Tuesday, December 14, 2004

MIRLN -- Misc. IT Related Legal News [23 Nov – 14 Dec 2004; v7.15]

PANEL: GOV’T CAN’T MANDATE SECURITY (Network World Fusion, 15 Nov 2004) – Now is not the time for the U.S. government to mandate cybersecurity standards to private industry, despite significant threats and a lack of understanding by many company executives. So concluded a panel of government officials that met to discuss the issue in September. The panel of cybersecurity-focused officials -- part of a discussion in Washington, D.C., on whether government and private industry are doing enough to protect confidential information -- agreed that cybersecurity mandates were not the right way to encourage private companies to adopt cybersecurity best practices. Instead of a so-called “stick” approach, the Congress could instead develop some “carrot” incentives for companies looking to upgrade their cybersecurity efforts, according to Bob Dix, staff director of the technology and information policy subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform. The subcommittee is considering several incentives for cybersecurity efforts, including an investment tax credit and a limit on liability for companies adopting cybersecurity best practices, Dix said. A liability limit could include an exemption from Federal Trade Commission (FTC) actions taken against companies that adopt best practices but still experience a security compromise -- such as hacker intrusion -- that results in the release of consumer data, Dix added. http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2004/1115panelgovt.html

PERFECT 10 CLAIMS GOOGLE GIVES IT AWAY (Red Herring, 20 Nov 2004) -- Perfect 10, a publisher of an adult entertainment web site and magazine, on Friday filed a lawsuit against Google, alleging that the search engine giant provided Internet users with at least 800,000 unauthorized links to images of Perfect 10’s nude models, stealing membership fees and advertising revenue from the Los Angeles publisher. The lawsuit is one of the first of its kind against Google. The suit, filed in Los Angeles county, claims that Google committed 12 counts of intellectual property violations against Perfect 10 magazine and the web site, Perfect10.com. Perfect 10 claims in the suit that Google’s violation “is devastating to and threatens the existence of Perfect 10’s business.” The publisher’s attorneys want a jury trial. Most of the violations alleged by Perfect 10 are copyright claims. The suit states that Google’s search results pull up photos of nude female models that belong to Perfect 10. These search results, according to the suit, constitute an infringement. Google’s search picks up the photos from other Internet locations, which are described in the lawsuit as “stolen content sites,” or web sites that steal images and allow Internet users to avoid paying subscription or membership fees for members-only pornography web sites. http://redherring.com/Article.aspx?a=10981
Perfect 10’s Complaint (redacted for graphic content):

FILE-SWAPPING EMBRACED (SiliconValley.com, 24 Nov 2004) -- In another deal that signals the music industry’s increasing willingness to co-opt rather than crush file-swapping technology, three major record labels have agreed to distribute songs through a new online service expected to debut early next year. Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group are expected to announce today that they will distribute songs for purchase on a file-swapping network called Peer Impact. ``What’s groundbreaking about Peer Impact is that it’s a legitimate peer-to-peer offering built from the ground up, not a filtering technology built on top of an existing system,” said Lucy Goldenhersh, a former Universal Studios executive who helped broker the deals for Wurld Media, owner of Peer Impact. Today’s licensing deal is another sign of the music industry’s changing public posture toward Internet file-swapping. Attempts to use the courts, technological countermeasures and Congress to shut down services like Kazaa have so far failed. In a new strategy to capitalize on the technology, Universal Music Group last week agreed to license its 150,000-song catalog to Snocap, a company started by Napster founder Shawn Fanning. The San Francisco start-up will provide the technology to let listeners buy music legally distributed over another file-swapping service called Mashboxx, which is expected to launch in January. http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/news/10261238.htm

