QuickLinks 132 - 11 November 1999
Forthcomings events | Background items
Legal and regulatory issues
- Ireland - Case for public service broadcasting (Irish Times) The importance of public service broadcasting was stressed by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands when she introduced the Broadcasting Bill, paving the way for digital television.
- EU - European Court ruling on TV advertising breaks (Press Release (in German)) Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-6/98 ARD. The "Television without Frontiers" Directive, Article 11(3) prescribes the gross principle, so that, in order to calculate the 45-minute period for the purpose of determining the number of advertising interruptions allowed in the broadcasting of films, the duration of the advertisements must be included in that period. Article 11(3) authorises Member States to prescribe, for television broadcasters under their jurisdiction, the net principle (the duration of the advertisements must be excluded). see also English full text of judgment.
- FBI's Child Porn Caseload Doubles (APBnews.com) The boom in the online exploitation of children just this year has doubled the caseload for FBI agents working on an initiative, called Innocent Images, aimed at combating the problem. It has already received 1,497 cases this year, compared with 698 in 1998, 301 in 1997, and 133 in 1996.
- UK - Key ruling on net child porn (BBC) Downloading or copying indecent material involving children from the internet onto a hard disc is illegal, the Court of Appeal ruled.
- EU - Die Globalisierung des Rechts (Spiegel online) Die Enfopol-Pläne sind nicht begraben: Der Globalisierung der Wirtschaft folgt jetzt eine Globalisierung des Rechts - und der Strafverfolgung. Neben der organisierten Kriminalität wollen die Länder auch die High-Tech-Kriminalität in den Griff bekommen.
- Bond Film Pirated On Net (Newsbytes) James Bond has apparently met his match. The Martini-sipping spy has been able to save the world from destruction but cannot prevent his latest film from being pirated on the Internet.
- USA - Intergraph claims against Intel are undermined (Mercury News) A federal appeals court has undermined severely Intergraph Computer's claims that Intel violated the nation's antitrust laws.
- USA - University Cracks Down on MP3 Trade (New York Times (registration required)) Officials at Carnegie Mellon University have imposed penalties on 71 students alleged to have posted digitized copies of music recordings and other copyrighted material on the campus computer system.
- USA - House Passes Bill Giving Weight to Digital Contracts (New York Times (registration required)) The House passed legislation that would give electronic contracts the same legal weight as their traditional paper counterparts, overriding the objections of consumers groups and the Clinton Administration.
- Internet Group Approves Domain Registration Rules (New York Times (registration required)) ICANN, the Internet's governing board, approved terms for opening the network's address registration businesses to full-scale competition. Enactment of the landmark document ends the six-year monopoly that enriched Network Solutions Inc. see also Controversial Domain Name Deal Approved (The Industry Standard).
- AOL Settles Name Dispute (Newsbytes) A small, independently owned women's bookstore in Minneapolis and one of the world's largest online retailers today settled a dispute over the use of the word "Amazon".
- Battle Over Dot-Web (Newsbytes) Another domain name system (DNS) war is intensifying even as the ICANN battle over .com is being resolved. This one is over the control of the ".web" domain. Image Online Design, which has been registering people in .web for years, has filed suit against not-for-profit Internet registrar CORE (Internet Council of Registrars) for trying to trademark .web.
- USA - Bill on Domain Name Speculation Passes House (New York Times (registration required)) In a major victory for industry groups working to protect trademarks online, the House passed a bill that would outlaw cybersquatting, the practice of speculating in Internet addresses, known as domain names. The Internet legislation was attached to the final version of the Satellite Viewers Act.
- Studios vs. Celebrities in a Profitable Name Game (The Recorder/Cal Law)
- Disbarred, Unbowed (The National Law Journal) Arizona ex-lawyer offers legal tips, products on Web site; state does not sanction unauthorized practice of law.
- EU Divided on Online Selling of Financial Services (Bloomberg) European Union countries are still divided over a new law on online selling of mortgages, insurance policies and other financial services, indicating the bloc's 15 governments are unlikely to reach an accord on Monday as planned.
- USA - Web Wine: The Grape Debate (Wired) Arcane direct shipping laws are creating havoc among wineries that conduct business online, their customers, plus state and federal governments.
