29th > January > 2005 Archive

Bang & Olufsen fans spammed senseless

Subscribers to the UK mailing list of Bang & Olufsen (B&O), the upmarket Hi-Fi firm, were bombarded with six million emails this week. List membes are hopping mad, but B&O blames the problem on flaws with some of its customers' email systems, rather than any security breach on its part. An email plugging an integrated TV/DVD sent out to the list on Monday (24 January) generated a message storm when it hit buggy Small Business Server 2003 servers. The well-known glitch in email systems of three of the recipients of the message generated a blitz of replicated emails. In the resulting chaos, the 20,000 recipients of list received between a handful and hundreds of messages apiece, according to B&O staffer Stephen Anderson, who looks after the list. Up to six million messages were generated in the spam blizzard before the plug was pulled on the offending servers. He said none of these messages were viral, but acknowledged they caused huge inconvenience. "People have the right to complain , but the problem was not our fault," Anderson told El Reg. Anderson said the four-line long email, which had no attachment, was sent out to recipients of the list as blind carbon copies. It remains unclear how the list became exposed, or what triggered the message storm. Suggestions by some recipients that B&O sent out a virus or that police became involved in dealing with the problems are both untrue, Anderson said. The original message was sent via a Dublin ISP by B&O's Belfast office. B&O Belfast has decided to abandon email marketing as a result of its experiences but the company will continue to use the approach elsewhere in the UK. ® Related stories BBC sends Archers fans computer virus bet365 sends Avril Lavigne worm to punters DoD mailing lists left wide open Security cert body gives lesson in insecurity Kaspersky mailing list hijacked!
John Leyden, 29 Jan 2005

Norwegian student fined for MP3 links

Norwegian student Frank Allan Bruvik has been fined $15,900 for providing links from his website, Napster.no, to MP3 files hosted elsewhere, the Associated Press reports. The Court found that he had violated copyright law by helping netizens to locate forbidden files. In other words, by linking, Bruvik was assisting in an illegal act. An appeals court earlier had found that he did not violate copyrights because he did not host, or "publish", the files, but merely made reference to sites where the files were already accessible. Those who had actually published the files are the ones liable: "The Court of Appeals finds that copyright infringement violating the rights of the copyright holders were committed when the works were made accessible for the public by those who uploaded the files to an open network of computers." Bruvik could not be contributing to an illegal act, because the illegal act had already been committed when the files were published, the court reckoned. He merely assisted in downloading, which is not illegal: "Bruvik did, however, contribute, by publishing his links, to playing or copying the music files from the uploader's web page. But this must be regarded as contribution to the act of the downloader. Such downloads for private use are not illegal, and cannot justify a claim for damages according to the requirements in the Copyright Act, Section 55." The High Court reversed the appellate decision, and left the case as it was decided by the original district court. ® Related stories Supremes prep for P2P battle royal Kazaa trial opens with 'massive piracy' claim Belgian fuzz raid music downloaders Student not guilty of copyright theft over links to MP3s
Thomas C Greene, 29 Jan 2005