Internet and Society News -- 050124

"Extremely Flammable with the Consistency of Creme Brulee"



Microsoft Won't Appeal EU Sanctions

Microsoft Corp. said on Monday it had decided not to appeal a December ruling by
a European Union court ordering it to immmediately implement EU antitrust
sanctions imposed last March.

Electronics giants form alliance

The world's four biggest consumer electronics companies have agreed to start
using a common method to protect digital music and video against piracy and
illegal copying. Japan's Sony Corp and Panasonic-brand owner Matsushita Electric
Industrial, South Korea's Samsung Electronics and Dutch Philips Electronics
formed the alliance because they want buyers of their products to watch or
listen to "appropriately licensed video and music on any device, independent of
how they originally obtained that content". Such interoperability does not exist
at the moment. The alliance, called the Marlin Joint Development Association
(Marlin JDA), gives the companies standard specifications to build DRM functions
into their devices that support commonly used modes of content distribution.

Bills may
give port haulers a break

Port haulers in California may get a bargaining voice or at least some relief in
that state¹s upcoming Legislative session. The Teamsters by mid-February will
sponsor a bill to exempt port truckers from federal antitrust laws so they can
negotiate freight rates and withhold services at marine terminals, according to
the Journal of Commerce online. Another piece of legislation, Senate Bill 45
proposed by California State Senator Richard Alarcon, would prohibit terminal
operators from burdening the drivers with demurrage or equipment charges and for
late fees for getting equipment back when such things are out of their control,
according to the Los Angeles area newspaper, the Daily Breeze. Port haulers on
East and West Coasts have at various times protested the high price of fuel and
their poor working conditions.

Oracle plans alternative pricing for PeopleSoft apps

Oracle is working on an alternative pricing model for PeopleSoft products that
would be similar to the Oracle E-Business Suite pricing scheme.

DOJ Speech

An Overview of Recent Developments in the Antitrust Division's Criminal
Enforcement Program - Presented at the Midwinter Leadership Meeting by Deputy
Assistant Attorney General Scott D. Hammond (01/10/2005)

A new inquiry is launched into reductions in excise duties on fuel used to heat
glasshouses in Italy

The European Commission decided today to launch a new inquiry into the
reductions in excise duties applied to fuel used to heat glasshouses in Italy.
Glasshouse producers benefit from a total exemption in excise duty on such fuel.
At this stage, aid under this scheme would appear difficult to justify under the
rules on state aid.

Competition Bureau Concludes Inquiry into Snow Crab Processing in Newfoundland
and Labrador

After a detailed examination of the snow crab market in Newfoundland and
Labrador, the Competition Bureau has found that fish processors did not violate
the conspiracy provision of the Competition Act in the purchase of snow crab
during the 1994 to 2002 fishing seasons. Following complaints received in August
2001, the Competition Bureau started an inquiry into allegations that,
throughout this eight-year period, a number of fish processors in Newfoundland
and Labrador conspired to fix or eliminate bonus payments made to fish
harvesters for snow crab and allocated snow crab quota among themselves. Bonus
payments refer to payments made by fish processors to fish harvesters in
addition to the minimum price for snow crab that is established under the
provincial Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act.

May Faces Major Changes, Possible Buyout

A change at the top of May Department Stores Co., whether through a buyout by
rival Federated or on its own, should help the struggling retailer right itself
after about four years of stumbling with disappointing sales and profits...
Federal antitrust regulators likely will closely examine any deal to determine
whether it would restrict retail competition. But because Wal-Mart and Target
would still dwarf a combined Federated-May, it's unlikely the combination would
be able to exercise prohibitive control over the retail market, Stinson said.

, currently an associate in the EU, Competition and Trade Department
at the law firm Lovells, has been appointed as a Director in the OFT's
Competition Enforcement legal division.

