11/21/00 -- A French court has upheld its earlier ruling and ordered Yahoo! to prevent French citizens from gaining access to any Nazi content on Yahoo's website. Yahoo! had argued that complying with the order was technically impossible, but the judge noted that Yahoo! apparently recognized French browsers often enough to serve them French banner ads. Read John Tagliabue's story for the New York Times. The Industry Standard suggests that the ruling may mark the beginning of the reestablishment of national boundaries on the Web: "The buzzwords "borderless Internet" may soon be as dead as Y2K hype."
11/18/00 -- Last month, the RIAA's copyright infringement suit against Scour.com forced the site to file for bankruptcy protection. Now, WIRED's Brad King reports that MP3Board.com, another target in the RIAA's copyright wars, has offered to buy Scour.com. King quotes MP3Board.com's CEO: "We believe that the Scour Exchange will integrate very well into the MP3Board.com site."
11/17/00 -- ICANN has provisionally approved seven applications for new top level domains: .biz, .info, .name, .pro, .museum, .aero, and .coop. Read Oscar Cisneros's story for WIRED.
Earlier ICANN tidbits are here.
11/11/00 -- A California state court has ruled that section 230 of the Telecommunications Act protects eBay from a state court lawsuit charging that it knowingly facilitates the sale of illegal bootleg recordings. Read Lisa Guernsey's story for the New York Times.
11/1/00 -- The most defiant defender of free music on the web is following many of its forbears into born-again "secure distribution." Napster announced yesterday that it had reached a settlement with BMG, one of the many plaintiffs suing Napster for copyright infringement. Napster has agreed to implement a new business model, funded by Bertelsmann, in which Napster's 38 million users become paid subscribers and have access to music in a secure, rather than open, format. Bertlesmann has agreed that once Napster does it, it will drop its complaint and instead take a stake in Napster. The RIAA's Hillary Rosen said that the suit goes on. The New York Times's Matt Richtel and David Kirkpatrick [Inside]'s Warren Cohen and the staff of the Industry Standard have posted reports.
11/1/00 -- The White House and the Republican leadership have reached a deal to include a provision requiring schools and libraries to block websites displaying explicit or obsene images, hate speech and other objectionable content in H.R.4577, the Labor, Heath and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill.
10/27/00 -- The Copyright Office has issued its final rule on exemptions to the section 1201 prohibition on circumventing access control technologies. Over the objection of the Commerce Department, the Register interpreted her authority under 1201 to permit her to grant only narrow exemptions to "classes" of works defined as subsets of single statutory categories listed in section 102(a), only on a compelling showing of substantial adverse impact on lawful use, and then only absent a showing that access control technology had countervailing benefits. The Copyright Office, thus, didn't see the need for any broad exemptions, because nobody had managed to demonstrate that the relevant provisions of section 1201, which will not take effect until this Saturday, had yet had actual and substantial adverse impact on users' ability to make non-infringing uses.
The rule grants two narrow exemptions: if circumventing an access-protection measure is necessary in order to reverse engineer Internet content-blocking software to reval the list of sites blocked by the software, that circumvention will be exempt. (This exemption essentially overrules the result in the CyberPatrol lawsuit.) In addition, if a literary work (but not an audiovisual work, musical work or sound recording) is protected by anti-circumvention technology that malfunctions and fails to permit lawful access, circumvention of the malfunctioning system will be permitted. The Register's justification for limiting the exception to literary works is particularly instructive: granting the exemption for works in more than a single statutory category would be inconsistent with her interpretation of "classes of works." If, in a future rulemaking, a compelling demonstration is made that malfunctioning anti-circumvention technology has a substantial adverse impact on access to other categories of works, the Register continued, that would imply that granting *any* exemption based on malfunctioning technology was beyond the Register's stautory authority, and must be accomplished by Congress or not at all.
10/26/00 -- TRUSTe operates a privacy seal program under which websites that are reviewed by TRUSTe and found to be in compliance with their own posted privacy policies are permitted to post the TRUSTe seal. American-Politics.com, an online journal of lite political commentary, displays the TRUSTe seal on its site, but has never in fact been reviewed by TRUSTe. TRUSTe has now sued American-Politics.com for trademark infringement. Read Patricia Jacobus's story for c|net.
10/26/00 -- After repeated delays, the Secure Digital Music Initiative Consortium announced last month that it had developed 4 different technologies for the initial phase of its effort to wrap digital music in an unbreakable (or at least hard to break) security system to prevent unauthorized copying, distribution, or play. It dared the hacker community to crack any of the 4 systems, and offered a $10,000 bounty to anyone who could deafeat any of the 4 systems' security. Whoops! Several different researchers independently defeated each of the SDMI protection mechanisms, according to Reuters. SDMI representatives initially denied reports that its mechanisms had been defeated. SDMI's current public position is that its researchers won't be able to confirm reports of cracks until sometime far in the future, because of the immense effort of reviewing the 447 different submissions it apparently received from folks who claim to have succeeded in disabling SDMI protection.
