5/24/00 --the BBC reports that a French court has upheld Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l'Antisemitisme's action against Yahoo!, and ruled that Yahoo! must make it impossible for French users to access sites auctioning Nazi memorabilia.
5/23/00 -- The Federal Trade Commission has surveyed the privacy practices of major commercial websites and issued a report detailing its findings. The overwhelming majority of sites do not come close to complying with the fair information practices the FTC considers adequate. Although the agency has until now supported industry-self-regulation, it has concluded that it needs modest new regulatory authority to assure more effective protection of privacy. The industry disagrees. So (surprise!) does the White House and most of Congress. Read Tech Law Journal's story and Stephen Labaton's story for the New York Times.
5/17/00 -- Two weeks ago, Metallica presented Napster with documents identifying 335,435 Napster subscribers who had allegedly downloaded Metallica music unlawfully. Napster obligingly terminated 317,377 of them, but advised them that under the notice & takedown provisions of section 512 of the Copyright Act, each terminated subscriber had the right to dispute Metallica's characterization of their activities, and have her access restored unless Metallica elected to file a copyright infringement suit against the individual subscriber. 30,000 subscribers have obliged. Section 512 gives Metallica 10 days to decide whether to sue them. Read John Borland's story for c|net.
5/8/00 -- 2600, the Hacker Quarterly and remaining defendant in the New York DeCSS litigation has once again drawn the attention of overanxious industry lawyers. This time, it decided to tweak Bell Atlantic and GTE over their merger into a new company to be named Verizon (rhymes with "horizon"), by registering the domain name verizonsucks.com. They were thwarted in that plan by lawyers at Arnold & Porter, who had already registered verizonsucks.com (as well as verizonsucks.net and verizonsucks.org). Undeterred, 2600 settled for verizonreallysucks.com instead. Sarah Deutsch, IP counsel for Bell Atlantic, sent 2600 an exceedingly nasty bigfoot letter demanding the immediate surrender of the verizonreallysucks.com domain name and threatening ruinous liability under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. (Ms. Deutsch's reading of the ACPA seems a tad extreme.) 2600 posted the letter on its site, and responded by registering the domain name VerizonShouldSpendMoreTimeFixingItsNetworkAndLessMoneyOnLawyers.com.
4/25/00 -- Bored? Las Vegas's KVBC Channel 3 is streaming live coverage of the Binyon Murder trial.
4/25/00 -- c|net's Brian Livingston reports that AOL's "Kids Only" setting permits children to view the Republican National Committee web page, but not the Democratic National Committee home page. AOL deems the sites of the Republican, Conservative and Libertarian parties appropriate for young children, but the Democratic Party, Green Party, and Reform Party are not. AOL also has a "Young Teens" filter. Sites permitted to young teens include the National Rifle Association and the sites of gun manufacturers. Off limits, Livingston reports, are Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Safer Guns Now and the Million Mom March, all gun control organizations. The architect of the filtering rules is the Learning Company, a division of Mattel that makes CyberPatrol, q.v.
4/25/00 -- Last week, just in time for the ICANN DNSO Names Council meeting, Working Group B released its formal report on what ICANN should do ro protect famous trademarks in domain name space. The working group was unable to reach agreement on most points before it, but did agree that there should not be a global list of famous trademarks. The chair of the Working Group is of the view that the most acceptable approach to famous trademark protection is something dubbed the "Sunrise Provision." Under the Sunrise Provision, trademark owners could pre-register their trademarks, and some number of variants of their trademarks, in new gTLDs before the gTLDs were opened to the public for registration. The Names Council has requested public comments.
Yesterday's ICANN tidbits are HERE.
4/18/00 --George W. Bush has decided, not entirely voluntarily, that maybe he can take a joke after all. When Zack Exley put up a parody site at www.gwbush.com, Mr. Bush filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. Bush argued that the parody site violated federal election laws. "There ought to be limits to freedom," he said. CyberTimes's Rebecca Rainey reports that the FEC has dismissed the complaint on the ground that it was too low a priority to warrant the use of the commission's resources. When asked for a comment, a Bush campaign spokesman said "free speech is alive and well in America, and Governor Bush has a very thick skin."
. . . for instance . . .
4/13/00 -- WIRED's Christopher Jones reports that Heavy metal band Metallica filed suit against Napster, Yale, the University of Southern California and Indiana University claiming that Napter and the three universities were legally responsible for massive student piracy of Metallica's recorded music. (Indiana University is the home of Students Against University Censorship, a student organization founded to protest the University's banning of Napster.) Napster is already defending a suit brought by the RIAA seeking to hold it liable for copyright infringement. Read Benny Evangelista's story for the SF Chronicle.
4/20/00 UPDATE -- Yale University has caved. Reuters reports that in response to the lawsuit, Yale has blocked Napster. Metallica says that in view of Yale's actions, it will drop it from the lawsuit. Indiana announced shortly thereafter that where Yale feared to tread, it too feared to tread. Read John Borland's story for C|net.
