- EU - Commission opens in-depth investigation into Microsoft/Time Warner/ContentGuard +/-
(RAPID) The European Commission has decided to open an in-depth investigation into the proposed joint acquisition by Microsoft and Time Warner of a US company called ContentGuard. After a preliminary review, it appears to the Commission that the transaction might possibly create or strengthen a dominant position by Microsoft in the market for Digital Right Management (DRM) solutions. In the course of the investigation, the Commission will also investigate further competition concerns related to the vertical integration of Microsoft in other markets. On 12 July, Microsoft and Time Warner, both US companies, sought clearance under the European Union's Merger Regulation for plans to jointly acquire a US company called ContentGuard, formerly controlled by Xerox. ContentGuard is active in the development and licensing of intellectual property rights (IPRs) relating to DRM solutions. DRM technology makes it possible to "hardwire" in digital content the content owner's rights, and to prevent illegal use (such as illegal copying). Originally focussed on avoiding piracy of audio digital content, DRM is forecasted to be increasingly used for confidentiality purposes, in particular to secure exchange of documents in the corporate field. After a routine, phase I, review, the Commission has decided to investigate whether the deal might create or strengthen Microsoft's already leading position in the DRM solutions market. Under Microsoft's and Time Warner's joint ownership, ContentGuard may have both the incentives and the ability to use its IPR portfolio to put Microsoft's rivals in the DRM solutions market at a competitive disadvantage. This joint acquisition could also slow down the development of open interoperability standards. As such, this would allow the DRM solutions market to "tip" towards the current leading provider, Microsoft. DRM solutions are forecasted to become pervasive throughout the entire IT industry. As a consequence, the notified concentration may have spill-over effects on a number of related markets ranging from mobile telephony to word processors.
- DE - Kartellamt nimmt Telekom ins Visier +/-
(Spiegel) Das Bundeskartellamt hat gegen die Deutsche Telekom ein Verfahren wegen möglicher Wettbewerbsabsprachen mit Kabelnetzbetreibern eingeleitet. Diese hätten angeblich keine eigenen Internetzugänge anbieten dürfen, um das DSL-Geschäft der Telekom nicht zu stören.
- IHT: Vivendi gets big tax break to create jobs +/-
(International Herald Tribune) Vivendi Universal, the entertainment and communications group, clinched a deal with the French government that would reduce the company's tax bill by billions of euros over the next several years in exchange for a pledge to create several hundred new jobs in France. The agreement, which modifies Vivendi's corporate tax status here, is the result of eight months of negotiations with the Finance Ministry and comes at a time when Paris is actively seeking ways to reduce unemployment and to discourage French companies from sending jobs abroad. Vivendi is the first company to apply for the new tax status, which is reserved for multinational corporations headquartered in France. Under the new 'consolidated global profits tax,' international corporations can use past losses at unprofitable divisions to offset future earnings at profitable units in which they own at least a 50 percent stake. Previously, such credits could only be used to reduce taxes for wholly owned subsidiaries.
- Olympic athletes largely barred from posting online diaries +/-
(AP) The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other Web sites. An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games.
- DE - Kampf gegen Kinderpornos wird verstärkt +/-
(Spiegel) Polizei und Internetprovider arbeiten künftig bei der Bekämpfung von Kinderpornografie im Internet stärker zusammen. Die neue Initiative will Tipps zum Schutz der Nutzer geben. Laut Bundeskriminalamt hat sich die Zahl der Fälle seit 1996 verfünffacht. Der Vorsitzende der polizeilichen Kriminalprävention von Bund und Ländern, Erwin Hetger, stellte in Stuttgart eine neue Aufklärungskampagne im Netz vor. Hinter der Initiative "Gegen Kinderpornografie" stehen nicht nur die Polizeien der Länder, sondern auch die Provider T-Online, Arcor und AOL sowie Newsseiten wie "Focus Online" und SPIEGEL ONLINE. Die beteiligten Internetprovider verpflichteten sich in einer Erklärung, Kinderpornos im Internet zu ächten und dessen Verbreiter konsequent zu verfolgen.
- Organized Crime Invades Cyberspace +/-
(Computerworld) Once the work of vandals, viruses and other malware are now being launched by criminals looking for profits. Antivirus researchers have uncovered a startling increase in organized virus- and worm-writing activity that they say is powering an underground economy specializing in identity theft and spam.
- PL - Polnische Polizei zerschlägt "Piraten-Netzwerk" +/-
(Heise) Die polnische Polizei hat die bisher größte Gruppe von Computer-Kriminellen im Land zerschlagen, die als "Piraten-Netzwerk" tätig war. Mehr als 100 Mitglieder drangen den Ermittlungen zufolge weltweit in Datennetze ein, berichtet heute die Zeitung Gazeta Wyborcza. Die Gruppe verschaffte sich illegalen Zugang zu Servern von Hochschulen, unter anderem in Deutschland, Nordamerika und Asien. An den Ermittlungen waren auch Beamte aus den USA, Großbritannien und der Slowakei beteiligt, heißt es in Medienberichten.