10/25/00 -- MP3.com and the National Music Publisher's Association have settled their lawsuit. MP3.com has agreed to pay 30 million dollars in licensing fees to the Harry Fox Agency for use of music as part of its "MyMP3.com" service.
10/13/00 -- Reuters reports that Scour.com, an entertainment portal and search engine sued by the motion picture and recording industries because its search enine retrieves links to content without differentiating between files made available on the web under the authority of the copyright owner and files made available by unauthorized volunteers, has filed for bankruptcy protection.
10/6/00 -- [Insides]'s Charles Mann reports that, while it's waiting for a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Napster has quietly put itself up for sale. Two ISPs are said to be interested in purchasing Napster in order to capture its subscriber base of 32,000,000. Both plan to pay the record companies a monthly subscription fee for Napster file transfers. The most significant obstacle is that the RIAA is apparently unwilling to agree that licensing terms could be worked out to permit the continued use of Napster.
Earlier installments in the Napster saga are here, here, here, here and here.
10/5/00 -- In 1996, Network Solutions adopted a decency policy prohibiting the registration of domain names containing six of the "seven dirty words". Two disappointed would-be registrants filed suit, claiming that NSI had violated the first amendment. Last week, a federal district court disagreed. The court expressed doubt about whether any of the conduct alleged in the complaint constituted state action, but held that in any event, "the space occupied by second- level domain names should not be deemed ...a 'forum' for speech or debate." Therefore, the court concluded, NSI's "declination to register the Disapproved Names has not adversely affected plaintiffs' rights to free speech in a constitutionally significant way."
10/4/00 -- Napster and the RIAA square off today at 11:00 a.m. PDT before a panel of Ninth Circuit Judges Mary Schroeder, Richard Paez, and Robert Beezer. Because of the large number of people interested in the case, the court has agreed to permit the argument to be webcast on cspan.org and TechTV
9/26/00 -- The Offspring have announced that in response to threats from its record label, the group will not either prelease its next album for free digital download, and a possible million dollar prize. Read P.J. Huffstutter's story for the LA Times.
9/21/00 -- Some interesting journalism has appeared this week on the effects of Napster on the music and record businesses. Warren Cohen's The Offspring ÷ Enfants Terribles in the Napster Age, for the Industry Standard, reports on The Offspring's plans to prerelease its next album for free digital download, offering one lucky downloader a $1 million prize. Jason Chervokas and Tom Watson posted Talking About a Revolution or, What We Learned From a Napster Party, concluding that Napster's ability to supply nearly every song ever recorded almost instantly has permanently changed the way consumers think about music. Ann Powers's Fans Go Interactive, and Popular Culture Feels the Tremors for the New York Times reports on the rise of fan websites, and the industry's efforts to shut some of those sites down.Matthew Mirapaul's Is it Theft or is it Freedom? interviews the RIAA's Hilary Rosen, Napster's lawyer David Boies, Senator Orrin Hatch, filmmaker Kevin Smith , Gnutella software developer Gene Kan, Esther Dyson, and Craig Newel, a 17 year old music fan, for the New York Times.
9/21/00 -- 14 year old Jonathan Ledbed had a lucrative hobby: he purchased large blocks of stock over the Internet, sent pseudonymous messages to Yahoo! finance bulletin boards praising the stock, and then sold it the same day at a considerable profit. The S.E.C. charged Ledbed, now 15, with fraud. Ledbed settled without admitting guilt, agreeing to stop doing this sort of thing and to pay a fine equal to his profits plus interest. The S.E.C's press release announced that this is the Commission's first prosecution of a minor.
9/14/00 -- Last month, J. Wecker and Joey Smith posted a song in MP3 format named "DeCSS (descramble).mp3". They explain: "The DeCSS song is "DVDdescramble.c" in plain english. Anyone who knows c should be able to figure it out.."
Don't try to find the song on MP3.com, however. Since Judge Rakoff found MP3.com liable for willful copyright infringement, the company's founder has vacilated between contrite and defiant. Yesterday was apparently one of the contrite days. Mp3.com removed the song from its site. "Since there is a precedent holding (2600.com) culpable for posting the code," an MP3 spokesman explained, "we felt it was in our best interest to remove it." Read Corey Grice's story for c|net.