Gannett, NY Times Face Antitrust Scrutiny - Source

The U.S. Justice Department is scrutinizing proposals by Gannett Co. Inc. and
New York Times Co. to own or invest in rival local newspapers over antitrust
concerns, a source said Monday. Further details of the probes were not
immediately available. According to The Wall Street Journal, which first
reported the newspaper industry investigations on Monday, the Justice Department
is investigating Gannett's proposed acquisition of HomeTown Communications
Network Inc., a privately held community newspaper publisher with operations in
Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.



Sony cuts profit target on price competition

Company cites sharply falling prices of TVs, DVD recorders, other key products
as well as weak demand for chips.

Microsoft offers subscription Outlook

Firm shoots for power users among Hotmail crowd, marking first time an Office
component is available as subscription service.

A software comeback?

Despite strong growth in software sales at IBM, only certain parts of the
enterprise software market are set to rebound this year.

DVD format war's David

A format war is shaping up for high-definition DVDs between Blu-Ray and HD DVD.
But a cheaper contender is already in the market.

sites charged with 'enslaving' users

Online music services such as iTunes may be growing in popularity but they're
also a source of frustration for many music fans. That's according to the
results of a new study which has criticised such services for trying to enslave
internet users by locking them in to proprietary formats and music players.
Research conducted by Shelley Taylor & Associates between October and December
2004 also found that a large number of digital downloading services are poorly
designed making it difficult for users to navigate around music sites.

Mac Mini finds its Target

Consumers scrambling for Apple's new diminutive desktop can now order it at
Target's online store.

Satellite TV snubbing Microsoft

Software giant's high-definition video technology is being passed over by
DirecTV and its biggest rivals. But other markets remain.

IBM goes
after Intel, AMD with Linux-only server

IBM looks set to make a new, lower-end addition to its line of Power-based
servers designed to run the Linux operating system, The Register can reveal. IBM
has put the two-processor OpenPower 710 up for sale in the UK. (IBM kindly
pulled the linked web site down about an hour after this story first appeared.
Thankfully, there is still a cached version here.) The sample configuration for
the rackmount system shows it running on 1.65GHz Power5 chips. The new box will
fit in below the four-processor OpenPower 720 released last September.



Tech Firms to Seek Protection From Pirating

Several large technology corporations will urge the U.S. Supreme Court Monday to
continue to shield businesses and innovators from legal responsibility if their
products or services are used by consumers for illegal acts.

Google loses trademark dispute in France

French court orders search giant to stop using the trademarks of a European
resort chain to trigger keyword ads.

Hynix Faces
50 Rambus Patents in Court

A U.S. district judge ruled this week that Hynix Semiconductor must defend
itself from as many as 50 patent infringement claims filed against it by rival
chipmaker Rambus (Quote, Chart). According to a statement by Rambus, Judge
Ronald Whyte issued a summary judgment after receiving seven summary judgment
motions filed by the parties in advance of a March 21 court date in California.
The case stems from assertions by Rambus that South Korea-based Hynix infringed
on its patents, including 15 computer memory products that are made and/or sold
by Hynix.

blocks software patents again

Poland has intervened again to stop the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries
from rubber-stamping the EU directive on computer implemented inventions. Late
last week, the controversial legislation, better known as the software patent
directive, was reported to be an A-List item on the agenda of the Council of
Agriculture and Fisheries. This would have seen it voted through to its second

Dozen claim
MS codec patents

The MPEG LA has had 12 separate companies claiming that they have essential
patents in the pool it is developing for the licensing of Microsoft’s video
codec, dubbed VC 1 under the SMPTE standard (Society of Motion Picture and
Television Engineers). The fact that 12 separate companies, possibly more, will
decide the fate of the technology has implications for if and how much Microsoft
must charge for the codec. Larry Horn, spokesman for the MPEG LA said to
Faultline: “When MPEG 2 was created we only had 8 companies in the pool for
essential patents, now we have 24. Some companies hadn’t been issued with their
patents at the time, some sat on the side lines perhaps thinking they would
handle licensing themselves, but usually we end up with more companies providing
the technology, rather than less.” So, the 12 that are claiming essential
patents for VC 1 is likely to rise, not go down.