SECURITY OFFICIALS TO SPY ON CHAT ROOMS (CNET, 24 Nov 2004) -- The CIA is quietly funding federal research into surveillance of Internet chat rooms as part of an effort to identify possible terrorists, newly released documents reveal. In April 2003, the CIA agreed to fund a series of research projects that the documents indicate were intended to create “new capabilities to combat terrorism through advanced technology.” One of those projects is research at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., devoted to automated monitoring and profiling of the behavior of chat-room users. Even though the money ostensibly comes from the National Science Foundation, CIA officials were involved in selecting recipients for the research grants, according to a contract between the two agencies obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and reviewed by CNET News.com. NSF program director Leland Jameson said Wednesday the two-year agreement probably will not be renewed for the 2005 fiscal year. “Probably we won’t be working with the CIA anymore at all,” Jameson said. “I think that people have moved on to other things.” The NSF grant for chat-room surveillance was reported earlier this year, but without disclosure of the CIA’s role in the project. The NSF-CIA memorandum of understanding says that while the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the fight against terrorism presented U.S. spy agencies with surveillance challenges, existing spy “capabilities can be significantly enhanced with advanced technology.” http://news.com.com/Security+officials+to+spy+on+chat+rooms/2100-7348_3-5466140.html?tag=nefd.lede

HIDDEN GOLD IN CORPORATE CLEANUP (CNET, 24 Nov 2004) -- Sarbanes-Oxley may strike dread in the hearts of some IT executives, but not Tracy Austin. Austin, the chief information officer with casino operator Mandalay Resort Group, said the financial reporting regulations act resulted in a 30 percent increase in her information technology budget this year and battle-tested her fairly young IT staff. “I was able to beef up our test and development system budget, as well as our firewall and intrusion detection system budget,” Austin said. “Sarbanes-Oxley opened up the awareness of our (chief) executives and prompted questions about...our business risks. So instead of talking about technology, we were talking about what are our business risks and the technology to address them.” Compliance technology has gone from the wish lists of bean-counters to the important to-do lists of key executives and board members. That’s because the regulations laid down in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other laws hold executives’ feet to the fire, making them responsible for signing off on the accuracy of their financial statements. Last week, a key section of Sarbanes-Oxley kicked in, turning up the heat. Companies are spending more on compliance in general, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey released on Tuesday, which found that about half of U.S. and European businesses expect to increase those budgets by an average of 23 percent during the next year to two. http://news.com.com/Hidden+gold+in+corporate+cleanup/2100-1029_3-5465305.html?tag=nefd.lede

AMAZON KEEPS KIDS’ DATA UNDER WRAPS, REGULATORS (CNET, 29 Nov 2004) -- Amazon.com’s virtual toy store is perfectly legal because it doesn’t ask children to type in personal information, federal regulators have decided. A letter from the Federal Trade Commission dated Nov. 24 rejected allegations from advocacy groups that said the online retailer violated the law by targeting its toy store at children under 13 and permitting them to post product reviews without a parent’s permission. The FTC letter, signed by associate director Mary Engle, concludes that the toy site is “not directed to children” and no government action is necessary. Under a 1998 law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, it is unlawful for Web sites “directed to children” to collect personal information from minors under 13 without an adult’s consent. “We think they simply misapplied the law,” said Chris Hoofnagle, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). “A Web site can have more than one purpose, but we argued that (the toy site) was primarily directed at children.” http://news.com.com/2100-1038_3-5470145.html

LAW FIRM FILES SUIT FOR PLAGIARISM OF ITS WEB SITE (eMediaWire, 29 Nov 2004) -- You probably spent a great deal of time and money getting your web site to look just right and to include the appropriate message. Imagine the shock and feeling of violation that you would experience if your work was copied. Sadly, this outcome is not unusual for many businesses. Plagiarism is too common on the web, sometimes word-for-word and picture-by-picture. Brayton Purcell, a respected plaintiff law firm based in Novato, California, decided to do something about the plagiarism problem when it discovered large portions of its popular web site, Elder Abuse Information (http://www.elder-abuse-information.com), posted on another web site. On November 24, 2004, it filed a lawsuit against Recordan & Recordan, a San Diego law firm(Case No. C04-4995-EMC, United States District Court for the Northern District of California). The complaint alleged copyright infringement, false advertising, and unfair competition. Brayton Purcell seeks money damages as well as the removal of the offending web site material from the Internet. http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2004/11/emw182573.htm