9/12/00 -- Nobody loves a loser. In the wake of Judge Rakoff's ruling that MP3.com committed willful copyright infringement when it launched its "My MP3.com" service without a license from Universal Music Group, independent record company group Zomba Records and its affiliated music publisher Zomba Music Publishing have separately sued MP3.com for copyright infringement. Read Jon O'Hara's story for [Inside].
9/8/00 -- Last month, Mark Jakob wrote a phony Emulex press release and sent it to Internet financial news services Bloomberg and Internet Wire, who posted reports based on the information, causing a precipitous drop in the price of Emulex shares. The SEC later charged Jakob with securities fraud. Now, Ronald Hart, an Emulex investor, has filed a class action lawsuit against Internet Wire and Bloomberg for negligent misrepresentation. Read Tech Law Journal's story.
9/6/00 -- Judge Rakoff has ruled that MP3.com engaged in willful copyright infringement when it launched its MyMP3.com service without first securing a license from Universal Music Group to include its recordings in the MP3.com database. The Judge assessed damages at $25,000 per CD, or about $118 million. The RIAA announced that it was pleased. MP3.com has said it will appeal. Read Michelle Delio's and Brad King's story for WIRED.
Earlier installments are here.
We are committed to protecting your privacy. We use the information we collect on the site to make shopping at Amazon.com possible and to enhance your overall shopping experience. We do not sell, trade, or rent your personal information to others.
As we continue to develop our business, we might sell or buy stores or assets. In such transactions, customer information generally is one of the transferred business assets. Also, in the unlikely event that Amazon.com, Inc., or substantially all of its assets are acquired, customerinformation will of course be one of the transferred assets
9/1/00 -- Simon Property Group, owner of shopping malls all over including the Mall of America, sued mySimon.com, an Internet price-comparison shopping service, for trademark infringement last August. AP reports that, on Friday, a jury of apparently easy-to-confuse consumers awarded Simon Property Group $26.8 million in damages.
8/24/00 -- Playgirl.com (no relation to Playboy.com) promised visitors a "free tour" of the X-rated site so long as they proved they were adults by entering their credit card numbers. The site promised that it would not charge the credit cards. Then it charged the credit cards. (If you want to check out how this works, be warned that the site is programmed to do its utmost to prevent you from leaving. Ever.) The Federal Trade Commission and the State of New York have charged it with violating the FTC Act and New York Law. Read the Complaint.
8/24/00 -- MP3Board.com, defendant in a law suit for extensive and egregious hyperlinking linking and plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgement of non-infringement, has filed a 3d party complaint against AOL and Time-Warner, claiming that since MP3Board.com uses Gnutella to find the hyperlinks it posts, and AOL-Time Warner employees created Gnutella, AOL-Time Warner should be liable if if MP3Board.com is liable. MP3Board.com accuses AOL-Time Warner of willfully failing to equip Gnutella with the means to comply with the copyright law. Gnutella, of course, was created as something of a frolic; as soon as AOL found out about the program, it disavowed it.
Earlier installments in the story are here.
8/17/00 -- Judge Kaplan has released his decision in the DeCSS case. As expected, he ruled that 2600 violated the DMCA by posting DeCSS, and violated it again by linking to sites that post DeCSS. The judge held that there is no fair use exception to the DMCA's anticircumvention provisions, and that the DMCA is not for that reason unconstitutional. Judge Kaplan entered an injunction prohibiting 2600 from posting or linking to sites that post DeCSS.
8/16/00 -- Ralph Nader is running for President. In connection with his campaign, Nader is airing a commercial -- on television and on his website -- parodying Mastercard's "priceless" ads. As the commercial begins, "Hail to the Chief" plays in the background. We see pictures of George W Bush alternating with pictures of Al Gore, while the narrator says:
Grilled tenderloin for fundraiser . . . $10,000 a plate
Campaign ads filled with half-truths . . . $10,000,000
Promises to special interest groups . . . over $10,000,000,000
There are some things money can't buy
Without Ralph Nader in the Presidential debates, the truth will come in last
9/13/00 -- Napster has posted its appellate briefs on its website, along with the briefs of several supportive amici.The RIAA has posted its appellate brief on its website. The United States government has filed a brief supporting the recording industry; a copy of that brief is HERE.
8/14/00 -- C|net's news.com has posted Judge Patel's 45 page written opinion in the Napster litigation. Her order has been stayed pending an expedited appeal. Read John Borland's story for c|net or Roger Parloff's story for [Inside]. Earlier installments are Here.
8/10/00 -- Va Code 18.2-391 prohibits the knowing commercial display of any
"picture, photography, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, electronic file or message containing an image, or similar visual representation or image of a person or portion of the human body which depicts sexually explicit nudity, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse and which is harmful to juveniles."A diverse group of businesses, associations and individuals filed suit seeking a declaration that the law was unconstitutional. On August 8, federal district court Judge James Michael entered a preliminary injunction aginst the enforcement of 18.2-391, holding that plaintiffs were likely to prevail in their constitutional challenge. Read Judge Michael's opinion.
