Last week, Microsoft backed done on plans to preclude manufacturers of portable media device players (e.g., iPod type devices) who bundle its software from also bundling software of its competitors. According to Microsoft, the plan was circulated in draft form for feedback and had not yet received a full legal review.
Continue reading Microsoft Backs Off on Plan to Exclude Competitors
Players of Blizzard Entertainmentâ€™s multi-player online videogame World of Warcraft may be getting more than they bargained for. Spyware. A hidden program called â€œWardenâ€ scans gamersâ€™ computers. The purpose of the warden is to verify compliance with the EULA and TOS., and to prevent cheating. However, many users may find it very objectionable to have a third program spying on their other processes. Blizzard Entertainment does give notice of what it is doing but how many people really read online agreements top to bottom. Also, the scope of what Blizzard Entertainment reserves the right to do is very broad.
Continue reading Importance of Reading License Agreements
A dispute between two large Internet backbone providers created a massive disruption on October 6th after Level 3 Communications Inc. stopped accepting Internet traffic from Cogent Communications Group Inc. The result was that many users were unable to reach large portions of the Internet. E-mail traffic, Instant Messaging and Web traffic were all shut down unless the servers were connected through redundant links that were directly or indirectly connected to each one of the two rival networks.
Like other large ISPs, Level 3 and Cogent exchanged traffic through a no-cost Peering Arrangement. However, Level 3 alleged that it was handling far more traffic from Cogent than it was sending to Cogent. Cogent countered that the real motivation was that Level 3 was trying to force Cogent to raise its rates, which are generally below market.
The two quickly made nice with each other and the problem is solved, at least temporarily. However, it highlighted the power that the large backbone ISPs have and will likely prompt the Europeans to add another grievance to their concern regarding concentration of control in the US of the Internet.
Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) released a 59-page decision on September 23, 2005 which provides that any voice over IP, or VoIP, provider linking with the public telephone network must be wiretap-ready. The rule would cover the major VOIP providers such as Packet 8, SkypeOut and Vonage. However, the rule also applies to any “internet access service” that offers upstream or downstream speeds of at least 200kbps. The requirements may be onerous for smaller entities. In a footnote, the ruling notes that the regulations “are not intended” to cover hot spots. However, greater clarity on applicability will likely be forthcoming in a second regulation, expected by the end of the year.
Its applicability to P2P-based VOIP networks such as Skype would interesting. While the Rule would likely cover the SkypeOut service which provides Skype users with connectivity to the public telephone network, finding a means to provide access to encrypted P2P transmissions which travel between two people not using the public network would likely be very problematic.
On July 30, 2005 major changes to Ontarioâ€™s consumer protection regime will come into effect. The Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA) applies to all consumer transactions where the consumer or the supplier is located in Ontario when the transaction takes place. It will therefore also be of interest to suppliers located outside of Ontario who enter into transactions with Ontario residents.
Continue reading Consumer Protection Changes on the Way
The explosive growth of the Internet in the past 10 years has brought new challenges to copyright owners wishing to protect unauthorized distribution and use of their works. However, it has also prompted the development of new licensing mechanisms for those wanting to share their works. These non-traditional mechanisms have supported the open source movement which has allowed the development of functionally competitive free alternatives to copyrighted commercial software, including operating systems such as LINUX, office suites such as OpenOffice (a free alternative to Microsoft Office) and Web browsers such as Firefox. Such open source software is distributed pursuant to licensing terms that allow it to be used and distributed at no charge, and in a way which ensures that enhancements developed by others are also shared with the community. The use of such software is growing in popularity and beginning to eat into Microsoftâ€™s market share.
Continue reading Creative Commons: Alternative Licensing Schemes Come of Age
Itâ€™s a new day. You arrive at the office. There to great you are 20 pages of advertisements sitting on your fax machine. Toner cartridges, computer systems, trips to Florida. Thatâ€™s another couple of dollars for paper, toner, electricity, wear and tear on your fax machine. When they arrive during the business day, unsolicited faxes can also tie up your fax machine.
Continue reading Junk Fax Problem
Wireless Access Points (WAPs) are being increasingly deployed both in the office environment as well as in many homes to make internet access more convenient. At home, they can allow lawyers to access the internet from anywhere in the house or backyard. In the workplace, they can allow a lawyer to take a laptop from office to office and remain connected. They can also be used to facilitate internet access for clients and guests.
Continue reading Securing WiFi Access Points