Incident Response, TDR

Harvard professor accuses Zango of more deception

A Harvard University researcher has claimed that accused adware maker Zango is providing content without proving it has the right to use it, a possible indication of copyright infringement.

Ben Edelman, an assistant professor in the Harvard Business School in Boston, also said in a report released Wednesday that Zango provides unlabeled sexually explicit material and offers materials that are widely available elsewhere for free and without pop-up ads.

“Zango's media offerings are the centerpiece of Zango's recent efforts to attract users,” Edelman told on Wednesday. “As it turns out, Zango is making users accept its pop-ups and its privacy intrusion in order to download videos that users could get elsewhere for free, without pop-ups or tracking. That's a lousy deal.”

Furthermore, Edelman added, Zango does not appear to have licenses for the copyrighted content they reproduce.

“Does Zango have permission to show clips from Borat, from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, from Playboy?" he asked. "Of course not. Zango should be hard at work removing these
videos from its library to avoid further copyright infringement."

Zango refuted Edelman's claims, stating in a blog post that Zango licenses and aggregates online entertainment content from approximately 100 different content providers.

“Like all companies our size and larger in the online entertainment space, we make every effort to abide by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provisions regarding copyright infringement claims,” Zango wrote. “We occasionally do receive copyright-related inquiries about content available at and via our syndication platform. In each and every instance, we investigate those claims quickly and resolve them on a case-by-case basis.”

Zango is trying to remove itself from its checkered past. The Bellevue, Wash.-based company was fined $3 million two years ago by the Federal Trade Commission over deceptive adware practices. In some cases, Zango's third-party distributors installed adware on victims' machines by taking advantage of browser security vulnerabilities.

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