Sony eyes wireless PSP connections

Patent application describes variety of methods for wirelessly connecting
portable game player to Internet and other gadgets.

HP To Pay $141 Million
To Settle with Intergraph

Hewlett-Packard, a leading maker of personal computers and printers, has agreed
to pay US$141 million to settle patent disputes with software maker Intergraph,
both companies announced today. Hewlett-Packard, which also makes servers and
software, said in a statement that it expects the settlement to reduce earnings
for the first quarter of fiscal 2005 by about 3 cents per share.



Techies Talk Tough in D.C.

Technology companies and consumer advocates gear up for more copyright battles
in the new Congress, and there's talk that they need a bigger presence in

Copyright and Digital Media in a
Post-Napster World

Berkman Center for Internet & Society. The Digital Media Project released a new
report assessing how the digitization of music and movies has transformed not
only businesses but copyright law and the idea of intellectual property. The
report updates a whitepaper, released originally in 2003, to reflect major areas
of change. In addition to new lawsuits and proposed legislation, one of the
major developments since 2003 lies in international policy changes. The White
Paper includes an International Supplement that offers an overview of the most
fundamental shifts.

Handover the
code, Judge tells IBM

The SCO Group has secured a legal victory over IBM with a judge ordering IBM to
reveal all of its versions of AIX and Dynix and documentation of any changes
made to the software. While SCO was granted this crucial part of its request, it
lost out in a bid to see IBM's Configuration Management Version Control (CMVC)
and Revision Controls System (RCS) - both of which are used to track alterations
to IBM's software. Should IBM fail to provide all versions of AIX and Dynix by
March 18, it will be forced to give SCO access to CMVC and RCS, said US
Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells.

Bertelsmann makes first Napster settlement

Bertelsmann has made its first settlement in the long-running Napster copyright
infringement saga, the NY Times reports. The German media group will pay $50,000
to Bridgeport Music of Southfield, Michigan to settle "accusations from
Bridgeport Music... that it had contributed to copyright infringement by lending
millions of dollars to Napster in 2000 and 2001".

P2P hub
operators plead guilty

Two P2P users in the United States have pleaded guilty to distributing copyright
material and face five years' jail and a fine of up to $250,000. The Feds were
responding to pressure from the major record and movie mulitnationals and have
now secured their first P2P piracy convictions. Investigators downloaded
material worth $25,000 from hubs of the "Underground Network", the Justice
Department said. The DoJ portrayed this as a blow against major crime. But
$25,000 equates to just 300 DVDs and just over a thousand CDs: not a
particularly large library for a culture-consuming household.



Like It or Not, Blogs Have Legs

Media Hack » Blogging can be powerful, akin to free-market capitalism, with
information as its currency. And not only do we all get to watch, we can join

Firm Quietly Finds Wealth in Information

ChoicePoint Inc., an information industry giant that became an all-purpose
commercial source of personal information about Americans, is transforming
itself into a private intelligence service for national security and law
enforcement tasks.

Mixed legacy for Powell

Departing FCC chairman scored some big wins for Net technology, but not without
his share of controversy.



Privacy 'risk' in national ID plan

The identity of Australians could be subjected to unprecedented scrutiny under
the biggest security protection plan since the failed Australia Card.



New Ways to Manage Your Photos

If you're not already aware that 2004 was the Year of the Digital Camera, here
are a few clues. It was the year that Kodak stopped making film cameras, the
year that digicams were even more popular holiday gifts than DVD players, and
the year that three professional photographers I know each decided, with much
grumbling, to buy a digital camera - just to see what all the fuss is about. And
if this month is any indication, 2005 will be the Year of the Software to
Organize the Pictures You Took With Your Digital Camera.



Titan scientist: 'We've got a flammable world'

Saturn's moon is covered by seas of liquid natural gas, Huygens probe reveals,
and the surface has the consistency of creme brulee





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