4/25/00 UDATE -- USC announced its surrender, but decorated it with a figleaf for academic freedom. It has blocked access to Napster, but insists that it will permit students to use designated university computers to use Napster only for demonstrably legal purposes under close university supervision. Read John Borland's story for c|net
5/2/00 UPDATE -- Metallica apparently had a busy weekend. C|net's John Borland reports that the band engaged a firm to monitor Napster use over the weekend, and is planning to deliver 60,000 pages of documents that will identify 335,435 individual Napster users who used Napter over the weekend to engage in unauthorized sharing of Metallica songs. The band says it will ask Napster to terminate all 335,435 subscribers.
5/7/00 UPDATE -- Meanwhile, Napster got bad news in the earlier lawsuit filed by 17 record companies. Napster had argued that it was entitled to the safe harbor for Internet service providers set forth in section 512 of the Copyright Act. On Friday, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel disagreed.
5/10/00 UPDATE --Napster announced that in response to Metallica's documents, it has blocked the screen names of 317,377 Napster subscribers. Read John Borland's story for c|net. Meanwhile, ZDNet's Marilyn Wheeler reports that Dr. Dre, who is represented by Metallica's lawyer, has also assembled a list of Napster users who have downloaded his music, and is planning to dump it on Napster's doorstep.
4/11/00 -- Hit Box Software filed suit against AOL, complaining that AOL subscribers were using AOL to exchange Hit Box digital music files embodying karaoke versions of pop hits. AP reports that a Bavarian state court in Munich has found AOL liable for copyright infringement. AOL says it will appeal.
4/11/00 -- AP Reports that the French Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l'Antisemitisme has filed suit against Yahoo claiming that it hosts online auctions of Nazi paraphernalia, in violation of French law. LICRA is seeking a court order requiring Yahoo to make such auctions inaccessible to Internet users in France.
4/11/00 -- In a story for the New York Law Journal, John Caher reports that the New York Court of appeals has upheld section 235.22 of the New York Penal Code, which criminalizes the intentional use of the Internet to communicate sexual material to a minor in order to induce the minor to engage in sex.
4/4/00 -- The Sixth Circuit has handed down its opinion in Junger v. Daly. The district court had dismissed Professor Junger's constitutional challenge to to the encryption software Export Administration Regulations, on the ground that software is not sufficiently expressive to merit first amendment protection. the Sixth Circuit disagreed:
"Because computer source code is an expressive means for the exchange of information and ideas about computer programming, we hold that it is protected by the First Amendment.
The functional capabilities of source code, and particularly those of encryption source code, should be considered when analyzing the governmental interest in regulating the exchange of this form of speech. Under intermediate scrutiny, the regulation of speech is valid, in part, if "it furthers an important or substantial governmental interest." . . . The government "must demonstrate that the recited harms are real, not merely conjectural, and that the regulation will in fact alleviate these harms in a direct and material way." . . . We recognize that national security interests can outweigh the interests of protected speech and require the regulation of speech. In the present case, the record does not resolve whether the exercise of presidential power in furtherance of national security interests should overrule the interests in allowing the free exchange of encryption source code."
4/3/00 -- Once again, today was is Microsoft day. Judge Jackson's opinion is posted at a variety of different sites on the web, including the US Government Printing Office site, Microsoft's site, and The New York Times' site. Microsoft has announced that it will appeal.
3/26/00 -- MP3.com may have thought it was safe after it agreed with ASCAP to buy a license to perform music on its site. If it didn't know about the divisibility of copyright, it does now. Earlier this year, MP3.com launched its new MyMP3.com service, which allows subscribers to register music on CDs in their possession, and then to play that music via MP3.com's website from any Internet-accesible location. The RIAA promptly filed suit, complaining that MP3.com had no license from the record companies to reproduce their copyrighted sound recordings in MP3 files. Now, Reuters reports that music publishing companies MPL Communications and Peer International have sued MP3.com, complaining that while MP3.com may have gotten a license from composers to perform the music, it didn't bother to get a license from the composers' music publishers to reproduce the music in MP3 format (in order to perform the music).
4/13/00 UPDATE -- Bloomberg News reports that the Chambers Brothers, the Coasters and the Original Drifters have filed suit against MP3.com, and are seeking class certification on behalf of all musicians who recorded CDs before 1995 (when Congress amended the copyright law to add a new digital performance right for sound recordings). Plaintiffs seek a ruling that neither MP3.com nor the record companies may transmit their recorded performances over the Internet.
4/18/00 UPDATE -- Yahoo's Brian Hiatt reports on Friday's hearing before Judge Rakoff.
5/4/00 UPDATE -- Judge Rakoff issued an order on April 28 holding Mp3.com liable to the record company plaintiffs for copyright infringement, and released his decision on May 4. The Judge held that MP3.com's unauthorized copying of recordings violated the Copyright Act. He also found MP3.com's fair use claim "indefensible" and its other defenses "essentially frivolous." Most tellingly, Judge Rakoff observed that "Copyright ...is not designed to afford consumer protection or convenience but, rather, to protect the copyrightholder's property interests." The New York Times' Jon Pareles reports that MP3.com says it is cautiously optimistic that it will be able to reach an acceptable settlement that will permit it to continue to offer the MyMp3.com service.
5/10/00 UPDATE -- MP3.com announced that it would voluntarily disable subscriber access to RIAA member content while it pursues settlement negotiations.
