Tech tapas: Viacom vs. YouTube replay; Macs hit with virus; Anonymous hacks China sites

It’s Tapas Thursday. Here are small plates of tech news in different flavors — and some of them could pack quite a punch.

• That was quick. A day after YouTube announced a partnership to stream Paramount movies, raising eyebrows because of its long-contentious relationship with Paramount parent company Viacom, an appeals court has revived Viacom’s $1 billion copyright lawsuit against YouTube.

The appeals court said, according to Reuters, that the lower court that dismissed the case in 2010 made a mistake because a jury could have found YouTube knew of infringing content on its site. Google-owned YouTube was deemed protected under the Digital Copyright Millennium Act — which exempts companies from liability forinfringing acts by their users — but in the appeals court decision (PDF) released Thursday, Judge Jose Cabranes writes that some YouTube emails suggest the company may have known about infringing content but failed to take immediate action in taking it down. The case is now being remanded to a lower court, which must determine that question.

Still, Ars Technica points out that today’s decision seems to reinforce the safe-harbor provision of the DCMA for companies that don’t know about their users’ infringement. “The court rejected Viacom’s attempt to create a new duty of those hosting content to monitor actively for infringement,” Public Knowledge lawyer Sherwin Siy told Ars.

• If you have a Mac, you might want to know that a Russian antivirus-software company said Wednesday (and updated today) that more than half a million Apple computers have been infected with a (revised) Trojan (end revised) called “Flashback,” which seeks out usernames and passwords. Flashback, according to Mashable, was designed to pretend to be an Adobe Flash Player installer.

• Anonymous has struck again, this time in China in an apparent protest of that nation’s strict control over its citizens and the Internet. The hacking group reportedly defaced hundreds of Chinese websites with the same message: “Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall.”


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  • Walt French

    Ummm, technically Flashback is not a virus, but a Trojan, isn’t that right?

    That is, the user has to explicitly permit the malware to run, after being directed to a bunch of suspect websites where it pops up. And the user also has to have permitted java. And the user can’t be running any of several apps (such as Little Snitch that I use to alert me about unexpected visits to odd websites).

    And we also have to take the word of some Russian security firm whose website takes you to a Windows-only app if you want them to fix your Mac.

    Hmmmm… This might be an opportunity for GMSV to find a REAL story about how all this came about and the real stats of how many Mac users really are infected.

  • Levi Sumagaysay

    You’re right, Walt, it is a Trojan; I fell into the old trap of equating all malware with viruses. Fixed.

  • steve hammill

    I thought MAC didn’t get viruses and all of that other vulgar malware…

    >>>Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall.

    Global ignorance WRT China all these many years after Mao’s death is a testament to global bullheadedness.

    Never in the history of the planet have the lives of so many, improved so dramatically in such a short time.

    As terrible as most people believe Mao was – and he was indeed very bad – he was an improvement over the warlords.

    My first trip to China was just after Mao’s death and with every visit I see improvements in the way of life there. I hope the Chinese continue their “energetic progress in the good” (I Ching) with a minimum of backsliding.

    Meanwhile, here in the USA, we need to get off our behinds and get the work so we don’t lose it all to China’s numerically-superior force of geniuses.

  • Drblank

    Well, it was a Java vulnerability which Java had to be fixed, which was Sun code. The Flash updater through Apple’s App Store wasn’t affected, it was outside the App Store. People just have to know to download apps and updates through the Apple App Store prevent this. In addition, I don’t see this as a virus, but more of a form of Malware, which is different than a virus.

  • Drblank

    Well, for the YouTube case, as far as I know from reading the DMCA laws, if the owner of the copyright informs YouTube of the infringement and they don’t pull the content down within 14 days after being notified, then YouTube is held liable, just as is the user that posted the content. So anyone posting, or even worse, selling content without legal permission is held liable as far as I know. In the DMCA laws, there are several reasons how someone can be held liable, any one of those apects are violated, then then that party is held liable from what I have read. now, from what I have read, if a party is caught SELLING more than a 100 copies of a video or audio recording illegally, that is a felony. What can be done? Well, I think that ALL download sites of music and video recordings should only work with content suppliers/resellers/distributors that licensed entertainment lawyers represent all parties involved and that they review ALL release forms and distribution rights contracts will all of the parties involved. Now, legitimate record labels have Entertianment lawyers, but a lot to small independents don’t. Not all download sites or distribution companies may not actually have licensed Entertianment lawyers. This has to be addressed and each party involved with distribution needs to carefully evaluate their policies, procedures to reduce or eliminate copyright infringement. Even the US Copyright Office has to do a better job in reviewing submissions and require submissions to be validated by a licensed entertainment lawyer. Word to wise, don’t submit content to the US Copyright Office, post/distribute content for view or sale without having a licensed entertainment lawyer involved. This means EVERYONE big, small, publically traded companies, etc.