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Fashionista Hacker Pays $12,5K to Settle Conde Nast Copyright Claim

An Ohio man has given the term black hat new meaning: According to The Smoking Gun reports, fashion-obsessed Ross Ulrich hacked into a Condé Nast computer system to snatch photos and pages from several upcoming issues of fashion magazines to later post them on his blog FashionZag.

The 22-year-old graphic design student said he fessed up to his crimes as agents executed a search warrant at his family's Columbus residence. He also admitted to accessing a Warner Bros. server with images and clips from various movies in production, as well as the computer systems of ad agencies and other magazine publishers.

Asked about his motivation for accessing the Condé Nast system, Ulrich said he wanted to obtain images he could post first on his blog. Ulrich said he discovered via a Google search a list of compromised servers that had been posted online. This list of FTP addresses and related passwords allowed Ulrich to spend time “poking around,“ he said, “without having to brute force anything,“ according to TSG.

Condé Nast discovered last November its computers had been breached when pages from upcoming issues of several publications began popping up online. An investigation revealed that one of its computer systems had been accessed repeatedly over a three-month period by a user who downloaded files from a wide array of the publisher's titles.

A subsequent copyright lawsuit filed by Condé Nast showed the unauthorized access came from a single IP address. Ulrich was later tied to that IP address after subpoenaed records from an ISP revealed it was connected to an account in his father's name.

Ulrich told TSG he agreed to pay Condé Nast $12,500 to settle the firm's copyright claim. Ulrich, however, said he has not paid Warner Bros. anything and believes the film company has decided not to further pursue its civil action.

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