<-- The Filter --> February 2000

February 21, 2000
No. 2.10  .  The Filter  .  02.21.00

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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> Signal or Noise? The Future of Music on the Net: Join us this Friday, February 25 for a free daylong conference—featuring Chuck D and other thinkers, musicians and activists—to explore how Internet technology is revolutionizing the music industry.

Will record labels be replaced by URLs? Is the new Walkman(TM) a Palm Pilot(TM)? Why is a company called SpectraDisc making CDs that self-destruct?

Co-sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the event features panel discussions with activists and musicians, demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies, and addresses by leaders in law, technology, and the music industry. It culminates in an informal reception and a concert at Cambridge's House of Blues featuring bands enthusiastic about digital distribution—including They Might Be Giants, sponsored by Emusic.com.

Click on the link below for details, including the conference agenda, registration and ticket information, and directions to the event. We are webcasting the conference—please register online to participate!

      http://cyber.harvard.edu/events/ netmusic

> DeCSS Debate Now in OpenLaw Forum: Does digitizing content effectively remove it from public discourse? What will be the outcome for the Internet community if Hollywood succeeds with its interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act? The DVD Copy Control Authority (DVDCCA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) brought suits last month against website operators who posted DeCSS—a software program designed to decrypt and read the data encoded on commercial DVDs. The EFF is representing the site operators being sued, working to assert and defend the public's right to comment, criticize, discuss, or build upon DVD technology.

The Berkman Center is bringing together the technical and legal communities in our Openlaw forum to discuss the issues involved. Follow the link below to learn more about the case and join the forum or the Berkman Center's "DVD-discuss" mailing list.


> Opening Debate on Open Access: In an era of increasing demand for high-speed Internet access, rapid development of the existing broadband cable network may make cable access to the Internet the new standard. Will cable network owners AT&T and AOL-Time Warner become de facto gatekeepers of the Internet? What happens if a single corporation gains control of Internet access? Do we risk converting the Internet as we know it to a corporate intranet? The Berkman Center invites Filter readers to listen in on Wednesday, February 23 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. EST to a special webcast debate on the issue of open access and the future of the Internet. Check out the below URL on Wednesday for details:


> Open Governance—a New Framework for Deliberative Democracy: As part of our effort to encourage civic participation in Internet governance, the Berkman Center is working to create a specification for software for online deliberation, grounded in the theory of consensus and discourse generally. Sponsored by the Markle Foundation, the specification is for use in the deliberative processes of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) but also to facilitate deliberation on other issues of importance to online and offline communities, and for education. We are sharing our work-in-progress in order to solicit substantive feedback from the Internet community at large. Follow the link below to learn more:


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> Microsoft—Closing Windows to Settlement?: Rumors that Bill Gates would consider opening the source code of Microsoft's Windows software platform in order to settle the antitrust case against the company floated ecstatically through the ether on Thursday, only to be promptly deflated by Microsoft spokesmen. Opening Windows' source code is an antitrust remedy favored by members of the technical community who see Microsoft's market dominance of the operating system and development of closed code software as significant roadblocks to competition and cross-platform interoperability. Gates has in the past steadfastly refused to entertain the prospect of opening software code to competitors, asserting that the company could not endorse "anything that made it so that when people buy Windows they don't know what's in it."



As the deadline fast approaches for closing oral arguments on the proposed conclusions of law and Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's verdict in the case, prospects for a settlement among the parties decline. The Berkman Center is launching a new online forum for the remedy phase of the case on its Openlaw site, and invites Filter readers to join Berkman affiliates in examining court documents, analyzing commentary by legal experts on the issues involved, and developing a considered rationale for the appropriate remedy.


Berkman Professor and former Special Master Lawrence Lessig, tapped by Judge Jackson as a "friend of the court" in the case, filed his amicus brief on the issue of technological tying on February 1. Follow the links below to read the complete brief and a thoughtful exegesis by the Industry Standard's Elizabeth Wasserman:



> DDoS Lands Another Punch—Should Uncle Sam Step In?: The recent series of "denial of service" attacks launched by as-yet unidentified "crackers" against a number of the world's most popular websites—including Yahoo, CNN, and eBay—has resulted not only in costly, hours-long service outages but a rise in speculation as to whether the government should play a bigger role in buttressing Internet security. The answer from the group of Internet industry executives gathered for Tuesday's White House summit on the attacks was a resounding and familiar "no." While the San Jose Mercury News reports that one Silicon Valley executive compared the Internet to a public utility, like "roads, electricity and telephones," arguing that it ought to be protected as such, the majority sang the traditional industry refrain: hands off the Internet.



> Will the Real Mafiaboy Please Stand Up?: As the FBI's well-publicized search for denial of service culprits "coolio," "mafiaboy" and "nachoman" continues apace, private Internet securities firms are jockeying to get there first—an effort some experts say may actually hinder the investigation. Says John Vranesavich, founder and head of security site Antionline.com, "You have securities organizations that are posing as mafiaboy's friends trying to talk to another security organization posing as mafiaboy." To further complicate matters, new attacks are suspected to have been perpetrated by copycat criminals, making the original culprits that much more difficult to identify.



> DoubleClick Here for Legal Woes: The Michigan Attorney General's office last week filed notice of intent to sue DoubleClick Inc., the Internet advertising firm whose data-collection practices have served as a national wake-up call for those concerned with protecting privacy online. DoubleClick, which creates profiles of Internet users' online behavior for use in targeted banner ads, merged last year with Abacus Direct Corp., a marketing company that compiles databases of identifying "offline" information such as names and addresses. Notice of the Michigan suit came one day after DoubleClick announced it was the target of investigation by both the New York Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission.


> Database Protection—Copyright or Wrong?: If the phonebook were online, would the information in it cease to be public property? The answer in many cases appears to be yes. Last year, Network Solutions, Inc. staked a successful (if temporary) claim to the "WHOIS" database, the Internet-wide directory of domain name owners. Now Congress is considering two new bills—H.R. 354 and H.R. 1858—designed to enhance companies' ownership rights to databases they've compiled. Backed by powerful lobbyist groups whose members include Reed-Elsevier (owner of Lexis-Nexis), the two bills raise a red flag for intellectual property experts concerned that the current trend toward copyright expansion in the context of online communications is effecting a chokehold on the public domain.


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This week we're featuring Lawrence Lessig's "Cyberspace Prosecutor," which explores the politics of Internet content control.


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* Attrition.org


A "hacker watch" site that collects, disseminates and distributes information about computer security for anyone interested in the subject.

* Government Guide


A comprehensive guide to your elected officials and the decisions they're making on your behalf. Offers "VoteNote," a free email newsletter alerting you to key votes by your government representatives.

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"There is a balance of Internet needs to reach. Privacy issues need to be dealt with, and [...] there needs to be an effective way to sell advertisements."

—Kevin Ryan, president of Internet advertising firm DoubleClick, on the pressing needs his company fills.


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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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A publication of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School

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Last updated

January 15, 2008