Internet and Society News -- 050125

"Your Online Source for Overblown Rhetoric and Continuing Quagmires"



Estimating the Price Effects of Mergers and Concentration in the Petroleum
: An Evaluation of Recent Learning. Deborah Platt Majoras, Opening
Remarks (January 14, 2005 - 9:00 AM), Washington, DC

U.S. May Scrutinize IBM's China Deal

The Bush administration is considering launching an
extensive probe of whether the pending sale of IBM's personal computer business
to a Chinese company might pose national security problems, according to members
of a congressional oversight group.

State aid: Commission requests phasing out of tax benefits for Exempt Companies
in Gibraltar

The Commission has formally requested the United Kingdom to
abolish the Exempt Company tax regime in Gibraltar by the end of 2010 at the
latest because the scheme violates the EC Treaty’s ban on state aid liable to
distort competition. By this request, which takes the form of a “recommendation”
and follows extensive negotiations, the Commission intends to put a definitive
end to the last offshore tax regime in Gibraltar. The United Kingdom has one
month to formally accept these appropriate measures, failing which the
Commission may open a formal state aids investigation. Under the regime, an
Exempt Company pays no income tax on its profits but instead pays only a low,
fixed annual tax.



IBM goes silent on Linux desktop effort

Although IBM's chairman and CEO, Sam Palmisano, challenged
his company to move to the Linux desktop by the end of 2005, the company is
saying very little about its migration efforts to date.

Google launches video search engine for TV shows

Web search company Google today launched a new service,
Google Video, that allows users to search for phrases and information about
thousands of TV shows that have been indexed. 

IBM, Sun, HP and Intel join on grid development

IBM, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and Intel today
announced that they have formed a consortium to strengthen the Globus Toolkit,
the open-source grid development project of the Globus Alliance.

Feature Films Without Wires

The weekend premiere of Rize was a big deal simply for its
delivery method -- it was beamed to the theater from 800 miles away. It could
change the way movies are distributed.

The Firefox Explosion

It's fast, secure, open source -- and super popular. The
hot new browser called Firefox is rocking the software world. (Watch your back,
Bill Gates.)

IBM scoops up hosting outfit Corio

IBM intends to spend $182 million to acquire Corio, which
specializes in hosted application services for medium-size companies. The move,
announced Tuesday, will strengthen IBM's portfolio of application-hosting
services, a $1 billion business that CEO Samuel Palmisano has singled out as an
area with significant growth potential.

Playboy: Let the online games begin

Would you fancy wearing the bathrobe of adult-entertainment
icon Hugh Hefner? It's now possible, at least in the virtual world. Playboy has
released a simulation game, "Playboy: The Mansion," that lets players live the
life of the Playboy founder.

Google snaps up top Firefox programmer

Google has hired the lead programmer of the Firefox Web
browser, the newest step in the search engine powerhouse's encroachment on
Microsoft's turf. Ben Goodger announced Monday on his blog that he took a job
with Google on Jan. 10. The move is the latest of several that are fueling
speculation that Google plans its own Web browser.



people play

The co-operative and the selfish are equally successful at
getting what they want. Many people, it is said, regard life as a game.
Increasingly, both biologists and economists are tending to agree with them.
Game theory, a branch of mathematics developed in the 1940s and 1950s by John
von Neumann and John Nash, has proved a useful theoretical tool in the study of
the behaviour of animals, both human and non-human. An important part of game
theory is to look for competitive strategies that are unbeatable in the context
of the fact that everyone else is also looking for them. Sometimes these
strategies involve co-operation, sometimes not. Sometimes the “game” will result
in everybody playing the same way. Sometimes they will need to behave
differently from one another. 



Amazon's ratings count after all

Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken may have something in common,
after all. In's vast customer review database, their books get as
many raves as pans. And according to the research of Mikhail Gronas, an
assistant professor at Dartmouth, that sells books. Professor Gronas, who
teaches Russian literature, used customer reviews on Amazon to study how tastes
inform what people read. "Most studies of taste are based on surveys," Gronas
said. "With the reviews, you have a huge bank of material that is



Conservatives back Hollywood

The Bush administration's top lawyer and the Christian
Coalition threw their weight behind the entertainment industry Monday in a
closely watched Supreme Court fight over file swapping. Monday was the deadline
for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture
Association of America (MPAA) and their supporters to file their arguments with
the nation's top court, in their efforts to reverse previous rulings that
imposed only minimal legal restrictions on peer-to-peer software companies.

U.S. Asks High Court to Curb File Swapping

The government's top lawyer has asked the Supreme Court to
overturn the ruling that allowed the makers of online song- and movie-swapping
software to stay in business.

RIM rejects NTP
patent win

Research in Motion (RIM) wants the US Court of Appeal to
reconsider its argument that its Canadian location puts it beyond the reach of
US-based patent infringement accuses NTP. Faced with a return to the District
Court of Eastern Richmond, Virginia to have a new penalty imposed following the
Court of Appeal's ruling that RIM did indeed violate NTP's intellectual
property, the Canadian company is now saying none of all these legal shenanigans
were necessary, the New York Times reports. Lawsuits in Motion's pitch is that
since its servers are located north of the border, where US patents have no
hold, it can't be held to have infringed NTP's US patents. 



The "De Minimis" Rule and Music Sampling

A friend-of-the-court brief from the Brennan Center's Free
Expression Policy Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation urges a U.S.
Court of Appeals to reinstate the "de minimis" rule, arguing that sampling a few
chords from musical recordings shouldn't amount to copyright infringement.



Report: HP may farm out Fiorina's job duties

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s board of directors believes that by
giving three senior executives more authority, the company can better respond to
customer demands and increased competition, according to a report in The Wall
Street Journal.

Tower Snow sued for $2.7m by Brobeck trustee

Iconic former Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison chairman Tower
Snow has been sued for $2.7m by the trustee of the bankrupt Brobeck estate. As
reported in San Francisco’s Recorder, Snow is among 224 former Brobeck partners
to be hit with demands to repay distributions and bonuses received after Brobeck
allegedly became bankrupt in 2001.  



Tourism operators back ferry

The Tourism Council of Tasmania fears the under-performing
Spirit of Tasmania III ferry could sink under the weight of negative public
opinion. The council took the unprecedented step of launching a petition
yesterday urging politicians, businesses and the public to support the
struggling Sydney-Devonport ferry. Tourism council chief executive officer
Daniel Leesong said the future of the ferry was unclear and public support was
needed to galvanise political will to keep the service operating.

Kearney/Tasmania: Local Hero - Regional 2005 Recipient

Ben Kearney is committed to making Coles Bay in Tasmania a
better place to live. Due to his direction, the town became ‘Australia's First
Plastic Bag Free Town'. Ben is the owner of the local bakery and has worked in
partnership with Planet Ark to motivate community members, campaign tirelessly
and devote his time and money to achieve the goal. This initiative will assist
and protect the whales and stop the plastic bag littering of the adjoining
Freycinet National Park. The plastic bag free status has had a far reaching
impact not only in Australia but internationally as well. For their efforts,
Coles Bay was awarded the Environmental Excellence Award by the Tasmanian
Government. Ben is great local hero.

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