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The Mishpat-Update #3

Welcome to the third issue of the weekly Mishpat-Update, Law on the net from http://mishpat.net

This newsletter is sent only to subscribers. If you no longer wish to receive the Mishapt-Update follow the unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of this message.

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In this issue:

1. Introduction
2. Book review - Law on the Net
3. News in Depth: Playboy v. Netscape and Excite
4. Cyberlaw News

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1. Introduction
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I would like to welcome the 14 new subscribers that joined the list this week. New readers that didn't get the first issues can send a blank email to mailto:update1@mishpat.net (for the first issue) and to mailto:update2@mishpat.net (for the second), an autoresponder will automatically send you those issues.

Two new sections were added to this newsletter.

1. The first internet law book review is published. This week we review the book "Law on the Net" by James Evans listing thousands of legal resources online.

2. News in depth is a new section that will explain cyberlaw and computer law news in more details than the weekly cyberlaw update that only brings you the headlines. This week we take a look at Playboy's suit against Netscape and Excite, and what are the ramifications of the details on online research.



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2. Book review - Law on the Net
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The Mishpat-Net Cyberlaw bookstore, in association with Amazon.com is available at http://mishpat.net/books/cyberlaw.html

Law on the Net (Second edition)
by James Evans, Albin Renauer (Editor)

Law on the net is a book aiming at reducing the time and expense of performing online legal research. The book lists thousand of legal resources: web sites, gopher URLs, listservers, and newsgroups.

This of course raises the question why is such a book needed? After all you can find almost all these sites listed in the law related web directories such as http://findlaw.com and our own http://mishpat.net Further more, any book (and this one is almost two years old) can never be as updated as an online web directory.

There are two possible answers to these questions. The first is that many people find it easier to use a reference book than to perform online research using search engines and directories. The second answer is that the information in reference book (including this one) is chosen and organized in a different way than most directories are compiled.

Law on the Net's 720 pages (plus a CD) set a good example of how a web reference book should be organized. The book is an excellent selection of online resources organized by specific areas of the law (abortion, adoption, ADR etc.) and sources (such as courts and law schools). The book is organized in a straight forward and easy use way - the areas of law are organized by alphabetical order, the news groups and listservers (discussion groups) are separate categories also in alphabetical order.

Unlike search engine and directories, the book only points to the home page of each site, and doesn't list the different pages within it. The advantage of this method is that you are not overwhelmed by the number of search results. The disadvantage is that this is a less powerful method of finding information that is on specific pages within the site.

Each site listed has a short description of the contents available on the site, and different ways to reach it (WWW, Gopher, Telnet and email).
The books has a section of law related discussion groups including the subscription instruction. I think this an important feature, because listservers are usually hard to locate on the web directories.

The down side of this book is that the international section is very small, Law on the net is written from an American perspective. Most of the book is devoted to American law (state and federal) and also the different law categories list almost only American sites. Considering the fast growth and change of the internet, not all the information is up to date, new sites are not listed and some of the URLs (links) are not valid.

Mishpat-Net Rating (on a 1-10 scale)
American readers: 7.5
International Readers 6

Law on the net is now available at a 20% discount from Amazon.com. you can get it directly from: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0873373847/mishpatnetlegali

The Mishpat-Net page for this book is: http://mishpat.net/books/cyberlaw/law_on_the_net.html

Other cyberlaw book can be found at: http://mishpat.net/books/cyberlaw.html


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3. News in Depth - Playboy v. Netscape
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Playboy has sued two of the Internet's most popular portals (entry point to the net - usually a search engine or a directory) Netscape and Excite for allegedly violating it's trademark. This short article will try to explain the background for this lawsuit.

Search engines and directories sell word specific banner advertising. This means that the banner advertisement you will see on you search results page is connected to the search terms you entered (if the portal managed to sell that phrase to an advertiser). For example: searching yahoo for "international law" gave me a banner on the search result page pointing to lawinfo.com searching for "buying flowers" brought up a search page with a banner for ygguaranteed.flowerlink.com (note: these are banner advertisement showed, not the search results).

Selling word specific banners is profitable for the portals because it is considered targeted advertising (If a visitor searches for "buying flowers" an ad for an online flower shop is considered targeted because it is relevant to that visitors needs). Targeted advertising raises the cost that the advertiser pays per impression (visitor viewing the banner) and is therefore profitable to the portal.