8/9/00 -- Here's a nifty little application that's sure to be hearing from some lawyers soon. Aimster is an add-on program that integrates with AOL Instant Messenger to supply Napster-like file-sharing functionality within the AOL Instant Messenger buddy system. WIRED has posted a news report. Aimster's press release says:
"Aimster's integration with AOL Instant Messaging allows users to search and share files exclusively with their AOL Instant Messaging ``buddies,'' and thereby enjoy greater privacy and security protections....The combination of file-sharing and instant messaging allows people to create their own instant private networks."Whose bigfoot letter will cross Aimster's desk first? Early betting favors AOL over RIAA. Stay tuned.
8/9/00 -- The motion picture studios and 2600 have filed final briefs in the DeCSS copyright litigation. Harvard's Berkman Center has posted a summary with links to the briefs. 2600's brief insists that the anti-circumvention provisions in section 1201 must be subject to the fair use defense. If fair use doesn't apply, then section 1201 violates the first amendment. The movie studios' brief focuses on arguing that the law requires the entry of a permanent injunction against 2600. It dismisses the first amendment argument insisting that "DeCSS is Neither 'Speech' Nor 'Expressive Conduct.' " It mentions fair use not at all. The Washington Post, Reuters, and C|net are following the case.
Earlier installments in the story begin here.
8/9/00 -- Judge Margaret Morrow has issued a decision in the Free Republic case, finding the conservative news forum liable to the LA Times and Washington Post for copyright infringement. The Free Republic encourages its readers to post news stories in their entirety as the basis for conservative political discussion. The court had earlier rejected the Free Republic's fair use and first amendment defenses. Read Tech Law Journal's story.
8/2/00 -- Last year, the Motion Picture Industry filed three different lawsuits seeking to enjoin and avenge the publication of DeCSS. The first suit, brought by the DVD Copy Control Association in California state court, claimed that 21 named individuals and 500 unidentified ones (designated Does 1-500) had misappropriated its trade secrets by posting or linking to sites that posted copies of DeCSS code. (You can get a copy of your very own here.) The second and third suits, filed by motion picture studios, accused three of the defendants of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by posting the code (or you can find it here ) and sought an injunction preventing posting or linking. (Amy Harmon's story for the New York Times summarizes last week's trial in the New York DMCA suit. One of the most contentious issues in the trial was the extent to which DeCSS was entitled to first amendment protection.)
The DVD-CCA, showing a breathtaking lack of perspective and questionable litigation strategy, has now amended its complaint to identify Copyleft as "Doe number 74." Copyleft sells teeshirts, hats, and bumper-stickers emblazoned with subversive open-source messages; it donates a portion of the proceeds to organizations that support free software. DVD-CSS is seeking an injunction preventing Copyleft from selling or displaying pictures of this teeshirt. Read Farhad Manjoo's story for WIRED.
Earlier installments in the DeCSS litigation are here.
7/29/00 --Judge Marilyn Hall Patel granted the recording industry's motion for a preliminary injunction Wednesday, and ordered Napster to block subscribers' access to major label recordings or shut down pending trial. The judge found that Napster encourages wholsesale copyright infringement. Read Matt Richtel's story for the New York Times. Judge Patel had been expected to issue her ruling days or weeks after the July 26 hearing. Luckily for Napster, though, the judge ruled from the bench, and ordered Napster to comply before midnight on July 28. There are 40 or so active judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the ones assigned to the July motions panel were Alex Kozinski, Thomas Nelson and Barry Silverman. Judges Kozinski and Silverman granted the Napster's motion for an emergency stay and expedited appeal hours before Napster would have been required to shut down. Read Alex Berenson's story for the New York Times.
7/25/00 -- MP3Board.com, sued by the RIAA for posting hyperlinks to material alleged by the RIAA to infringe its members' copyrights, has announced its deployment of Linkblaster, which automates the notice-and-takedown-and-putback process prescribed by section 512 of the copyright act. Linkblaster permits copyright owners to search MP3Board.com, designate allegedly infringing links, and electronically submit a notice of infringement. The software will then automatically first segregate and then destroy the accused links, unless a user takes advantage of the Linkblaster service to submit a counter-notice. Reuters has posted a story.
Earlier installments in the litigation are here.
7/25/00 -- Trial in the motion picture studio's DMCA suit against 2600: The Hacker Quarterly Monday before Judge Kaplan concluded on Tuesday. The studios claim that, by posting this code, 2600 violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You can still read EFF's regular updates and daily trial transcripts.
