QuickLinks 78 - 5 August 1998
Legal and regulatory issues
- EU - EC likely to give competition clearance to Cegetel in France
The European Commission said it favours giving a competition clearance to the Cegetel telecom joint venture in France between Cie Generale des Eaux, British Telecommunications, Mannesmann, and SBC International. The commission's favourable stance follows changes made by the parties to the non-compete clause on the marketing and sales of GSM mobile services, which appeared incompatible with EU competition rules, it said.
BT / AT&T
- Esprit complains to EU about BT and AT&T alliance
Esprit Telecom Group PLC said it is raising in a letter to European competition commissioner Karel Van Miert a series of concerns about British Telecommunications PLC's alliance with AT&T. The proposed alliance would create "a tremendous reconcentration of market power" that could deny consumers and service providers in Europe to access to a greater variety of services at lower prices, Esprit said.
Kirch / Bertelsmann
- EU droht mit Verbot neuer Digital-TV-Pläne bei Kirch/Bertelsmann
(Agence France Presse)
Die Europäische Kommission hat den deutschen Medienkonzernen Bertelsmann und Kirch nach "Handelsblatt"-Informationen mit einem Verbot ihrer Anteilserhöhung beim Pay-TV-Sender Premiere gedroht. Dies gelte für den Fall, daß hinter der anvisierten 50/50-Aufteilung der Premiere-Anteile neue Pläne für die bereits verbotene Allianz beim Digital-Fernsehen stehen sollten, berichtete die Zeitung am Freitag. Ein entsprechendes Schreiben habe der für Fusionskontrolle zuständige Direktor bei EU-Kommissar Karel Van Miert, Götz Drauz, der Bertelsmann AG am Mittwoch geschickt.
- Kartellamt: Pläne von Bertelsmann und Kirch "nicht im Gemeinwohlinteresse"
(Agence France Presse)
Der Präsident des Bundeskartellamtes, Dieter Wolf, sieht kaum Chancen für eine Genehmigung der jüngsten Digital-Allianz-Pläne der Medienkonzerne Bertelsmann und Kirch. Die anvisierte komplette Übernahme und 50/50-Aufteilung des Abonnement-Senders Premiere durch die beiden Konzerne, die dem Amt zur Genehmigung vorliegt, entspreche weitgehend dem von der EU-Kommission von Brüssel bereits untersagten Ursprungsvorhaben, sagte Wolf in einem Gespräch mit der "Süddeutschen Zeitung".
- Kirch klagt gegen EU-Verbot von Digital-Allianz
Die Kirch-Gruppe klagt gegen das EU-Verbot, die Pay-TV-Sender DF1 und Premiere zusammenzulegen. Ein Kirch-Sprecher sagte am Sonntag in München, sein Unternehmen habe Klage gegen die EU-Kommission beim Europäischen Gerichtshof (EuGH) in Luxemburg eingereicht". Der Kommission werde vorgeworfen, Bedenken von Wettbewerbern gegen die Digital-TV-Allianz weitgehend ungeprüft übernommen zu haben.
- USA - Congress clears copyright act
In a landmark move, Congress passed legislation today to safeguard copyrights for music, software, and written works on the Internet and to outlaw technologies that can crack devices protecting this property. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was approved by a House voice vote today. The act was passed by the Senate in May. Both chambers will have to reach a compromise to iron out the differences in the bills before the legislation is sent to President Clinton for his signature.
- USA - Copyright bill hits Net broadcasters
An amendment to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed today by the House, could spell big financial changes for Internet radio stations and other Webcasters. Under the amendment, Webcasters will owe a license fee to the record companies. That fee would be in addition to what they already pay to license groups which represent composers, publishers, and artists.
- EU - Internet Action Plan - Call for tenders published
(European Commission - DG XIII)
A call for tenders has been published by the European Commission for preparatory actions in the framework of the proposed multi-annual Community Action Plan on Promoting the Safe Use of the Internet (OJ No S 147 of 1.8.1998, p. 32). Lot 1: preparatory work for setting up hotlines in Member States and launching a European network of hotlines to gather information on illegal content; Lot 2: feasibility study for a European system of content self-rating; Lot 3: review of European third-party filtering and rating software and services; Lot 4: preparation of awareness actions taking into account the cultural and linguistic diversity of users (parents, teachers). Tender documents should be requested by 14 September 1998 from fax +352 4301 34079. The deadline for submission of tenders is 24 September 1998.
