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reader comments 42 Share this story A New York appeals court is putting the brakes on actress Lindsay Lohan's lawsuit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto V.

The appellate court concluded Thursday that the game is riddled with satire and, hence, Take-Two Interactive Software is shielded by the First Amendment from allegations of misappropriation of likeness. Lohan claimed that elements of the video game—which features washed out celebrities, criminals, and paparazzi—were too close to her in real life.

Among other things, she alleged that a minor character named Lacey Jonas in the game was a "look-alike" and that the game violated her "privacy rights under New York law." She also alleged that the game unlawfully exploited her "signature peace sign pose." Mob Wives star Karen Gravano, another plaintiff in the case, similarly alleged that the game unlawfully used her likeness with the character Andrea Bottino. But a New York Court of Appeals ruled their suit was without merit because, if anything, the game is fiction and satire.

Therefore, it doesn't constitute as "advertising" or "trade." Even if we accept plaintiffs' contentions that the video game depictions are close enough to be considered representations of the respective plaintiffs, plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed because this video game does not fall under the statutory definitions of "advertising" or "trade" (see Costanza at 255, citing Hampton v Guare , 195 AD2d 366, 366 [1st Dept 1993], lv denied 82 NY2d 659 [1993] [stating that "works of fiction and satire do not fall within the narrow scope of the statutory phrases advertising' and trade'"]; see generally Brown v Entertainment Merchants Assn., 564 US 786, 790 [2011] ["(l)ike the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas..." and deserve First Amendment protection]). This video game's unique story, characters, dialogue, and environment, combined with the player's ability to choose how to proceed in the game, render it a work of fiction and satire. Lohan also complained that the game featured the Hotel Chateau Marmont, a West Hollywood hotel where Lohan once lived and was said to have racked up $46,000 in unpaid bills.
In the game, the hotel features a separate side quest, in which the player must film a washed-up actress named Poppy Mitchell having sex. Listing image by Take-Two Interactive Software
Phisherman's friend A second US man has pleaded guilty to stealing intimate pictures of celebrities using a phishing scam. Edward Majerczyk, 28, who resides in Chicago and Orland Park, Illinois, was charged with hacking into the Apple iCloud and Gmail accounts of more than 300 people, including Hollywood celbrities.
In a plea bargaining deal, Majerczyk agreed to plead guilty to one count of unauthorised access to a protected computer (i.e. computer hacking) contrary to the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In return for copping a plea, Majerczyk, can expect a lighter sentence that he might otherwise have received if he’d been found guilty at trial. Nonetheless Majerczyk still faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in federal prison. “Hacking of online accounts to steal personal information is not merely an intrusion of an individual’s privacy but is a serious violation of federal law,” said United States Attorney Eileen M Decker. “Defendant’s conduct was a profound intrusion into the privacy of his victims and created vulnerabilities at multiple online service providers.” Majerczyk admitted to running a phishing scheme to obtain usernames and passwords for his victims between November 2013 and August 2014.

These phishing emails posed as a message from the security team of the intended mark’s service provider. Prospective marks were directed towards handing over their login credentials at a bogus site controlled by Majerczyk. Compromised credentials were used to harvest personal information including sensitive and private photographs and videos, according to a DoJ statement of his plea bargaining agreement. The charge against Majerczyk stems from the investigation into the leaks of photographs of numerous female celebrities in September 2014 known as “Celebgate”. Nudes pictures of more than 100 celebrities, including Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, were leaked during through notorious image board 4Chan back in September 2014.

At the time, an iCloud security breach was blamed but now we know that phishing was also in play. Investigators failed to uncover any evidence linking Majerczyk to the actual leaks.

