<-- The Filter --> June 1999, 2

July 1, 1999
No. 2.0  .  The Filter  .  06.30.99

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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> It's the Architecture, Stupid: The Berkman Center is releasing the session paper from its May 20 strategic planning meeting, where programmers, lawyers, educators and policymakers tackled the question of how public-minded institutions should think about the technical architectures supporting their online activities. Does the public have a stake in building a platform where software tools, research, and even legal arguments can be freely developed?

    "Code [...] is such a fundamental architectural aspect of our lives in cyberspace that we simply cannot allow it to be controlled in the way that patent law seems to allow it to be controlled."

—Session participant Daniel Weitzner, Director of the W3C's Technology and Society activities

For more of what was said at the session, follow the link below to Berkman Professor Lawrence Lessig's keynote address, the transcript of the closing agenda-building forum, and a compendium of participant comments:


> MP3's Beat Goes On: Berkman Fellow and Electronic Frontier Foundation Co-founder John Perry Barlow spoke out in characteristic form two weeks ago at MP3.com's MP3 Summit, declaring music "the common property of humanity" and criticizing attempts by the Recording Industry Association of America to control its distribution online. "[T]he revolution," says Barlow, "is about giving that control back to the people who create."


What's next? Barlow travels with Berkman Fellow William W. Fisher III to Australia for CYBEAT 99, where they'll join an international panel to discuss the effect technologies like MP3 have in the music and technology industries, in global commerce, and in law and politics. Follow the link below for details:


> Taking It To The Commons: What happens when an ordinary netizen creates an online library for the public good and comes face-to-face with congressionally-backed legal roadblocks designed to protect the interests of much bigger (corporate) fish? What kinds of resources might a small fish have at his disposal?

The Berkman Center's first Openlaw case, Eldred v. Reno, is tapping the intellectual resources of the Internet community as it seeks a declaratory judgment that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 is unconstitutional. For the latest news on the case, read Berkman Professor Lawrence Lessig's article introducing Openlaw on the Intellectualcapital.com website, then join the discussion in progress:


Berkman Center Co-Director Professor Arthur Miller weighs in on the other side of the Eldred v. Reno case, and has just signed a brief as amici curiae in support of the defendant. Visit the Openlaw website to learn more, or to contribute your thoughts to the Eldred v. Reno challenge:


> New Berkman Series In the Wings: This fall, the Berkman Center will be offering an online lecture and discussion series on Violence Against Women, led by Diane Rosenfeld, former Senior Counsel to the Violence Against Women Office of the US Department of Justice. The series will give an overview of the problem of violence against women, discussing law and policy (including the Violence Against Women Act); advocacy for battered women and their children; sexual assault, international issues, and cultural change. It will provide a unique opportunity for learning and linking to others concerned about various issues affecting women.

The series is free and open to the public, but registration may be limited. Check in at the following URL for further information:


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> Cybersquatters Served Eviction Notice: Republican senator Spencer Abraham last week formally introduced the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, a new piece of legislation intended to crack down on those who in bad faith register popular trademark names (or slight variations thereof) as domain names with the intention of re-selling them for exorbitant fees to trademark holders.


***EXTRA, Our panel of experts weighs in on the bill and its possible implications for the future of Internet policy and law, below in DISPATCHES.

> Third Voice—Free As In Speech: A new software program enabling users to add their own comments to any website in the style of digital Post-It (TM) notes has web hosts up in arms and experts predicting a legal battle to delineate more clearly the balance among ownership, accountability, and free-speech rights online.


> ICANN—Taxation Without Representation?: Formed in October during what some called a "constitutional convention of the Internet," the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) now faces accusations from the House Commerce Committee that it is levying an illegal Internet tax. The so-called "tax" is a proposed funding formula whereby domain name and IP address registries will each pay a fee calculated to account for the number of names/addresses in a given registry,intended to recover the nonprofit ICANN's costs. The House Commerce Committee may hold hearings on the matter, something ICANN says it welcomes as an opportunity to tell its story.



> How Vulnerable Are You Today?: A recent security breach in Microsoft's Windows NT left the servers running up to 20 percent of the world's websites vulnerable to hackers. eEye, the security firm that discovered the hole, posted a program on its website designed to exploit the bug, claiming it was doing so only to force Microsoft to attend to the problem more quickly. Microsoft's patch was made available within a day of the posting.


***EXTRA: We'd like to hear from you. See the TALK BACK section below for a question related to the above story, then send us an email with your response.

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This week we asked a panel of top Internet thinkers to answer the following question:

*Senator Spencer Abraham last week introduced the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. In addition to cracking down on the bad faith registration of popular trademark names for domain names, the bill is intended, according to Abraham, to "protect consumers who make typographical errors and enter legitimate domain names and are instead directed to Internet sites containing pornography or other inappropriate material."

Critics of the bill argue that existing trademark law already provides reasonable remedy for infringement and that, if passed, the bill would expand trademark law excessively—well beyond what we've seen in recent history.

Do you agree? And is this bill, as some argue, a piece of special interest legislation of value only to a class of trademark owners who already have enormous resources to protect themselves—or a necessary (and perhaps inevitable) step toward controlling a practice tantamount to online extortion?

For a sampling of the answers, follow the link below:


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* Community Connector


An excellent resource for community-builders on the Net.

* PBS Technology


The rigorously-researched companion site to PBS's award-winning television programs on technology.

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"[T]here ought to be limits to freedom."

—Governor George W. Bush, who has filed a legal complaint against the owners of a site that lampoons his White House bid.

      http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/06/cyber/articles/09campaign. html

"There are nutty judges in the country to start with. Let's start with that premise."

—Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Greg Maffei, on a San Francisco appeals court decision to include all past and current temps in a suit seeking compensation for temp workers claiming full-time employee status, in the Seattle Times (via Ditherati.com).


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We'd like to hear from you. In the effort to make this newsletter a more responsive and interactive publication, we will periodically be asking you for your take on a news story or issue we're featuring in The Filter.

This week, we're asking the following question:

The Microsoft antitrust trial has got us all thinking about the corporation and its dominance of the software industry; in particular, its monopoly of the OS. The recent security breach (see IN THE NEWS, above) left the servers running up to 20 percent of the world's websites vulnerable to hackers. How credible is the argument that real danger lies in allowing Microsoft (or any other single software corporation) the kind of dominance it now enjoys? Does the existence of competing operating systems serve as a de facto protection measure against debilitating security breaches?

To respond—or to ask your own question, make a comment, or offer a submission—send a letter to the editor at filter-editor@cyber.law.harvar d.edu

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Last updated

January 28, 2008