3/17/00 -- Eddy Jansson of Sweden and Matthew Skala of Canada used the Interet to collaborate on reverse engineering on CyberPatrol, a popular Internet filtering program, and posted an account of their process, and its results on Jansson's home page. The material includes a clever little program that allows one to view the encrypted files indicating what sites are blocked and what usernames and passwords represent people authorized to make changes. Microsystems, which owns Cyberpatrol, filed a US copyright infringement suit in a Massachusetts federal court. Plaintiff seeks an order requiring Jansson's Swedish ISP to disgorge log files identifying everyone who has viewed the website or downloaded the program. Read Ted Bridis's story for AP.
UPDATE ( 3/29/00)-- This is what happened next. Judge Edward Harrington issued a TRO the same day, enjoining Jansson and Skala, and anyone working with them, from distributing the program. Microsystems's counsel claimed that the restraining order extended to any sympathetic netizens who might take it upon themselves to mirror Jansson's site. It bulk-emailed a copy of the TRO to sites mirroring or linking to Jansson's page, along with a subpoena seeking all documents relating to "each and every person who produced, received, viewed, downloaded or accessed "CP4break.zip" or "cphack.exe" or any derivative thereof from your Web site.... " The ACLU filed a motion on behalf of three recipients disputing the TRO's application to them and opposing Microsystems' motion for a preliminary injunction.
At this point, things got interesting. Mattel settled the lawsuit by acquiring Skala and Jansson's copyright to cphack and getting them to stipulate to the entry of a permanent injunction preventing them and anyone "in active concert or participation with them" from publishing the software. (Skala and Jansson have posted statements about their reasons for settling.) Mattel claimed that any distribution of cphack would violate its copyright, but asked the judge to enter a permanent injunction now against mirror sites not party to this suit, so that it could bring contempt charges instead. Judge Harrington obliged, entering a permanent injunction ordering "Jansson and Skala, their agents, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with Defendant Jansson and/or Defendant Skala, shall discontinue and be permanently enjoined from publishing the software source code and binaries known as "CP4break.zip" or "cphack.exe" or any derivative thereof. " The Judge felt strongly enough to depart from Mattel's proposed text to add this:
Mattel claims that this injunction applies to all mirror sites, whether or not they have any connection with the original defendants. For now, at least, the files and a list of mirror sites are posted at the OpenPGP.net site. (Many of the US mirror sites seem to be disappearing in response to registered mail letters sent out by Mattel immediately after the court ruled.)
[T]his case involves more than a complex and significant legal issue relating to copyright law. It raises a most profound societal issue, namely, who is to control the educational and intellectual nourishment of young children -- the parents or the purveyors of pornography and the merchants of death and violence.
Ideas bear consequences, fruitful and also destructive. The pernicious idea that all men are not created equal is the philosophic bais which incited the degradations of slavery and the genocidal slaughter of the Holocaust.
Under our Constitution all have the right to disseminate even evil ideas and such ideas cannot by law be suppressed by the government. On the other hand, parents, in the exercise of their parental obligation to educate their young children, have the equal right to screen and, thus, prevent noxious and insidious ideas from corrupting their children's fertile and formative minds.
Meanwhile, Skala's and Johnson's initial release of their programs under the GNU General Public License has called into question the value of Mattel's copyrights as a tool to suppress distribution of the programs.
Three Cphack mirror sites are seeking to appeal Judge Harrington's ruling. Declan McCullagh is following the case very closely for WIRED.
3/15/00 -- A King County Superior Court judge has found Washington's anti-spam law unconstitutional under the Commcerce Clause. The state had sued an Oregon man for spamming Washington residents with "get rich quick for $39.95" email. At least one of Heckle's recipients sent him $39.95, and received nothing in return. Read ZDNet's story by Chris Devoney & David Raikow.
3/15/00 -- The drafters of ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy incorporated provisions to ensure that the mandatory dispute resolution procedure applied only to domain names that were registered in bad faith and used in bad faith, by registrants with no legitimate interest in the alphanumeric string they had registered and used. Or, how they described them at the time. For an illustration of how these provisions work, consider a recent National Arbitration Forum UDRP decision ordering the cancellation of the fibershield.net domain. The registrant was a Canadian business that had operated under the name of Fiber Shield (Toronto) Ltd. for some years, but never registered Fiber Shield as a trademark. The lucky trademark owner, Fiber-Shield Industries, which operated a website at www.fibershield.com, owned a US trademark registration. The arbitrator found that Fiber Shield (Toronto) had no knowledge of Fiber-Shield Industries until it sought to register fibershield.com and found that domain name occupied. It therefore registered fibershield.net. The arbitrator concluded:
It appears clear that respondent registered fibershield.net with actual awareness of a confusingly similar prior registration in favor of complainant. It further appears clear that respondent does not claim any rights superior to the trademark registration of complainant of the name "fiber-shield", in Canada, the United States or elsewhere.
In light of the above, I find that respondent registered the domain name fibershield.net in bad faith and that respondent has no rights or legitimate interest with respect to said domain name.
4/25/00 UPDATE -- After the cancellation of fibershield.net, John Berryhill PhD JD and Russ Smith snapped it up, and have put up a webpage at www.fibershield.net criticizing the UDRP. Berryhill and Smith have announced their intention to register domain names canceled under the UDRP as they become available, for their "canceled domain collection."