FBI investigators who investigated the case reckon Majerczyk accessed at least 300 accounts, and at least 30 accounts belonging to celebrities. Majerczyk is at least the second hacker to be prosecuted over Celebgate. Ryan Collins, from Lancaster in Pennsylvania, previously admitted he had illegally accessed and downloaded images from 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts. ®
Hackers stole naked photos of celebrities by bypassing their iPhone log-in credentials, rather than gaining access to them through a security weakness in the iCloud online storage service, Apple has claimed. Over 100 celebrities - including The Hunger...
NEWS ANALYSIS: An alleged iCloud brute force vulnerability is plugged, but what does it say about the state of cloud security? Over the weekend, attackers posted explicit pictures of Hollywood celebrities including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, allegedly obtained via a vulnerability in Apple's iCloud service. The pictures were posted on the 4chan site, where users often share explicit pictures. The original poster claimed to have additional photos for which payment was being sought. Spammers tend to attempt to get naive users to click on links including explicit pictures, leading some people to initially think that the images were fake. Some of the celebrities confirmed the pictures were real, however, while others said they were fake. "Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this," actress Mary Winstread tweeted. "Feeling for everyone who got hacked." According to multiple reports, a spokesperson for Lawrence also confirmed the authenticity of the pictures and expressed anger at the flagrant violation of privacy. Not all the pictures, however, are authentic. "These so called nudes of me are FAKE people," actress Victoria Justice tweeted. "Let me nip this in the bud right now. *pun intended*" While the actual root cause of the picture leak has not authoritatively been confirmed, there is widespread speculation that the pictures were stolen from Apple's iCloud service. "We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report," Nat Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman, told NBC News . Actress Kirsten Dunst, pictures of whom were also released in the attack, took specific aim at iCloud too. "Thank you iCloud," Dunst tweeted. The NBC News report noted that the FBI is actively investigating the incident. The alleged iCloud flaw is linked to a possible brute force vulnerability in the platform. In a brute force attack, the hacker uses an automated tool to guess username and password combinations in an attempt to gain access. Specifically, an iBrute brute force attack may have been responsible for the celebrity picture leak. A proof of concept outlining the attack was publicly posted on the Github code sharing site. "It uses Find My Iphone service API, where bruteforce protection was not implemented," the iBrute Github page states. The Find My iPhone service is Apple's service that is supposed to help users locate a lost or stolen iPhone device. While Apple has not publicly confirmed that there is any issue, the iBrute Github page notes that Apple has now patched the flaw. This isn't the first time in 2014 that a vulnerability in Apple's Find My iPhone service has been implicated as the root cause of an attack against users. In May, Apple users in Australia had their iOS devices held for ransom by an attacker who allegedly hacked the Find My iPhone service. Cloud Storage Security If Apple's iCloud is in fact at the root cause of this latest attack, it raises some serious concerns about the state of cloud storage security. Are files stored in the cloud more or less secure than files stored anywhere else? In this case, if in fact it was a brute force attack, should the cloud service be blamed for not providing adequate protection? The simple truth is that cloud storage is only as secure as the access methods that are deployed. That is, even if the cloud service itself is potentially at risk, if the system has multiple layers of authentication, a simple brute force attack, which only yields a username/password combination, will not be successful. If users employ two-factor authentication—a second password (or factor)—a simple brute force attack will not work. Apple does in fact offer two-factor authentication for its AppleID accounts, which are used to access the iCloud service. That said, it's important to remember that this incident involved theft of personal information. Even if the users didn't have two-factor authentication, and even if the cloud service didn't have proper brute force protection, a crime did occur. Users and cloud vendors need to do their part to secure users, and in this case, law enforcement now needs to do its part to bring those responsible to justice. Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.
While most people would struggle to persuade police to fill out a crime report if they were to be hacked, the US FBI has already launched an investigation into the Apple iCloud hack that led to the release of compromising photos of more than 100 celebrities. The images were posted on the notorious 4Chan website on Sunday. The most high profile celebrities included Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence. The investigation was launched after lawyers acting for Lawrence and a number of the other celebrities contacted the law enforcement agency. "The FBI is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high-profile individuals and is addressing the matter," confirmed a statement from the Los Angeles, California FBI. Lawrence's publicist, Liz Mahoney, described the hack as a "flagrant violation of privacy". She continued: "The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence." Actress Kirsten Dunst criticised Apple over the security of its iCloud service, tweeting emoticons the represent the phrase "piece of shit". The suspected hacker behind the attack, meanwhile, promised to post further images from another location "soon", and added that the attack was the work of several people. "Guys, just to let you know I didn't do this by myself," wrote the hacker. "There are several other people who were in on it and I needed to count on to make this happen. This is the result of several months of long and hard work by all involved." Given the popularity of Apple iPhones among top celebrities, many may well be storing highly personal photos in the cloud, protected with little more than weak passwords that haven't been changed since the day they bought their first iPod and set up their iTunes account. The release of the celebrity photos comes one week after Apple released its privacy safeguards for developers using Apple's new "HealthKit" platform, which will allow them to release people's health data to third parties "for medical research purposes", with people's consent, but not to "sell an end-user's health information collected through the HealthKit API to advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers". However, with increasingly personal data being held in the cloud, any perceptions of insecurity - whether via hackers or the demands of government agencies across the world - may undermine such a burgeoning market. 
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