Archive for the ‘Los Angeles’ Category

Citysearch.com is defrauding its advertising customers of millions of dollars by not only turning a blind eye to click fraud, but in fact encouraging it as well, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP.

“Most click fraud cases involve companies that simply turn a blind eye to it,” said the victims’ attorney, Brian S. Kabateck, Managing Partner of Kabateck Brown Kellner. “Citysearch does this too, since it has no real program to prevent click fraud. But Citysearch goes beyond indifference to actively incentivizing click fraud. Citysearch’s motive is simple: clicks equal cash, whether they’re fraudulent or not.”

Kabateck recently won a multi-million dollar settlement from Yahoo! And was part of an earlier $90 million settlement from Google on behalf of advertisers who were victimized by click fraud. He also recently filed a federal class action suit against Google for fraud within its “AdWords” pay-per-click advertising system.

Citysearch, part of IAC/InterActiveCorp, which is headed by Barry Diller, pays commissions to its salespeople based on the number of clicks their customers’ ads receive, providing an incentive for click fraud, according to the lawsuit. Furthermore, the suit contends, contrary to Citysearch’s own representations to its advertisers, it takes no real steps to prevent click fraud. And when customers become victims of click fraud, Citysearch fails to adequately advise them that they have been victimized or refund the money paid to Citysearch for that fraudulent activity.

The lawsuit seeks to represent all people or entities in the United States who paid money for pay-per-click advertising through Citysearch.com. As detailed within the suit, the case of plaintiff Tom Lambotte shows Citysearch refusing to acknowledge blatant indications of click fraud.

Lambotte’s Citysearch ad received a total of 7 clicks (plus two more that he generated) between December 11 and 25, 2007. On December 26 he received a response from Citysearch to his December 22 request to cancel his ad. Suddenly, his ad began receiving 12 to 16 clicks a day, for a total of 69 clicks between December 26 and December 31, when his ad was finally cancelled. He received in these five days 10 times as many clicks as he had received in the previous two weeks. Despite this, Citysearch refused his repeated requests to reverse these charges.

Click fraud can be detected by software that can track suspicious patterns, such as repeated clicks from the same source. Although Citysearch assures its customers that it applies this technology, the experiences of many of its customers shows otherwise, according to the suit. Still, customers are led to believe that Citysearch is in fact actively fighting against click fraud.

According to Citysearch’s “Invalid Click Policy”: “Citysearch also has sophisticated algorithms to track sessions and user behavior on our site to assist us in identifying click patterns that would indicate invalid clicks. In the event we identify a click as invalid, our customers are not charged for such clicks.”

“Citysearch is operating contrary to its own contract with its customers,” Kabateck said.


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A Missouri woman was indicted on federal charges for fraudulently using an account on the social networking Web site MySpace, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Thomas P. O’Brien announced today. The woman posed as a teenage boy who feigned romantic interest in a 13 year-old girl, who later committed suicide after the “boy” spurned her and told her, among other things, that the world would be a better place without her.

Lori Drew, 49, of O’Fallon, Mo., was named in a four-count indictment returned this morning by a federal grand jury. The indictment charges one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress on the girl who, because of juvenile privacy rules, is referred to in the indictment only as M.T.M.

The indictment alleges that Drew, along with others, registered as a member of MySpace under the name “Josh Evans.” Drew and her co-conspirators then used the Josh Evans account to contact M.T.M. and began what the girl believed was an on-line romance with a 16-year-old boy. In taking those actions, the indictment alleges, Drew and her co-conspirators violated MySpace’s terms of service that prohibit users from, among other things, using fraudulent registration information, using accounts to obtain personal information about juvenile members, and using the MySpace communication services to harass, abuse or harm other members.

After approximately four weeks of flirtatious communications between “Josh Evans” and M.T.M., Drew and her co-conspirators broke off the relationship. Within an hour, M.T.M. had hanged herself in her room. She died the next day.

“This adult woman allegedly used the Internet to target a young teenage girl, with horrendous ramifications,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “After a thorough investigation, we have charged Ms. Drew with criminally accessing MySpace and violating rules established to protect young, vulnerable people. Any adult who uses the Internet or a social gathering Web site to bully or harass another person, particularly a young teenage girl, needs to realize that their actions can have serious consequences.”

