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The Mishpat-Update #4




Welcome to the fourth issue of the weekly Mishpat-Update, Law on

the net from http://mishpat.net



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In this issue:



1. What's New

2. News in Depth: NSI gets antitrust immunity

3. Cyberlaw News



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1. What's New

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I would like to welcome the 21 new subscribers who joined the list this

week. 



This week we have added an archive of past issues to our web site. The

Mishpat Update archive (updates 1-3) can be found at

http://mishpat.net/mailing-lists/update



For our new readers, here a few sections of the Mishpat-Net site: Legal

links directory (2400+ links):

http://mishpat.net



Suggest a site to our legal directory:

http://mishpat.net/admin/suggest.html



Cyberlaw book store:

http://mishpat.net/books/cyberlaw.html



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2. News in Depth - NSI gets antitrust immunity

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As reported in last weeks' Mishpat Update, a judge in Manhattan

rejected antitrust and First Amendment challenges raised by pgMedia

Inc. against the NSI (Network Solutions Inc.). Judge Patterson ruled

that NSI is entitled to the same kind of antitrust immunity the

government enjoys. NSI has has an exclusive contract with the American

government to assign Internet addresses, and has registered more than 4

million domain names in the past five years. 



This short article will try to explain NSI's part in development of the

online world and the future changes to domain name registration.



* What is a domain name?

Just as a street address identifies the location of your home or

office, every computer or network on the Internet has a unique address

too. Internet addresses are assigned by an organization called

InterNIC. You register your address with InterNIC as both a name (for

example mishpat.net), which is referred to as the domain name, and a

number (216.71.49.47), which is generally referred to as the IP address

or IP number. 

Since the numeric addresses are difficult to understand or remember,

most people use names instead, such as mishpat.net or ibm.com. A

software database program called Domain Name Service (DNS) tracks the

names and translates them into their numerical equivalent so that the

computers can understand what they are and find them.

Domain names typically consist of some form of the organization's name

and a suffix that describes the type of organization. For example, IBM

has registered ibm.com and Kodak has kodak.com. The domain name suffix

is assigned based on the type of organization. For U.S. and

international domains, the suffixes are:

.com - corporations

.edu - educational institutions

.org - non-profit organizations

.net - network provider

.gov - government institution

In addition, non-U.S. sites have an additional extension that indicates

the country where the domain is located. For example:

.au - Australia

.dk - Denmark

.il - Israel

For more details go to http://www.learnthenet.com



This system raises many legal problems such as: Does a trademark owner

have an exclusive right for using the trademark as part of a domain

name? (e.g. since there can only be one kodak.com does Kodak Inc. have

an exclusive right to register it?). Another question is should there

be a restriction on domain names that include obscene words.



* What is the case about?

This suit regards NSI's (soon to end) monopoly on registering domain

names. pgMedia has challenged NSI's refusal to accept its competing

registration system which recognizes more domain name endings (known as

top level domains), than the four endings for .com, .org, .net, and

.edu. pgMedia's system recognizes endings such as .computer, .firm .law

and so on (a total of 516 top level domain names offered). As noted

earlier, Judge Patterson granted NSI immunity against the antitrust

claims raised by pgMedia.



* The future

Although NSI has gotten antitrust immunity, it will have to open its

registration database to competitors this coming April. The U.S.

government along with 25 other government (including members of the

European Union, China and Japan) support a non- profit organization

called The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

that will manage the privatization of domain registration.



ICANN will approve five companies that will start competing with NSI

during April 1999. If the trial is successful, ICANN will allow other

companies to join the competition. 



The two main issues that haven't yet been resolved are:

1. How the competitors will be chosen.

2. How the domain disputes will be settled by the different registering

companies (currently NSI has a dispute policy regarding trademarks in

domain names).



For further information, visit the following sites:



ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)

homepage:

http://www.icann.org/



NSI homepage:

http://www.networksolutions.com/



PGmedia (Name.Space)

http://www.pgmedia.net/

http://name.space.xs2.net/







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3. Cyberlaw Updates

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Each week 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



* Will Microsoft and the DOJ settle? *

While the Microsoft antitrust trial is scheduled to continue April 12,

the DOJ and 19 state attorneys who joined the suit have received a

written proposal from Microsoft. The Justice Department and 19 states

allege Microsoft is a monopoly, which has illegally harmed competitors

in its attempt to maintain its Windows dominance and create a new

monopoly for Internet software. Microsoft vigorously denies the

charges.

The Microsoft proposal offers to loosen some restriction on PC makers

and internet service providers (such as limitation of Windows desktop

settings) but does not mention any of the broader remedies the

company's critics insist are necessary to restore competition in the

industry. 

Further details at:

http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/03/biztech/articles/25gates.html

(Free registration to the NY Times required)

http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2229061,00.html

http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C34263%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0325.02





* Encryption Bill *

Federal lawmakers advanced a bill to ease encryption export

restrictions. The House Judiciary Committee passed the Security and

Freedom through Encryption Act (SAFE), meant to cut the red tape for

U.S. companies that want to sell strong encryption overseas. 

http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C34208%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0324.08





* Y2K case against Microsoft dismissed * 

A federal judge in Chicago dismissed a class action claiming year 2000

problems in Microsoft's FoxPro database software. 

http://www.lawnewsnetwork.com/stories/mar/e032399f.html





* More MP3 Stories *

The American Recording industry blames MP3 (popular digital music

format) for the drop of CD sales in the 15-24 year old group. The RIAA

(Recording Industry Association of America) is especially concerned

that many of the MP3 files are downloaded from Pirated sites. 

http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C34266%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0325.03



The London based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry

sued the Norwegian company that runs the spider and search capabilities

behind the Lycos MP3 search. As reported in Mishpat-Update #1 Lycos

(one of the major search engines http://www.lycos.com) launched a MP3

search service and there's no easy way that Lycos can automatically

determine if a file violates any copyright. The RIAA is considering a

lawsuit against Lycos for operating the search service.

http://www.news.com/News/Item/0%2C4%2C34250%2C00.html?dd.ne.txt.0325.10



 

* UK ISP found liable for defamation

Demon Internet, a major UK ISP is likely to be found liable for

defamation in a case against Dr. Laurence Godfrey, a London based

nuclear physicist.

Demon's Press release:

http://www.dispatches.demon.net/cgi-bin/framer.pl/pr/1999/pr1999-03-26a.html

Cyber Rights press release:

http://www.cyber-rights.org/press/





* Intel Antitrust case not over *

As reported in Mishpat Update #3, Intel has reached a settlement with

the Federal Trade Commission, but this does not end Intel's antitrust

problems. Intel is waiting for a ruling in its appeal against an

Alabama injunction that required Intel, which had ceased doing business

with Intergraph following an intellectual property dispute, to resume

supplying Intergraph with microprocessors as well as advanced technical

information about new chips.

http://www.lawnewsnetwork.com/stories/mar/e032599d.html





* Confusion Between Wawa and Wawawa *

The owners of the convenience store chain Wawa are asking a

Pennsylvania federal judge to shut down a pornographic Web site based

in Denmark (www.wawawa.com) because some may mistakenly connect it with

Wawa Foodmarket's wholesome corporate image. The store's lawyer argues

that the choice of letters for the site violates Wawa's well

established federal trademarks. Wawa has it's own site, wawa.com.

http://www.lawnewsnetwork.com/stories/mar/e032699d.html





If you know of any cyberlaw updates please send them to

mailto:news@mishpat.net







That's all for this time,

see you next week



Yedidya M. Melchior 

Editor 



The Cyberlaw Informer

Your E-mail Address



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