Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Judge Hears Arguments on Google Book Settlement

Federal judge Denny Chin heard more than four hours of testimony in a packed courtroom this week about the hotly contested class-action lawsuit filed against Google.

Supporters of a deal that would allow Google to create an extensive digital library and bookstore included the president of the National Federation of the Blind, a librarian at the University of Michigan, and a lawyer for Sony Electronics stated that the agreement would make millions of hard-to-find books available to an enormous audience.

A much larger group of opponents cited many concerns related to competition, privacy, violation of copyright and abuse of class-action processes. Law Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Pamela Samuelson says that her academic colleagues would prefer to have their books available via open access, and also supported open access to orphan works. She said "the authors Guild has not fairly represented academic authors."
“We think orphan works is a public policy issue to be decided by Congress,” she said. She mentioned that she had asked for “meaningful constraints” on pricing subscriptions. And, while not responding directly to University of Michigan Librarian Courant, she offered a contrasting perspective: “for plaintiffs, books are commodities. For academics, books are a slow form of social dialog."

See more in The New York Times and a February 12th presentation , "How Fair is the Google Book Search Settlement" by Berkeley law professor Pamela Samuelson.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Adobe Download Manager Installing Software Without Consent

Slashdot is running an article about a problem in the Adobe Download Manager (ADM) found by Researcher Aviv Raff. The net effect of the problem is that a user can be tricked into downloading and installing software without actual consent.

In a related article in PCMAG.COM, Raff's list of the following software can be downloaded and installed for users that have ADM installed by merely following a link to Adobe's site, including Adobe Flash 10, Adobe Reader 9.3, Adobe Reader 8.2, Google Toolbar6.3, McAfee Security Scan Plus and a half dozen more.

The ADM FAQ explains that ADM is installed when needed and removed when the system reboots. However, this ignores the fact that Adobe downloads don't tyically require a reboot and users might go a long time between them.

Raff also announced that he had found a remote code execution bug in ADM, increasing the danger of remote compromise by an order of magnitude or two.

See more at Security Watch.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

NY Times: "Critics Say Google Invades Privacy With New Service"

TRUST faculty member Deirdre Mulligan is quoted in the Feburary 12, 2010 NY Times article Critics Say Google Invades Privacy With New Service. The article discusses privacy issues in Google's Buzz product where users may unintentionally publicly share the names of their contacts. Apparently, Google has made it difficult to make the contacts list private. Professor Mulligan is quoted as saying “You want to have a simple rollback mechanism, so once things are not what you expected them to be, you can get out quickly and not have to play a game of Whack-a-Mole.”