INSTANT MESSAGES GETTING A BOOST FROM SMALL FIRM (SiliconValley.com, 29 Nov 2004) -- We’ve written so much about Google lately, it’s nice to be reminded that a lot of innovation in Silicon Valley still comes from small shops. For instance, David Weekly of Hillsborough recently launched IM Smarter (imsmarter.com), and it may be one to watch. IM Smarter is a Web-based service that enhances your instant messenger -- AIM, Yahoo IM, MSN Messenger, iChat, etc.-- by adding features such the ability to save copies of conversations. Unlike Google’s Desktop Search tool, which logs AIM messages to your computer, IM Smarter stores the conversations on its servers so they can be accessed from anywhere. The service also lets you program reminders to yourself, which pop up as instant messages on your computer screen. Weekly characterizes his service as an electronic ``secretary” that takes notes and alerts you to important events. ``The logging will appeal to people who passed notes in school and would keep them in a shoe box,” he said. ``And there are people who use IM for business purposes and want to keep those conversations.” http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/10293868.htm

PAYDAY LENDERS USE INTERNET TO AVOID LAWS, STUDY SAYS (SiliconValley.com, 30 Nov 2004) -- Short-term ``payday” lenders are increasingly using the Internet to circumvent state laws, charging annual interest rates as high as 780 percent and automatically debiting late fees and other charges from customer bank accounts, according to a new study. The study released Tuesday by the Consumer Federation of America shows a spike in abuses among payday lenders that have moved their operations online. Many don’t bother to get licensed in the states in which they operate and fail to comply with state consumer protection laws, according to the CFA’s report on Internet Payday Lending. Payday loans are small, quick cash loans with high interest rates, designed as an advance against a borrower’s next paycheck when the loan is due in full. The high fees, typically $15 to $30 per $100 loaned for two weeks, make the industry extremely lucrative. The CFA estimated that there are approximately 22,000 storefront payday loan outlets in the United States generating roughly $40 billion a year in loans and $6 billion in finance charges. http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/news/editorial/10305691.htm

ONLINE RETAILERS SEE THANKSGIVING SURGE (AP, 30 Nov 2004) -- Computer-savvy consumers did plenty of online shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend, giving companies like Amazon.com and walmart.com the same kickoff to the holiday season as department stores and malls had. The pickup in business on the Web was the result of online merchants using marketing tricks like their brick and mortar counterparts — plying consumers with special discounts to get them to shop early. Online sales excluding travel shot up 100 percent to $133 million on Thanksgiving Day compared to the same day last year, said comScore Networks Inc., an Internet research company. On Friday, online sales hit $250 million, up 41 percent from a year ago. “We certainly expected a strong performance during the holiday weekend, but these are impressive figures,” said Dan Hess, senior vice president at comScore. Historically, the online shopping season has begun the Monday after Thanksgiving, when consumers begin buying from their workplace computers. But the early start this year can be attributed to two phenomena: Merchants are working harder to get online sales, and millions of homes have converted to high-speed Internet connections, making it easier to shop from home. About 53 percent of those consumers who have access to the Internet from the home currently have high-speed Internet connections, compared with 40.9 percent a year ago, according to Ken Cassar, an analyst at NielsenNetRatings Inc. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, the sites that had the biggest spikes in visits this past Friday, compared with a week earlier, were those operated by traditional retailers including walmart.com, sears.com and toysrus.com. Toysrus.com’s traffic soared 212.6 percent on Friday, while Amazon.com was up 49.7 percent, Nielsen/NetRatings said. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=528&e=3&u=/ap/20041129/ap_on_hi_te/online_retailers

FIGHTING FOR FILE-SWAPPING ON CAPITOL HILL (CNET, 30 Nov 2004) -- Philip Corwin has one of the least enviable jobs in Washington, D.C.: He defends file-swapping networks. That’s not a trivial task for Corwin, the lobbyist for Kazaa’s parent company. When making the rounds on Capitol Hill, Corwin, 54, is up against the dual political powerhouses of the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America. Australia-based Sharman Networks hired Corwin almost three years ago to be its lone representative in Washington, D.C. Since then, Sharman has been fending off lawsuits and a slew of legislative proposals designed either to shutter the service or scare users away from it. Being an underdog is a switch for Corwin, who spent much of his career lobbying for the influential American Bankers Association, the Commercial Finance Association and the Independent Bankers Association of America, after a stint as a U.S. Senate staffer. Now he’s a partner at the Butera & Andrews lobbying firm. Kazaa is one of the largest and most successful file-trading networks. It boasts about 2.48 million users a day, roughly the same as eDonkey’s claimed 2.54 million. CNET News.com spoke with Corwin about piracy, pornography and his experiences as a lobbyist. [Editor: Interesting interview. Corwin is an active, valued member of the ABA’s Cyberspace Law Committee.] http://news.com.com/Fighting+for+file-swapping+on+Capitol+Hill/2008-1082_3-5470022.html

