<-- The Filter --> January 2000

January 12, 2000
No. 2.8  .  The Filter  .  01.12.00

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


In the News  |  Berkman News  |  Dispatches  |  Bookmarks  |  Quotable  |  Talk Back  |  Subscription Info  |  About Us  |  Not a Copyright

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> Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Justice Department plans to demand a breakup of Microsoft into three separate companies, according to a report by the Washington Post. Details on the proposed remedy for Microsoft's monopoly remain unclear, but the consensus among news sources appears to be that the government prefers division of the company to the opening of source code or conduct limitations that would require monitoring. Microsoft is expected to reject the proposal, which could end ongoing settlement negotiations or prompt modification of the plan.



> That's AOL, Folks: Steeped in speculation over the ongoing Microsoft antitrust case and its implications for an information age definition of monopoly, the news media reacted to Monday's announcement of a proposed merger between America Online and Time Warner with Pavlovian alarm. Do mergers like these, which marry content to mode of access, carry implicit potential for monopolistic behavior on the part of the companies involved? Would Steve Case, who as chairman and CEO of AOL lobbied for non-discriminatory access to the developing broadband network, become turncoat as chairman of AOL Time Warner? And finally, would the merger bring about a corporate-interested—and therefore univocal—popular media, effectively silencing disinterested, non-commercial public discourse?




> Score One For The Penguin: Corporate giant IBM announced this week plans to make Linux—the so-called "fringe" open source software platform—central to its next-generation Internet strategy. In addition to making all IBM products Linux-enabled, the company says it will donate key programming code for its mainstay computer systems to Linux in order to bolster the platform's stability. Despite the fact that Linux runs a not-insubstantial 30 percent share of the world's web servers, the Unix-based, collaboratively-developed open platform has remained something of a dark horse in the general-purpose desktop market. Now, however, in the wake of two recent, wildly successful IPOs for the Linux-market companies VA Linux and Red Hat and IBM's unequivocal endorsement, industry experts say it seems more likely than ever that Linux will gain sufficient market presence to attract the application developers needed to make it a viable platform for mainstream use.



> Bombs...Satellites...Operating System?: Recent reports that the Chinese government planned an outright ban of the Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system on government computer systems—opting instead for an independent software platform called "Red Flag-Linux"—turn out to have been exaggerated. The original report quotes unnamed government officials as saying that China "will not permit" the use of Microsoft Windows 2000 on government computers, and compares the development of Red Flag-Linux to China's Cold War-era efforts to establish national independence: the country's production of its own atomic weapons, ballistic weapons and satellites. While the Chinese government now denies a ban on Microsoft Windows 2000, an official at the Ministry of Information Industry confirms that it is indeed advocating the use of indigenous software.


> Skirting the (DVD) Issue?: When the DVD Copy Control Association brought suit last month against website operators who either posted or linked to DeCSS—a software program that allows users to decrypt and read the data encoded on commercial DVDs—Internet activists girded themselves for a legal battle that would clarify the hot button issue of balancing copyright and free-speech protections on the Internet. But rather than invoke the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as might be expected, the DVD association is basing its lawsuit solely on California trade secret law. It seeks an injunction against the site operators for alleged knowing dissemination of secret information about protected DVD technology. The DVD association lost the first round of the fight when a Santa Clara County Superior Court refused to issue a temporary restraining order against the site operators.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is assisting defendants in the case, is still working to sway the court of public opinion, encouraging supporters from the open source community to attend the preliminary injunction hearing, taking place this upcoming Tuesday.


> Keeping It Real: In a case involving similar issues, a federal court in Seattle last week granted RealNetworks an extension on a temporary restraining order against Streambox, a company that distributes software enabling customers to save RealNetworks' video and audio streams into downloadable formats such as MP3. Streambox argues that its Ripper, VCR, and Ferret programs break the streams' encryption merely to allow listeners to change the format or time of playback, while RealNetworks contends that they illegally circumvent the copyright protection on audio and video content.


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> Mergers, Convergence and the Public Interest: The proposed merger between AOL and Time Warner (see In the News, above) brings to the fore the problem of open access, underlining the critical public interest issues at stake as the Internet and cable industries converge. The Berkman Center's newest Openlaw case is an effort to assert and defend local communities' right to condition AT&T's transfer of cable licenses to MediaOne (its proposed merger partner) with open access provisions. Follow the link below to read a provocative article by the Boston Phoenix's Dan Kennedy on the case:


> Is Cyberspace Really Free?: Berkman Professor Lawrence Lessig and Berkman Fellow Andrew Shapiro each recently published books that address the changing nature of the Internet, exploring issues critical to its (and our) future. Click on the links below to read Cass Sunstein's review comparing the two books and check out the authors' individual book sites.




> Harvard 2.0: How is Harvard Law School changing to address the transformations taking place in society and the law due to technological change, increasing globalization and the attendant economic shifts? Harvard Magazine recently asked this question, with the result underscoring the issue's complexity. Follow the link below to see where the Berkman Center fits in.


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What will the consequences be of the recent, significant expansion in intellectual property rights? If the future is, as MIT Laboratory for Computer Science head Michael Dertouzos predicted, an "Information Marketplace," how will a public domain of ideas survive? This week we're featuring "The Artist's Friend Turned Enemy: A Backlash Against the Copyright," a thoughtful piece on the subject by Paul Lewis.


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* The Spam Recycling Center


An anti-spam site that knows its audience: it offers to "turn your spam into steak" by giving participants in its free service 40 percent off Omaha Steaks' steaks...plus free burgers.

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"You can't say, 'I put it on the Web, it's now speech.'"

—Jeffrey Kessler, the New York attorney representing the DVD Copy Control Association in the legal battle over posting code used to decrypt data on commercial DVDs, to the San Jose Mercury News.


"Word Mark: Linux
Type of Mark: Trademark
International Class: 003
Goods and Services: laundry detergents and laundry bleaches for home use;
cleaning preparations for home use; degreasing preparations for home use;
general purpose scouring powders; skin soap for personal use; perfume;
essential oils for personal use; preparations for personal hygiene and cosmetic
purposes, hair tonic; toothpaste."

—Excerpt from a pending application for trademark at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

      http://trademarks.uspto.gov/cgi-bin/ifetch4?ENG+ALL+3+966275+0+1+42369 +F+9+ 26+1+MS%2flinux

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Last updated

January 15, 2008