<-- The Filter --> March 2000

March 9, 2000
No. 2.11  .  The Filter  .  3.09.00

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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> ICANN—Entering a New Domain in Egypt?: Largely overlooked by the media, this week's meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Cairo, Egypt will nevertheless yield developments likely to provoke controversy—especially among members of the Internet community concerned about the organization's handling of the balance between public and private interests on the Internet. Among the issues to be addressed is the perennial question of whether and how to add new top-level domains to the Internet's existing structure. Should ICANN create new top-level domains such as ".sucks" and ".union" to enable to a distinctly public interest use of domain name space, as Ralph Nader's Consumer Project for Technology group suggests? How, then, will it address the interests of corporations for which the addition of top-level domains could mean dilution of trademark—in an arena where brand name recognition is arguably what sells the product?



> Damned If You Do: Criticized since its inception for a perceived lack of openness to the average netizen, ICANN two weeks ago launched an ambitious new program and website inviting anyone with an email address and verifiable place of residence to join its At-Large membership. Public policy groups Common Cause and the Center for Democracy and Technology shortly afterward released a joint study arguing that the program inadequately protects the organization from the threat of capture and election fraud. The study further states that prospects aren't good for a fair ballot "from a potential electorate of millions of Internet users worldwide who have little knowledge of ICANN and little understanding of its mission [...]." Says ICANN board chair Esther Dyson in response, "[The elections] may not succeed the first time and if they don't then we'll know what's wrong—then we'll fix it and we will try it again."




***EXTRA: The Berkman Center is in Cairo this week to facilitate remote participation in ICANN's public meetings. Check out our online multimedia archive, updated daily, linked below from DISPATCHES.

> Arizona Digs Digital Democracy: Arizona's historic experiment in taking the vote online resulted in a Super Tuesday primary demonstrating at once the Internet's power to encourage widespread civic participation and its potential failures in terms of security and reliability. About 14,000 Arizona Democrats reportedly voted online on Tuesday—more than in the entire 1996 primary. Yet many Arizona residents encountered system crashes and other technical glitches when they logged in to vote, plus the added frustration of what is fast becoming the nation's top pet peeve—busy technical help lines. Online voting continues through Saturday.


> AOL/Time Warner Say I Do...to Open Access?: AOL and Time Warner Communications' new "memorandum of understanding" pledging commitment to open access—released just prior to a February 29 Senate panel on their proposed merger—is doing little to ease the fears of consumer advocacy groups and others monitoring the high speed Internet access battle. The memorandum states that Time Warner will "offer consumers a choice of multiple ISPs, including AOL," but makes clear that the deal isn't yet binding. AT&T issued a similar statement back in December, making public a deal to share its high speed network in the midst of negotiations with the FCC over a proposed merger with MediaOne. Both companies dropped lobbying efforts for government-backed regulations to ensure open ISP access to high speed networks once they announced plans to merge with the cable companies that own them.



      http://judici ary.senate.gov/wl229200.htm

The Berkman Center is closely involved in the debate over open access. Follow the links below for an article on Berkman Professor Lawrence Lessig's efforts to raise public awareness about what's at stake, and for details on our Open Access project:

      http:/ /www.redherring.com/insider/2000/0229/tech-lessig022900.html

      http:// cyber.harvard.edu/openlaw/openaccess/

> Parry, Thrust, Patent, Counter-Patent: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' coronation as Time magazine's 1999 "Person of the Year" has by no means stopped him from becoming the focus of growing resentment among members of the legal and technical community who see Amazon's acquisition of business methods patents for its "1-Click" technology and "Associates Program" as an example of intellectual property law gone mad. Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation, launched a much-publicized effort to boycott Amazon in December, arguing that by blocking others' use of its "simple" ideas, Amazon is waging "an attack against the World Wide Web and against e-commerce in general." Famed computer book publishing company president Tim O'Reilly subsequently posted an open letter to Bezos on his company site supporting Stallman's views. Now O'Reilly has posted his reconstruction of a phone call conversation with Bezos, in which the CEO justifies Amazon's patent "attack" on the grounds of self defense.

      http://www.oreilly.com/ask _tim/bezos_0300.html

      http://ww w.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,12377,00.html

Interested in how software is impacting thought on intellectual property protection? Check out Berkman Center Executive Director Jonathan Zittrain's "The Right Microsoft Remedy—and Beyond," which proposes a five-year copyright limit for software.

      http://ww w.intellectualcapital.com/issues/issue320/item7253.asp

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> IP in the Age of MP3: The Berkman Center joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on February 25 to present "Signal or Noise? The Future of Music on the Net," a free daylong conference to explore the impact of Internet technology on the music industry. Taking part in lively debates addressing the full range of political and legal issues involved were intellectual property experts, cyber-activists, musicians, journalists and industry representatives. Close to 1,000 people registered for the conference, with more than 300 tuning in for our live webcast. Follow the links below for news coverage of the day's happenings.



Missed the conference? Check out what Chuck D, DJ Spooky and others had to say about the future of music on the Internet in our complete video archive:


> Trials (and Tribulations) in the DVD Case: New developments are afoot in the motion picture industry's controversial battle against website operators who either post or link to DeCSS, a software program that allows users to decrypt and read the data encoded on commercial DVDs. Defense lawyers have filed a letter memorandum in a Connecticut court previewing some of their arguments in support of dismissing the case. They argue not only that the posting was not prohibited by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as alleged, but that the studios suing are the wrong plaintiffs, and finally, that the law itself should be thrown out as an impediment to free speech. Meanwhile, the Berkman Center has been using its OpenLaw forum to discuss the case, with Berkman Fellow Wendy Seltzer rallying the Internet community at large to assist in deliberating on legal arguments, evidence, and strategy. Follow the links below for articles about both developments by Wired's Declan McCullagh.



> Duty-Free Internet?: Harvard Law School's Journal of Law and Technology presents "Tolling the Superhighway: Debating the Prospects of Taxing E-commerce" on April 8, 2000. The symposium features panel discussions on the merits of various proposals for Internet taxation, exploring their individual logistics and likely ramifications on existing state and local tax systems. Among the presenters are key members of the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce and our own Jonathan Zittrain, co-author of "Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Taxing Internet Commerce."




> FreeSpeech@Intel.com?: In a case closely watched by free speech advocates, former Intel employee Ken Hamidi is appealing a California state trial court order barring him from sending email messages critical of the company to Intel employees at their place of work. Resolution of the dispute is likely to have a substantial impact on the free speech landscape of cyberspace. Berkman Center independent clinical student William McSwain, in conjunction with the EFF, recently authored an amicus brief on behalf of Mr. Hamidi arguing that his email messages are not appropriately classified as a trespass. Click on the links below to read the brief in full and learn more about the case:



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This week we're featuring our complete multimedia archive of ICANN's March 8-10 public meeting in Cairo, Egypt:


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* Election.com


The folks responsible for this week's historic online primary election in Arizona.

* The World Online


Public Radio International's daily news site, where you can listen to the BBC's excellent "The World" radio broadcast online at 5:00 p.m. EST each weekday.

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"[...] Protect the artist?! That's crap, 'protect the artist.' It's a pimp-ho game! You don't give a damn about the artist. Artists, traditionally, have received ten percent! Ten percent, wholesale."

—Chuck D, on the music business pre-MP3 revolution, at the Berkman Center/EFF co-sponsored "Signal or Noise? The Future of Music on the Net."

      http://cyber.harvard.edu/scripts/rammaker.asp?s=cyber&dir=events&file=n etmusic-022500&start=4-34-27&end=5-21-56

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Last updated

January 15, 2008