3/14/00 -- The Information Technology Industry Council has selected Senator Spencer Abraham, author of the original AntiCybersquatting Consumer Protection bill, which would have criminalized the use of any trademarked alphanumeric string, as an "Internet domain name or other identifier of an online location", as High Tech Legislator of the Year, because of his "support and leadership on key information technology issues in 1999." Read Jeri Clausing's story for CyberTimes.
3/3/00 -- After more than a month of stonewalling, which saw Doubleclick's stock lose $30 per share and a host of government investigations and private civil lawsuits, Doubleclick has decided to postpone its plan to correlate online clickstream data with the information in the Abacus databases:
„We commit today, that until there is agreement between government and industry on privacy standards, we will not link personally identifiable information to anonymous user activity across Web sites.š
3/1/00 -- Big guns are, well, big. The MPAA and NFL have quite a few of them, and trained them all on iCraveTV. Bill Craig inists that his service is legal under Canadian copyright law, but he agreed this week to shut down his site forever. Read John Borland's story for c|net.
2/29/00 --Reuters reports that a federal jury has convicted Jay Cohen, an owner of an Antigua-based gambling business that took sports bets over the Internet, of violating the U.S. Wire Communications Act of 1961. (Forty-year-old statutes won't do much for current lawmakers at the ballot box. TechLawJournal has continuing coverage of efforts to pass new federal laws to ban Internet gambling.)
2/28/00 -- AP reports that Amazon.com, which stunned observers last year when it prevailed in a patent infringement suit against Barnes & Noble over its "1-click" purchasing option, has now obtained a patent for its Amazon Associates program, which gives affiliates a commission for purchases that result from click-through referrals.
In another part of the forest, someone has put up a protest site at www.noamazon.com, suggesting that in response to Amazon.com's enforcement of a patent on obvious Internet technology, consumers should "Stop typing amazon.com. Start typing noamazon.com." The site urges consumers to eschew Amazon.com in favor of a list of merchants selling the same products at comparable prices linked to the noamazon.com page.
2/23/00 -- The Wall Street Journal reports that the EU and US have cut a deal on data privacy. US companies will be given the option of submitting to European data privacy regulation or subscribing to a recognized self-regulatory framework that provides adequate privacy protection. Companies that failed to do either could be sued by European citizens who claimed misuse of their data, while companies electing to comply by regulating themselves could in theory be prosecuted by the FTC. Read Steve Gold's and Robert MacMillan's story for Newsbytes.
2/23/00 -- When CBS bought TNN (a.k.a. The Nashville Network), it wondered why TNN, owner of a federal trademark registration for TNN®, had a website at www.country.com rather than at www.tnn.com. The answer, it soon appeared, was that tnn.com belonged to a computer network services consulting company named The Network Network, which had registered the domain name back in 1994. CBS sent a bigfoot letter; The Network Network brought a declaratory judgment action, and CBS counterclaimed for trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition. Judge Nora Manella sided with The Network Network, finding that the difference between the parties' services made confusion or dilution implausible:
The fact that Nashville missed its opportunity to select the domain name it would now like to have is not sufficient to state a claim of infringement under the federal trademark law, particularly where, as here, there can be no genuine risk of confusion Ų initial or otherwise Ų by any consumer of reasonable prudence, and no argument that Network has sought or is now seeking to trade on Nashville‚s good name.
2/23/00 -- Concerned citizens of Holland Michigan put a proposed ordinance on Tuesday's Republican primary ballot that would have terminated all funding to the public library unless it installed filters on its Internet-capable computers. USA Today reports that the ballot measure failed. (Perhaps that's what all of those McCain Democrats were doing voting in the Republican primary.)
2/17/00 -- Virginia became the first state to enact the controversial Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act on Tuesday. Despite widespread opposition by state Attorneys General, writers groups, computer professional, academics, the American Law Institute, and consumer groups everywhere, the bill passed 98-2 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. Read Brenda Sandburg's story for the Recorder.
3/15/00 -- Governor Gilmore signed UCITA on Tuesday. Read Declan McCullagh's story for WIRED.
2/3/00 -- Judge Kaplan has issued his Decision in the New York DVD litigation. The opinion resolves all disputed legal issues in the studios' favor. Among other rulings, Judge Kaplan concluded that DeCSS was not created to achieve interoperability with Linux, because
...even assuming that DeCSS runs under Linux, it concededly runs under Windows---a far more widely used operating system---as well. It therefore cannot reasonably be said that DeCSS was developed "for the sole purpose'' of achieving interoperability between Linux and DVDs.
Finally, defendants claim that they are engaged in a fair use under Section 107 of the Copyright Act. They are mistaken. Section 107 of the Act provides in critical part that certain uses of copyrighted works that otherwise would be wrongful are "not . . . infringement[s] of copyright.'' Defendants, however, are not here sued for copyright infringement. They are sued for offering to the public and providing technology primarily designed to circumvent technological measures that control access to copyrighted works and otherwise violating Section 1201(a)(2) of the Act. If Congress had meant the fair use defense to apply to such actions, it would have said so.
