December 24, 2005
Music Industry Investigated Over Digital Download Pricing
The oft-criticized music industry is under investigation by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer over pricing for digital downloads. The investigation centers on possible collusion in setting prices for digital downloads. Apple chief Steve Jobs called the music industry greedy for trying for variable pricing. Apple sells songs for 99 cents. Other services offer plans, but no one seems to go above the dollar threshold. Record companies believe they can get higher prices for superstar recordings while lowering prices for less popular artists. Many individuals believe, however, that potential price reductions for some songs would be insignificant compared to price increases, and that this is just an attempt to raise the floor on most single song downloads. Music companies have made no secret of their unhappiness of setting prices at a uniform level on iTunes.
More on this from BetaNews.
December 23, 2005
France Considers Legalizing P2P
In a move that certainly bucks the trend to lock down digital content, the French Parliament is considering a law that will legalize peer-to-peer downloading. Entertainment companies are unsurprisingly up in arms over the move. Reuters is reporting that this comes as France is seeking to conform to an European Union directive that states "authors cannot forbid the reproduction of works that are made on any format from an online communications service when they are intended to be used privately."
The vote came late on Wednesday in the National Assembly, passing 30-28. There is some question about the viability of the vote as the Assembly has 577 members. Under the proposed law, Internet users would pay fixed royalties of $8.50 per month for unlimited downloading.
More from Reuters here.
December 22, 2005
Is Microsoft Dragging Its Feet With EU Antitrust Compliance?
That seems to be the situation from the Competition Commission's point of view. Among the sanctions, Microsoft was to provide complete and accurate interoperability information to work group server competitors. The Commission set a deadline of December 15th for compliance and appointed a trustee to monitor the situation. Now the Commission has filed a list of objections with Microsoft and given the company 5 weeks to respond. One penalty by the commission is to fine Microsoft $2.37 million per day for failure to comply. This would be retroactive to December 15th.
Microsoft counters that the Commission action is unjustified and plans to contest. The dispute centers on how far Microsoft needs to go in order to provide the relevant documentation. While the company would like to get this case behind it, there is reluctance to expose the inner workings of Windows to competitors.
More on this at CNET News.
California Game Law Struck Down
California's game law that prohibited the sale or rental of especially violent video games to children under 18 has been struck down by a federal judge today. The law was signed by Governor Schwartzenegger earlier this year and drew an immediate challenge from the video game industry. Judge Ronald Whyte struck the law down on the basis of the First Amendment rights of minors. He also questioned the evidentiary connection between violent video games and violent behavior. So far, no law of this type has survived a challenge. This action comes on the heels of game industry wins in Illinois and Michigan. A similar regulatory bill is working its way through the U.S. Senate.
More on this from the San Francisco Chronicle.
December 21, 2005
Guidance Software Customer List Hacked
Guidance Software, whose Encase software is used heavily by law enforcement agencies for forensic investigations for computers, was hacked earlier this month. Cyber thieves stole approximately 3,800 customer names and credit card information. The database was unencrypted and stored not only credit card numbers, but the three-digit verification codes. This is a violation of the guidelines that both Visa and MasterCard issue. They require that information must be stored in encrypted databases and the three-digit code discarded after a transaction. There is a penalty of $500,000 per incident. According to a report in the Washington Post, at least one or more customers had unauthorized charges to their cards.
Guidance notified customers on December 7th of the hack. There is no irony lost on anyone that a security company known for security and forensic software should suffer an attack such as this. More details from the Post are here.
December 19, 2005
Cancer Gene Name Draws Legal Ire
Scientists at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have described a gene that causes cancer. The problem with the POK erthroid myeloid ontogenic gene is the name they gave it: Pokemon. Nintendo was less than thrilled with the name and threatened legal action. The name has subsequently been changed to the the uninteresting Zbtb7. Lets hope that this isn't the secret ingredient in some floor cleaner.
More on the story here.