March 12, 2005
Dell to Employees: You Can Stay But Do Not Pray
Muslim employees at Dell have stated that the computer company decided that they are no longer allowed to take out time to pray while working. Devout muslims, however, are supposed to pray five times per day as mandated by their religion. Some chose to leave work but Dell says it was a misunderstanding and that the company is attempting to resolve the conflict. Read the article from The Washington Post here.
March 11, 2005
Weblogs and Wikis Making Higher Education More Interactive
Here is an article from the Washington Post to which we can certainly relate. Weblogs and their cousins, wikis, are becoming more and more useful in the way students are learning. Wikis are similar to weblogs but allow for anyone who reads it to provide additional comments, including editing other students' work and adding suggestions. It seems there are many ways this can be useful in law school as well.
A Call For Patent Reform By Microsoft's General Counsel
Internetnews.com reports details of a patent reform sought by Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith. He explains that the USPTO faces huge amounts of patent applications per year and how some of the applications may be technologically beyond some of the patent examiners' expertise. Read Brad Smith's four-point plan here.
Tax on Music and Movie Downloads? Maybe Sooner Than We Think
A legislative proposal in Wisconsin is seeking to force consumers to pay taxes on downloaded music and movies. This self-proclaimed "ipod tax" is so named because it is referring to the items available for purchase from Apple's through iTunes. Some compare it to shopping in ordinary catalogs. Read more about it in CNET.
March 10, 2005
5 NY Businesses Pay $400k to Settle Software Piracy Claims
According to this article from the Crain's New York Business Web site, 5 NY companies have paid a total of $400,000 to settle claims by the Business Software Alliance that they were using unlicensed commercial software. Interestingly, the BSA reports that "it was alerted to the piracy problems through calls to BSA's hotline and/or through online reporting forms." In other words, whistleblowers, whether current or (possibly disgruntled) former employees, most likely. While all users should be certain they are only using licensed software, it's also important to realize that sometimes, license violations get reported and can be costly and embarrassing.
Australia to Stop Online Suicide Groups
As reported in Reuters, Australia plans to make it illegal for anyone to "incite, promote or teach" others to commit suicide. Apparently, there are many suicide pact groups online that "coach" each other to commit these acts. Such sites will soon be illegal and those in violation will face heavy fines.
Boys Wear Blue - Amazon Obtains Patent Protection for Gender-Determining Technology
Just when you thought you've heard of everything - Amazon has received a patent on technology that will "know," for instance, that a particular gift you have purchased should be wrapped in its gender-appropriate wrapping paper. CNET reports that this technology will provide the customer with choices most likely to be appropriate for particular purchases and will also provide suggestions for other items. More details including information regarding the patent descriptions can be found here. Be warned: don't try to buy your little girl a train set too quickly - be sure the wrapping paper is what YOU think is appropriate.
March 9, 2005
Top (or Bottom) 9 ___Sucks.com Sites, From Forbes
Forbes has published a list of its top 9 (was 10, but one went dark) "hate sites," where consumers vent their anger at big and small companies alike. Read it here, and consider how to deal with one of these sites if you are (or are representing) the "hatee".
Software for Free? Pay Up!
Three men have pleaded guilty to placing millions of dollars of software on the Internet for free download, reportedly "just for the sport of it." Unlike the LaMacchia case some years ago, this is now a crime, and the men face sentences of three to six years, according to the CNN.com story.
Competition Ahead For Traditional Telephone Companies as AOL Plans Introduction of Its Internet-Based Telephone System
The New York Times reports that AOL is planning on providing internet-based telephone ability to its customers soon. It will use standard telephones adaptable to the internet system and may provide customers with lower prices than traditional telephone companies.
Intel Found in Violation of Antimonopoly Law in Japan
The New York Times reports that Japan's Fair Trade Commission decided that Intel had violated Japan's antimonopoly law when it allegedly sold semiconductors to computer companies, offering discounts and trying to entice them to buy from Intel and not from other semiconductor producers. Read more about this here.
Technology is Making Its Way Into the Courtroom as Evidence
Ken Strutin reports in the New York Law Journal that evidence introduced in courtrooms is becoming more technologically sophisticated. There are power-point presentations and videos but while much of it is exciting, there are sometimes problems involved.
March 8, 2005
Music File-Sharing Sites to be Investigated
It has been reported in SiliconValley.com that the FTC will be investigation certain internet sites that sell software for downloading music which can be used to download music in violation of copyright laws. Some sites contain subtle warnings to consumers, but are these warnings sufficient?
Illegal Downloads Give Rise to a Conviction Under Arizona State Law
An Arizona state court convicted a teenager of illegally downloading music and movies via the internet, in violation of state intellectual property laws. The Washington Post reports that the Arizona college student is likely the first in the country to be convicted for such actions under state law.
March 7, 2005
More EBay News - Ohio Law to Require Sellers to Obtain Licenses
Ohio plans to enact legislation requiring those who sell on e-bay as a means of business to obtain a license and post a bond. This would substantially increase costs to sellers. Failure to obey with the proposed law could cost an e-bay seller jail time. To read more about this, click here.
EBay Fee Increases Cause Quite a Stir
The New York Times has an interesting article regarding e-bay's proposed fee increases scheduled for the end of this month. Sellers will be forced to pay an increased percentage for items listed on the electronic auction site. The protests have begun, only time will tell whether people will be willing to pay the increased charges.
RFID Technology Available to Help Find Lost Luggage - But Is It Too Expensive?
The latest in tracking missing luggage is technology designed to find find it using bar-codes. This would surely be a welcome addition to those regularly flying commercially - but it would likely impose a multi-million dollar expense on airlines to implement. The New York Times reports on this technology in today's issue.
March 6, 2005
Worldcom Fraud Case Sent Into Deliberations
The Washington Post reports that Bernard J. Ebbers, Worldcom's former CEO, who faces charges of fraud involved in the mishandling of the telecommunication company, is now awaiting the jury's determination. The case was handed over to the jury to weigh in on these charges on Friday, March 4, 2005. To read more about the details of this trial, click here.