You can purchase a teeshirt displaying the DeCSS source code from Copyleft for $18.00. $4 of the price will be donated to the EFF defense fund. Copyleft needs to keep the other $14.00 in case the motion picture studios decide that sales of the teeshirt also violate 1201(a)(2).
2/14/00 UPDATE --The injunction entered by Judge Kaplan applies only to the three named defendants. That hasn't stopped the MPAA from sending out bigfoot letters to sites believed to be posting DeCSS:
The letter goes on to demand that the site remove DeCSS, and request that the person responsible for posting it immediately get in touch with the MPAA. Copies of the letter have gone to Cryptome.org, and to legal counsel for Harvard University, where a student appears to have posted a mirror site.
On January 20, 2000, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the Internet posting or other provision of DeCSS, having found that DeCSS was a prohibited circumvention device within the meaning of §1201(a)(2) and that the offering, providing or trafficking of DeCSS on the Internet violated §1201(a)(2). That court thus enjoined:
Posting on any Internet web site, or in any other way manufacturing, importing or offering to the public, providing, or otherwise trafficking in DeCSS, and (b) posting on any Internet web site, or in any other way manufacturing, importing or offering to the public, providing, or otherwise trafficking in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that: (i) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing, or circumvention the protection afforded by, CSS, or any other technological measure that effectively controls access to plaintiffs‚ copyrighted works or effectively protects the plaintiffs‚ rights to control whether an end user can reproduce, manufacture, adapt, publicly perform and/or distribute unauthorized copies of their copyrighted works or portions thereof. . .
Here is a link to a site that is distributing a DeCSS of a different color.
5/4/00 UPDATE -- Defendant 2600 has filed a brief opposing the MPAA's motion to enjoin sites from linking to mirror sites, and challenging the constitutionality of section 1201 of the DMCA. Read Declan McCullagh's story for WIRED.
2/2/00 -- America Online has taken a page from Microsoft's book. Installation of AOL 5.0, or upgrade to 5.0 from previous versions, apparently tends to alter the default settings on the computer in ways that disable software permitting Internet access through competing service providers. A couple of disgruntled AOL subscribers who found themselves blocked from using accounts through multiple services have filed an 8 billion dollar class action suit against AOL. Read Brooke Masters's story for the Washington Post.
2/2/00 -- The California Healthcare Foundation conducted an investigation to determine whether medical and healthcare websites protected the privacy of the sites' users, and found that, by and large, they did not. Richard Smith, the Internet security expert who investigated the privacy practices of the sites had this to say:
"Health care Web sites have access to an unprecedented amount of personal health information. We found third party ad networks receiving access to information that would allow them to build detailed, personally identified profiles of individual's health conditions and patterns of Internet use.
2/2/00 -- The 9th Cicuit en banc court has remanded the Bernstein case to the three judge panel that held encryption software code to be speech protected by the 1st amendment, for reconsideration in light of the Commerce Department's revised export controls.
1/31/00 -- iCraveTV is having a bad week. Mere days after US movie studios persuaded a US federal judge to issue a TRO against Canadain website iCraveTV.com, shutting it down until it can guarantee that US Internet users won't be able to gain access to its site, Canadian broadcasters have sued the company, claiming that its video streaming of Toronto television signals violates Canada's copyright law. Plaintiffs seek $75 million. Read John Borland's story for c|net.
2/8/00 UPDATE -- On February 8, Judge Ziegler entered a preliminary injunction in the US litigation, barring ICraveTV from resuming its webcasts. ICrave asked the Judge to allow it to resume service if it added additional security measure to ensure that most US viewers would be blocked, even though those measures could not guarantee that determined hackers would be stymied; the Judge refused. Read the AP story.
2/19/00 UPDATE --The House Commerce Committee held a Hearing on the iCraveTV problem on February 16.Meanwhile, Larry Lessig has posted a column on the same subject in the Standard, suggesting that MPAA lobbyist Jack Valenti "is quickly becoming the Internet's Kenneth Starr."
1/31/00 -- Reuters reports that the record store trade association has filed suit against Sony Music, claiming that by putting URLs for its online music outlet CDNow on CD packages and by packaging CDs with software and promotional inserts for its online services, Sony is engaging in copyright misuse, unfair competition and false advertising.
1/28/00 -- Goto.com sued Disney, claiming that the logo Disney used for its Go network infringed the Goto.com logo. The 9th Circuit has affirmed the trial court's preliminary injunction, requiring Disney to remove the offending logo from its sites. Read Patricia Jacobus's story for c|net. In an unrelated story, Reuters reports that Disney has announced plans to revamp its Go network site, transforming it from an Internet portal into what the company is calling a "recreation, entertainment, leisure and lifestyle" site.
1/27/00 UPDATE: Judnick v. Doubleclick -- c|net's Sandeep Junnarkar reports that Harriet Judnick has filed a class action lawsuit in California claiming that Doubleclick unlawfully obtained and sold consumers' private information.
2/1/00 UPDATE: The Center for Democracy and Technology has launched a protest campaign, in which Internet users are urged to send protest email to Doubleclick's members. Read Evan Hansen's story for c|net.