- Federation for the Blind sues AOL (Reuters) The National Federation for the Blind filed suit against America Online for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming AOL designed its "service so that it is incompatible with screen access software programs for the blind."
- In Internet Time, a Year Is Much Too Long, Judge Finds (New York Times (registration required)) In Internet time, the concept that everything and everyone involved with the Internet moves faster than the rest of the world, got some legal backing last week. A federal judge ruled in an employment case that in the Internet industry, a one-year hiatus from the work force is "several generations, if not an eternity."
- Canadian push for cultural protection at WTO talks (Reuters) Canada will push for cultural protection at the upcoming World Trade Organization talks in Seattle.
- USA - New Institute Plans to Help Shape Policies (New York Times (registration required)) The founders of a new research organization, the Internet Policy Institute - a diverse collection of corporate sponsors, Internet pioneers and political figures - say their Washington-based nonprofit institute is intended to be a source of influential and independent research for policy makers.
- Hotmail uses controversial filter to fight spam (CNET News.com) Microsoft's free Hotmail service started filtering all email coming from servers listed on the Mail Abuse Prevention System's (MAPS) Realtime Blackhole List (RBL). The list is composed of email servers known to be used by senders of unsolicited commercial email - or "spammers."
- Belgium - L'affaire Skynet-IFPI (ISPA Belgium) Le Président du Tribunal de Commerce de Bruxelles s'est prononcé ce mardi 2 novembre en faveur de l'IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industry) et de Polygram dans l'affaire qui les opposait à Belgacom Skynet. Selon ce jugement, les plaignants sont en droit d'exiger la suppression de tous les sites situés sur les serveurs de Belgacom Skynet qui contiennent des liens vers du matériel prétendument illégal. En cas de non respect par Belgacom Skynet, une astreinte d'un montant de 500.000 BEF sera exigée par jour et par site concerné.
- USA - EPIC Blasts Yahoo for Identifying Posters (The Industry Standard) If you post a remark about a company on a Yahoo message board, watch out: The company might force Yahoo to identify you. Then it might sue you.
- Internet Filters Don't Stop Tobacco & Alcohol Info (Bizreport.com) A new study released today by the Center for Media Education (CME) finds that software filters designed to prevent the viewing of content on the Internet, particularly by children, do not do a very good job of protecting children from the marketing of alcohol and tobacco on the Web.
- Porn pager alerts parents (The Register) Cyber Sentinel, a new software package that warns parents if their children are being solicited by paedophiles is to be released at COMDEX next week.
- USA - School Board Uses Computer Filter to Block Student Access to Web Sites (New York Times (registration required)) The Board of Education has installed a filter on its computer system that blocks students in New York City schools from gaining access to any Web sites that include categories like news and sex education, including those of major news organizations, policy groups and scientific and medical organizations.
- Australia - Comments on ABA proposed Restricted Access System (EFA) The EFA considers that the ABA proposals are administratively onerous and require users to provide personal identifying information that goes far beyond proof of age. This is likely to act as a deterrent even for genuine adults.
- DVD encryption hacked (IDG) After the motion picture industry spent years negotiating the encryption standard for digital video discs (DVD), a small group of Norwegian hackers recently released a program, called DeCSS, that can break the encryption on almost any DVD disk. see also Activist defends DVD hack (IDG), Why the DVD Hack Was a Cinch and DVD Hackers Headed to Court? (both Wired).
- New Computer Virus 'Bubbleboy' Found (Reuters) Researchers have discovered what they believe to be the first e-mail-borne computer infection that doesn't require a user to open an e-mail or e-mail attachment for it to wreak havoc. What makes this worm particularly nefarious is that if a user is running Outlook Express and has the preview pane enabled, the worm can infect the computer without the user even opening the e-mail.
- Review of the regulatory framework for electronic communications (European Commission) The Commission has adopted a package of four Communications to launch a review of the current regulatory framework for electronic communications 1)Communication on a New Framework for Electronic Communications Infrastructure and Associated Services - The 1999 Communications Review 2) The Fifth Report on the Implementation of the Current Framework 3) Report on Digital Television in the EU 4) Communication on Next Steps in Radio Spectrum Policy. see also Europe Overhauls Telecoms Regulations (Total Telecom (registration required)).
