QuickLinks 70 - 28 May 1998
Legal and regulatory issues
- USA - Intel antitrust case heats up
Government lawyers are preparing charges that Intel illegally abused monopoly power to hurt rivals, sources familiar with the case said today. Within the next week, top staff at the Federal Trade Commission will review the proposed charges against the company, which makes the microprocessors running four out of every five PCs, the sources said.
Kirch / Bertelsmann
- EU - German DigiTV Deal Blocked
The European Commission wielded its rarely used power to ban big corporate mergers, blocking a proposed alliance in Germany's pay-television market. The commission's antitrust chief, Karel Van Miert, said today that he had agreed a compromise with Bavarian media tycoon Leo Kirch and Deutsche Telekom but that Bertelsmann AG, the third key player in the deal, had rejected making any further concessions to win EU approval.
- EU - Commission line on Pay-TV held against lobbies
The European Commission's decision to block the German digital pay-TV project proposed by the media groups Kirch and Bertelsmann appears to be a big scalp for the trust-busters of Brussels. Despite considerable lobbying from the companies and German politicians, the Commission and its champion of fair competition, Karel Van Miert, stood their ground. In fact, the decision was not so clear-cut. It was only Bertelsmann's refusal to make more concessions which allowed Mr Van Miert to claim that the subsequent decision by the Commission to block the deal was unanimous. At least eight commissioners, including two each from Germany, France and Spain, disputed Mr Van Miert's argument that, by controlling the bulk of programmes, the technology needed to watch them and distribution, the proposed deal would create a dominant market position. But with Bertelsmann's withdrawal, no vote was needed. While Kirch was prepared to make more concessions, Bertelsmann said any more revisions would have made the deal economically unviable. The final stumbling block was the demand from the Commission that independent cable operators should be allowed to market their own pay-per-view packages either alongside or including those offered by Premiere.
- EU - Commission prohibits BERTELSMANN/ KIRCH/PREMIERE and DEUTSCHE TELEKOM / BETARESEARCH mergers
(Commission Press release ip/98/477 )
The European Commission decided unanimously to prohibit the intended acquisition of joint control by CLT-UFA and Kirch of the German Pay TV-Provider Premiere and of BetaDigital until now solely controlled by Kirch. The aim of the intended merger is to develop Premiere into a joint digital Pay-TV channel and marketing platform incorporating Kirch's current digital television activities and on the basis of the d-box technology provided to Premiere by Kirch. The technical services required for the provision and broadcasting of digital Pay-TV programmes will be supplied by BetaDigital. At the same time, the Commission decided to prohibit the intended acquisition of joint control by CLT-UFA, Kirch and Deutsche Telekom of BetaResearch, a company until now solely controlled by Kirch.
- Broad Consensus' for Net Address Reform
The United States' point man on Internet policy said Tuesday that he hoped a revised plan for reforming the domain-naming system would dispel European and Australian concerns that it was too US-dominated. Ira Magaziner said the Clinton administration's "white paper" on phasing out federal involvement in running the Internet's naming and address system is expected to be out later this week.
Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law
- German Court holds Web page publisher liable for links to defamatory content
The Landgericht Hamburg held a Web page publisher liable for links to defamatory content, on the basis that the links constituted a publication of the contents of the pages linked to. It distinguished the case on its facts from a recent judgement of the Bundesgerichtshof according to which publication of a defamatory statement made by a third party is not libellous where the publisher distances himself sufficiently from the statement. It was not enough, as in the present case, simply to refer to the author's own responsibility. Nor were the links part of a kaleidoscope of statements covering as completely as possible different views in a matter of public concern, but rather a collection of defamatory articles. Judgment (in German) Landgericht Hamburg Urteil vom 12. Mai 1998 - 312 O 85/98 - "Haftung für Links"
- USA - Supreme court asked to hear AOL suit
The Supreme Court is being asked to hear a case that could place Internet service providers back in the liability line of fire. A man who was allegedly harmed by a false statement posted on America Online wants the high court to put Net service providers on the hook for negligence if they don't swiftly remove criminal or defamatory material once alerted.
Security and encryption
- UK Encryption Wars
(Wired - Yaman Akdeniz)
Britain's postal service has announced plans to offer public key recovery services later this year, in an effort to overcome criticism of the government's previously proposed "trusted third party" cryptography initiatives.
Market & Technology
Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology sectors
- NBC.com reprograms--for Net
Network television goes into reruns for the summer, but NBC.com, the online arm of the TV network, is slated to announce tomorrow that it will offer new online programming in June, July, and August. Topping the NBC.com summer lineup is June's launch of Late Night with Conan O'Brien Online, currently in beta testing on NBC's Web site. Like other NBC online programs, the online version of O'Brien's show includes both new material and some that is repurposed from the TV show.
- Net a boon to summer movies
Here come the summer blockbusters. Not movies--movie Web sites. A rarity three years ago, Web sites have become part and parcel of the publicity machines Hollywood studios employ to hype a new release. In fact, it's the exceptional major feature film that doesn't have its own site, or at least occupy a corner of the studio's official Web site, according to movie-industry watchers.
Multilingual content and software
- Microsoft's euro currency product updates now on the Web
(InfoWorld Electric )
Microsoft on Tuesday announced that its first euro currency updates for Windows 95 and Windows NT are now available for free on its Web site. The product updates let users input, display, and print the euro symbol in euro-enabled applications such as Word 97, Microsoft said in a statement. The updates are available at http://microsoft.com/windows/euro.
- Netscape loses more of Internet browser market-study
Netscape Communications Corp. lost more share of the U.S. Internet browser market to Microsoft Corp. as of January, market research firm ZD Market Intelligence said Tuesday. Although Netscape added new users, ZD Market Intelligence said that its total share of U.S. PCs using the Internet fell to 54 percent in January, from 63 percent a year ago. Microsoft's Internet Explorer's share nearly doubled to 39 percent from 21 percent in January 1997. The number of PCs using the Internet has grown over 140 percent in two years, to 44.6 million in the first quarter of 1998, up from 18.6 million in 1996.
Links to news items about
legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, and
market and technology
edited by Richard Swetenham
- Contributor: Gunnar Bender
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