PRICELINE TO STOP OFFERING NORTHWEST AIR (Reuters, 30 Nov 2004) -- Online travel agency Priceline.com Inc. said on Tuesday it will no longer offer Northwest Airlines Corp. tickets due to a disagreement over the terms of distribution. Norwalk, Connecticut-based Priceline, in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (news - web sites), said it does not believe the action will materially hurt its operating results, adding that ticket sales will be made up by other participating airlines. A Priceline spokesman declined to detail the disagreement, citing company policy. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=582&e=3&u=/nm/20041130/wr_nm/leisure_priceline_dc

COURT: INTERIOR DEPARTMENT SYSTEMS CAN GO BACK ONLINE (ComputerWorld, 6 Dec 2004) -- An appeals court has reversed a March 15 U.S. District Court decision under which the U.S. Department of the Interior was forced to disconnect a substantial number of its computer systems from the Internet. In an opinion published Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the earlier decision, saying that the District Court erred in disregarding Interior Department security certifications and in failing to hold a hearing that would have given the department a chance to argue that its computers were secure. Under the March 15 ruling, all Interior Department computers were disconnected from the Internet except systems deemed essential for public safety reasons, as well as the systems of the National Park Service, Office of Policy Management and Budget and the U.S. Geological Survey. The ruling comes as part of a lawsuit over the department’s failure to secure data about money owed to native Americans for grazing, energy and mineral royalties. http://www.computerworld.com/governmenttopics/government/legalissues/story/0,10801,98073,00.html?source=x62

U.S. ITUNES MUSIC STORE NOW ACCEPTS PAYPAL (MacWorld, 10 Dec 2004) -- Apple Computer Inc. announced Friday that the U.S. version of its iTunes Music Store now accepts payments through PayPal, the popular electronic payment service owned by eBay. With PayPal, users can pay for their iTunes downloads using a “virtual wallet” that’s linked to a credit card, bank account or stored account balance. Apple also announced that the first 500,000 customers to open a new iTunes account using PayPal as their payment method before March 31, 2005 will receive five free songs. http://www.macworld.com/news/2004/12/10/itunespaypal/index.php/?lsrc=mcrss-1204

FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN OFFICIAL INDICTED (CNET, 1 Dec 2004) -- A former Republican Party bigwig in New England has been indicted on charges of orchestrating a low-tech version of a denial-of-service attack. Internet DoS attacks, which overload a Web site’s servers and cause them to be temporarily inaccessible, have targeted everything from Whitehouse.gov to the SCO Group and eBay. Now James Tobin, who was the top Bush campaign official for New England and formerly the Republican National Committee’s regional director, is being accused of mounting a similar kind of attack on the phone networks of five Democratic Party offices during the November 2002 election. A federal grand jury indictment released Wednesday charges Tobin with attempting to “disrupt communications” by clogging the Democrats’ phones on Election Day through repeated hang-up calls. The four-count indictment also says Tobin targeted the Manchester Professional Firefighters Association’s phones in an attempt to interfere with its get-out-the-vote effort. http://news.com.com/2100-1028_3-5473524.html