- U.S. cracks down on cybercrime +/-
(New York Times) The Justice Department has announced that more than 150 people have been arrested, charged or convicted in the past three months in a crackdown on criminal activity on the Internet. The cases, involving credit card fraud, corporate espionage and other offenses, are part of what the department called Operation Web Snare. The sweep was conducted by 37 offices of the FBI, 13 divisions of the Postal Inspection Service and other federal and local agencies. Investigators have identified more than 150,000 victims of Internet crime with losses totaling more than $215 million. Some cases involved the sending of junk e-mail, known as spam, and a form of online identity theft known as phishing. But many of them involved use of the Internet by companies seeking an advantage over competitors.
- US - Crackdown on illegal network +/-
(Associated Press) Federal agents have seized computers and software as part of an investigation targeting an Internet network used to illegally share copyrighted music, movies, software and games. The case marks the first federal criminal copyright action taken against a peer-to-peer, or P2P, network in which users can gain access to files directly from the hard drives of fellow users' computers.
- Code is NOT law +/-
(INDICARE) by Rik Lambers, IViR, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This is a short report on the "Code as Code" workshop in Amsterdam, 1-2 July 2004. It presents some highlights of the two-day discussion on regulation of behaviour through technical code, rather than traditional law. Finally the article explains why the "code as code" issue is not only of interest to legal scholars, but also to consumers.
- US - Copyright Office redrafts anti-P2P bill +/-
(CNET News.com) by Declan McCullagh. The U.S. Copyright Office has drafted a new version of the Induce Act that it believes will ban networks like Kazaa and Morpheus while not putting hardware such as portable hard drives and MP3 players on the wrong side of the law. The original Induce Act has been severely criticized for possibly jeopardizing products such Apple Computer's iPod that could 'induce' people to commit piracy.
- US - Hollywood battles DVD chip makers +/-
(BBC) The Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) campaign against movie piracy has taken another turn after it confirmed it was suing two chip makers. It has alleged that the two DVD chip firms supplied makers of equipment that could be used to copy DVDs.
- US - Internet ads will face trademark lawsuit +/-
(CNET News.com) by Stefanie Olsen. Insurance giant Geico can sue Google and Overture for allegedly selling advertisements linked to its trademarks, a federal judge has ruled, ZDNet UK sister site CNET News.com has learned. The unpublicised 25 August decision by Judge Leonie Brinkema of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia delivered a blow to the two Internet search giants in their efforts to defend ad sales of trademarks as fair use. It could also ultimately threaten their livelihood: Google and Overture make money by selling ads linked to keyword-triggered search results, and many commercially driven searches are tied to trademarked brands such as Geico or Nike.
- US - The Grokster Decision - Where It's At +/-
(Copyfight) posted by Donna Wentworth. Ernie Miller has a comprehensive round-up on the decision, plus additional analysis of its possible impact on - you guessed it - the push for the Induce Act. Later: Fred von Lohmann has more @ Deep Links.
- WIPO - Broadcast Treaty Battle Rages On +/-
(Wired) An international treaty to give broadcasters the right to control who may record, transmit, or distribute their signals is reaching a crucial stage of negotiation by the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva. The current draft incorporates many proposals, but the main ones most countries agree on give broadcasters 50 years' worth of legal control over the recording, retransmission, and reproduction of their broadcast signals. These rights are separate from those of the owners of the actual content being broadcast. The idea that broadcasters should have rights enabling them to combat signal piracy is relatively uncontentious. Opponents such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Union for the Public Domain are concerned, however, that broadcast rights might lock up materials that should be freely available to the public.
- US - ICANN beats VeriSign's antitrust claim +/-
(out-law.com) ICANN, the body responsible for the internet's domain naming system, has convinced a court to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit filed against it by domain registry VeriSign over its interference with the launch of VeriSign's Site Finder service. Judge A Howard Matz dismissed the main antitrust claim against the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and refused to consider the remaining contractual claims brought by VeriSign.
- FR - François Bayrou victime de l´ouverture du « .fr » +/-
(legalis.net) Le cybersquatteur qui avait indûment réservé le nom de domaine « michel-edouard-leclerc.fr » vient une nouvelle fois d´être condamné. Il avait enregistré le nom de domaine « francois-bayrou.fr », au mépris des droits du député des Pyrénées-Atlantique et président de l´UDF. François Bayrou avait mis en demeure le réservataire du nom de domaine de le transférer à son profit, en vain. Dans une ordonnance du 12 juillet 2004, le TGI de Paris en a tiré les conséquences en ajoutant une astreinte de 2000 euros par jour de retard à son ordre de fermer le site internet lié au nom de domaine en litige et de procéder à son transfert. Le juge des référés a octroyé 5 000 euros à titre de réparation.
