Feeds

Joker demands $1 million over hoax virus alert

Symantec fails to see the funny side

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Online comedian Ray Owens has jokingly demanded $1 million compensation from Symantec for publishing one his gags without copyright.

Owens, who runs the "Joke a Day" mailing list, wrote a hoax alert warning that users should delete the "insidious" AOL.exe virus which had already infected 30 million computers worldwide.

The spoof, which was written in the wake of the hysteria over the sulfnbk.exe hoax, warns that "keeping this file [AOL.exe} on the system after June 8 will cost you $2.90 more per month!

"Failure to remove this file will keep your 'upper memory management' module of your intelligence quotient (IQ over 85) blocked. Deleting AOL.exe will free your IQ to go above 85!!!"

Funny stuff and after Owens published it to 320,000 subscribers on his Joke a Day mailing list the gag, which became known as the AOL.exe hoax, was published in full in the write-up of the hoax on many anti-virus vendors sites.

Owens took particular exception to Symantec's violation of his copyright and asked the vendors for $1 million as a joke - in compensation - or a link back to his site.

Symantec displayed a marked lack of humour on the subject and a corporate flak called up Owens to tell him they believed they were protected by the Fair Use Doctrine. After the conversation, Symantec partially relented and modified its description of the AOL virus hoax to say the joke originated with Owens, but it still didn't provide a link back to the Joke a Day site.

The irony of this stance was highlighted by Rob Rosenberger in a piece on his Virus Myths home page, which said that Symantec once sued Network Associates over thirty lines of copyrighted software code. This lawsuit only ended when Network Associates bought a firm with its own copyright dispute against Symantec, at a cost of over $100 million.

By that standard the $1 million Owens 'demanded' is quite cheap... ®

External Links

Joke A Day - AOL hoax virus
Symantec's write up
Rob Rosenberger points out the irony

Related Stories

Hoax virus alert targets MP3
Hoax alert mimics real virus threat
Jungle falls for obvious virus hoax

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.