Cybersquatting Non-Famous Names

It used to be that cybersquatters would register the name of a famous person, company or product and then try and sell the name to the rightful owner. But now things have changed. According to Wired News:

These days, cybersquatters seek to register a star’s domain before that person becomes famous, and then develop a business relationship with the new celebrity, offering website hosting or design work. These so-called soft squatters are registering the domains of hundreds of amateur athletes, musicians and other would-be stars in the hope that one or two of the names will become well-known.

There are now even specialized services like sedo.com that make it easy to earn add revenue from parked domain names and at the same time provide a vehicle to help sell such domain names.

ZingoTel files lawsuit against Shaw

Shaw Communications has been hit with a $1.2 million lawsuit filed by U.S.-based VoIP provider ZingoTel which claims that the Canadian cable operator refused to air a ZingoTel television ad because it promoted a competing VoIP-based calling service. The news comes just a couple of weeks after Vonage Canada also filed a complaint with the CRTC about the cable operator’s practices in respect of charging Vonage subscribers a $10 “quality of service enhancement” fee.

From TMCnet

Canada’s Telecommunications Policy Review Panel recommends statutory protection for network neutrality

Canada’s Telecommunications Policy Review Panel issued its final report. The report makes a number of other recommendations to reduce or eliminate the current level of CRTC economic regulation. The report also recommends a new approach to control anti-competitive conduct in telecommunications markets on the basis of complaints made on an ex post basis, rather than by prescribing detailed ex ante restrictions governing the provision of services. However, with respect to network neutrality, the Panel considered it important to ensure that Canadian consumers are not denied access to the wide range of new and innovative Internet services.

The report notes that there is a growing concern that increasingly deregulated telecommunications service providers could, for strategic competitive reasons, decide to block or limit access to some Internet applications and content. Therefore the Panel recommends that the Telecommunications Act should confirm the right of Canadian consumers to access publicly available Internet applications and content by means of all public telecommunications networks that provide access to the Internet. … The Panel believes telecommunications service providers in most cases have little or no incentive to interfere with customer access. However, the principle of open access to the Internet is sufficiently important that it justifies a new regulatory provision to ensure that it is maintained.

This will be good news to VOIP service providers, and other Internet content providers, who are concerned about ISPs blocking access to their content or services or reducing the priority of their traffic.

Canada’s Telecom Industry and Foreign Ownership

According to the Globe and Mail, the new Canadian federal Industry Minister says he is open to scrapping restrictions on foreign ownership in telecommunications.

The telecom review panel, appointed by the Liberal government almost a year ago, will present its report today to Mr. Bernier. It is expected to call for a more market-oriented approach to the sector, a view that is sure to get a sympathetic hearing from the business-oriented minister.

“I won’t close the door because it’s foreign ownership,” Mr. Bernier said.

For telephone companies, which fall under Industry Canada’s jurisdiction, and the cable sector, which is in Heritage Canada’s domain, foreigners can own a maximum of 20 per cent of an operating company and one-third of a holding company. That means an effective cap of 46.7 per cent.

Yahoo launches Yahoo Voice

Yahoo has launched the beta for its SIP-based Yahoo! Messenger for Voice VOIP Service in the US. The service features phone-in ($2.99 a month, or $29.90 a year) and phone-out capabilities to allow users to make and receive calls from landlines. Pricing for calling out is apparently very aggressive – 20-30% below Skype – USD 2 cents a minute or less to the top 30 national phone markets.

See Yahoo Voice.

From Reuters via Engadget

Wi-Fi access point owners and the “common carrier” defense

Techdirt has a nice posting about the liability of wireless access point owners for illegal or infringing conduct carried out by other people accessing the Internet through their access point. Seems that some individuals may be purposely leaving their access point open (in other words, leaving encryption turned off) so that they could (1) cast doubt that infringing activity conducted using their Internet connection was conducted by them and (2) assert the benefit of “common carrier” defenses available to ISPs and other telecom companies for infringing content transferred over their network. Could it be that we’ll all end up with free wi-fi everywhere we go because people open up their wi-fi routers in the belief that it will help protect them from lawsuits filed by the recording industry? Of course, sharing or reselling Internet connectivity may be a breach of a user’s terms of service from their upstream ISP. But that may or may not be determinative of the potential defense. In any event, an interesting argument.

Linksys WRT54G – OpenWRT and Sveasoft in a nasty fight

One of Linksys’ most successful products has been WRT54G/GS/GL. Some would say this is because the router (well, at least the original versions and the current GL version) software was based on open source and a large community of third party developers has been developing new applications for the box. Two popular sources of replacement firmware for the WRT54 have been OpenWRT and Sveasoft. However, the two are now engaged in a fight and OpenWRT (whose software is licensed under the GNU General Public License) recently terminated Sveasoft’s license to use any component of OpenWRT.

From DailyWireless. If you are interested in purchasing a model of the WRT54 that can still be reflashed with OpenWRT or Sveasoft software, consult the chart at Wikipedia.

Google sued for providing poor page ranking

KinderStart.com, a Norwalk-based Web site devoted to information about children, filed a civil complaint in U.S. District Court in San Jose seeking to be certified as a class action representing the owners of all Web sites blacklisted by Google’s Internet-leading search engine since January 2001.

Google’s search system attempts to elevate the positioning in search results of Web sites with content most relevant to a particular search. Because of the large proportion of searches handled by Google as compared to rival search engines, sites without a well known domain name that are assigned a low ranking by Google can loose the majority of their traffic. Somes sites therefore try to optimize their content so as to increase their rankings – however, if discovered by Google, such sites can be artificially penalized (or sent to “the sandbox” for the equivalent of a children’s time out).

From SiliconValley.com via Techdirt.