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The Mishpat-Update #9

Welcome to the ninth issue of the weekly Mishpat-Update, Law on
the net from

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In this issue:

1. What's New
2. Excess shipping rates
3. Lawyers' Email privacy standard
4. Special Bonus
5. Cyberlaw News


1. What's New

I would like to welcome the 14 new subscribers who joined the list this

As promised last week, the Mishpat Update archive has been updated
(updates 1-8). The archive can be found at:

The Mishpat Update is listed in Brian Alt's excellent electronic
newsletters magazine  directory at which is a
good resource for locating electronic newsletters. If you want to rate
the Mishpat Update (and help it get in to the top 25 ...) goto

We will choose April's Mishpat award winner this week. The winner will
be announced in next weeks issue, a full review of the winning site
will appear in update #11.
To apply for the Mishpat Award or view the winning sites, visit

Last week I promised a special bonus for the Mishpat Update readers,
more details can be found in section #3 of this newsletter.

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2. Excess shipping rates

The D.A. office in Santa Clara County filed a complaint against
Internet retailer Onsale, charging it with misleading advertising in
connection with its' ''atCost'' Web site. Onsale, which sells computers
and consumer electronics products, promotes atCost falsely presenting
it as charging the wholesale cost, fees for sales tax and shipping,
plus a - markup. "In many cases, Onsale's distributor provided
free shipping, and Onsale retained those amounts [shipping fees]," said
a deputy district attorney in the Santa Clara County District
Attorney's Office. "It will be our position that that's not standard in
the industry. They made affirmative misrepresentations about where the
consumer money was going." 
Onsale contends That charging full rate shipping fees is a common
practice. It admits charging buyers regular UPS rates even though it
gets a volume discount for shipping.

You can read the full story at:,25,35629,00.html

We at Mishpat-Net understand that shipping fees, especially
international shipping (and we have readers from 13 different
countries) is costly and effects the price of the product.
Therefore Mishpat-Net has joined the Acses associates and is offering
book price comparison. All you have to do is enter the book title,
author or keyword in the special search box and follow the simple
instructions. The process will generate a price comparison between 40
online bookstores including the shipping costs to the destination you

The search box is currently available at the bottom of the Mishpat-Net
home page at , in the future we will add it to other
parts of the site.

This is a simple money saver service that is totally free, you don't
have to order the book at the end, there is no limit on the number of
comparisons you can make and you don't have to pay for service. Just
visit and go to the bottom of the page.

3. Lawyers' Email privacy standard

I think the following news story will interest our readers, including
those who are not American lawyers since it points out ways in which
the Internet influences legal practice management.

The American Bar Association (ABA) has given its seal of approval to
the use of e-mail to transmit client documents.
Under most circumstances, a lawyer does not violate a client's
confidentiality by transmitting documents via nonencrypted electronic
mail, the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional
Responsibility concluded in an ethics opinion announced last week.
While mail can be lost or stolen and telephone conversations may be
overheard by wiretap or eavesdropping, both provide reasonable
expectations of privacy, the committee said. Similarly, the committee
said e-mail transmissions offer a reasonable expectation of privacy
even though they may be susceptible to interception.

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4. Special Bonus

As promised last week, we have created a special bonus for the Mishpat
Update readers. Every reader can create his or her FREE online
guestbook. The purpose of the free Mishpat guestbook program is to give
people the ability to create a guestbook on the World Wide Web without
the need to have CGI capabilities on their website, and even without
having a website at all. 

All you have to do is goto and click on the
"New Page" button and fill in the form. A new guestbook will
automatically be generated with your personal details. An email will be
sent to you with the URL (web address) of your new guestbook. To get
people to sign your book just create a link from your site (if you have
one) or tell your friends what the address of the guestbook is and
invite them to sign.

We included an example guestbook just to give you the feeling of how
this looks.

Currently this program is only available to the Mishpat Update readers,
there will be no links to the guestbook mall address until the site is
redesigned (that will hopefully be done during June).

This Mishpat free guestbook program is absolutely free, there is no fee
for creating a guestbook, and advertising banners will not be displayed
on the generated guestbook.

So you are asking yourself how come something is free and there is no
advertising on the personal guestbooks? There are two answers:
1. We like our readers and like to keep them happy :-)
2. We believe that it will generate traffic to our site - A Win-Win
situation you get a free guestbook and help us spread the word about

Just click on this link and create your own guestbook

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5. Cyberlaw 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.

