December 19, 2003

Don't Even Think About Accessing
Computer Data Without Permission

This AP story reports that an employee of a market-intelligence company pleaded guilty to federal charges of obtaining unauthorized access to a customer's computer files. The files included passwords and personal data of the customer's own customers. The market-intelligence employee reportedly downloaded the data to CDs and stored it at his house, just because he liked to have it -- he didn't use it for criminal or commercial purposes.

The employee is being held without bond, pending sentencing in about two months. He faces up to five years in federal prison.

December 19, 2003 in Criminal Penalties, IT Management | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 09, 2003

Bandwidth Management to Keep Copyright Police Away

It's said that a non-trivial portion of the Internet bandwidth consumed by businesses is taken up by illegal employee downloading of music and video files. This ComputerWorld column suggests that businesses can reduce their risks of being targeted by the record industry, video industry, etc. -- and reduce costs too -- by deploying bandwidth-management software:

"We started by doing bandwidth prioritization between the dorms and the main campus," Dodds says.

During business hours, campus connections have priority over dorm use, and Dodds can filter out certain IP addresses, block some peer-to-peer traffic and even segregate dorms by subnet. Using the graphic capabilities of the package, Dodds is able to see which protocols are using the most bandwidth and then allocate bandwidth as needed.

* * *

Prior to implementing the bandwidth management setup, Fairmont was considering purchasing additional bandwidth. That's now been shelved.

And as for pulling the plug on illegal music and video downloads, well, let's just say Britney can shop to her heart's content.

It's an interesting idea, but bandwidth-management software strikes me as a short-lived phenomenon. Bandwidth will get cheaper; music and videos will become available on-line at reasonable prices (it's already happening with music); and employees will gradually get the message that they can be fired for doing illegal downloading.

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December 9, 2003 in IT Management, Intellectual Property | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2003

How Much Would Actual Subscriptions Have Cost?

MSNBC reported last week that money-management firm Legg Mason was hit with a $20 million jury verdict for copyright infringement, for internally distributing a stock-market newsletter when they had only paid for a single subscription. Thanks to TechLawAdvisor for the tip.

October 13, 2003 in Embarrassments / Bad Career Moves, IT Management, Intellectual Property | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 19, 2003

Music Industry Could Go After
Your Company for File-Swapping

You've probably heard about the controversy over the music industry's battle against Internet song-swappers. In a recent letter to a U.S. senator, the president of the Recording Industry Association of America pledged that "RIAA is gathering evidence and preparing lawsuits only against individual computer users who are illegally distributing a substantial amount of copyrighted music." See Reuters story.

Suppose that your employees were surreptitiously swapping songs, not just with their home computers, but with your company's servers. Now suppose that RIAA were to discover that fact -- possibly because of a whistleblower within your company. RIAA might view your company as a tempting target for a copyright-infringement lawsuit, with the intent of making your company into a very public example. (Software industry groups such as the Business Software Alliance have done much the same thing with their anti-piracy campaigns.)

August 19, 2003 in IT Management | Permalink | Comments (0)