FIGHT FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN GOES ON (Wired, 2 Dec 2004) -- Digital archivists aren’t giving up on their efforts to free out-of-print books, movies and music from overreaching copyright laws, despite a recent setback in court. District Judge Maxine Chesney dismissed the case filed by Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, and Rick Prelinger, founder of the Prelinger Archives, in late November. The archivists allege that the government’s sweeping changes in copyright laws are unconstitutional because they lock up creative works that should be returned to the public domain. The government filed a motion to dismiss, and the motion was granted Nov. 19. Kahle -- who wants to include out-of-print books and films in his nonprofit archive for educational and research purposes -- and Prelinger will appeal the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the next several weeks, said Chris Sprigman, a fellow at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. Sprigman, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said First Amendment matters are normally dealt with at the appeals court level of the judicial system anyway. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of four copyright laws: the Copyright Renewal Act of 1992, the Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, the Copyright Act of 1976 and the Berne Convention Implementation Act. http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,65898,00.html

AGENCIES FIND WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR (Washington Post, 3 Dec 2004) -- When computer users hunt for information on the Internet, they typically turn to Google or Yahoo. When analysts working for U.S. intelligence look for documents and data stored on computers inside their own agencies, they often turn to software made by a little-known firm from Northern Virginia. While the high-profile battle between the major search engines that scour the Web rages on, Convera Corp. quietly has carved out a niche for itself: selling software that helps U.S. and foreign intelligence agents search their databases. The Vienna company is like a lot of small companies that are attempting to compete with the search engine giants, not by out-Googling Google, but by offering specialized services to organizations that are drowning in electronic data. From the FBI to the CIA to the National Security Agency, and from the Department of Homeland Security to the Pentagon, thousands of analysts use Convera’s software, which bears the moniker RetrievalWare. More than a dozen foreign intelligence services use it as well. Convera offers such features as the ability to automatically notify intelligence analysts when a new document matching a search query is added to the agency’s database, and to search for patterns within data, identifying relationships buried in mountains of separate documents. Helen Mitchell, head of enterprise search for the FDA, says: “Before, people couldn’t find everything if things were misfiled or they didn’t have the time or resources. With the Convera software, and the technology for searching documents and patterns, they can find documents even with misspellings.” Convera plans to make its Internet search engine available to regular computer users for free sometime next year. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30161-2004Dec2.html

SUPREME COURT TO DECIDE STATUS OF CABLE INTERNET SERVICE (Steptoe & Johnson’s E-Commerce Law Week, 4 Dec 2004) -- On December 3, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a case that likely will decide whether cable television companies, like telephone companies, will be required to share their high-speed networks with unaffiliated Internet service providers. By agreeing to review the Ninth Circuit’s October 2003 decision in Brand X Internet Services v. FCC, the Supreme Court’s decision ultimately could have a significant impact on competition between cable and telephone-based Internet services, as well as on how these broadband access services will be regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) going forward. The Supreme Court agreed to hear two of three separate appeals of the Brand X case – one filed by the FCC and one by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) – the cable industry’s trade association. A decision is likely to come by July of next year. http://www.steptoe.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=DspNewsDetails&id=3789&site_id=182

STUDY: ARTISTS NOT THREATENED BY FILE SHARING (CNET, 5 Dec 2004) -- Recording labels and movie studios have hired phalanxes of lawyers to pursue peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa, and have sued thousands of individuals who distribute copyrighted material through such networks. But most of the artists surveyed by the nonprofit Pew Internet and American Life Project said online file sharing did not concern them much. Artists were split on the merits of peer-to-peer networks, with 47 percent saying that they prevent artists from earning royalties for their work and another 43 percent saying they helped promote and distribute their material. But two-thirds of those surveyed said file sharing posed little threat to them, and less than one-third of those surveyed said file sharing was a major threat to creative industries. Only 3 percent said the Internet hurt their ability to protect their creative works. http://news.com.com/2100-1027_3-5478329.html Report at