- European User Group Slams Excessive Roaming Fees (Total Telecom (registration required)) The International Telecommunications Users Group (INTUG) has accused European mobile operators of deliberately fleecing customers through confusing, unpredictable and over-priced roaming charges.
- Germany - First Telecom Wins Court Ruling Against RTP (RDSL) First Telecom has won a court ruling against the RTP, telecoms regulator, that new telephone operators should not be told how to build their networks by either the RTP or Deutsche Telekom.
- Germany - Mobile operators say UMTS license proposals will limit services (CWI) The German regulatory authority has attracted strong criticism from mobile operators for proposing to offer UMTS licenses that do not allow the full multimedia capability of third-generation technology.
- USA - Telecom Mergers May Be Getting Out Of Hand (TechWeb) The pace of telecommunications mega-mergers may be getting out of hand, leaving customers little choice at the same time the combined companies say they will offer more services. Presidential candidate John McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said his committee will investigate recent telecom mergers, such as SBC Communications and Ameritech, AT&T and MediaOne, and Sprint with MCI WorldCom, from the consumer's viewpoint.
Market & Technology
- Murdoch master plan for Europe (The Guardian) Rupert Murdoch's determination to expand his media empire across Europe became evident yesterday when he told shareholders in News Corp that he was prepared to issue new shares in British Sky Broadcasting, his satellite TV company, to finance the move.
- Asian Surfers Prefer Native (Newsbytes) Internet users in Asia/Pacific want to see the Web in their native languages, a new study says, but adds that even non-English speaking surfers are spending an increasing amount of time at the sites of foreign companies.
- Internet: un service de traduction automatique sur Voilà (AFP) L'internaute français peu familier de l'anglais ou de l'allemand peut désormais naviguer sur des sites en langue anglaise ou allemande, lire le New York Times ou Der Spiegel grâce à un service de traduction en ligne ouvert sur le moteur de recherche de France Télécom Voilà.
- Universal translators move into the real world (InfoWorld Electric) Speech technology may steal the show at Comdex. ViA's device using the Lernout & Hauspie speech and translation engines performs voice-to-voice translation with a wearable PC, head set, and speaker. It interprets seven languages including Mandarin Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Users can talk into the microphone in one language and it will come out through a speaker in the second language.
- DVB Multimedia Home Platform Decision Unanimous (Press Release) The DVB Steering Board approved the principles for the incorporation of existing software technologies into the DVB-MHP specification. "This is one of the most important developments in DVB to date, and presents a significant milestone on the way to finalising the Multimedia Home Platform Project. DVB is delivering on its promise to create the systems, which will facilitate convergence between the Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Computing technologies." see also ZDF begrüßt Einigung über Multimediastandard beim Digital-Fernsehen (dpa)
- 2 millions d'internautes en France selon l'AFA (france.internet.com) L'association des fournisseurs d'accès à Internet comptabilise le nombre de comptes Internet ouvert par des personnes physiques en France. D'après l'AFA, la France compterait environ 2 millions d'internautes.
- Internet Use in Asia to Explode by 2005 (Newsbytes Asia) A new survey by London based Philips Group finds that the amount of people using the Internet is Asia will increase by 422 percent in the next six years and will number 228 million by 2005.
- Is Porn Still the Web’s Great Test Bed? (The Industry Standard) Recent Nielsen NetRatings figures show 12.5 million surfers visited porn sites in September from their homes, a 140 percent rise in traffic in just six months. Jupiter Communications estimates that online pay-per-view and subscription-based porn site revenue will reach $176 million this year. Jupiter expects online porn's share of the consumer paid-content market to drop from 40 percent this year to 17 percent by 2003.
- One Third of Danish Families Online (NUA) The number of Danish households with Web access has increased four fold in the last 24 months. 740,000 Danish households now have Web access according to a study by Dansk Statistik.
- U.S. Internet Users Surpass 100 Million Mark (New York Times (registration required)) The number of adults using the Internet in the United States has surpassed the 100 million mark.
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edited by Richard Swetenham (email@example.com). - Contributors: NewsNow UK, MediaGrok, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine, Alan Reekie
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