2/4/00 UPDATE: Donaldson v. Doubleclick -- Nancy Donaldson has filed a class action in federal district court, seeking damages for unauthorized profiling on behalf of each person who clicked on a targeted ad in the past 4 years. Diane Anderson and Keith Perine posted a story for the Standard.
2/11/00 UPDATE: In re Doubleclick -- EPIC has filed a complaint with the FTC, alleging that Doubleclick has engaged in unfair trade practices. Read the story in TechLaw Journal.
2/18/00 UPDATE: The FTC and the New York Attorney General have opened investigations. Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm has gone further, announcing her intention to sue Doubleclick for violating Michigan consumer protection laws. Read Jeri Clausing's story for CyberTimes. Michigan's entry brings the total to three investigations and six civil suits. Doubleclick's secondary public offering ended this week with a drop in the price of its shares. Doubleclick is hanging tough. The Wall Street Journal's Jason Fry and Megan Doscher assess Doubleclick's efforts to assuage public outrage as merely cosmetic:
On Monday, DoubleClick proudly unveiled a truly toothless set of initiatives it somehow thought would tamp down the anger. The centerpiece of those efforts is a public-service campaign via Web banners and newspaper ads in which DoubleClick is inviting Web users to visit the charmingly monikered www.privacychoices.org, which it billed as a resource for educating consumers about online privacyų and as an opportunity for consumers to „opt outš of receiving DoubleClick cookies „with only two clicks.š
Ah, but there‚s the rub. DoubleClick wants consumers and those launching inquiries to swallow that its privacychoices.org program constitutes „clear notice and choice.š
But consider: First of all, only a pretty sophisticated Web surfer can ever tell DoubleClick exists. If you hold your mouse over a banner ad served up by the company, you‚ll see a DoubleClick URL ų but if you click on that ad, you‚re taken to a site set up by the advertiser. Surfers will be served up random banner ads for privacychoices.org, but DoubleClick knows all too well that banner ads are almost never clicked on ų that‚s one reason it acquired Abacus in the first place.
3/3/00 UPDATE -- After more than a month of stonewalling, which saw Doubleclick's stock lose $30 per share and a host of government investigations and private civil lawsuits, Doubleclick has announced the postponement of its plan to correlate online and offline data to create comprehensive profiles of consumers browsing the net. Read Bob Tedeschi's story for the New York Times.
1/25/00 -- As further evidence of the motion picture industry's measured and proportional response to the posting of DeCSS, Slashdot reports that Norway's Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime indicted Jon Lech Johansen on Monday. Johansen is the Norwegian teenager who wrote DeCSS in order to play DVDs on his Linux computer. Authorities raided his home, seized two computers and a cellphone, and arrested Johansen and his father.
Here is a link to the DeCSS code.
1/23/00 -- NYT CyberTimes's Rebecca Raney reports that a non-profit, non-partisan organization named the Voting Integrity Project filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Democratic Party to block a plan to permit Internet voting during the upcoming March primary. VIP is concerned that the plan will disadvantage minority voters, whose access to the Internet still lags behind that of whites. VIP's press release describes the plan as "just a new millennium version of the literacy test."
2/28/00 UPDATEThe Justice Department has okayed the plan, and online voting in the March 11 Democratic primary is scheduled to go forward, courtesy of a company named Election.com. Read Patricia Jacobus's story for C|net.
3/1/00 UPDATE --CyberTimes' Rebecca Raney reports that Judge Rosenblatt, while permitting the online primary to go forward, has reserved the option of voiding the election if VIP can show disproportionate participation by Internet-connected white voters.
1/22/00 -- On January 12, MP3.com launched a new service, "My MP3.com," which permits subscribers who own CDs or purchase CDs through MP3.com to listen to an audiostream of the music from those CDs over the Internet. The RIAA insists that MP3.com should have gotten licenses from record companies first. (Section 114 of the copyright statute would seem to support that assertion.) MP3.com's position, apparently, is that it is just facilitating its subscribers' rights to listen to music they have purchased in a variety of different locations. Read Christopher Jones's story for WIRED.
2/8/00 UPDATE -- MP3.com has countersued the RIAA for defamation, trade liabel, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, and unfair business practices. C|net has posted a story by Sandeep Junnarkar and Courtney Macavinta.
1/20/00 -- It was only a matter of time. Reuters reports that 10 movie studios and 3 broadcasters have filed a copyright infringment lawsuit against the Canadian website iCraveTV.com ("the world's first live 24 hour a day FREE internet television companion"). iCrave streams Toronto free broadcast television signals over the Internet. It limits access to viewers in Canada, by requiring them to enter their Canadian area code (e.g., "416"), and further insisting that viewers certify their current physical presence in Canada. Therefore, it claims, its activities come within the exemption for simultaneous cable retransmission in the Canadian Copyright Act. The movie studios disagree.
1/31/00 UPDATE -- U.S. Federal Judge Donald Ziegler has issued a TRO, prohibiting iCraveTV from operating unless and until it guarantees that US Internet users won't gain access to the site.