- "Child-friendly" service includes links to pornography
Last December, coinciding with a Washington summit on children and the Internet, CNET trumpeted a CD-ROM starter kit for its Snap Online service as the ideal tool for kids to log on with and learn. In a cyberworld where temptation and danger lurk behind every mouse click, Snap would be their tutor, their friend, their protector. Ten days ago, with considerably less fanfare than in December, Snap quietly began including porn sites in its Web directory. According to Snap's executive producer, it was a solid editorial decision based on the age-old concern of giving readers what they want. "Our statistics showed that 40 percent of our users are looking for this kind of material." A former Snap producer was more succinct: "No tits, no hits."
Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law
- UK - Spy lawyer calls for Web protection
The lawyer acting for a former MI5 agent says that the UK Government is wasting its time trying to stop confidential information being published on the Net. Last week it was revealed that the government had attempted to stop him revealing further allegations on his Website. Mr Shayler's Internet Service Provider in the US was warned that reproducing information would breach an injunction. But Mr Wadham says because of the First Amendment of the US Constitution, lawyers acting for the company probably advised the firm to "put the government's letter in the bin". He said: "The virtue of the Internet is that it's virtually impossible for the government to censor it. Once the material is available to other people in other countries, it must be available to people in this country."
Market & Technology
- Germany - Bertelsmann-Vorstand sieht Online-Umsatz steigen
Das Vorstandsmitglied des Medienkonzerns Bertelsmann, Klaus Eierhoff, sieht eine rasante Steigerung des Online-Umsatzes in Deutschland. In den nächsten Jahren wachse der Online-Umsatz auf rund 40 Milliarden Mark an, erklärte Eierhoff gegenüber der Nachrichtenagentur Reuters. Dies entspreche fünf Prozent des deutschen Einzelhandelsumsatzes. Schon heute betrage der Online-Umsatz eine Milliarde Mark. Insgesamt gehe die Entwicklung der neuen Medien alle Branchen an, nicht nur die Medien-und Telekommunikationsindustrie.
- AOL, Netscape in portal pact
America Online and Netscape Communications have unveiled a cross-marketing alliance linking AOL's online city guides with Netscape's Netcenter Web portal site. The deal calls for Netcenter to promote AOL's Digital City, which operates community Web guides for 50 U.S. cities. Digital City will become Netcenter's Local Channel for two years, the companies said. This is yet another example of what analysts like to call "cooptition," a combination of competition and cooperation in which companies that are rivals on one level help each other to their mutual benefit in another.
Quality of service
- UUNet guarantees Internet access for business customers
(InfoWorld Electric )
UUNet Technologies on Tuesday put its backbone on the line, offering new service-level agreements to business customers that could cost the Internet access provider millions of dollars if there are outages, system slowdowns, or problems with leased lines. The service-level agreements are being provided to customers who have at least one-year contracts for frame-relay, dedicated 56Kbps, T-1, T-3, or OC-3 Internet access services. They are available now for U.S. customers and will be launched next month for U.S.-based multinational customers. Non-U.S. customers are expected to have them by the end of the year.
- GVU's 9th WWW User Survey
(Georgia Institute of Technology)
The most complete survey of its kind. Includes sections on General Demographics, Technology Demographics, Data Privacy, Web and Internet Usage, Software Filters and Content Rating, Beliefs About Society, Internet Shopping, Internet Banking, Cultural Issues, Webmasters.
- Welcome to the IJCLP
The International Journal of Communications Law and Policy is a new electronic law magazine. It covers a wide range of topics relating to structural and behavioural regulation and policy in the converging sectors of computing, telecommunications and broadcasting. The IJCLP will include peer reviewed articles, work in progress, book and conference reviews published by prestigious international authors. IJCLP is created by an international editorial team from Oxford, Münster and Warwick.
Links to news items about
legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, and
market and technology
edited by Richard Swetenham
http://www.qlinks.net/ * Now with subject index *