Most of the portals don't sell search result placement (where the site will be ranked on the search result page) only banner advertising. However http://goto.com sells search result placement (site owners pay for high ranking for specific search phrases). In Goto's words (from their "get listed" section):
"GoTo.com is the only search engine where you can actually determine your placement within the search results. What's more, you only pay when we deliver targeted traffic to your site." That might be a good reason to avoid using goto.com as a reliable searching tool.

Turning back to our case, Playboy with a rich history of fighting (not always successfully) over internet trademark issues, wants Netscape's portal (powered by the Excite database) and Excite to stop selling banner placement for the search term "playboy" to Playboy's competitors. Playboy's claim is that Excite is selling the term "playboy" (or just selling it as part of the X-rated group) to its web and magazine competitors such as penthouse. Playboy argues that its name has been sold with the willful intent of being linked to the ads.

This case no doubt raises important questions about the available use of keywords that are someone's trademark property, especially because this is a standard practice for the search engines. It should be noted that some of the other portals have policies for dealing with the sale of trademarked words.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California states.

For further details on Playboys different online trademark battles see: http://www.news.com/bigpicture/0,306,32339,00.html?st.ne.ni.knwmr.bp



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4. Cyberlaw Updates
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Each week the Mishpat-Update brings you the latest news about online and computer law, with links to the full reports available on the web.

A hebrew version, updated biweekly is available at: http://mishpat.net/cyberlaw-update/heb.html

* Intel's settlement with the FTC *
Intel's surprise settlement with the Federal Trade Commission was approved by the FTC board, and brings the government's antitrust charges to an end.
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C33872%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0317.02
http://www.news.com/SpecialFeatures/0%2C5%2C33161%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.wr.0320

* Will Linux change the IP world? *
Linux, the operating system that might challenge Microsoft's windows is developing in a unique way. Thousands of programers from all over the world are working on an open source code, and the operating system can be downloaded for free. Is this a new era for intellectual property? Read more at:
http://www.lawnewsnetwork.com/stories/mar/e030899q.html

* AOL wins in German court *
AOL own a permanent injunction against Deutsche Telekom the German telecommunication monopoly. T-online - Deutsche Telekom's internet provider was about to offer it's users connection to net for 6 pfennigs per minute, while users of other online services (including AOL) had to pay 8 pfennigs for phone charges alone. The german court ruled that T-online had to separate the internet access fees from the phone charges and not offer the bundled deal that is a misuse of monopoly powers.
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C33685%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0312.09

* War over home sale advertising *
The Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale is suing Margate-based Property America Corp. in Fort Lauderdale federal court, claiming the company is illegally using the association's multiple listing service information.
http://www.lawnewsnetwork.com/stories/mar/e031799a.html

* Portals raise privacy issues *
Portals offering web based email, free web sites and personalized content, raise questions about the use of personal information gathered.
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C33560%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.wr.0313

* Antitrust case against NSI dismissed *
NSI the private company that for the last five years had the exclusive rights to assign Internet addresses, is entitled to the same kind of antitrust immunity the government enjoys. A federal judge in Manhattan dismissed a case claiming NSI has used its position unfairly to control the market. (This issue will be explained in further details in next weeks Mishpat-Update).
http://www.lawnewsnetwork.com/stories/mar/e031899f.html
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C33962%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0318.09

* A deal to free Hacker *
Kevin D. Mitnick, perhaps the America's most notorious computer hacker, has reached a plea agreement with Federal prosecutors that could pave the way for his release from prison.
http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/03/biztech/articles/19hack.html

* MP3 IP stories *
The popular MP3 music format brings firms to fight over copyrighted code of a MP3 music player software.
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C33753%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0315.08
Encrypted digital music will help fight MP3 music piracy.
http://www.lawnewsnetwork.com/stories/mar/e031599aa.html

* More stories from the Microsoft trial *
Microsoft subpoenaed America Online, Netscape Communications, Goldman, Sachs, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and Sun Microsystems as part of its antitrust trial.
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C33683%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0312.08
When Microsoft's antitrust trial resumes, the software giant will counterattack by presenting evidence that suggests that America Online plans to become a head-on competitor.
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C33733%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0315.09
Does the introduction of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.0 contradict Microsoft executives testimony?
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C34018%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0319.10

If you know of any cyberlaw updates please send them to mailto:news@mishpat.net

This is all for this time,
see you next week

Yedidya M. Melchior
Editor

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