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The Mishpat-Update #26

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

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In this issue:

1. Introduction-  Mishpat-Update 6 Month Anniversary
2. Restriction of Internet Access
3. Texas Unauthorized Practice of Law
4. Cyberlaw news and updates


1. Introduction - Mishpat Update is half a year old

I would like to welcome the 32 new subscribers who joined the list this

For me, this is a special issue of Mishpat Update, marking half a year
since the first issue was sent out. The past 6 months have been truly
wonderful in both my personal and professional life. 
As the (few) readers of the first issue might recall, it was sent out
two weeks after my first son was born. In these six month, Dvir (the
name is the Hebrew word for sanctuary) has more than tripled his weight
and is so much fun to have around (for those interested, his pictures
are available at
Dvir isn't the only thing in my life growing so fast. Mishpat Update
now has more than 500 readers from over 30 countries, covering
all continents (excluding Antarctica...). A truly international list.
My goal is adding another 800 readers before Mishpat Update's first
birthday. Some of my other online ventures have also started booming
lately, so it seems that it has been an exciting and terrific half

Many of you have helped Mishpat Update with comments, tips and
suggestions. If any of you want to publish a short article related to
cyberlaw, computer law, or internet for lawyers, please send it to The same applies to any tips you want to
share with the rest of the Mishpat community.

Before moving on to this weeks cyberlaw news, I must thank my wife
Dafna, for the wonderful assistance in editing and supporting this
newsletter over the past six months.

This week's feature article takes a look at some of the limits to
Internet access. Many countries set some kind of limit to accessing the
web. There are however some governments, who take this to an extreme,
restricting citizens' access to the internet, or banning any net usage.
This article briefly reviews some of the measures imployed by
by these governments.

As usual, the last section of this issue is packed with legal news from
cyberspace. I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter, don't forget to
send your comments to

The Mishpat Update archive (issues 1-25) 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. Restriction of Internet Access

Many countries around the globe set some kind of limit on citizens'
ability to access the Internet. Governments are involved in net access
in various ways. The most common methods used are licensing of ISPs
(Internet Service Providers) and mandatory filtering or censorship.
Harsher methods include forcing citizens to subscribe to state run ISPs
or simply limiting the right to access network communication to
classes of people.

A recent report by the French civil rights group 'Reporters Sans
Frontieres' (RSF) describes twenty of these countries as real "Enemies
of the Internet". On the pretext of protecting the public from
"subversive ideas" or defending "national security and unity", some
governments totally prevent their citizens from gaining access to the
internet. Others control a single ISP and install filters blocking
access to web sites regarded as unsuitable and sometimes forcing users
to officially register with the authorities.

These governments face a special problem because of the
telecommunication revolution. The internet is a major factor in
economic growth, due to online trade and the exchange of
technical and scientific information in particular. But at the same
time it enables
any citizen to enjoy an unprecedented degree of freedom of speech that
might constitute a threat to these governments.

The twenty countries mentioned in the RSF report are: Azerbaijan,
Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan,
Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Saudi
Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Vietnam.
While I personally find the term "enemies of the web" extreme (and
this newsletter has subscribers from some of these countries, and they
can read this article), the following examples from the RSF report,
show some of the legal tools the governments of these states use to
control net access.

Censorship is total, due to a state monopoly on access. In addition, a
law passed in September 1996 obliges anyone who owns a computer to
declare it to the government. 

Although internet use is spreading rapidly, the government is trying to
keep up pressure on users. They are closely monitored and are supposed
to register with the authorities. In order to prevent the Chinese from
finding information on the web, the authorities have blocked access to
some sites. This happened to the BBC in October 1998. 

Censorship of the Internet is identical to that affecting other media
and covers the same subjects: sexuality, religion, criticism of the
Islamic Republic, any mention of Israel, the United States, and so on.
Because of the filters put in place by the authorities, access to some
sites is banned: for instance, medical students are denied access to
web pages that deal with anatomy.

North Korea
People in Pyongyang cannot access the internet. The government
deliberately prevents the population from seeing any news other than
its own propaganda. The few official sites aimed at foreigners (the
national news agency, newspapers and ministries) are maintained by
servers located in Japan.

Saudi Arabia
Even though 37 private companies have been given permission to operate
as ISPs, at the moment all traffic goes through the servers of the
Science and Technology Center, a public body equipped with
filters banning access to sites providing "information contrary to
Islamic values".

Internet access is officially banned to individuals. Offenders may face
a prison sentence, just as they may for "unauthorized" contacts with

Anyone who wants to access the internet has to ask permission of
the interior ministry and sign up with one of the two state owned ISPs.
Access is blocked to sites maintained by Vietnamese organizations based
abroad and international human rights organizations. 

