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The cyberlaw informer #39


Welcome to the 39th issue of the weekly Mishpat Cyberlaw Informer - 

Law on the net newsletter from http://mishpat.net



This newsletter is sent only to subscribers. If you no longer 

wish to receive the Cyberlaw Informer, follow the unsubscribe 

instructions at the bottom of this newsletter.



--------------------------------------------------------



In this issue:



1. Introduction

2. eToys.com v. etoy.com continues

3. U.S. Child Pornography Protection Act - unconstitutional

4. Cyberlaw resource of the week

5. Computer & Internet law news and updates





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################

1. Introduction

################



I would like to welcome the many new subscribers who joined the list

this week. This is the last issue before the Y2K (year 2000) bug hits

(probably not too hard). Y2K will probably bring numerous lawsuits

around the world next year, therefore I decided not to include any Y2K

stories in this issue. 



This week's feature article brings a summary of a U.S. court of

appeals decision that found the Child Pornography Protection act

unconstitutional. As usual, you will find the weekly online law

resource recommendation, and plenty of cyberlaw news at the end of

this newsletter.



I hope you enjoy reading the newsletter. Comments, tips, and articles

are always welcome. Send them to mailto:editor@mishpat.net



The Mishpat Cyberlaw Informer Archive (issues 1-38) is located at:

http://mishpat.net/cyberlaw/archive

Please visit the online message boards at

http://mishpat.net/cgi-bin/bbs/UltraBoard.pl and help generate some

law related discussion (any related questions, opinions and

recommendations are welcome).



Feel free to use any of the material, or forward the newsletter to a

friend. Just don't forget to mention that they can subscribe to the

Cyberlaw Informer by visiting http://mishpat.net/cyberlaw or by

sending an email to mailto:cyberlaw-request@mishpat.net with

"subscribe" as the subject





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###################################

2. eToys.com v. etoy.com continues

###################################





Continuing the fight between the art group etoy and the giant online

toy store etoys, representatives for the international art group etoy

appeared publicly for the first time in the U.S. last week. The

representatives declared their intention to continue fighting for the

domain name "etoy.com". etoy representatives and their supporters

rallied against eToys and, at times, against the Internet's

increasingly commercial face. 



As part of its actions, eToys  has bought the domain name

etoyssucks.com and it leads to the the regular eToys.com site.

However, if you head over to www.etoys-sucks.com you will find an anti

eToys site.



This isn't the only step eToys has taken to fight etoy. Access to

service provider (ISP) Thing.net was blocked for 13 hours until one of

its subscribers agreed to remove a protest site directed against

eToys. Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), a politically active

online arts group, asked visitors to its site to program their

browsers to repeatedly go to the eToys site, potentially slowing its

functions during the busy holiday shopping season. Someone from eToys

contacted the Verio (Thing.net's provider) network-operations center

to notify security officials about large amounts of traffic coming

from Thing.net. Verio's customer use policy prohibits 'denial of

service' attacks by flooding it with traffic. Verio installed a filter

on the entire Thing.net network until the EDT site was taken down. 



This week etoy is scheduled to appear before the Los Angeles Superior

Court judge who ordered a preliminary injunction to stop it from using

the domain name "etoy.com". The art group registered its domain name

in 1995 while toy retailer eToys registered the domain name

"etoys.com" in 1997. 



Read more comments in the following New York Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/12/cyber/articles/18etoy.html

(free registration with the NY Times required)



                 

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############################################################

3. U.S. Child Pornography Protection Act - unconstitutional

############################################################





The appeal by the Free Speech Coalition, against the U.S. Department

of Justice, challenged the constitutionality of the U.S. Child

Pornography Prevention Act. Following is a summary of the ruling by

the U.S. Court of appeals for the 9th circuit.



The district court found that the Child Pornography Prevention Act of

1996 (CPPA) was content-neutral, was not unconstitutionally vague or

overbroad, and did not constitute an improper prior restraint of

speech. 