* Domain name ownership doesn't create trademark priority *
Simply registering an address on the Internet does not establish the
owner's right to receive trademark protection, even against a competing
name used after the domain name was obtained, a panel from the Ninth
Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled. A domain name must be used
publicly to sell goods or services in order to be protected. 
The case pitted Brookfield Communications, which sells entertainment
news to the film industry, against West Coast Entertainment, a video
rental chain with more than 500 stores. West Coast registered in 1996, more than 18 months before Brookfield used the
name to market a software database providing information about the film
and television industries. 
The decision went on to say that even West Coast's use of the domain
name in mid 1996 to send email to customers was not enough to meet the
requirements. The panel's decision goes well beyond forbidding West
Coast from using "moviebuff" in its domain name. It also prevents the
company from using the term in so called meta tags, which help search
engines find sites related to a particular query.
The full decision is available at:

* New Australian internet censorship *
The Australian government is facing a hostile reception from Internet
industry representatives as its content censorship legislation is
debated. The bill sets out a censorship regime for Internet service
providers that will be based on a "black list" of sites, decided upon
by the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), that have to be blocked
or ISPs will face fines of up to US ,600 per day, per site.
Electronic Frontiers Australia Anti-Censorship Campaign

*  Intel wins against former employee *
A judge in Sacramento ordered Ken Hamidi, a disgruntled former Intel
employee, who bombarded Intel Corp. workers with company bashing
electronic mail from sending any more of the messages. Hamidi started a
group called Former and Current Employees Intel, devoted to proving
that Intel mistreats its workers. Hamidi also has waged a direct e-mail
campaign, sending Intel employees messages seven times. 
The company argued that Hamidi's e-mails, sent on separate occasions to
as many as 30,000 Intel employees, were the equivalent of trespassing
on the company's private computer system. The judge agreed and stated
that "The mere connection of Intel's e-mail system with the Internet
does not convert it into a public forum ... The court finds that
Hamidi's e-mails are not protected speech." Hamidi said he plans to
appeal the decision.

* NSI liable in trademark disputes *
Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) the domain name registrar, is still
required to screen every application submitted by Artinternet a French
organization that admitted that its registration of
infringed on another company's trademark rights. The ruling by a U.S.
in Philadelphia  is believed to be the first to hold NSI responsible
for trademark infringement by a third party. 
Judge Kauffman said that in an earlier ruling he had gone too far in
ordering NSI to screen every application it received for infringement
of the "Worldsport" mark. However, Kauffman upheld a separate part of
ruling requiring NSI to review all requests from Artinternet. In
justifying that part of the ruling, Kauffman said Artinternet's
admitted infringement was made possible only after NSI agreed to
register the  "Worldsport" name.

* April fools lawsuit *
BusinessWire announced late Monday that it has filed a federal court
lawsuit against Jeffrey Mitchell, William Ulrich and Janice Shell after
they posted an April Fools press release through its service. The
release announced a new contract signed by a fictional company,
Webnode, and the government under which it was selling off sections of
the next generation Internet to help finance the project.
(My personal comment: I can't understand how thousands of people
actually believed that someone had control over the Internet and could
"sell" it to someone else.)

* Another Typo Pirate case *
The case reported in Mishpat Update #8 is far from
being the only trademark infringement rising from registered "Typo"
domain names. A Judge in Virginia granted the investment firm Paine
Webber's request for a preliminary injunction against Rafael Fortuny, a
Miami based Internet entrepreneur who had registered the domain name, (an omitted period away from the financial
company's own address and used it for redirecting
visitors to a pornographic web site.
(free registration to the NY Times required)

* Loudoun county library won't appeal *
Loudoun county library in Virginia will not appeal a court ruling that
forces officials to allow unfiltered Internet access in public
libraries. Last year a US district judge ruled that Loudoun County
violated the First Amendment by installing filtering software, which
allowed librarians to block access to Web sites deemed obscene.