WEB SERVICES PATENTS FETCH $15.5 MILLION (CNET, 6 Dec 2004) -- A mysterious bidder paid $15.5 million Monday in a bankruptcy court auction of dozens of Internet-related patents--and then rushed out of the courtroom. On the United States Bankruptcy Court auction block were 39 patents owned by Commerce One, a bankrupt software company in Santa Clara, Calif., that’s in the process of shutting down and liquidating its assets. The patents cover a set of key technical protocols known as Web services, a popular method for exchanging business documents over the Internet. The protocols are in wide use today; Microsoft, IBM and other software companies both large and small have incorporated them into their programs. The winning bidder was a company called JGR Acquisitions. An attorney representing JGR was mum about his client, dodging reporters’ questions as he rushed out of the court room at the close of the auction. Attorneys for Commerce One and the bankers who solicited bids for the auction also declined to discuss JGR. A document the company filed with the court was scarce on information as well, so JGR’s business, its owners, its location and its plans for the newly acquired patents all remain mysteries. Although the patents may be too broad to enforce or may be otherwise invalidated if challenged, the auction has drawn the attention of some big names in Silicon Valley, including Google, Oracle and Sun Microsystems. Representatives for those and about a dozen other companies convened a meeting last month to discuss the auction and the danger of infringement suits from whomever won it. The companies also considered a proposal to pool funds in order to jointly bid on the patents and retire them if they won. http://news.com.com/2100-1038_3-5480341.html

FLORIDA E-VOTE STUDY DEBUNKED (Wired, 7 Dec 2004) -- A study by Berkeley grad students and a professor showing anomalies with electronic-voting machines in Florida has been debunked by numerous academics who say the students used a faulty equation to reach their results and should never have released the study before getting it peer-reviewed. The study, released three weeks ago by seven graduate students from the University of California, Berkeley’s Quantitative Methods Research Team and sociology professor Michael Hout, presented analysis showing a discrepancy in the number of votes Bush received in counties that used touch-screen voting machines versus counties that used other types of voting equipment. But Bruce McCullough, a decisions science professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, and Binghamton University economics professor Florenz Plassmann released an analysis (at http://election04.ssrc.org/research/critique-of-hmcb.pdf) of the Berkeley report criticizing the results. According to the Berkeley study, the number of votes granted to Bush in touch-screen counties far exceeded expectation, given a number of variables -- including the number of votes those counties gave Bush in 2000 -- while counties using other types of voting equipment gave Bush a predictable number of votes. http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,65896,00.html

DEBIT CARDS GIVE PLASTIC EDGE OVER PAPER (Washington Post, 7 Dec 2004) -- Americans kept their checkbooks in their pockets and instead flashed debit cards in record numbers last year, making 2003 the first time plastic and other electronic payment methods beat out paper, according to a survey released yesterday by the Federal Reserve. A total of 44.5 billion electronic payment transactions crossed the wires in 2003, compared with 36.7 billion check payments. Those numbers marked a turnabout from 2000, when Americans wrote 41.9 billion checks, and electronic payments clocked in at 30.6 billion, the Fed said. The trend toward electronic payments and away from paper checks has been in progress for many years. But it has been accelerated by especially strong growth in the popularity of debit cards, which can now be used to buy just about anything -- plane tickets or McDonald’s Happy Meals. The Fed estimates that debit card payments are increasing at an annual rate of 23.5 percent, more than credit cards and other types of electronic payment. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41858-2004Dec6.html

TECH CEOS ISSUE CYBER-SECURITY RECOMMENDATIONS (Washington Post, 7 Dec 2004) -- A group representing technology industry chief executives on Tuesday warned that the Bush administration has failed to follow through on its two-year-old strategy for protecting the nation’s information infrastructure and offered recommendations for improving the government’s handling of cyber-security in President Bush’s second term. At the top of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance’s set of recommendations is raising the profile of cyber-security at the Department of Homeland Security by elevating the position of national cyber-security director to the assistant secretary level. Such a move, the technology community and some members of Congress believe, would bring stronger leadership to the division, whose director currently reports to an assistant secretary who is responsible for both cyber and physical security threats. “There is not enough attention on cyber-security within the administration,” said Paul Kurtz, the alliance’s director and a former senior cyber-security official in the Bush administration. “The executive branch must exert more leadership.” Kurtz was joined at Tuesday’s event by Amit Yoran, the former director of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Division who resigned in September. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44474-2004Dec7.html