On July 20, Jon Johansen, the Norwegian teen who created DeCSS testified for the defense. Read Carl Kaplan's story for CyberTimes.
Earlier installments in the story are here.
7/24/00 -- It's almost impossible to keep up with the Carnivore news. The ACLU has filed a FOIA request seeking the source code to carnivore. The House Judiciary Committee held a Hearing on Monday. (AP has the Cliff's Notes version). The FBI said that it wasn't willing to disclose the code, but insisted that it could be trusted to use the system sparingly and wisely.
7/21/00 -- The FTC has announced a settlement with Toysmart. Under the terms of the agreement, Toysmart can sell its customer data notwithstanding its promise that customer information would never be shared with third parties, so long as it sells the data as part of a package including the rest of the assets associated with the website to a buyer in a related or competing business who is willing to promise that it will not share the data with third parties without the customers' consent. The FTC describes this as "forbid[ding] the sale of this customer information except under very limited circumstances." (The agency apparently figures that someone not in a related or competing business would otherwise be willing to spend lots of money for this data. Now that we know that all the customer profiles will go only to a company that wants to sell toys and other merchandise to families, we can all breath easier.) Linda Rosencrance's story for Computerworld quotes counsel for Toysmart: "We drafted the settlement, and we're pleased with it."
Toysmart still has to get past complaints filed by Truste and 39 state Attorneys General.
7/20/00 -- In what seems to be becoming something of a trend, the MPAA, RIAA and NMPA have filed a copyright infringement suit against Scour.com, an advertising-supported entertainment portal that includes a search engine for music, video, image and radio material on the web, and a file sharing utility that permits the exchange of music, video and audio files. Scour's search engine does not differentiate between files made available on the web under the authority of the copyright owner and files made available by unauthorized volunteers, and a Scour.com search will typically retrieve links to content of both sorts. That appears to be the crux of the problem, and has inspired plaintiffs to include in their complaint prose like this:
Among the most pernicious effects of ScourÔs unlawful conduct is that it is teaching a generation of consumers that artists and copyright owners have no right to compensation for their work, and that motion pictures, sound recordings, and musical compositions are and should be free to anyone who can find them on the Internet. That view is contrary to the Constitutional foundation of copyright law, which recognizes that copyright protection is necessary to encourage the creation of new works for the public benefit.
7/12/00 -- Internet start-up Angara E-commerce services claims to be the first and only "Internet-based customer conversion service." What Angara does, according to Internet.com's Alexis Gutzman, is maintain a database of anonymous online user profiles that it purchased from MatchLogic, Privaseek, and Naviant, three companies that match cookies with basic demographic and geographic information. When an individual first clicks on a webpage subscribing to Angara's service, Angara check's the visitor's hard drive to see whether it can find any cookies it recognizes. If it finds a recognizable cookie, it retrieves and transmits the associated demographic data to the merchant, who can target content for the unknown user.
7/12/00 -- The Walt Disney Company is the largest owner of the bankrupt Toysmart, which drew an FTC lawsuit to stop it from selling its customer lists as an asset in bankruptcy. AP reports that Disney announced that it had devised a solution to the problem: it has offered to purchase the lists from its bankrupt subsidiary.
7/12/00 -- The Industry Standard's Bernhard Warner reports that the International, US and Salt Lake City Olympic committees have filed a cybersquatting suit in the Eastern District of Virginia against 1800 websites, owned by entities in 56 different countries, that have domain names incorporating some variation of "Olympic," "Olympics," or "Olympiad" in English, French or Spanish.
11/11/00 --ICANN is holding its Board meetings this week in Los Angeles. On Friday (in advance of the meeting but not far enough in advance to permit much public comment), ICANN staff released its evaluation of the 44 applications ICANN received from entities seeking approval of new generic top level domains. The report doesn't quite come right out and say that ICANN should select the applications submitted by the largest and most commercial entities who promise trademark holders the most extensive protection against registration of any domain names that are superficially similar to trademarks. In order to be sure that the newly elected at-large directors have no influence on the selection of new top level domains, the current agenda contemplates that the board will select the new TLDs first, and then seat the new board members at the end of the meeting.
Meanwhile, an unknown number of people are milling about adorned with "No B.S." buttons -- "B.S." stands for "Board Squatters" and refers to the four hold-over ICANN directors who are retaining their seats on the board even though their terms have expired. Professor Michael Froomkin has posted an essay protesting the decision and the process by which it was reached.
10/11/00 -- The results of ICANN's first at-large directors election are in: ICANN's members have elected Karl Auerbach, Ivan Moura Campos, Masanobu Katoh, Andy Mueller-Maguhn, and Nii Quaynor to replace five as-yet-unidentified directors of the original nine selected by Ira Magaziner and Joe Sims in 1998. Read Declan McCullagh's story for WIRED.