While the appeals court agreed that the Act is not an improper prior

restraint of speech, the 2-1 majority opinion, written by Judge

Molloy, found the phrases "appears to be" a minor, and "convey[s] the

impression" that the depiction portrays a minor, are vague and

overbroad and thus do not meet the requirements of the First

Amendment. Consequently the court ruled that while these two

provisions of the CPPA are unconstitutional, the balance of the CPPA

is constitutional when the two phrases are stricken.

 

The appellants a group that refers to itself as "The Free Speech

Coalition", is a trade association of businesses involved in the

production and distribution of "adult oriented materials". The Free

Speech Coalition (FSC) sought declaratory and injunctive relief by a

pre-enforcement challenge to certain provisions of the CPPA. The

district court determined the CPPA was constitutional. Free Speech

appealed the district court's decision.



 

* Legislative history *

Child pornography is a social concern that State legislatures and

Congress enacted laws to provide a basis to prosecute those persons

involved in the creation, distribution, and  possession of sexually

explicit materials made by or through the exploitation of children.

The original U.S. federal legislation specifically prohibiting the

sexual exploitation of children has been amended several times since

it was enacted as the Protection of Children Against Sexual

Exploitation Act of 1977. Throughout the legislative history, Congress

has defined the problem of child pornography in terms of real

children. Up until 1996 the actual participation and abuse of children

in the production or dissemination or pornography involving minors was

the sine qua non (necessary factor) of the regulating scheme. The 1996

CPPA changed course. The regulation direction shifted from defining

child pornography in terms of the harm inflicted upon real children to

a determination that child pornography was evil in and of itself,

whether it involved real children or not. 

CPPA expanded the law to combat the use of computer technology to

produce pornography containing images that look like children. In the

new law, Congress shifted the paradigm from the illegality of child

pornography that involved the use of real children in its creation to

forbid a "visual depiction" that "is, or appears to be, of a minor

engaging in sexually explicit conduct." 





* The law *

The CPPA defines child pornography as:

"Any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture,

or computer ... where:

(A) the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a

minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;

(B) such visual depiction is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in

sexually explicit conduct;

...

(D) such visual depiction is advertised, promoted, presented,

described, or distributed in such a manner that conveys the impression

that the material is or contains a visual depiction of a minor

engaging in sexually explicit conduct . . . ."



At issue in the appeal were the definitions contained in subsections

(B) and (D).



In another case, U.S. v. Hilton, the First Circuit found that the Act

at issue was content-based because it expressly aims to curb a

particular category of expression, child pornography, by singling out

the type of expression based on its content and then banning it. Thus,

the CPPA distinguishes favored from disfavored speech on the basis of

the content of that speech. 



There are three compelling interests put forward when instituting

efforts to curb child pornography using images of actual children. The

first interest is that child pornography requires the participation of

actual children in sexually explicit situations to create the images.

The second interest stems from the belief that dissemination of such

pornographic images may encourage more sexual abuse of children

because it whets the appetite of pedophiles. The third interest is

that such images are morally and aesthetically repugnant.





* Majority rules the law is unconstitutional *

The appeals court reasoned, that any victimization of children that

may arise from pedophiles' sexual responses to pornography apparently

depicting children engaging in explicit sexual activity is not a

sufficiently compelling justification for CPPA's speech restrictions.

This is so because to hold otherwise enables the criminalization of

foul figments of creative technology that do not involve any human

victim in their creation or in their presentation. 

The majority claimed that factual studies that establish the link

between computer generated child pornography and the subsequent sexual

abuse of children apparently do not yet exist. Thus, while such images

are unquestionably morally repugnant, they do not involve real

children nor is there a demonstrated basis to link computer generated

images with harm to real children. 

Because the CPPA attempts to criminalize disavowed impulses of the

mind, manifested in illicit creative acts, the majority determined

that censorship through the enactment of criminal laws intended to

control an evil idea cannot satisfy the constitutional requirements of

the First Amendment. The state interest cannot justify the criminal

proscription when no actual children are involved in  the illicit

images either by production or depiction. 



The CPPA's criminalizing of material that "appears to be a minor" and

"convey[s] the impression" that the material

is a minor engaged in explicit sexual activity, is void for vagueness.

It does not "give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable

opportunity to know what is prohibited," and it fails to provide

explicit standards for those who must apply it, "with the attendant

dangers of arbitrary and discriminatory application".

The majority ruled that the two phrases in question are highly

subjective. "There is no explicit standard as to what the phrases

mean. The phrases provide no measure to guide an ordinarily

intelligent person about prohibited conduct and any such person could

not be reasonably certain about whose perspective defines the

appearance of a minor, or whose impression that a minor is involved

leads to criminal prosecution. ...  In the same light, the absence of

definitions ... permits enforcement in an arbitrary and discriminatory

fashion". 





* Dissenting opinion *

Judge Ferguson wrote a dissenting opinion.



According to Judge Ferguson, Congress has provided compelling evidence

that virtual child pornography causes real harm to real children. As a

result, virtual child pornography should join the ranks of real child

pornography as a class of speech outside the protection of the First

Amendment. 

Prior to the CPPA, federal law imposed penalties on individuals who

produced, distributed, or possessed visual depiction of actual minors

engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Recent advances in

computer imaging technology, however, have made this law ineffective

for two reasons. First, purveyors of child pornography can now produce

visual depictions that appear to be actual children engaged in sexual

conduct "without using children" at all, "thereby placing such

depictions outside the scope of federal law". Second, even where

actual children are used, computers can "alter sexually explicit

photographs, films, and videos in such a way as to make it virtually

impossible for prosecutors to identify individuals, or to prove that

the offending material was produced using actual children".



In an effort to close these loopholes, Congress enacted the CPPA which

bans visual depictions that "appear to be of a minor engaging in

sexually explicit conduct" or that are "advertised, promoted,

presented, described, or distributed in such a manner that conveys the

impression that the material is or contains a visual depiction of a

minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct Along with the CPPA,

Congress included thirteen detailed legislative findings that explain

why virtual child pornography needs to be prohibited. 



Judge Ferguson pointed out mistakes made, in his opinion, by the

majority:

* The majority improperly suggests that preventing harm to depicted

children is the only legitimate justification for banning child

pornography. The majority had an obligation to consider justifications

beyond just the harm caused to the children depicted in the image.

* The majority ignores the fact that many of the justifications

Congress relied on when it passed the CPPA have already been endorsed

by the Supreme Court. For example, the Court recognized that states

have a legitimate interest in preventing pedophiles from "using  child

pornography to seduce other children into sexual activity", and that

states have a legitimate interest in destroying the child pornography

market. 

* Legislators should be given "greater leeway" when acting to protect

the well being of children. The majority fails to address Congress'

concern that computer imaging technology is making it increasingly

difficult in criminal cases for the government "to meet its burden of

proving that a pornographic image is of a real child."  

* The majority ignores the fact that child pornography, real or

virtual, has little or no social value.  The First Amendment does not

protect certain limited categories of speech that are "utterly without

redeeming social importance". Both real and virtual child pornography

contain visual depictions of children engaging in sexually explicit

activity. The only difference is that real child pornography uses

actual children in its production, whereas virtual child pornography

does not. While this distinction is noteworthy, it does not somehow

transform virtual child pornography into meaningful speech. 

* The majority improperly analyzes the CPPA under a strict scrutiny

approach. The proper mode of analysis is to weigh the state's interest

in regulating child pornography against the material's limited social

value. The majority should have weighed Congress' reasons for banning

virtual child pornography against the limited value of such material.

Congress' interests in destroying the child pornography market and in

preventing the seduction of minors outweigh virtual child

pornography's exceedingly modest social value. 



Judge Ferguson added that the CPPA shields from prosecution sexually

explicit visual depictions so long as they are produced using actual

adults and "the material has not been pandered as child pornography".

Persons -- like the appellants in this case - who produce and

distribute works depicting the sexual conduct of actual adults, and do

not market the depictions as if they contain sexual images of

children, are thus explicitly protected from culpability under the

CPPA. Rather than invalidate part of the statute based on possible

problems that may never occur, it is best to deal with those

situations on a case-by-case basis. 

According to the dissenting opinion, the key phrases of the CPPA are

clearly defined, and it is unlikely that a person of ordinary

intelligence would be unable to determine what activities are

prohibited. As an additional safeguard against arbitrary prosecutions,

the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the

individual "knowingly" produced, distributed, or possessed sexually

explicit. Thus, a defendant who honestly believes that the individual

depicted in the image appears to be 18 years old or older (and is

believed by a jury), must be acquitted, so long as the image was not

presented or marketed as if it contained a real minor.





The full text of Free Speech Coalition v. Janet Reno can be found at

(cut and paste both lines):

http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov/web/newopinions.nsf/

f606ac175e010d64882566eb00658118/723f1714f48cc02b8825684a00754091











#################################

4. Cyberlaw resource of the week

#################################



This weeks' resource is a little different than usual. 

M$-Monopoly at http://www.ms-monopoly.com is a humorous site, an

online game about this years' main computer law story -- the Microsoft

antitrust trial. This site lets you play the famous game of monopoly,

with one slight difference - everything is owned by Microsoft. Try

clicking on any property card (different hi-tech companies) and a

pop-up window will tell you what part of it Microsoft owns. If it

isn't owned by Microsoft, the rent is free. In addition, the fines you

pay go directly to Bill Gates (no wonder he is so rich ...). The

'chance' cards are also related to Microsoft.



The site is open source, meaning site owners may put the game up on

their server, and add additional cards.



If you would like to recommend an Internet legal resource, please send

it to mailto:editor@mishpat.net

You can also recommend resources at the online bulletin board

http://mishpat.net/cgi-bin/bbs/UltraBoard.pl









#############################

5. Cyberlaw news and updates

#############################



Each week Mishpat-Update brings you the latest news about

online and computer law, with links to the full reports available

on the web.





* Germany checks connection between Win 2000 and Scientologists *

Laws in the German states of Hamburg and Bavaria require that

companies with government contracts and some private companies be free

of connections to the Church of Scientology. In November, Microsoft

announced that disk fragmentation technology developed by Executive

Software had been licensed to Microsoft for use in Windows 2000.

Executive Software's CEO Craig Jensen is a member of the Church of

Scientology and has boasted that his staff is trained according to

systems developed by the Church of Scientology. According to

regulations that apply in Hamburg and Bavaria, companies selling to 

governments have to sign an agreement saying that nobody involved in

executing the service has anything to do with Scientology.

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,33154,00.html?tw=wn19991221





* ICANN approves another 10 registrars *

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

announced that ten additional applicant companies have met the

criteria to be accredited as domain name registrars in the .com, .net,

and .org domains. These companies will compete in the market for

domain name registration services by participating in the Shared

Registry System, which allows multiple ICANN-accredited registrars to 

register domain names ending in .com, .net, and .org. The new 

registrars are from France, U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, China and 

the Republic of Korea. This brings the total number of accredited

registrars to 98. 

A full list of accredited registrars can be found at:

http://www.icann.org/registrars/accreditation-qualified-list.html





* AOL and Netscape win patent suit *

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a verdict

that found that America Online (AOL) and Netscape Communications

did not infringe a patent directed to retrieving and storing

"frames" of data from different information providers. Wang

Laboratories Inc. owns a U.S. Patent that provides users with textual

and graphical information from databases using interactive two way

communication over a telephone network. Wang alleged that the Netscape

'bookmarks' feature infringed upon the patent. The district court as

well as the appeals court, found that the patent claims did not

include bit-mapped protocols used by Netscape and AOL.

http://www.lawnewsnetwork.com/stories/A12090-1999Dec21.html





* Amazon sued by small publisher *

Toby Press, a small publisher, filed a lawsuit against online giant

Amazon.com, claiming Amazon.com is lying to customers by stating a

book is unavailable, when in reality, it is available, but not through

Amazon.com. Toby says it has refused to sell any of the six titles it

publishes through Amazon.com, and instead is making them available

only through its catalog and web site. According to Toby, instead of

telling customers that the books are available elsewhere Amazon.com is

stating that it is out of stock.

As a remedy, the lawsuit asks that Amazon.com's statements be replaced

with the following hyper linked statement: "This book is not available

from Amazon.com, but can be ordered from the publisher directly at

www.tobypress.com." This raises the question, why should Amazon.com

send customers to Toby Press' site. Is any retailer supposed to send

buyers to manufacturers if it doesn't distribute the merchandise?

http://www.post-gazette.com/businessnews/19991208amazon2.asp





* Lessig to issue opinion in Microsoft trial *

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson dismissed

Microsoft's objections to his request, that Harvard University

professor Lawrence Lessig write a 'friend of the court' brief to help

the judge determine whether Microsoft broke antitrust laws. Microsoft

argued that Lessig has formed "strong views" about Microsoft and its

role in the software industry. Microsoft pointed out that Lessig

served as an advisor to Red Hat Center for Open Source, a group 

dedicated to furthering operating systems that compete with

Microsoft's Windows products. 

http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,8400,00.html



* Microsoft class action race *

Microsoft faces yet more class action antitrust suits filed by

consumers looking to capitalize on the findings of fact that the

company is a predatory monopolist. Seven more federal cases were filed

this week, all claiming that Microsoft hurt them by overcharging for

Windows software. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-12/22/164l-122299-idx.html

               



* Professors sue 'Ask Jeeves' *

Professors Patrick Winston and Boris Katz, from the Massachusetts

Institute of Technology (MIT), filed suit in U.S. District Court in

Boston, claiming that search service Ask Jeeves infringed on two of

their patents, by using natural-language technology they developed

(natural-language technology lets users search using queries written

in everyday language, rather than using key words or special computer

logic). The professors asked the court to stop Ask Jeeves from using

or passing along the technology (it has already been licensed to

AltaVista search engine) and are seeking damages and payment for

royalties. Ask Jeeves said the company believes the allegations are

without merit.

http://www.businesstoday.com/topstories/jeeves12171999.htm





* Brazilian judge ban violent computer games *

A judge in Brazil has banned six violent video games throughout

Brazil, saying they inspired real violence. Judge Claudia Maria

Resende Neves Guimaraes ordered stores to remove the famous games 

Doom, Postal, Mortal Combat, Requiem, Blood and Duke Nukem from their

shelves or face a $10,000 fine. It is not the first time Brazil has

banned a video game. In 1997, authorities banned the video game

Carmageddon. The objective in that game is to run over and kill as

many children, elderly, poor people and animals as possible. 

http://www.nandotimes.com/technology/story/0,1643,500141911-

500168443-500625430-0,00.html

(cut and paste both lines)





* Naughton released from jail *

U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie ordered to release Patrick

Naughton, on $100,000 bail, saying it was likely that he would win a

new trial. Last week a jury found Naughton guilty of possessing child

pornography. The release was triggered by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court

of Appeals ruling holding parts of the federal Child Pornography

Prevention Act of 1996 as unconstitutional (see feature article

above). 

http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2413176,00.html





* Aureal wins round in sound card battle *

Aureal has won its legal battle with rival Creative technology. A US

jury threw out Creative's claim that Aureal's Vortex sound processor

chip violated Creative intellectual property. The suit in question is

just one of many the two companies have been throwing at each other

over the last few years. Creative has already said it will appeal the

jury's decision, claiming that the jury was too dim to understand the 

technical issues. 

http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/bursts/0,7407,2408078,00.html





* Music industry sues Chinese web sites *

Major recording companies launched legal action in China against two

pirate websites offering more than 1,000 Internet music files they

said were illegal. Both sites targeted by the International Federation

of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) offered music from Hong Kong,

Taiwan and China. IFPI said there were up to 200 sites offering

unauthorized copies of music in China.

http://www.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/breaking/merc/docs/023665.htm





* EU and U.S. continue privacy negotiations *

The European Union and U.S. government have set March as the new

deadline for reaching agreement on data privacy. However, the two

sides have still failed to resolve their differences over how best to

ensure consumer have clear dispute settlement rights when privacy

violations occur. 

http://www.computerworld.com/home/news.nsf/CWFlash/9912201privacy





* EPIC releases troubling privacy report *

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) released a report

warning online holiday shoppers that their privacy is at risk.

According to the report, few of the 100 most popular shopping sites 

provide adequate privacy protection for consumers and many track

purchases and online habits. According to the report, 18 of the top

shopping sites didn't display a privacy policy, 35 have profile based

advertisers who collect data from the sites and 86 use cookies. 

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-200-1500309.html





* Online crime reporting *

The San Jose Police Department (California) began accepting

misdemeanor crime reports by Internet, mail or fax. The new program

covers most non-violent property crimes, about a third of all reported

crimes in San Jose. Instead of waiting for an overburdened police

dispatcher to take a report, victims can quickly request a blank form

over the telephone, or download it off the department's Internet site

at www.sjpd.org. 

http://www.sjmercury.com/svtech/news/breaking/merc/docs/040231.htm





* Earthlink privacy hole *

A  software bug caused by an incomplete software installation is

placing the Earthlink's users unencrypted username and password in the

computer's registry file. A senior public relations manager at

Earthlink, one of the largest ISPs in the U.S., said Earthlink will

fix the problem. With Earthlink's software package, Total Access,

often stored on public computers in offices, schools and Internet

coffee shops, passwords could be grabbed by third parties. 

http://www.privacytimes.com/NewWebstories/ISP_priv_12_1.htm





* Battle over U.S. judges' records continues *

Claiming discrimination against Internet news services, APBnews.com

will sue the federal judiciary for blocking access to public records.

The lawsuit comes a week after the committee that oversees judicial

matters rejected APBnews' request for financial disclosure records of

all federal judges. The records have been released to newspapers such

as the Wall Street Journal and are supposed to be available to the

public. 

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-1502607.html





* West to pay $800K in attorney fees *

Judge John S. Martin, has ordered the legal publisher West Publishing

Co., to pay its competitor Hyperlaw Inc. $813,724 in attorneys' fees.

Judge Martin said West's conduct in defending itself on a copyright

case brought by Hyperlaw was "frivolous". The Judge criticized West

for asserting a copyright in a work consisting predominantly of the

work of the federal courts. 

http://www.lawnewsnetwork.com/stories/A11907-1999Dec17.html





* Juno faces second sexual harassment suit *

Juno Online Services faces a second sexual harassment lawsuit brought

by a former employee. Lori Park, a former Juno software engineer,

claims she was pressured to date a company executive and was paid less

than her male colleagues. These allegations parallel, to some degree,

those made in August by Lisa Bongiorno, who claimed that she was

pressured to have a sexual relationship with a Juno manager. Bongiorno

claims she was fired from Juno within 10 days of ending that

relationship.

http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,7919,00.html





* Who is IndiaWorld *

IndiaWorld, a company with a turnover of $300,000 and a profit of

$58,139 has just been bought for $115 million by the Indian ISP

Satyam, a NASDAQ listed company. However, documents filed with the

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) indicate that Satyam has

purchased indiaworld.co.in and its associated portals and not

IndiaWorld.com, as been widely reported by the media. Both

indiaworld.com and indiaworld.co.in use identical logos, in spite of

the fact that they are not mirror sites. Sources at Satyam said that

the company is not interested in the IndiaWorld trademark and is

willing to give it up. 

http://www.internetnews.com/intl-news/article/0,1087,6_264581,00.html





* Intel wins patent suit *

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick has granted Intel's summary

judgment in TechSearch vs. Intel. TechSearch, a Chicago based

intellectual property consulting group, filed the patent infringement

suit against the chip giant in August 1998. TechSearch alleged that

some of the intellectual property underlying the Pentium Pro and

Pentium II processors infringed upon patents it acquired from

International Meta Systems (IMS). Intel argued that its own patents

were "prior art," or older than, the IMS patents. Judge Orrick ruled

in Intel's favor and dismissed the case. 

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1003-200-1502119.html





* Expedia claims Priceline isn't the only patent holder *

Microsoft and Expedia.com filed a motion to dismiss the patent

infringement suit brought against them by Priceline.com. In the suit,

Priceline accuses Expedia (owned by Microsoft) of violating a

Priceline patent on the process of "name your price" bidding for

airline tickets and hotel rooms (this service allows customers to bid

on unsold airline tickets and hotel rooms). Expedia claims that

Priceline may not be the sole owner of that patent.

According to court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut,

a San Francisco company called Marketel International claims it came

up with the idea for this type commerce and shared it with Priceline

founder years ago under a nondisclosure agreement. Expedia says that

before it can defend itself from the Priceline suit, the court must

rule on the true ownership of the patent. 

http://www.computerworld.com/home/news.nsf/CWFlash/9912212travesuit





* Rape Shield Law doesn't cover emails *

A state appeals court has overturned the conviction of a man

imprisoned for the kidnapping and sexual torture of a college student

he met on the Internet. The court ruled that Oliver Jovanovic was

unable to properly defend himself because the trial judge incorrectly

applied the state's Rape Shield Law (that prevents raising matters

relating to the victims' sexual conduct that have no bearing on the

defendant's guilt). According to the appeals court, Jovanovic should

have been allowed to show a jury online conversations and e-mail in

which the woman he is accused of attacking indicated an interest in

participating in sadomasochism. Jovanovic claims the emails show the

woman came to his apartment of her own free will, and she left when

she wanted to.

http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/conviction991222.html





* EU approves online music deal *

The European Commission approved a deal in which Columbia House,

owned by Sony and Time Warner, bought a stake in CDNow, an online

seller of CDs and videos. The commission said the combination won't

threaten fair competition in European markets.

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-1502893.html





* Hacker goes to jail without computer *

Jay Satiro, 19, who hacked into America Online's (AOL) computers and

replaced their programs with his own was sentenced to a year in jail

and five years without a home PC. Satiro violated the terms of his

probation for an earlier offense. Satiro had once worked as a

technical support volunteer at AOL and had used his knowledge to his

advantage. The judge said that after Satiro's release from jail, he

will be allowed computer access only if required at school or at work,

and then only outside the home. 

http://www.usatoday.com:80/life/cyber/tech/ctg955.htm





* ACLU sues over web censorship *

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the federal

government for allegedly coercing an artist and web hosting service to

censor a fictional depiction of a Y2K military takeover. The lawsuit

accuses the FBI, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New

York, and the US Department of Justice of illegally shutting down

artist Mike Zieper's video, 'Military Takeover of New York City',

which is about a New Year's Eve military coup in Times Square.

According to the lawsuit, the Feds violated Zieper's right to free

speech by pressuring the artist and his Web host to remove the video. 

As reported a couple of weeks ago, Takeover was removed from the

server after FBI agents contacted Zieper's web host. Meanwhile

Takeover was returned to Zieper's site, where it has gotten more than

200,000 hits. 

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,33225,00.html





* Terrorism threats using AOL *

Renato DeSousa Flor, from New Jersey, was arrested by the Joint

Terrorism Task Force after America Online (AOL) alerted the force

about the posting of the threat in a chat room. A message, sent using

an AOL account, stated that "A blue van with explosives will be riding

followed up by 2 cars ... the van will be placed sideways ... once its

reaches the middle of the tunnel ... the driver will get inside of one

of the cars and exit the tunnel". No bombs were found after police and

bomb sniffing dogs combed several tunnels leading into New York. No

explosives were found at Flor's home. Flor was charged in a federal

criminal complaint with "knowingly and intentionally transmitting in

interstate commerce a communication containing a threat to injure,"

the FBI said. 

http://news.cnet.com/category/0-1005-200-1504779.html





* email job fraud *

Four Russian emigres who sent out 50 million e-mails pleaded guilty to

fraud charges in a scheme that cheated job seekers out of about

$150,000. The defendants sent out more than 50 million spam messages,

asking job seekers to pay $35 each for a chance to work at home

stuffing envelopes. At first they planned a legitimate business, but

once money started arriving at their mailboxes, the plan changed. At

least 5,000 people sent checks. Among the victims were the Internet

providers whose systems were threatened by the overload. The pleas

came in an agreement with the U.S. government providing that the

defendants cooperate with victimized companies and explain the

methodology that allowed the scheme to proceed. 

http://www.sjmercury.com/svtech/news/breaking/ap/docs/12123l.htm





* Towards global electronic patent filing *

The European Patent Office (EPO), the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) and

the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) agree on a standard for

electronic filing of patent applications, and will begin testing in

2000. At the their annual Trilateral Conference held in Berlin, the

three patent offices defined a work program to set up the necessary

technical infrastructure in each office and to create a consistent

legal framework. The agreement also deals with the mutual recognition

of electronic signatures. 

http://www.european-patent-office.org/news/pressrel/991112_e.htm





* IBM sues EMC *

IBM has filed a lawsuit against rival EMC, maker of large data storage

systems, alleging it violated a patent agreement and committed fraud

by secretly transferring disputed patents to a shell company. 

http://www.computerworld.com/home/print.nsf/CWFlash/991223D762





* FDA issues online pharmacy guide *

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published an online guide

with tips for safe shopping among the hundreds of Internet pharmacies.

While some online pharmacies offer legitimate products and

convenience, officials warned it was easy for operators to sell

pharmaceuticals without a valid prescription, promote unapproved drugs

or peddle counterfeit medicines. The FDA recommends that consumers

check whether a web site is a licensed pharmacy, look for phone

numbers to contact operators and avoid sites that offer to prescribe

drugs for the first time without a physical exam or sell prescription

medicines without a prescription. 

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-200-1501222.html

The buying medical products online guide can be found at:

http://www.fda.gov/oc/buyonline/





* Spamming AOL users is costly *

The Christian Brothers, a group that markets apricot seeds as a cancer

cure over the Internet, has been hit with more than $600,000 in

damages for clogging the computer systems of America Online (AOL) with

the transmission of millions of the spam messages (unsolicited e-mail

messages). Christian Brothers had unlawfully obtained mailing lists of

the e-mail addresses of AOL members and sent more than 20 million

messages to them using AOL's computer networks. The unsolicited

messages, which included fraudulent headers misrepresenting that the

messages came from aol.com, provided links to sites where the apricot

seeds and related books and videotapes were for sale. After receiving

thousands of complaints from its members, AOL sent a cease-and-desist

letter to Christian Brothers. When the spamming persisted, AOL filed

suit. The Judge found that AOL was due $17,940 in hardware processing

costs; treble damages of $389,020 for lost advertising revenue;

$24,625 in attorney's fees; and $200,000 in punitive damages.

http://www.nylj.com/stories/99/12/121499a3.htm









That is all for this week.

I wish you all an easy shift to Y2K,



Yedidya (Didi) M. Melchior 

Editor 





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