RSF calls upon the countries, most of which signed the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to respect article 19
of the ICCPR which stipulates that: "everyone shall have the right
(...) to receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds,
regardless of frontiers (...)".

The full RSF report is available at:

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3. Texas Unauthorized Practice of Law

Legal "self - help kits" stir debate all around the world. On the one
hand stands the need to ensure that customers get adequate and
competent legal counseling. On the other hand stands freedom of speech
and affordable access to the law. This conflict has been intensified by
recent technological advancements that have enabled cheap, effective
and updated dissemination of legal information on CD ROMs and over the

Some lawyers say that self help materials oversimplify the law in a way
that endangers consumers, amounting to a form of malpractice. But the
publishers say the objectors are just self interested, and that lawyers
want the law to appear more complicated than it really is so they do
not lose business to self help publications.

The Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) occurs when a person who is not
a lawyer engages in the practice of law. Every U.S. state but Arizona
has a statute or Supreme Court rule (or both) prohibiting the
unauthorized practice of law. Most of these laws were passed in the
1920s and 30s when lawyers sought to protect their privileges against

Texas is the U.S. state with the strictest enforcement of UPL laws.
Other states have limited themselves to going after people and
businesses who sell services to the public (such as drafting documents
for clients). Texas is the only state where self help law publications
have been made the subject of regulation under unauthorized practice 
of law statutes (unless, of course, the publications are written or 
approved by Texas lawyers...). 

For nearly two years, Nolo Press, a publisher of legal self help books
and software, has struggled with a committee appointed by the Texas
Supreme Court, over Nolo's right to distribute self help law products
in Texas. Since only Texas lawyers can practice law in Texas, the
committee has contended in court that publications like Nolo's violate
Texas law and should therefore be banned. These legal problems have not
yet been resolved, but the change took place due to another self help
publisher, Parsons Technology, manufacturer of a self help software
called 'Quicken Family Lawyer'.

In February, a federal judge in Texas banned the sale of Quicken Family
Lawyer '99 after concluding that the software went beyond merely
providing information and "ventured into the unauthorized practice of
law."  The software, sold for , lets lay people draft legal
documents like wills, living trusts, prenuptial agreements and
documents. The  software customizes the documents by asking questions
like whether a  person is married or how many children they have. 

But in June, in response to publicity surrounding the software ban, the
State Legislature in Texas passed a bill that redefined "the practice
of law." Under the legislation, publishing or distributing software,
books, Internet sites and similar materials "that clearly and
conspicuously state (they) are not a substitute for the advice of an
attorney" are not considered to be an attempt to "practice" law. So if
a software package includes the proper disclaimer, it cannot be banned. 

In light of the new Texas law, the judge tossed out the case, and the
now upgraded Quicken Family Lawyer 2000 software can be sold in

Nolo Press's side of the story (accompanied by much
documentation) can be found at:

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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.

* Hasbro loses *
Clue Computing, a small Internet consulting firm in Colorado,
registered in June 1994. In February 1996, Hasbro Inc., the
giant toy maker, initiated a domain dispute through Network Solutions
Inc. (NSI the dominant domain registrar), claiming Clue Computing was
infringing on its trademarked mystery board game. This week Judge
Douglas Woodlock ruled that Clue Computing was not infringing or
diluting any legal rights of Hasbro. 
Hasbro currently uses the address to promote the game.
It also owns and operates sites at addresses including,, and 
The decision in Hasbro v. Clue Computing is the second time a domain
name holder has prevailed in court against accusations of trademark
dilution and infringement. As reported here last week, the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals returned two domains to a registrant who was
sued for trademark dilution by Avery Dennison Corporation, the Dennison
case was cited in Judge Woodlock's ruling. 
A Hasbro spokesperson said the company disagrees with the judge's order
and is filing an appeal with the First Circuit Court of Appeals.,1087,3_197321,00.html

* UK jurisdiction *
Graham Waddon, a 29 year old businessman, was given an 18 month
suspended sentence for running the UK's largest porn operation from
servers located in America. In a landmark ruling Judge Christopher 
Hardy ruled the images were uploaded from the UK and were therefore 
subject to British law. This case was first reported in Mishpat Update 
#18. The suspended sentence was due to Waddon's medical condition.,4586,2329295,00.html