10/2/00 -- ICANN began its online election for 5 at large directors over the weekend. As WIRED's Oscar S. Cisneros reports, if you had been able to register for and activate your at large membership, you could vote for the ICANN candidate of your choice. Odds are high that if you actually tried to become an at-large member, however, you were unsuccessful. ICANN's staff consistently expressed alarm at the possibility of a large membership, and implemented a system for member registration and activation that bounced as many applications as it accepted, and activated only half of the members it registered. If you are one of the lucky ones, however, you have until October 10 to vote.
9/12/00 -- ICANN has announced the opening of the election campaign season for ICANN Board of Directors, neatly timed to coincide, at least in the US, with the campaign for other, less global postions. The 76,000 ICANN members who succeeded against all the odds in filing electronic applications with ICANN's overburdened server before the cutoff date, whose bona fides were certified before the subsequent cutoff date, who received PIN numbers in the mail and then rushed to "activate" ICANN membership before there was anything to vote for will have from October 1 through October 10 to vote for the regional "at large" ICANN Board candidates of their choice. Prospective members stymied at any of these stages, as well of those who filed their PIN numbers in a safe place until they had something to vote for, will have to wait until some future election: the poorly publicized deadline for "activating" ICANN membership by entering ones user ID, PIN number and password on ICANN's membership webpage was September 8.
7/25/00 -- During ICANN's Yokohama meeting, ICANN staffers expressed their preference for very few new top level domains, very few applications to run new top level domains, and very few candidates for the ICANN Board. Now, we can add at large ICANN members to the list of things staff think there should be few of. The ICANN membership system was set up to handle about 20,000 applications. Demand for membership has exceeded expectations, however, and the ICANN server is bouncing a majority of the requests it receives. In an email message widely circulated among Internet mailing lists (see, e.g, Keith Dawson's roving reporter), an ICANN staffer complained that much of the problem is due to unanticipated interest in joining ICANN from individuals in the People's Republic of China (in response to "irresponsible" media coverage suggesting that at-large membership is important). Most of those applications appear to have bounced; of 52589 verified members, only 71 hail from the PRC. ICANN is trying to implement hardware and software improvements to modestly increase capacity, but does not expect to actually come close to accomodating all requests. The staffer seems to think that's just as well: He explains that the membership budget is limited, many applications presumably come from "people with no understanding of ICANN," and so long as ICANN gives its would-be members a fair opportunity to join, it shouldn't be obliged to guarantee that it will actually permit them to.
7/16/00 -- ICANN met in Yokohama over the weekend. (If you missed it, you can watch and listen to the entire affair courtesy of Harvard's Berkman Center.) At the top of the Board's agenda were whether to approve new generic top level domains and how to structure the upcoming election of at-large ICANN directors. Members of the Board spoke enthusiastically about the value of greater diversity in the domain name system and in the slate of Board candidates. ICANN staff objected that diversity was all very nice, but anything more than a token number of new domains or ICANN candidates would exceed staff's resources to ensure that things were done properly. ICANN's board regretfully deferred to staff.
7/12/00 -- ICANN meets in Yokohama this weekend, and at the top of the agenda is whether to add new generic top level domains to the DNS. ICANN invited entities seeking to operate new registries to submit expressions of interest. WIRED's Declan McCullagh describes some of the proposals for new gTLDs submitted to ICANN in response to its invitation.
Among the proposed new gTLDs are .law(for lawyers), .llb(ditto), .kid (for material suitable for), .gnu (for sites related to free software), .naa (for indigenous Native Americans), .geo (for "georeferenced metadata"), .coupons, .rebates, .radio, and .music, and two different proposals for .web. The first proposal comes from Chris Ambler, who has actually been operating an unsanctioned .web registry since 1996, and who brought an unsuccessful trademark infringement suit against CORE for infringing his trademark rights in the .web name. (The court held that the names of generic top level domains cannot be protected as trademarks.) The second proposal was filed by second proposal was filed by the Dot WEB Registry Pte Ltd, a Singapore corporation that has been taking preregistrations into .web for three years, has registered .web as a service mark in Singapore, and claims to "own the rights to the .WEB(Tm) name."
The Nader organization, which previously proposed .sucks, has not filed an expression of interest this time around.