To become a member of MySpace, individuals are required to submit registration information – including name and date of birth – and have to agree to certain terms of service that regulate their use of the Web site. Among other things, MySpace terms of service require prospective members to provide truthful and accurate registration information; to refrain from using any information obtained from MySpace services to harass, abuse or harm other people; to refrain from soliciting personal information from anyone under 18; to refrain from promoting information that they know is false or misleading; and to refrain from posting photographs of other people without their consent. The indictment alleges that Drew and her co-conspirators violated all of those provisions.

“Whether we characterize this tragic case as ‘cyber-bullying,’ cyber abuse or illegal computer access, it should serve as a reminder that our children use the Internet for social interaction and that technology has altered the way they conduct their daily activities,” said Salvador Hernandez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles. “As adults, we must be sensitive to the potential dangers posed by the use of the Internet by our children.”

The conspiracy count carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison. Each count of accessing protected computers, each of which alleges that the access was for the purpose of intentionally inflicting emotional distress on M.T.M., carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty. Drew will be summoned to appear for an arraignment in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in June.

This case was investigated by special agents with the FBI in St. Louis and Los Angeles.

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In commemoration of its 55th anniversary, Playboy today announced that it will leverage its new Channel on YouTube to host an online search for the best video submissions from hopeful Playboy models. This unprecedented nationwide online search will enable girls 18 and over to submit videos on YouTube, the world’s most popular online video community allowing millions of people to discover, watch, and share originally created videos. By submitting their videos at http://www.YouTube.com/PlayboyCasting, these ladies will compete for a private audition with Playboy’s assistant photo editor Holly Madison, the star of E!’s top-rated show “The Girls Next Door.”

Playboy Talent Search at YouTube; Casting Call for hopeful 18+ Models with Assets, Figure, Face

The best submissions will be honored with a trip to Los Angeles for an exciting two days with the Playboy team that will include: a Playboy pictorial that will appear on Playboy.com, a tour of the world-renowned Playboy Mansion, participation in a catalog fashion shoot featuring Playboy’s latest apparel collections, and a private Playmate test-shoot with Holly Madison that could result in one of the winners being selected as the prized 55th Anniversary Playmate for Playboy magazine’s January 2009 issue.

“If you think you have what it takes to become part of the Playboy family – and possibly the 55th Anniversary Playmate – then the YouTube talent-search is the perfect opportunity to get discovered, especially if you can’t make it to one of our casting calls,” said Madison. “Just post a short video on YouTube that highlights your best assets – your figure, your face, your sense of humor, and especially your fantastic personality. The women with the most impressive videos will get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Playboy Mansion and participate in a Playmate test-shoot with me!”

Interested women can visit Playboy’s YouTube Channel (http://www.YouTube.com/PlayboyCasting) to post a two-minute, non-nude video response to Holly’s digital invitation by answering a question or telling a story. The best videos on YouTube will be selected as finalists and will appear on Playboy.com where they will be ranked by Playboy fans before the winners are selected by Holly and Playboy’s editorial team.

Full details, an FAQ, and rules for video submission can be found at http://www.playboy.com/pm55. In addition, all submissions must comply with the YouTube “Terms of Use” policy (http://www.youtube.com/t/terms). Submissions via YouTube will be accepted through June 1, 2008.

Playmate editor and co-star of E!’s The Girls Next Door Holly Madison invites you to upload your audition video through YouTube.

Sultry Playboy Cyber Girl Dana Dicillo shows you how an audition video is done.

Sexy Playboy Cyber Girl Destiny White’s home-made YouTube video audition.

About Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

Playboy Enterprises is a brand-driven, international multimedia entertainment company that publishes editions of Playboy magazine around the world; operates television networks and distributes programming globally; owns Playboy.com, a leading men’s lifestyle and entertainment website; and licenses the Playboy trademark internationally for a range of consumer products and services. For more information please visit http://www.playboyenterprises.com.

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Speakers include: Steve Wadsworth, President, Walt Disney Internet Group; Jeff Weiner, EVP, Yahoo; Ron Grant, President and COO, AOL; Erik Flannigan, Executive Vice President of Digital Media for the Entertainment Group (COMEDY CENTRAL, AtomFilms, Gametrailers, Spike); and Joanna Shields, President, Bebo (via live video feed from London)

ContentNext’s, parent company of paidContent.org, Second Annual EconSM Conference: The Economics of Social Media, will be held in Los Angeles on April 29th to promote dialogue and answer key questions about established and nascent social networks such as what makes some flourish and others falter? The conference’s full schedule of topics and speakers list can be viewed at http://www.econsm.com.