* Large game company accused of piracy *
StarPlay, a small privately held software publisher based in Colorado
accused the giant company GT Interactive of stealing a copy of its
'Alley 19' Bowling game and then marketing and distributing the game
throughout Europe under a different name through GT Interactive's
German division, GT Value. GT Interactive agreed to stop
selling the game, but that hasn't stopped StarPlay. StarPlay is now
suing GT and asking for 110,000 dollars in direct damages and an extra
million dollars in punitive damages.,6061,2325834-2,00.html

* Amazon copycat changes name *
In a follow-up from last weeks issue, the Greek bookseller that used
the domain will now go by However, the
Greek company still owns the domain names for Amazon.grand, and is still available at those addresses. Greg Lloyd
Smith, who owns and operates, said the name change
had nothing to with the company's legal dispute with sued Smith and his company in U.S. District Court in
Delaware last month, charging copyright and trademark infringement and
Disclaimer: Mishpat Net's Cyberlaw bookstore at is in association with

* Sun appeals Java ruling *
In another follow up on last weeks' stories, Sun Microsystems Inc.
filed two motions seeking reinstatement of an injunction against
Microsoft Corp. that, as reported last week, was remanded by the U.S.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The injunction, awarded in November
1998, prevented Microsoft from using a version of Java in its software
that wasn't fully compatible with Sun's. While agreeing with the
district court that Sun is likely to prevail in its suit, the appeals
court nevertheless said the districts court's decision on granting an
injunction needed further explanation.

* Organized crime moves into software piracy *
A three month investigation by 'Sm@rt Reseller' shows that portions of
the Chinese Mafia are smuggling illegal aliens into the United States
and forcing them to pay their debt by pirating software. The U.S.
Customs Service has busted front man Hung Lin Wu, who allegedly ran two
Los Angeles businesses that were part of a major software piracy
As the world of counterfeit software rapidly evolves beyond small time
hackers, it's also becoming far more dangerous. When cops raided Ming
Ching Jin's California home and a related warehouse, they uncovered
more than 2 million dollars worth of counterfeit Microsoft software
that appeared legitimate to the untrained eye. But that wasn't all cops
found. Jin's living room contained couches that had loaded guns under
every cushion. Also hidden in the house were 2 pounds of dynamite and 5
pounds of C-4 plastic explosives. 
An interesting report from ZDnet is available at:,4586,2325410,00.html

* Corel settles stockholder class action *
Ottawa (Canada) based software developer Corel, said it will settle a
U.S. stockholder class action lawsuit that alleged the company
misrepresented its financial position. The action named Chief Executive
Michael Cowpland and former Chief Financial Officer Charles Norris as
individual defendants. The suit alleged that the defendants
"artificially inflated the price of Corel stock by making material
misrepresentations about the company, its business and financial

* Oregon sex offenders registry online delayed *
The Oregon State Police is scheduled to launch a Web site later this
month listing the names, addresses, and photos of all registered sex
offenders. But the site's launch was delayed as a group of sex
offenders moved to block it. A motion, filed by Oregon attorneys for
four anonymous plaintiffs, asked a Marion County Circuit Court to grant
a temporary restraining order to prevent the launch. The suit said
Internet publication of the information without an established need for
public safety  "imposes cruel and unusual punishment" and violates 
Constitutional rights regarding privacy, double punishment, and due
process, among others. Oregon authorities have agreed to delay the
site's launch until the court rules on the suit. State police spokesman
said providing information on the state's 8,500 registered sex
offenders benefits the public.

* Another subpoena to identify anonymous posters *
BioShield Technologies Inc., manufacturer of anti microbial, biostatic
and medical related products, announced that it has instituted legal
action against one or more persons who have used the screen names
FraudFinder1, and theskepticds1 to publish what it claims are 
"fraudulent and misleading information" about the Company over the
Internet. The Company has served a subpoena to Yahoo seeking the
identities of these persons. Bioshield's press release is available at:

* Apple sued for it use of 'OS 9' *
Iowa based Microware Systems, a software maker, has filed suit against
Apple in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa alleging
that the company violated the trademark for its 'OS-9' operating system
software by calling the next version of its Macintosh operating system
'OS 9'. Microware claims that Apple's use of the name OS 9 will cause
confusion as to who is offering the software. As a result, Microware is
seeking an order that would cause Apple to refrain from using the name
in advertising and promotional material and is asking for the earnings
Apple may derive from the sale of Mac OS 9, as well as other costs
associated with the case. 
Microware's 'OS-9' operating system software is used in devices such as
cable TV set-top boxes, consumer electronics, and factory automation

If you know of any cyberlaw updates, please send them to

That's all for this time,
see you next week

Yedidya M. Melchior 

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