7/12/00 -- The Senate Judiciary Committee held a Hearing this morning on "Music on the Internet: Is There an Upside to Downloading?" Lars Ulrich of Metallica is the first witness scheduled, which may give some indication of what the Senate Committee staff believe is the answer to that question. Also on the roster: Hank Barry of Napster, Michael Robertson of MP3.com, Fred Ehrlich of Sony Music and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. [Inside]'s Charles C. Mann suggests that the Hearing may be the first installment in a content industry campaign to revisit the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in an effort to plug potential loopholes. Tech Law Journal covered the Hearing. The normally humourless Tech Law Journal reported:
Supporters of intellectual property rights (including Hoffman, Ehrlich, and Rosen) stated that they opposed any new legislation. For example, the RIAA's Rosen stated that "the copyright law is adequate now," and "the market place is working." Perhaps her reference to the market place was a euphemism for the litigation process.
7/11/00 -- On the eve of ICANN's scheduled meeting in Yokohama, where it plans to take up the question of new generic top level domains, WIPO announced that it was so pleased at the success of its efforts to combat cybersquatting that it would expand its efforts to combat the abusive registration of domain names that do not infringe on trademark rights. AP has posted a story.
7/11/00 UPDATE -- The MPAA filed suit last month against RecordTV.com, a new service that resembled MyMP3.com ported to video. RecordTV.com sought to permit viewers to "timeshift" television programming over the Internet, by using the site as a virtual VCR. When a viewer requested it to record a show, it would make a digital copy from its cable feed, and allow the viewer to sign on and watch the recording over the Internet at any time within the next 10 days. Read John Borland's story for c|net. For now, at least, the site's been taken down. RecordTV has filed a counterclaim against the MPAA, seeking a declaratory judgment that its service is squarely within the fair use privilege recognized by the Supreme Court's Sony Betamax decision. Read Ben Berkowitz's story for Inside.com.
7/10/00 UPDATE -- Toysmart.com, a TRUSTe-certified toy store site, promised its customers that:
Meanwhile, those of us who believed the privacy policies announced by online merchants had better do the safe thing, and purchase a lot more stuff.
7/7/00 -- Christopher Specht has filed a lawsuit against AOL, claiming that Netscape's SmartDownload program secretly monitors downloads of .zip and .exe files from other websites, and phones home with the details. Read Keith Perrine's story for the Standard. TechLaw Journal has posted the complaint.
7/6/00 -- NewsBytes' Robert MacMillan reports that the European Parliament has voted against the data privacy safe harbor proposal negotiated by the US Department of Commerce to permit US companies to evade European Union data privacy laws. Rejection by the European Parliament does not necessarily prevent the adoption of the proposal by the European Commission. The Commission may go ahead with the deal if it determines that the diplomatic fallout from reneging outweighs the political fallout from dismissing the Parliament's concerns.
7/4/00 -- The RIAA, in pursuit of its efforts to brand as "piracy" anything that might threaten record sales, has sued MP3Board.com, which it calls "an extensive and egregious link site". The RIAA claims that although MP3Board.com neither contains nor transmits any infringing content, it links to sites that contain infringing content, thereby providing "one-stop-shopping for anyone looking to steal music." MP3Board.com had sued the RIAA first, seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringment in response to the RIAA's bigfoot letter.
6/28/00 -- Network Solutions has figured out a way to keep control of domain names once registered with it even after the registration lapses. WIRED's Chris Oakes reports that NSI has sent email to registrants of past-due domain accounts that, unless they pay up, NSI will sell their domain names to the highest bidder on its new domain name auction site. That bidder will, of course, register its newly purchased domain name with NSI. Some of the other accredited but not yet competitive registrars are crying foul.
6/23/00 -- When AT&T acquired TCI, and announced its intention to use TCI's cable facilities to supply broadband Internet access, it needed local permission to assume TCI's cable franchise. The City of Portland decided to impose a condition: AT&T would be required to give competing ISPs access to the AT&T cable network, so that competing ISPs could offer Internet service using AT&T's high-speed cable modems. AT&T refused; the City accordingly declined to approve the transfer, and AT&T sued. A year ago, U.S. District Court Judge Owen Panner ruled the City's way. This week, the Ninth Circuit reversed.
6/22/00 -- The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have announced that they have won their cybersquatting lawsuit against Michael Doughney, who registered peta.org in 1995 and put up a parody site featuring "People Eating Tasty Animals". Read PETA's press release. Fox News reports that Doughney intends to appeal.
6/20/00 -- British Telecommunications claims that its 1989 patent No. 4,873,662 on "an information handling system in which information is derived from a computer at a remote point and transmitted via the public telephone network to terminal apparatus" covers hyperlinking, and has demanded license fees from 10 US Internet service providers. Read Craig Bicknell's story for WIRED.