1/15/99 -- Last month, a DVD industry association filed a trade secret lawsuit in California against 72 people allegedly either posting the source code for DeCSS, or linking to a site where the source code was posted. (DeCSS unscrambles the security code on DVDs to permit them to be played on Linux systems. Once the code is unscrambled, however, the DVDs can be played on unlicensed DVD players.) The court refused to issue a TRO. Now, Bloomberg News reports that motion picture studios have filed suits in New York and Connecticut, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, against four individuals for posting the DeCSS code or linking to sites that do. 2600 Magazine, one of the defendants in both suits, has posted copies of the legal documents.
1/20/00 UPDATE -- Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan issued a preliminary injunction requiring the three New York defendants to remove copies of the DeCSS code from their websites.
2/2/00 UPDATE -- Plaintiffs have amended their complaint to seek an relief against anyone's linking to DeCSS. Cryptome has posted a transcript of the Preliminary Injunction Hearing before Judge Kaplan.
2/3/00 UPDATE -- Judge Kaplan has issued his Decision. The opinion resolves all disputed legal issues in the studios' favor.
Here is a link to the code.
1/14/00 -- In the first arbitration decision under ICANN's new Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, a WIPO arbitration panel has issued a decision in favor of the trademark owner-complainant against a registrant who conceded that he had registered the domain name worldwrestlingfederation.com in order to sell it, and who had offered to sell the domain to the World Wrestling Federation for $1,000,000. The panel found that Bosman had no legitimate rights in the domain name and had registered the domain in bad faith. It also found that he had used the domain in bad faith:
∑the name must not only be registered in bad faith, but it must also be used in bad faith. The issue to be determined is whether the respondent used the domain name in bad faith. It is not disputed that the respondent did not establish a Web site corresponding to the registered domain name. Accordingly, can it be said that the respondent "used" the domain name?
Paragraph 4,b,i of the Policy, provides that "the following circumstances . . . shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith: . . . circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark . . . for valuable consideration in excess of the documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name." (Emphasis added.)
Because respondent offered to sell the domain name to complainant "for valuable consideration in excess of" any out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name, respondent has "used" the domain name in bad faith as defined in the Policy.
1/10/00 --The New York Times reports that an anonymous hacker operating under the name of Maxim gained access to the credit card files of CDUniverse, and sent the company a fax offering to destroy his cahe of stolen files for the small sum of $100,000. The company refused to cave in to extortion, so Maxim has released many of the files over the Internet. Several thousand vistors downloaded more than 25,000 credit card numbers before the site was shut down over the weekend. Meanwhile Maxim appears to be enjoying the notoriety, sending chatty emails, and a bunch of stolen credit card numbers, to the Times's reporter John Markoff.
1/10/00 --Time Warner and America Online have announced a merger. Steve Case, current CEO of AOL, will be the chairman of the new company, AOL Time Warner. Read Kevin Max's story for TheStreet.com.
3/13/00 -- ICANN's Board of Directors met last week in Cairo, and agreed to modify its controversial procedure for selecting new at-large directors. It also instructed its staff to draft recommendations on the addition of new generic top level domains in time for ICANN's upcoming July meeting in Yokohama.
3/3/00 -- Essential Information, one of Ralph Nader's consumer-protection organizations, has applied to ICANN for permission to become the registry for ten new generic top level domains intended to promote non-commercial speech on the Net. The proposed gTLD that's generating all the buzz is .sucks, to be administered by the Dot Sucks Foundation, "independent non-profit free speech foundation that will be funded by fees from the .sucks registration." The TLD is intended to:
"facilitate criticism of a firm or organization, such as aol.sucks, wipo.sucks, or even greenpeace.sucks. We would not permit the organization that owned an associated domain to also own .sucks, so it would expand the name space in an important way. The domain would also be available for other uses, such as work.sucks, life.sucks or television.sucks".
1/6/00 --ICANN has announced a mass revocation of domain names ending in a dash, in violation of an NSI policy that requires the final character in a domain name to be letter or numeral. Jeri Clausing's story for CyberTimes attributes the recent registration of hundreds of new domain names ending in a hypen to a software bug. Clausing notes that while some of the revoked domain names were confusingly similar to established websites, others made use of the terminal hyphen to create catchy phrases. On the other hand, a large proportion of the affected names of both sorts were registered by and belong to Alabanza, an ICANN-accredited registrar with cut-rate prices.
1/4/00-- The Recorder's Sonia Giordani reports that a California state judge has found California Penal Code 288.2b, which makes it illegal to transmit sexual material over the Internet if the person sending the information knows the recipient is a minor, unconstitutional under the 1st Amendment, the 14th Amendment, and the Commerce Clause. Edwin Wheelock is a middleschool teacher.
12/30/99 -- eToys sells toys over the Internet, and has since 1996. The Swiss group etoy displays conceptual art over the Internet (at etoy.com), and has since 1994. eToys didn't like etoy's conceptual art. As Matthew Mirapaul reported for CyberTimes, eToys sued etoy for trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition. eToy's customers, apparently, didn't like the lawsuit. eToys has now announced that it would respond to the protests and bad press by dropping the litigation. Read Craig Bicknell's story for WIRED. etoy says that the offer has too many strings attached. WIRED has posted a follow up story by Steve Kettman.
