<-- The Filter --> November 1999

November 9, 1999

No. 2.4  .  The Filter  .  11.09.99

Your regular dose of public interest Internet news and commentary from
the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School


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> Do Not Pass Go: Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's damning findings of fact in the Microsoft antitrust case on Friday left analysts debating whether Microsoft should cast its bets on settlement or appeal. The stock market was surprisingly unfazed: where some players sought to unload Microsoft stock, others saw the slight drop in price as an opportunity for bargain shopping. Microsoft kept a stiff upper lip, vowing publicly to keep fighting for its "freedom to innovate," despite Judge Jackson's unequivocal findings and the resulting widespread speculation that he might consider extreme legal remedies such as breaking up the company. Meanwhile, emboldened by the long-anticipated appearance of the government's big stick, Microsoft rivals such as Netscape and Sun Microsystems are eagerly stepping forward to weigh in on precisely how that stick ought to be used.




For the complete text of Judge Jackson's findings of fact, and our own Jonathan Zittrain's unorthodox proposal for a remedy, follow the links below:



> ICANN Handle the Truce: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), and the US Department of Commerce last week signed a deal resolving a number of divisive issues that had long threatened to derail the ongoing privatization of the Internet's IP address and domain name system management. As part of the package, NSI formally recognized ICANN for the first time. The deal, tentatively accepted by the involved parties a week prior to the ICANN annual meeting where it was ratified, was modified before signature in response to heavy criticism by a caucus of domain name registrars concerned that it gave NSI an unfair advantage over the competition.

      ht tp://www.thestandard.com/articles/display/0,1449,7423,00.html

In addition to burying the hatchet with NSI, ICANN approved a new annual budget and bylaws governing the formation of its At-Large membership. It also accepted a $200,000 grant from the Markle Foundation, which will be used to help cover the high costs of establishing a credible democratic process for Internet governance. These funds will go toward building a large and representative user population that will elect ICANN's 18-member At-Large Council, which will in turn select the At-Large Directors, a full half of the corporation's governing board.

      http://ww w.markle .org/news/Release.199911021044.1219.html

> Stupid Patent Tricks: Priceline.com and Amazon.com each filed suit last month against their respective nemeses, Microsoft's Expedia and barnesandnoble.com, to protect what they claim is indisputably their property: their method of doing business over the Web. Priceline maintains it owns the name-your-price bidding process; Amazon what it calls "1-Click" shopping—the feature that allows customers to enter a credit card number and address just once and avoid the need to re-enter it when they revisit the site. The two suits add fuel to the fire of recent complaints in the legal and technical communities that the granting of patents for software and business processes is getting out of hand.

      http://www. wired.com/news/business/0,1367,31916,00.html

      http://cnnfn.com/1999/1 0/22/bizbuzz/amazon/

> Code a Technicality?: A Southern District judge ruled last month that copyright on a software product may be infringed even if the code used in the second product is different. The case pitted a company that produces software for processing applications for copyright and trademark against its direct competitor, which had developed a software product that closely mimicked its user interface. The decision distinguishes between the code and interface, stating that similar interfaces alone— regardless of how dissimilar the code used to generate them—can legitimately give rise to a cause of action for copyright infringement on the part of the original developer.


> Chasing Ambulances in Cyberspace: A Washington attorney took cybersquatting to a new low this month when he bought the domain names "flight990.com" and "EgyptAirflight990.com" hours after the EgyptAir disaster. He says he always intended to hand them over to the families of the victims—on the understanding that their sites would contain links to his law firm as a resource for advice.

      http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/307/nation/Lawyer_buys_Web_addresses_for_ advice_+.shtml

> That's My .Web You're Caught In: In a new bid for the right to act as the sole official registry for Internet addresses ending in ".web," a company called Image Online Design is now suing the Internet Council of Registrars (CORE) for unfair competition and trademark infringement. The company, which has claimed ownership of ".web" since 1986, says that CORE's representation of itself as a prospective ".web" registrar is improper given Image Online Design's prior claims. These claims include trademark of ".web"—despite the fact that the US Patent and Trademark Office specifically recommends against providing mark protection for top-level domain names.


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> You Are Invited: The Berkman Center cordially invites Filter readers in the area to attend a celebration of the forthcoming release of Lawrence Lessig's book, "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace," on November 10 at 6:00 p.m. in the lobby of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"CODE argues that the architecture of cyberspace—its code, or the software and hardware that makes cyberspace as it is—is a more important "regulator" in cyberspace than law, and that we need to think seriously about how that fact will affect values we consider fundamental. If code is a regulator, then the free software, or open source software movements, for example, have important role in checking regulatory power. And if code is a regulator, then we need to assure that its regulations are regulations that we choose."--Lawrence Lessig

For further details on the book, see:


RSVP for the book party to abrown@law.harvard.edu.

> Lessig Chosen for Red Hat Think Tank: Can the open source movement be applied to a broader range of uses than software development? Red Hat is establishing a nonprofit think tank to study the question, and has enlisted our own Lawrence Lessig to the cause.


> Markle Supports Berkman Center: As part of its recently-announced commitment to give $1 million to support involvement of the general public in Internet governance issues, the Markle Foundation will fund the Berkman Center's efforts to develop mechanisms for open governance and deliberation online. The Berkman Center is one of five public interest organizations awarded grants by Markle in tandem with a $200,000 gift to ICANN, to aid in establishing and enabling widespread civic participation in its decision-making process. Follow the links below for more details and to hear the Berkman Center's comments at the Markle press conference:



In addition to awarding the grant, Markle co-hosted the Berkman Center's "ICANN and the Public Interest: Pressing Issues," a workshop held just prior to ICANN's annual meeting. Check out our complete multimedia archive of the event, which features a free-wheeling debate between lead negotiators David Johnson for NSI and Joe Sims for ICANN on interpretation of the "consensus" requirement that ICANN must meet before imposing any new policies on the registrars and registries:


> Filter Readers Tune In for Technology and Culture Book Panel: More than 300 Filter readers tuned in on Monday for the Berkman Center's webcast audio of a special Harvard Bookstore Technology and Culture book panel. Moderated by WBUR's Christopher Lydon, the panel featured Neil Postman, Stewart Brand, James O'Donnell, Berkman Fellow and EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow, and Berkman Professor Lawrence Lessig. Audio archives and scribe's notes are available at the following URL for any who may have missed the live webcast:


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ICANN held its first annual meeting series last week in Los Angeles, California and the Berkman Center was on hand to facilitate remote participation. Follow the below link to our complete multimedia archive:


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* Bridging the Digital Divide


A well-organized, comprehensive clearinghouse site for those dedicated expanding access to information technologies for underserved populations and areas.

* World Internetworking Alliance


This site provides a useful roadmap to the "communities and parties of the Internet": in essence, an anatomy of the "Internet stakeholder" ICANN was established to represent.

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"From the very beginning, we've said we would like nothing better than to settle this case."

—Bill Gates, in the wake of Judge Jackson's findings of fact, to the San Jose Mercury News (via Ditherati.com).


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Comments? Questions? Opinions? Submissions? Send a letter to the editor at filter-editor@cyber.law.ha rvar d.edu

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Last updated

January 15, 2008