- ICANN - Evaluation of the new gTLDs +/-
(ICANN) Comprehensive Evaluation of the Introduction of the .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name and .pro gTLDs. The experiences and lessons learned from the initial introduction of new gTLDs (.aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name and .pro) will provide an invaluable foundation for ICANN's development this year of a new predictable strategy for selecting new TLDs using straightforward, transparent, and objective procedures that preserve the stability of the Internet. Evaluation of the New gTLDs: Policy and Legal Issues Prepared for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) by Summit Strategies International.
- Who 'manages' the Internet? +/-
(InternetPolicy.net) These slides present a general overview of the current organizational structure and decision making related to the international Internet infrastructure. The author also indicates that Internet stability should become top concern internationally and identifies key areas where global coordination is needed. Presentation made by Michael R. Nelson, Vicepresident of Public Policy of the Internet Society, at INET 2004 (May 10 - 14, 2004, Barcelona, Spain). 25 slides. "
- OECD - Anti-Spam Legislation: Report on non-OECD Countries +/-
(InternetPolicy.net) This report was originally prepared for the OECD Workshop on Spam held in Brussels (February 2 -3, 2004). Countries covered by the report are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine. Authors present provide a concise background on spam and the situation in the above countries.
- OECD - Task Force to Coordinate Fight against Spam +/-
(OECD) OECD countries have set up a task force to marshal the efforts of government, business and civil society in the most comprehensive, strategic and inclusive response to date to the problems posed by unsolicited e-mail messages, or spam. The OECD Task Force will ensure a better focus of work on priority areas and improved coordination between different policy communities. Key objectives will include coordinating international policy responses in the fight against spam, encouraging best practices in industry and business, promoting enhanced technical measures to combat spam along with improved awareness and understanding among consumers, and facilitating cross-border law enforcement.
- Sender ID loses supporters +/-
(CNET News.com) The Apache Foundation, an open-source development group, has withdrawn its support for the proposed anti-spam standard Sender ID, saying Microsoft's licence requirements are too strict. The move by the group responsible for the popular Apache Web server comes as other open-source developers also voiced reservations about Microsoft's attempts to apply stringent licence requirements to its contribution to the spam-fighting technology.
- Wireless: Dial-up pornography spurs search for filters +/-
(International Herald Tribune) Now that cellphones are offering Web access on a par with services offered via personal computers, the mobile phone sector is grappling with the same thorny question faced by Internet providers in the mid-1990s: how to safeguard children while protecting civil liberties. Governments in Japan, Germany, Australia and Taiwan are proposing or passing legislation that requires mobile operators to protect minors from pornographic or violent content on phones and to put controls on cellular chat and dating services. Cellphone operators in Britain have voluntarily adopted a code of conduct and agreed to implement filtering systems by year-end.
- China - Blocking Internet Searches +/-
(Harvard Law School) Berkman Center for Internet & Society. The OpenNet Initiative has released a new report about Internet censorship in China. While a number of studies have established that China blocks search results about certain political, cultural, and religious subjects (see this report, for example), the new study takes the investigation a step further by looking at China's filtering of the Google cache. Caching - the process of taking snapshots of webpages and archiving the data - is a common practice for search engines like Google. As the report notes, accessing the cache is a 'well known method of ad hoc circumvention of Internet censorship.' ONI researchers from the Citizen Lab, the University of Cambridge, and the Berkman Center found that China's filtering mechanisms interrupt any search specifically targeted at cached data, both Google and non-Google and regardless of domain name.
- DE - FSM hat über Anforderungen an Altersverifikationssysteme entschieden +/-
(FSM) Der Gemeinsame Ausschuss der Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter FSM hat in einem Beschwerdeverfahren gegen ein Mitglied der FSM über die an Altersverifikationssysteme (AVS) zu stellenden Anforderungen entschieden. Der Anbieter hatte ein rein online-gestütztes Verfahren eingesetzt, bekannt als Personalausweisroutine. Im Ausgangsverfahren hatte der Beschwerdeausschuss bereits entschieden, dass bei derzeitigem Stand der Technik rein online-gestützte AVS, wozu die von dem Beschwerdegegner eingesetzte Personalausweisroutine zählte, nicht den Anforderungen des Jugendmedienschutzstaatsvertrages (JMStV) an geschlossene Benutzergruppen genügen und daher momentan eine Face-to-Face-Kontrolle für den rechtmäßigen Vertrieb von Erwachsenenangeboten im Internet erforderlich ist. Darüber hinaus müsste ein AVS so beschaffen sein, dass es eine massenhafte Verbreitung der vom Anbieter vergebenen Zugangsdaten verhindert. In dem daraufhin erfolgten Berufungsverfahren bestätigte der vom Berufungsausschuss angerufene Gemeinsame Ausschuss diese Kriterien.