LEAN TIMES LINGER FOR VALLEY FIRMS (SiliconValley.com, 9 Dec 2004) -- Silicon Valley expected to be enjoying good times by now. Instead, almost four years after the downturn in technology spending began, high-tech companies still find themselves clawing for any sale they can get. Savvy corporations are playing desperate technology vendors against one another, extracting deep discounts for the latest equipment and services -- a far cry from the boom years when customers had to pay premium prices for backlogged products. This fundamental power shift has huge implications for Silicon Valley. Tech spending is projected to grow only slightly in the coming years. All over the region, companies that sell technology are being forced to slash costs, look for more business overseas, try to buy competitors, revamp marketing strategies and keep a tight lid on jobs in the United States. ``They’re all fighting for a pie that isn’t increasing as fast as they’d like to tell their shareholders,” said Martin Reynolds, a technology spending analyst for Gartner, a high-tech market research firm. ``Everyone is aggressively trying to cut costs. You’ve got to fight for every penny.” This is bad news if you’re a long-suffering job hunter. It’s good news if you’re a Fortune 500 company like FedEx. After growing steadily, the cargo transport company’s annual technology budget has remained level for several years, fluctuating between $1.5 billion and $1.3 billion. When FedEx does make new investments, it’s in a position to dictate the terms. http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/10374844.htm

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR P2P CASE (ZDnet, 10 Dec 2004) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday said it would hear a controversial case on whether file-sharing software companies could be held legally responsible for copyright infringement on their networks. The court’s action is good news for big record labels and Hollywood studios, which have lost successive rulings on the issue in lower courts. They want software companies like Morpheus parent StreamCast Networks and Grokster to be held legally responsible when copyrighted material is swapped using their software. “There are seminal issues before the court--the future of the creative industries and legitimate Internet commerce,” Mitch Bainwol, chief executive officer of the Recording Industry Association of America, said in a statement. “These are questions not about a particular technology, but the abuse of that technology by practitioners of a parasitical business model.” The court’s decision could also be a sobering sign for technology companies well outside the world of file-swapping. At the core of the case is an interpretation of a 20-year-old decision that made VCRs legal despite their ability to copy TV shows and movies, which ultimately helped pave the way for a host of technologies ranging from CD burners to Apple Computer’s iPod. That case, known as the Sony-Betamax decision, set out rough guidelines under which technology used to make illegal copies of copyrighted material could be distributed without the manufacturer being responsible for the resulting piracy, as long as the product was also capable of “substantial noninfringing uses.” http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-5487491.html and http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,65995,00.html

COURT CASE PITS GOOGLE AND GEICO (New York Times, 13 Dec 2004) – A federal judge in Alexandria, Va., will hear opening arguments today in a case that pits Geico against Google. Geico, the auto insurer owned by Berkshire Hathaway, sued Google in May for trademark infringement. By allowing competing insurance companies to buy ads linked to searches for “Geico” and “Geico Direct,” Geico asserted, Google directs Web surfers seeking Geico to its competitors’ sites. The outcome of the suit is uncertain and any ruling is likely to be appealed. But a final determination will help define how companies in the red-hot Internet search business make their money. The ruling could also affect the bottom line at Google, the world’s most popular search engine. The company reported revenue of $805.9 million in the third quarter, of which $411.7 million, or 51 percent, came from selling ads that are displayed on-screen next to search results. The company went public in August with an initial public offering that sold a small percentage of its shares and raised $1.67 billion. Until April, Google prevented marketers from using other companies’ trademarks as keywords if the trademark owner complained. That month, however, it allowed trademarks as keywords, although it still blocks the use of competitors’ trademarks within the ads themselves. In August, Google warned in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that possible trademark infringement lawsuits could result. “Defending these lawsuits could take time and resources,” the company said in the filing. “Adverse results in these lawsuits may result in, or even compel, a change in this practice which could result in a loss of revenue for us, which could harm our business.” http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/13/business/media/13adco.html?ex=1260680400&en=7e997bd78429c942&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland and http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/news/editorial/10408643.htm