12/29/99 --The US federal government has assured us that it has conducted exhaustive tests of its Y2K preparedness and fixed all potential problems; the government's computers are not vulnerable to the Y2K problem. That's why it's decided to shut down its sites on the Internet over the Y2K weekend. Read Reuters's story.
12/29/99 -- A 16 year old Linux fan, unhappy with the failure of the DVD industry to supply software permitting Linux users to play DVDs, reverse-engineered the proprietary DVD copy protection software to create a utility to allow Linux to play DVDs. He then posted the code, which unlocks the DVD content scrambling system, on the Internet. A number of sites, including Slashdot.org, posted links to the Norwegian site containing the code. Motion picture industry lawyers insisted that the code and the links were illegal, and demanded that all sites remove any links forthwith. That didn't work so well. On Tuesday, the DVD industry filed suit against 72 defendants who allegedly either posted the code or posted a link to the code. Read Chris Oakes's story for WIRED. The Electronic Frontier Federation is defending the suit, and has posted a press release.
Here is a link to the code.
12/30/99 UPDATE -- Chris Oakes reports for WIRED that, on Wednesday, Judge William J. Elfving denied the DVD industry's request for a TRO.
1/19/00 UPDATE --One of the members of the audience for yesterday's preliminary injunction hearing has posted a fascinating (if biased) blow-by-blow account of the oral argument on Slashdot. The judge announced that he would ponder the matter before ruling.
1/24/00 UPDATE ---Judge Elfving has issued an injunction prohibiting the defendants from posting the DeCSS code or the keys to the DVD Content scrambling system on the Internet. The Judge refused, however, to enjoin defendants from linking to other websites sites where the code is posted.
1/26/00 UPDATE: Unlike the lawsuits filed by the motion picture studios in New York and Connecticut, the California case rests on a trade secrecy claim. The trade secret, is the DVD Content Scrambling System, or CSS. Plaintiff apparently included a copy of code for its trade secret encryption scheme as an exhibit attached to a document that was filed with the court on January 13, and thereafter widely posted on the web. Yesterday, Plaintiff's counsel belatedly asked the judge to place the document under seal. Read Declan McCullagh's story for WIRED.
12/27/99 -- RealNetworks sued Streambox, claiming that Streambox's "Ripper" software violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Ripper converts CD and RealAudio files to MP3 format. The court has issued a TRO. Streambox has announced the imminent release of a version of Ripper that complies with the TRO. Jeff Pelline and Greg Sandoval posted a story for c|net.
1/6/00 Update --Streambox has posted its Response to RealAudio's motion for a TRO. Streambox denies that its software violates the DMCA, and claims that RealNetworks's real motive is to prevent Streambox's products from competing with RealNetworks products that perform similar functions. Read Christopher Jones's story for WIRED.
1/19/00 Update -- Bloomberg News reports that the court has issued a preliminary injunction forbidding Streambox from distributing Streambox VCR and the Ferret "plug in" for RealPlayer. Streambox may, however, continue to distribute Ripper. Both RealNetworks and Streambox have posted press releases. Read John Townley's story for InternetNews.com.
12/27/99 -- EPIC has released a new report on online privacy: Surfer Beware III. After surveying the privacy practices of the 100 most popular shopping sites on the web, the report concludes:
On balance, we think that consumers are more at risk today than they were in 1997.
The profiling is more extensive and the marketing techniques are more intrusive.
12/27/99 -- Last month, filmmaker Mike Zieper posted a homemade video showing an apparent military briefing on a secret army plan to incite New Year's Eve race riots. The FBI apparently concluded that the video was subversive, and asked Zeiper to remove it. When he declined, the FBI reportedly threatened his ISP, which promptly blocked access to the page. The ACLU has now filed a lawsuit on Mr. Ziper's behalf; and posted the complaint.
12/26/99 -- SDMI-compliant devices weren't ready in time for Santa to tuck them into any Christmas stockings this year. Reuters reports that the music industry, which initially predicted robust online sales of digital music during the '99 Christmas season, now predicts robust online sales of digital music will take off sometime next year. If, that is, powerful industry actors can stop bickering about the details of the SDMI specification and actually offer some digital music for sale online.
There seems to be a new MP3 story every day. The New York Times and WIRED both have continuing coverage. Earlier MP3 stories are collected HERE.
12/1/99 -- Comet Systems is the source of the clever little program that lets websites offer you a new look for your cursor, replacing the familiar arrow with cartoons and other trade symbols specific to the websites you view. A one time, ten second download equips your computer to display the image selected by that website, or any participating website you visit later. One big comet customer is Warner Brothers, which pesters you to download the ability to surf the WB site with "cool WB cursors", including popular Warner Brothers cartoons. AP reported yesterday that Comet's software was tracking and recording what web pages the 16 million consumers who had installed the cursor software were viewing. The software, which incorporated a unique identifier number for each computer on which it had been installed, regularly transmitted reports of the websites viewed back to Comet. In response to widespread outrage, Comet posted a defensive statement reaffirming its commitment to privacy and a software patch enabling Comet cursor users to delete their unique identifier numbers. Read AP's followup.
To read New Developments from the autumn of 1999, click 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:
If you don't have a viewer for PDF files, you can download an Acrobat reader free from Adobe, HERE
Look at earlier New Developments pages:
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