6/16/00 -- c|net's Brian Livingston reports that Cogit.com is doing what Doubleclick got flamed for even thinking about. Cogit.com combines online and offline demographic and lifestyle data to create detailed consumer profiles of individuals viewing websites. Cogit.com uses identifying information entered in any of its client's websites to match names in a huge database of offline consumer profiles. It keeps the actual names of the individuals secret from its clients, but offers to supply details of "500 demographic and lifestyle characteristics" Cogit.com claims that, once it knows who you are, what you like, what you earn, what you've bought, where you've been and what you've seen, it "irreversibly discards" the identifying information it used to make the match, and keeps track of you thereafter using cookies. Feel better now?
6/16/00 -- Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm charged four websites, stockpoint.com, Procrit.com, Americasbaby.com, and ifriends.net with violations of Michigan's Consumer Protection Act. The four sites apparently include invisible 1pixel by 1 pixel graphics that prompt the exchange of cookie information with Adforce, DoubleClick, Matchlogic, and Netscape. Read Ann Harrison's story for Computerworld.
6/16/00 --Only 123 shopping days until the election. Maria Cantwell is running against incumbent Slade Gorton for the US Senate. Cantwell's staff noticed a picture on Gorton's website showing Gorton alongside of a foam-rubber clad environmental protester dressed up as "Buster the Salmon", and decided that the picture mocked environmental activitists. Cantwell staff put up a deep link to the image, inspiring accusations of "hacking" from the Gorton-ites. Cantwell's campaign retorts that Gorton's accusations show that he doesn't grok the Internet. Read Manny Frischberg's story for WIRED.
6/16/00 --The ACLU is representing operators of three mirror sites, not formally made parties below, who are appealing the stipulated CyberPatrol injunction to the first Circuit. EPIC has posted appellants' brief. Professor Larry Lessig has filed an amicus brief on behalf of four individual Harvard Berkman Center faculty and the ACM. Oral argument has been scheduled for August 1. Meanwhile, Matthew Skala has expanded his statement on why he settled with Mattel into a full-fledged F.A.Q. Earlier news in the case is here.
6/16/00 -- iCraveTV.com, shut down by copyright infringement litigation until it can guarantee that US surfers will be unable to access its transmissions, has announced that it will relaunch next fall as a subscription-based service, according to CBC TV. iCraveTV.com testified before the House Intellectual Property Subcommittee that it has invented "proprietary technique that will effectively isolates any Country or area." It calls the new security software "iWall", that will permit content owners and licensees to duplicate in cyberspace the balkanized syndicated exclusivity rules they rely on in real space.
6/12/00 -- The RIAA, which sued Napster several months ago for copyright infringement has now moved for a preliminary injunction according to c|net's John Borland. The injunction would require Napster to remove or block from its service all songs recorded on major labels. The logistics of doing that on Napster's distributed service seem insurmountable, which is presumably part of the idea.
6/16/00 UPDATE -- TechWeb reports that Napster has hired David Boies to represent it in the escalating lawsuit brought by the RIAA.
7/4/00 UPDATE --Napster's brief opposing the RIAA's motion argues that its subscribers' exchange of audio files is completely legal under the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, and that Napster cannot be held contributorily or vicariously liable for facilitating legal behavior. Earlier installments in the story are here.
6/11/00 -- C|net's Evan Hansen reports that San Francisco Superior Court Judge David Garcia has ruled the California anti-spam statute unconstitutional under the dormant commerce clause.
6/11/00 -- The unfunded, blue ribbon COPA Commission held a hearing on Thursday to determine whether it would be feasible to protect children from harmful content by requiring all sexually explicit material to locate in a special, x-rated domain, such as ".xxx." Senator Joseph Lieberman testified in strong support of the idea. Other witnesses were discouraging. Read Declan McCullagh's story for WIRED.
Rumors are flying that ICANN will propose at its upcoming Yokohama meeting the chartering of up to three new gTLDs. Perhaps, in addition to ".xxx," ICANN will give us ".nazi" for hate speech illegal in Germany and ".xy" for the really violent stuff.
6/10/00 -- MP3.com has settled with two record companies, Warner Music Group and BMG Entertainment, in a secret deal under which MP3.com promises to pay license fees to the labels in return for using their recordings in MyMP3.com. MP3.com's press release is here. The lawsuits brought by other labels, music publishers, and recording artists are still pending.
6/10/00 -- EU Member States have voted to permit the cross-border transfer of personal data to US businesses subscribing to the Department's Safe Harbor Privacy Principles. The agreement now moves on to the European Parliament for review.
You can find earlier news HERE.
WIRED's Courtney MacAvinta has posted a round up of Internet-related legislation passed in 1999. CyberTimes's Jeri Clausing suggests that only a few few of the pending bills are likely to progress in 2000.
There are a slew of bills pending in Congress that make specific reference to the Internet. CDT has posted its summary of the 106th Congress's unfinished Internet business. Here is a sampling of pending bills:
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