GOOGLE IS ADDING MAJOR LIBRARIES TO ITS DATABASE (New York Times, 14 Dec 2004) – Google, the operator of the world’s most popular Internet search service, plans to announce an agreement today with some of the nation’s leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web. It may be only a step on a long road toward the long-predicted global virtual library. But the collaboration of Google and research institutions that also include Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford and the New York Public Library is a major stride in an ambitious Internet effort by various parties. The goal is to expand the Web beyond its current valuable, if eclectic, body of material and create a digital card catalog and searchable library for the world’s books, scholarly papers and special collections. Google has agreed to underwrite the projects being announced today while also adding its own technical abilities to the task of scanning and digitizing tens of thousands of pages a day at each library. Librarians involved predict the project could take at least a decade. Because the Google agreements are not exclusive, the pacts are almost certain to touch off a race with other major Internet search providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo. Like Google, they might seek the right to offer online access to library materials in return for selling advertising, while libraries would receive corporate help in digitizing their collections for their own institutional uses. “Within two decades, most of the world’s knowledge will be digitized and available, one hopes for free reading on the Internet, just as there is free reading in libraries today,” said Michael A. Keller, Stanford University’s head librarian. The Google effort and others like it that are already under way, including projects by the Library of Congress to put selections of its best holdings online, are part of a trend to potentially democratize access to information that has long been available to only small, select groups of students and scholars. Last night the Library of Congress and a group of international libraries from the United States, Canada, Egypt, China and the Netherlands announced a plan to create a publicly available digital archive of one million books on the Internet. The group said it planned to have 70,000 volumes online by next April. “Having the great libraries at your fingertips allows us to build on and create great works based on the work of others,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and president of the Internet Archive, a San Francisco-based digital library that is also trying to digitize existing print information. The challenge for publishers in coming years will be to continue to have libraries serve as major influential buyers of their books, without letting the newly vast digital public reading rooms undermine the companies’ ability to make money commissioning and publishing authors’ work. From the earliest days of the printing press, book publishers were wary of the development of libraries at all. In many instances, they opposed the idea of a central facility offering free access to books that people would otherwise be compelled to buy. But as libraries developed and publishers became aware that they could be among their best customers, that opposition faded. Now publishers aggressively court librarians with advance copies of books, seeking positive reviews of books in library journals and otherwise trying to influence the opinion of the people who influence the reading habits of millions. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/14/technology/14google.html?ex=1260680400&en=0c69d796770d4f2c&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

A JUDGE FOR SALE ON EBAY, SHIPPING INCLUDED, ISN’T LAUGHING (New York Times, 13 Dec 2004) -- Jerald R. Klein, a Manhattan housing court judge, got a call from a reporter yesterday morning, he had no idea why he was being bothered at home on the weekend. He did not know that his face was all over eBay. He did not know that he was for sale. “What are you talking about?” he said. “Yes, I am a housing court judge. But I’m not for sale.” According to a posting on eBay, an online auction house, the 55-year-old judge would go to the highest bidder. After four days, the best offer was $127.50. The eBay advertisement, titled “Judge for Sale,” showed a picture of Judge Klein sitting in a courtroom and grinning at the camera, and then listed a number of accusations criticizing the way the judge dispenses justice. Free worldwide shipping was even included. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/13/nyregion/13judge.html?ex=1260594000&en=3164979acd94ec15&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

IS AN INTERNET PHONE RIGHT FOR YOU? (PC World, 7 Dec 2004) -- VoIP services are cropping up all over the place. We answer your questions about this new breed of phone services. http://www.pcworld.com/resource/printable/article/0,aid,118734,00.asp

JUDGE POSNER’S BLOG (launched 7 Dec 2004) -- http://becker-posner-blog.com/

1. The Filter, a publication of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu.
2. Edupage, http://www.educause.edu/pub/edupage/edupage.html.
3. SANS Newsbites, sans@sans.org.
4. NewsScan and Innovation, http://www.newsscan.com.
5. Internet Law & Policy Forum, http://www.ilpf.org.
6. BNA’s Internet Law News, http://ecommercecenter.bna.com.
7. The Ifra Trend Report, http://www.ifra.com/website/ifra.nsf/html/ITR-HTML.
8. Crypto-Gram, http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram.html.
9. David Evan’s “Internet and Computer News”, http://www.abanet.org/scripts/listcommands.jsp?parm=subscribe/at-internet
10. Readers’ submissions, and the editor’s discoveries.

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