Antivirus maker Sophos is warning users that an email message is spreading around the Internet that invites users to view video files, such as a recording of Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates being splashed with a custard pie in Belgium.

Sophos said that to view the videos, users must first install an "Internet Optimizer" on their computer. The end user license agreement (EULA) for the optimizer software states that by accepting the EULA, users agree to let Avenue Media send email and instant messages to users in your contact lists. In addition, Avenue Media would gain the right to automatically update, install, or uninstall any of its software on your computer at periodic intervals. The methodology Avenue Media uses is similar to the methods used by the FriendGreetings.com, Friend-Greetings.com, and Cool-Downloads.com sites in October 2002.

"The agreement to allow Avenue Media access to your computer to update and install code as they see fit is particularly disturbing. The decision about whether to grant such permission should only be made by an IT department fully aware of the consequences, not a user frantically clicking 'next' on a license agreement in their hurry to see a movie of Bill Gates being splattered with custard," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus.