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The Mishpat-Update #24

Welcome to the twenty fourth issue of the weekly Mishpat Update, Law
on the net from

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In this issue:

1. Introduction
2. Global Internet facts and numbers
3. Legal research utility : It Is Law
4. Cyberlaw news and updates


1. Introduction

I would like to welcome the 28 new subscribers who joined the list this

This weeks' feature article takes a second look at a special report by
the United Nations, showing discrepancies in telecommunications between
developed and developing countries.

As usual, there is a lot of cyberlaw news in this week's news section,
which is located at the end of the newsletter, after a review of an
online legal research tool. If you have any comments, or would like to
point out a good story don't forget to send an email to

August's winner of the Mishpat Award will be announced in next week's
newsletter. If you run a law related web site and would like to apply
for September's award, fill in the application form at

The Mishpat Update archive (issues 1-23) is available at:

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 by sending
a blank email to

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2. Global Internet facts and numbers

In Mishpat Update #19, I wrote about the United Nations Development
Program's (UNDP) annual Human Development Report, that suggested a
global internet tax. The money raised is supposed to help developing
countries improve their telecommunications infrastructure. While this
suggestion might sound interesting (and to some frightening), it is
probably not going to be adopted, because of practical difficulties
administrating it and because developed countries will probably oppose

Readers of the report focused on the internet tax issue, but that is
only a small part of the 108 page report. As promised in issue #19, we
will take another look at the report, focusing on interesting facts
about internet usage world wide. This isn't directly connected to
cyberlaw, but this newsletter is international, with readers from more
than 20 countries. I think that you, as readers with an international
perspective of the internet, will find these facts and figures
interesting. Following is a summary of parts in the report, concerning
global communication needs versus global communication reality.

The number of Internet hosting computers with a direct connection —
rose from less than 100,000 in 1988 to more than 36 million in 1998.
More than 143 million people were estimated to be Internet users in mid
1998, and by 2001 that number is expected to be more than 700 million.
The Internet is the fastest growing tool of communication ever. Its
speed and cost advantages are clear. A 40 page document can be sent
from Madagascar to The Ivory Coast, for example, by five day courier
for $75, by 30 minute fax for $45 or by two minute email for less than
20 cents and the email can go to hundreds of people at no extra cost. 
The choice is easy, if the choice is there.

However, not all people around the globe have the same possibilities
(or any possibility) of accessing the information superhighway. 

Developing countries suffer many of the world's most virulent and
infectious diseases, yet often have the least access to information for
combating them. A US medical library subscribes to around 5,000
journals, but the Nairobi (Kenya) University Medical School Library,
long regarded as a flagship center in East Africa, now receives just 20
journals. In Brazzaville, Congo, the university has only 40 medical
books and a dozen journals, all from before 1993. Distance learning,
through teleconferencing and, increasingly, the Internet, can bring
critical knowledge to information-poor hospitals and schools in
developing countries. The potential is great, but technology alone is
not a solution. Some cautions:
• Information-poor schools and hospitals are often poorly connected. In
South Africa, the best connected African country, many hospitals and
about 75% of schools have no telephone lines. Even at the university
level, where lines exist, up to 1,000 people may depend on just
one terminal. A single computer is not enough: an entire
telecommunications infrastructure is needed.
• Equipment is a necessity but to be part of a solution. Distance
learning technology is of little use without relevant course content
and strong staff support. Zambia saw an exodus of 7,000 teachers
between 1986 and 1990, largely due to a shrinking education budget. 
• Information is only one of many needs. Email is no substitute for
vaccines, satellites cannot provide clean water. 

Communications technology opens new opportunities for small players to
enter the global marketplace and political arena.

Socially excluded and minority groups have created cyber communities to
find strength in online unity and fight the silence on abuses of their
rights. In India DATPERS, the Dalit and Tribal People Electronic
Resource Site, exposes the exclusion of 250 million low caste people,
coordinating international human rights campaigns and keeping the
community in touch. During the Indonesian riots of 1998 the ethnic
Chinese minority used the Web to draw the attention of the world to
their plight.

The power and importance of communications technology are clear. But is
it leading to globalization or polarization in communications? 
The information revolution has only just begun on a worldwide scale,
and its networks are spreading wider every day. But they are heavily
concentrated in very few countries. In Cambodia in 1996, there was
less than 1 telephone for every 100 people. In Monaco, by contrast,
there were 99 telephones for every 100 people. A widely accepted
measure of basic access to telecommunications is having 1 telephone for
every 100 people — a teledensity of 1. Yet as we enter the next
century, a quarter of all countries still have not achieved even this
basic level. At the present average speed of telecommunications spread,
Bhutan would take until 2050 to achieve the teledensity that Germany
and Singapore have today.

In mid 1998 industrial countries, home to less than 15% of people, had
88% of Internet users. North America alone, with less than 5% of all
people had more than 50% of Internet users. By contrast, South Asia is
home to over 20% of all people but had less than 1% of the world's
Internet users. Thailand has more cellular phones than the whole of
Africa. There are more Internet hosts in Bulgaria than in Sub-Saharan
Africa (excluding South Africa). Just 55 countries account for 99% of
global spending on information technology.

Most telephones in developing countries are in the capital city,
although most people live in rural areas. Connections are often poor in
the rainy season, and the costs of calls are very high. In several
African countries average monthly Internet connection and use costs run
as high as $100, compared to $10 in the United States. 

Even if telecommunication systems are installed and are accessible,
without literacy and basic computer skills, people will have little
access to the network society. In 1995 adult literacy was less than 40%
in 16 countries, and primary school enrollment was less than 80% in 24
countries. In Benin, for example, more than 60% of the population is
illiterate, so the possibility of expanding access beyond today's
2,000 Internet users is heavily constrained.

Current access to the Internet runs along the fault lines of national
societies, dividing educated from illiterate, men from women, rich from
poor, young from old, urban from rural. National Internet surveys in
1998 and 1999 revealed that:
• Income buys access. The average South African user had an income
seven times the national average, and 90% of users in Latin America
came from upper income groups. More than 30% of users in the United
Kingdom had salaries above $60,000. Buying a computer would cost the
average Bangladeshi more than eight years’ income, compared with just
one month's wage for the average American. 
• Education is a ticket to the network high society. Globally, 30% of
users have at least one university degree, in the United Kingdom it is
50%, in China almost 60%, in Mexico 67% and in Ireland almost 70%.
• Men dominate. Women accounted for 38% of users in the United States,
25% in Brazil, 17% in Japan and South Africa, 16% in Russia, only 7% in
China and a mere 4% in the Arab States. The trend starts early: in the
United States five times as many boys as girls use computers at home,
and parents spend twice as much on technology products for their sons
as they do for their daughters.
• Youth dominate too. The average age of users in the United States was
36; in China and the United Kingdom, under 30.
• Ethnicity counts. In the United States the difference in use by
ethnic groups widened between 1995 and 1998. Disparity exists even
among US university students. More than 80% attending elite private
colleges used the Internet regularly, compared with just over 40%
attending public institutions, where African- American students are
more likely to enroll.
• English talks. English is used in almost 80% of Websites and in the
common user interfaces, the graphics and instructions. Yet less than 1
out of 10 people worldwide speak the language.

The authors of the report conclude that:
"Geographic barriers may have fallen for communications, but a new
barrier has emerged. ... The network society is creating parallel
communications systems: one for those with income, education and
literally connections, giving plentiful information at low cost and
high speed; the other for those without connections, blocked by high
barriers of time, cost and uncertainty and dependent on outdated
information. With people in these two systems living and competing side
by side, the advantages of connection are overpowering. The voices and
concerns of people already living in human poverty, lacking incomes,
education and access to public institutions are being increasingly

These are just some of the facts in the very detailed report by an
important body within the United Nations. These are, of course, only
some of the problems in making the global telecommunications truly
global. There are several opinions and suggestions as to the way these
problems need to be tackled. We will take a look on some of them,
included in the report, in one of the future issues of the Mishpat

The full Human Development Report 1999 is available at:

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3. Legal research utility : It Is Law

Houston (Texas) based National Law Library launched its online legal
research service ELAW located at almost three
months ago. The service challenges established names in the industry,
such as Lexis and Westlaw, by providing instant access to case law,
statutes and regulations over the Internet, at a heavily discounted

Instead of charging its clients high monthly fees, or billing by the
use or hour, ELAW's customers get unlimited online access to its
research database for just $34.95 per month. ELAW utilizes the Internet
as a delivery mechanism, thus reducing costs and enabling real time
access to information.

ELAW provides its customers with the most updated law, rules and
statutes for extremely rapid searching and very easy downloading nearly
immediately upon their availability. 

I haven't tried their service, but the main drawback, when compared to
other legal information databases, is the limited scope covered. ELAW
presently includes only Texas State statutes, constitution and case
law as well as the federal 5th and 11th Circuit. Other state case law
and statutes, as well as other federal circuits and U.S. statutes are
planned to be posted gradually. 

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4. 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.

* AT&T wins 'buddy list' trademark suit *
U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton in Virginia, granted AT&T's motion
for summary judgment, rejecting AOL's claims that the phrases "You Have
Mail", "Buddy List" and "IM" are trademark terms. Judge Hilton ruled
that they were generic words and phrases and that therefore AT&T's
WorldNet Service could use them. 
AOL uses the phrase "You've Got Mail" to inform subscribers they have
unread email. It also uses "Buddy List" in connection with its Buddy
Chat function and "IM" for instant messaging. AOL has applications
pending at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to register the
marks "You Have Mail" and "IM", "Buddy list" is already registered.
AT&T uses "IM" with its "IM Here" function, an instant messaging
service available to WorldNet customers. 
AOL filed its suit last December shortly after AT&T announced it was
adding a "You Have Mail" notification window for its WorldNet customers
and was launching the "IM Here" instant messaging service. AOL argued
that it popularized these terms, and that consumers associate them with
AOL. But AT&T responded that the phrase "you have mail" was featured in
versions of Unix, an operating system developed more than 20 years ago
(by AT&T ...). AOL said it would appeal the ruling to the 4th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals.,4586,2315106,00.html

* New Zealand sues IBM *
The government of New Zealand filed a lawsuit against IBM, saying Big
Blue broke a contract by withdrawing its staff from the development of
a police information system earlier this month. Delays in the
development of an Integrated Crime Information System sparked
controversy in New Zealand in recent weeks, with the government and IBM
blaming each other. The project is three years behind schedule and more
than $10.5 million over its original $50 million budget. At the time of
IBM's withdrawal, a company spokesman said the contract, for what had
become an increasingly complex project, had been fulfilled.

* FCC supports AT&T in broadband lawsuit *
In a friend of the court brief in AT&T's case against Portland, Ore.,
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) argued that local
officials could create 'regulatory disparity' by exercising authority
over cable companies offering Internet service. The FCC has repeatedly
opposed local and municipal officials coming up with their own
regulatory policy. In its brief, the commission justified this position
by saying that it alone has authority over all providers of high speed
Internet service. 
Background: As reported in previous issues of the Mishpat Update,
broadband access over cable lines provides connection speeds dozens of
times faster than today's telephone modems. Some Internet providers and
consumer groups fear that cable companies will develop a monopoly in
delivering high speed services, unless they are required to share their
wires with competitors. Portland area cable officials required AT&T,
which took over the cable TV company Tele-Communications Inc. earlier
this year, to open its lines to rival Internet competitors. A federal
judge upheld the decision. The case is currently before the 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals.

* "Mein Kampf" removed from German online bookstore *
German media giant Bertelsmann pulled Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" from
its BOL online book store after being accused in Germany of selling
hate literature. BOL said it would stop offering the book on its
English and French services to prevent Germans from buying it anyway. 
Bertelsmann's move comes after, as reported last week, the Nazi hunting
Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles filed a complaint with the
German Justice Ministry accusing, Bertelsmann's U.S.
online book selling partner, and rival of violating German
law by selling such books to German consumers online. Amazon continues
to offer an English version of "Mein Kampf" in all the countries to
which it delivers, but does not sell the book in German.

* UN War crimes tribunal receives computer donation *
The United Nations War Crimes Tribunal has received approximately $3.5
million in donated hardware and software to help speed the collection,
gathering and analysis of war crimes evidence. The new equipment will
help the tribunal's war crimes investigators share data through an
encrypted network that will link offices in Rwanda, The Hague, the
former Yugoslavia and UN headquarters in New York. When the system is
in place in the late fall, it will allow tribunal officials to
communicate quickly and securely with Rwanda instead of flying
prosecutors and investigators back and forth between the two sites for
private communication. The hardware and software were donated by
computer manufacturers.

* Banks domain dispute *
U.S. Bancorp, the 13th largest bank in the U.S., which just launched
its own online banking business, has sued
Inc. over concerns that customers will confuse the two Web
sites. A federal judge in Minneapolis ordered to suspend
use of its site and halt advertising until the dispute is cleared up. changed its name from USABancShares in May to focus on
online banking services. Until the lawsuit is completed, the company
continues to operate its online presence from
That name is not challenged in the lawsuit.,1087,3_185911,00.html

* Kansas online university shut down because of fraud *
Kansas attorney general Carla Stovall filed suit last week against
Leslie Edwin Snell, alleging he falsely advertised that his online
Monticello University offered degrees accredited by official bodies in
Kansas and other states. The host for the site,,
disconnected the online university this weekend after a Kansas state
judge issued a temporary restraining order against the site. The suit
alleges that about 200 people paid Snell between $2,000 and $8,000 for
accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees. Monticello University,
which also has gone by the name Thomas Jefferson University, is not
accredited by any official agencies, the suit alleges.

* CD-ROM Database will help returning Kosovars *
Volunteers from libraries across the U.S. are collecting phone books,
scanning them to create a database with the names and addresses of
Kosovars before the war. That should help restore administrative
records and settle legal disputes over property or inheritance claims,
as well as assist in creating voting lists for elections next year.

* Xerox sues over Y2K damages *
Xerox Corp. and its insurer are clashing over the copier company's bid
to recoup the costs of ridding the so called millennium bug (Y2K) from
its technology. The battle is over whether Xerox's $183 million in Y2K
expenditures should be covered under the "sue and labor" provision of
its policy with American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co. A "sue and
labor" provision enables the insurant to take action that will prevent
an accident with greater damages, and then sue the insurer for
expenses. This dispute comes after a similar suit, reported in a
previous issue of the Mishpat Update, filed in June by
telecommunications giant GTE Corp. against five of its insurers.

* Charged for selling 'rape date' drug over the net *
63 year old Carl Gorton of Florida, and 22 year old John Hedrick of
Colorado, were both charged with one count of solicitation to
manufacture the controlled substance gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and
instructions to make a potent "date rape" drug (a drug that can make
your date "want" to have sexual intercourse). Michigan attorney general
alleges that Gorton and Hedrick solicited special agents from the
attorney general's new High Tech Crime Unit to make the 'date rape'
drug by encouraging the sale of a "do it yourself" GHB ingredient kit.
If convicted, both face felony charges and a maximum penalty of 30
years in jail.

* sues Greek * Inc., the giant online retailer, filed a lawsuit in U.S.
court yesterday that charges the operators of a copycat Greek Web site
with trading on its brand name and reputation to lure away customers. 
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S., charges Greek residents of operating
an English language site, using the domain (gr is
Greece's international top level domain name).  bills itself
as "Greece's Biggest Book Store" and allows customers to shop for books
(only greek books), music and other products online. According to's lawsuit, the defendants "cut and pasted portions of the
original site into their own". filed an earlier lawsuit in
Greece naming the same defendants.
Disclaimer: Mishpat-Net is an associate of

* U.S. DOJ reviews AT&T - British Telecommunications deal *
According to the the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Justice Department
criminal division and the FBI are holding talks with AT&T and British
Telecommunications reviewing a planned $10 billion joint venture
agreement between the companies. The U.S. government wants to ensure
they have access to telecommunications networks for approved wire
tapping operations.

* AOL and the Burma Junta *
According to the Free Burma Coalition, America Online (AOL), the worlds
largest internet Service provider (ISP), chose on Friday August 13th,
the site to be linked to AOL's Asia Forum.  The site
is operated by the ruling military junta of Burma (also known as
Myanmar). The Burmese junta jails citizens for "unauthorized" use of
computers with modems. Internet service, including AOL, is unavailable
to all of Burma's 46 million citizens, save a few "authorized" friends
of the regime. The Free Burma Coalition informed AOL of the fact that
the junta operates this page, and gave them some information about
pervasive human rights violations in Burma. The next day AOL informed
the Free Burma Coalition that the website was removed from its
international country pages.
The press release by the Free Burma Coalition can be found at:

* Banks to send electronic statements *
The U.S. Federal Reserve Board approved a plan that could put an end to
the monthly statements that banks mail to customers, in favor of an
electronic substitute. The Fed voted 5-0 to allow banks to send
periodic customer account statements electronically and proposed a
framework for other disclosures to be similarly delivered. The switch
to electronic statements would be voluntary for customers.,4586,2317283,00.html

* U.S. DOJ wants computer search liberty *
The U.S. Justice Department is seeking expanded authority to search
computers during criminal investigations. The agency claims that it is
not looking for any more authority than it already has in obtaining
evidence, it is looking to update its authority so that it is
appropriate for the current level of technology. In the example of a
child pornography investigation, law enforcement might obtain a search
warrant covering pictures, photos, videotapes, and the like. If
Internet distribution of child pornography is suspected, the warrant
might also include computers and documents contained on them. But if
the documents are encrypted, law enforcement cannot open them. The
Justice Department's argument plays in part on fears of terrorism,
where a suspected group is under surveillance, but encrypted documents
are not accessible to investigators. 
Privacy experts see what the Justice Dept. is asking for differently.
David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information
Center said that: "We see this as a major expansion of the most
intrusive investigative techniques used by law enforcement, which is
the surreptitious entry to private premises." Sobel said the Justice
Dept. may be talking about terrorists and child pornographers, but he
sees a more likely use: tax investigations.,4586,2317907,00.html

* Apple sues Emachines *
Apple Computer has filed a lawsuit, this time against low cost PC maker
Emachines. The complaint, filed in U.S. Federal Court in San Jose,
California., seeks to enjoin Emachines from distributing its new eOne
computer. The eOne is based on different internal technology than the
iMac, but it comes with a built-in monitor and clear blue plastic
accents, similar conceptually to Apple's computer. The suit also asks
for actual and punitive damages. 
This is the second suit Apple has filed against a PC manufacturer for
allegedly improperly appropriating the design of the iMac. As reported
in previous issues of the Mishpat Update, in July Apple filed a similar
suit against Future Power and Daewoo. 
A major issue in both cases is the concept of "trade dress," that is,
the distinctive style or look of a product. Historically, the courts in
the U.S. did not extend trademark protection to design. Apple's theory
is that trade design protection exists. These companies, after all,
could have chosen a number of different styles for their computers. On
the other hand similarity, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

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