ContentNext Founder and Editor-in-Chief Rafat Ali remarks, “paidContent.org has been providing comprehensive coverage of the deals, personalities and companies leading the space and our unparalleled wealth of data on this subject form a dynamic foundation for the Second Annual EconSM Conference. EconSM is exactly where forward-looking and future-shaping digital media executives are going to share high-level insider intelligence about the social media network arena. We expect a high number of decision makers and impact players in their respective industries along with the founders, technologists and others who are inventing – and investing in – social media and we’re advancing the conversation in step with the evolution of social media, from niche to network: where is the money to be found, made, and re-invested?”

ContentNext Co-Editor Staci D. Kramer says, “The data warrants serious dialogue: more than $1 billion in acquisitions this year and we’re not through April yet. Large investments, such as AOL’S $850 million for Bebo; $60 million for Ning are the exception rather than the rule. Twenty-nine social media companies were acquired in the last 12 months for nearly $2.5 billion dollars and 91 new social media networks have received nearly half-a-billion dollars in funding since January 2008. Aided by the opening of social networks to third-party developers, the expansion of niche social networks and the ad network trend, investment in social media and adjacent areas continues, as do the conversations about this space.”

In mid-May, ContentNext Media will publish its second Social Media Deals Report. Covering 2007 and the first quarter of 2008, the report will break down the important categories, including mobile; track investments by private equity, VC, angles and media companies; report on M&A activity, and highlight international investment.

ContentNext is an online media hub focusing on the most current and relevant information for executives in the digital media, entertainment & technology sectors. By covering crucial breaking business news in a reputable manner the site established itself as an “executive must read” by providing thoughtful, impartial and credible analysis of innovative and sustainable digital media business models.

About ContentNext

ContentNext is an independent media and information company based in Santa Monica, California, covering the business of digital media. The company operates four award winning sites: paidContent.org; paidContent.co.uk, mocoNews.net; and contentSutra.com. Founded by journalist Rafat Ali in 2002, the company’s news sites chronicle the economic evolution of digital content that is shaping the future of the media, information and entertainment industries. Our belief is that in the near future, all media will be digital media, and we are helping define sustainable business models and innovation within this sector.

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Los Angeles Times Book Prize LogoThe Los Angeles Times tonight honored 2007’s most accomplished authors at its 28th annual Book Prizes ceremony at UCLA’s Royce Hall, held on the eve of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Gay Talese served as master of ceremonies for the event that drew many of the biggest names in the book world and honored Maxine Hong Kingston with the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. In addition, a first-time Special Commendation was presented to Doug Dutton of Dutton’s Brentwood Books, which is closing its doors at the end of April after 24 years of service to the literary community in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

The best books of 2007 and their writers were recognized in nine distinct categories:

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Young Stalin (Alfred A. Knopf)

Current Interest
Elizabeth D. Samet, Soldier’s Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Andrew O’Hagan, Be Near Me (Harcourt)

Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
Dinaw Mengestu, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (Riverhead Books)

Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Doubleday)

Karin Fossum {Translated by Charlotte Barslund} The Indian Bride (Harcourt)

Stanley Plumly, Old Heart: Poems (W.W. Norton)

Science and Technology
Douglas Hofstadter, I Am A Strange Loop (Basic Books)

Young Adult Fiction
Philip Reeve, A Darkling Plain (The Hungry City Chronicles), (Eos Books/HarperCollins)

Each winner, including Kingston, receives a $1,000 cash award. A complete list of the 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes finalists and past winners can be found at http://latimesbookprizes.com.

About the Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 2.2 million and 3.2 million on Sunday, and a combined print and interactive weekly audience of 4.8 million. The Los Angeles Times and its media businesses and affiliates – including The Envelope, Metromix, Times Community Newspapers, Hoy, and California Community News – reach approximately 5.5 million or 42% of all adults in the Southern California marketplace. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times, has been covering Southern California for over 126 years and is part of Tribune Company, one of the country’s leading media companies with businesses in publishing, the Internet and broadcasting.

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