* Y2K legislation and litigation *
While the debate over proposed federal legislation limiting Y2K
liability continues, it is still not clear how much damage the year
2000 computer bug will really cause.,1643,41728-67337-489236-0,00.html

* Some more MP3 news *
Diamond Multimedia will incorporate copyright protection software in
its Rio player, which stores and plays MP3 music files (a popular music
format that has become a standard for music downloading online). The
recording industry has expressed concern about MP3 and in some cases
has taken legal action, because although the format itself is not
illegal, it allows for the free, unauthorized distribution of copyright
protected material.,25,35570,00.html

* Chernobyl virus creator caught *
Investigators in Taiwan say that Chen Ing-hau, a 24 year old
information engineer now serving mandatory military service, was
questioned but not charged and the probe hinged on finding victims.
Police said  that Chen Ing-hau admitted creating the Chernobyl virus
that ravaged computers worldwide but said a lack of any local
plaintiffs made it difficult to charge him.,4,35849,00.html?pfv,4586,2249504,00.html

* Online movie piracy *
The technology that allows for the spread of pirated music over the
Internet is now threatening the movie industry. Film pirates have begun
distributing illegal copies of hot films using a data format similar to
the MP3 files that are being used to spread free music across
cyberspace. While the files containing full length movies are too big
for the average home computer user to conveniently download, college
students with high speed hookups are doing it.

* Using Net to Solicit Rape *
Gary S. Dellapenta pleaded guilty to using the Net to solicit the rape
of a woman who had scorned him. Dellapenta terrorized a 28 year old
North Hollywood woman by posting personal ads in her name on various
Internet services in which he made it appear that she had fantasies of
being raped. On at least six occasions, men responding to the ad came
knocking at her door, often in the middle of the night, saying they
were there to rape her.

* New Privacy legislation *
New laws to protect consumers from unreasonable government searches of
records of their online communications a were proposed during a hearing
on Internet privacy in the US Senate Judiciary Committee.,4586,2245546,00.html

* Beanie Babies trademark case *
In another domain name dispute, Ty - the maker of the popular Beanie
Babies stuffed dolls, is suing an Arizona woman who uses the
trademarked name in the address for her Web site. In the complaint Ty
claims Susan B. Joy infringes on its trademark with her
"" Web site. The site leads to Joy's own site and
information about an adult retirement community.,25,35851,00.html

* More stories from the Microsoft trial *
Mike Popov, vice president and chief operating officer of staff
operations at Sun Microsystems Inc. will take the stand on April 30 in
San Francisco Federal Court to give a deposition in the case, which is
not expected to reconvene until sometime in May.,4586,2245572,00.html
The trial's restart date may be pushed back from the planned May 10.,25,35637,00.html
Dozens of depositions from the trial have been released and are
available online.

* Microsoft's private antitrust suit *
Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates directed his staff to explore how
DR-DOS a competing operating system might fail when running Microsoft
applications, according to evidence in Caldera's private antitrust
lawsuit against the software giant. Gates's directive was part of a
series of high level discussions about how to compete against DR-DOS, a
rival to Microsoft's MS-DOS. One idea repeatedly floated in email was
exploiting existing incompatibilities or creating new ones so that
computer users would choose Microsoft's operating system.,25,35821,00.html

* Yahoo! sues spammers *
The companies named in the Yahoo suits are Information Technologies
Corp., of Las Vegas, which sells court rulings, and Worldwide  Network
Marketing, of Roseville, which sells online marketing services. Yahoo
is charging that the two companies forged the headers of thousands of
promotional e-mail messages to look as if they came from
addresses. The company says it also suffered a significant drain of
resources in handling the thousands of complaints from recipients of
the spam and in dealing with replies and messages that bounced back.

* Amazon trademark war *
Amazon Bookstore Inc., a woman oriented independent bookstore in
Minneapolis, sued Inc., demanding that the Internet giant
cease using its name. Amazon Bookstore filed suit alleging that the
store, which has been in business since 1970, is being overwhelmed by
the "vast size and massive marketing expenditures" of  The
bookstore's owner claims she is tired of fielding  calls from customers, receiving books and invoices intended for  the
Internet seller and facing customers trying to use coupons
in her store. The bookstore is asking for an injunction and damages.

* Another suit against anonymous online posters *
 Stone & Webster Inc. is seeking damages against 20 people it charges
made false statements about the company or disclosed inside information
on line. Stone & Webster believes at least some of the still anonymous
defendants are employees.

* Government reply in Crypto case *
The Government's Reply Brief in Junger v. Daley is available online.
Professor Junger is appealing a ruling that forbids him to post course
materials on the internet because they violate US restriction on
Cryptography export.

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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