar and website hosting firm.
BlackBerry has requested that a California court block U.S. sales of the Typo keyboard, an add-on keyboard for the iPhone that BlackBerry says is an “obvious knock-off” of the keyboards on its phones.
The move,intensifies a battle between the two companies that began in January this year when BlackBerry accused Typo of patent infringement. The lawsuit garnered considerable attention, in part because Typo was co-founded by popular U.S. radio and television personality Ryan Seacrest.
The keyboard is designed to slip onto an iPhone 5 or 5S to provide a physical keyboard. The $99 device is currently available for pre-order through the company’s website, which advertises it has already sold out of an unspecified number of keyboards for January and February delivery.
Such keyboards have been a main selling point of BlackBerry devices since the company was making radio pagers and despite the recent popularity of on-screen virtual keyboards, there remains many users who value a physical keyboard.
BlackBerry alleges infringement of two patents: U.S. Design Patent 685,775and U.S. Patent 7,629,964. The former covers the design elements of a “handheld electronic device” and the latter “an electronic device with keyboard optimized for use with the thumbs.”
BlackBerry is asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to prohibit Typo from “making, using, offering to sell, or selling within the United States, or importing into the United States, the Typo Keyboard.”
“Typo’s blatant copying of BlackBerry’s keyboard presents an imminent threat of irreparable harm to BlackBerry, and that threat is magnified in combination with the significant market power of the iPhone,” BlackBerry said in a proposed motion to the court.
Seacrest comes up in the BlackBerry motion. The company notes he was a well-known, long-time user of BlackBerry devices and cites interviews where he said that the inspiration for the keyboard was trying to bring together the best of the BlackBerry typing experience with everything else an iPhone had to offer.
The motion also cites several reviews that note the visual similarity between the Typo and BlackBerry keyboards.
In response to BlackBerry’s proposed motion, Typo said it believes BlackBerry’s claims “lack merit and we intend to defend the case vigorously.”
The comment repeats, almost word for word, a portion of a statement the company issued earlier in January when the lawsuit was first filed.
For BlackBerry, the issue is perhaps about more than just the visual similarities.
The company has been struggling to keep up with the fast pace of change being driven by Apple and Android phones and recently regrouped to focus more tightly on the government, military and enterprise customer.
That’s the company’s core business audience and the users that value a physical keyboard the most. If comparable keyboards become add-on accessories to Apple and Android phones, it would be more difficult for BlackBerry to compete.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a fight between TV broadcasters and Aereo, a startup that streams television over the Internet, as the last step in a case that could have far reaching implications for the future of online TV services.
The TV networks and broadcasters asked the Supreme Court to take the case after a federal court in New York ruled last year that Aereo’s service wasn’t breaking copyright law.
Aereo allows subscribers access to over-the-air TV signals via the Internet. It installs arrays of tiny, coin-sized antennas in major cities and offers its service to viewers who live within the already established transmission area.
Broadcasters say it infringes on their copyright because it’s redistributing their programming without permission, but Aereo disagrees.
Unlike cable television, which uses a single receiver per TV station and redistributes the signal to subscribers, Aereo gives each subscriber their own receiver and antenna. In that way, argues Aereo, there is no redistribution: only reception via a private antenna and tuner as already happens in people’s homes. The only difference is that the receiver and antenna are in a distant location connected via the Internet.
Writing on his company’s blog, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said he welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court and positioned the case as something that would be important “to the entire cloud computing and cloud storage industry.”
“We believe that consumers have a right to use an antenna to access over-the-air television and to make personal recordings of those broadcasts. The broadcasters are asking the Court to deny consumers the ability to usethe cloud to access a more modern-day television antenna and DVR. If the broadcasters succeed, the consequences to consumers and the cloud industry are chilling,” he wrote.
At present, Aereo is available in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Baltimore. It has plans to expand its US$8-per-month service to additional cities in 2014. The video recording service is available for an additional $4 per month.
The case is being fought as television in the U.S. is increasingly moving online. At present, that move is taking place largely through on-demand services such as Hulu, Netflix and websites and apps run by the broadcasters themselves.
No major U.S. broadcast TV networks stream their programming online, as is common in many other countries.
The site was shut down in August 2012 by Ukrainian authorities following a difficult time in which a DDoS attack temporarily pushed it off the internet.
“Investigators have copied all the information from the servers Demonoid and sealed them,” said an anonymous source from hoster Colocall at the time.
“Some equipment was not seized, but now it does not work, and we were forced to terminate the agreement with the site.”
It was news site Torrentfreak that reported the shutdown, and it is on the same site that we read about its phoenix like return.
Torrentfreak says that this URL http://inferno.demonoid.com:3396/announce has gone live and is in the process of collating some 388,321 torrent files from over one million peers.
“This means that Demonoid has instantly settled itself among the five largest BitTorrent trackers on the Internet,” it adds.
There is no official comment, yet, and Torrentfreak has linked this site to the old one because it shares the same domain. It does, however, appear to be hosted in Sweden.
The old Demonoid was hosted in the Ukraine and was not shut down for breaking any local laws, we are given to understand.
Rather it was wiped from local servers in the preparation for the country’s deputy prime minister Valery Khoroshkovsky’s first trip to the United States.
The old Demonoid “We are closed” page, is still live and still asking for Bitcoins. “Coming back soon, please check back later,” it says. “Thanks for your visit!!”
Responses to the relaunch mostly fall in the skeptical camp.