Lawyer Calls Zango Case an 'Opening Salvo'

Bob Preston
LOS ANGELES — Adult Internet professionals should prepare for a long fight against spyware and adware, according to one of the attorneys bringing suit against Zango Inc. and Various Inc.

Colin Hardacre, associate trial attorney for the Kaufman Law Group, which is representing Epic Cash, spoke with XBIZ about Epic Cash's suit against the adware giant. He said because of the widespread nature of adware and the difficulty of blocking all of it, Epic's case represents only the "first step" in stopping it.

Hardacre said that this case presents the opportunity to send the message to other Internet companies that behavior like Zango's isn't acceptable.

"No one's had the guts to bring a case like this before," said Hardacre, who is associate counsel for the case. "It's an opening salvo."

As of today, Epic's lawyers have filed their lawsuit with the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara County, but they have not yet formally served Zango with the case.

Zango spokesperson Steve Stratz conceded that Zango has had problems in the past with their product, but he defended his company's business practices over the last few years.

Stratz said that his company's homepage, Zango.com, offers users a variety of free content, and that in exchange, they merely have to install a toolbar that delivers relevant advertising.

"We ran into some problems with how our software was distributed," Stratz told XBIZ, noting that users currently must choose to receive any services or advertising from Zango.

Stratz also stressed that one of the chief complaints levied at Zango – that it's too diffucult to remove its software – was "absolutely untrue."

"You just have to use the add-remove program utility in [Microsoft] Windows," he said. In addition he said that his company offers a free uninstall utility. It's located on the Zango customer support page.

But not everyone's convinced. According to online guru Brandon "Fight the Patent," webmasters should know what they're up against when it comes to Zango's software.

"Zango would refer to themselves as adware, since it's advertiser supported, but the user doesn't really know what its doing when they were  installing it." Brandon said.

Brandon added that "jackware" would be the right word for Zango's software, because a competitor can buy advertising with Zango that creates a popup window over an existing window.

Stratz blamed some third-party companies for manipulating the Zango download process to confuse users. In addition, anti-spyware and some security utilities can "break" Zango's software, Stratz said.

Spyware expert Ben Edelman devotes thousands of words on his blog to documenting and exposing online malfeasance, including Zango.

"Spyware has been around since before Zango," Edelman told XBIZ. "But Zango was particularly aggressive in using affiliate programs to claim commission through affiliate programs."

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