October 13, 2006
Microsoft Blinks with the EU, South Korea over Vista Features
Microsoft has made three key changes to Vista it says were in response from European Union and Korean complaints about features in the operating system. Europe has been much more vocal about antitrust enforcement than the United States since the change of administrations in 2001.
The Europeans took up concerns raised by Microsoft competitors in regard to search, security, and electronic document creation. These were raised by Google over default searching in IE7; by Symantec and others concerning their security system being locked out by Microsoft's default in Windows and access to the core in 64 bit Vista; and Adobe's concerns about the XPS document format that does the same thing as PDF. Adobe had further concerns about the create PDF system added to Office 2007.
Microsoft issued a release announcing the changes and implied these were made in agreement with the European Commission. The statement by Neelie Kroes, Europe's competition commissioner, makes it clear that it is still up to Microsoft to comply with the Commission's regulations, especially in light of the 2004 decision. Odd that the media player issue never came up. Bottom line, Vista will be released world-wide, same features, whenever Vista will be released.
October 12, 2006
MySpace Used as Evidence in Probation Violation Case
In another example of how police and the courts adapts to new technology as investigatory tools and evidence, one young man's MySpace page earned him a sentence for probation violation. Christopher Leon was involved in a 2005 brawl in Plato Township, Illinois. Over 50 people from two high schools participated that left another young man dead. Leon was one of the participants who was prosecuted for brawling. No one has been charged in the death.
Part of the initial sentence in Leon's case was that he not drink or have contact with the other 16 defendants in the case. Enter the MySpace page where Leon used the name "Cold Heat" to post messages for the other defendants along with pictures of him holding beer and other alcohol in front of scantily young ladies. Prosecutors brought this evidence to court yesterday and asked the judge to send him to jail for 5 years. The judge declined to do that. He did however, sentenced Leon to 1 year of intensive probation, 60 days of electronic home monitoring, random drug and alcohol tests, 130 hours of community service, and a curfew of 7PM. Another violation means prison. The MySpace page has since been removed.
The moral of the story is that if one is under a legal obligation, such as probation, and one voluntarily posts material that flies in the face of that obligation, a court will not chalk it up to youthful indiscretions. That may work, however, if Leon ever runs for congress.
This story came from the Chicago Tribune.
Transmeta Sues Intel over Chip Power Patents
Transmeta is suing Intel over alleged patent violations in regard to chip power management schemes. Transmeta claims that the infringing technology contained in Pentium 3, 4, M, Core, and Core 2 chips violates 10 patents which date from January, 2000. Intel issued the usual "we can't comment as we haven't seen the complaint" comment.
October 11, 2006
Google Wins Trademark Infringment Suit on Sponsored Ad Links
Google won a lawsuit on September 28th that was based on trademark infringement. Rescuecom Corp. sued Google over the use of the company's name in web pages to trigger ads for competitors. The judge in the case held that Google's use of the mark to trigger sponsored links is not a use in commerce. The decision came on a motion to dismiss the complaint..
The case is Rescuecom Corp. v. Google, 5:04-CV-1055 (Northern District of New York) decided September 28, 2006. The Westlaw cite is 2006 WL 2811711.
Oracle Settles Government Price Gouging Claim
The Washington Post is reporting that Oracle is settling claims by the federal government over price gouging. The claims arose from PeopleSoft bids that understated discounts available to commercial customers. Government procurement rules require vendors to disclose commercial pricing policies. Government purchasers paid higher prices as a result of the non-disclosure.
The contract in question came about when PeopleSoft was an independent company. Oracle bought the company several years ago. The settlement figure is $98.5 million.
October 10, 2006
Google Buys YouTube
Well, rumor turned out to be relatively true as Google in fact purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion. There are several news threads on the deal. There is the issue of the purchase price (a lot compared to News Corp. and MySpace) jacking up the price for future acquisitions. Will Yahoo buy Facebook, as rumored, and what will be the going rate as companies look to add social networking sites to their roster. And what will old media do to get into the new markets?
Several stories mention the copyright time bomb that is unauthorized uploads of copyrighted material. Sure, but Google's and YouTube's separate policies were to delete copyrighted material as discovered. The question really is how pro-active Google's management will be to look for unauthorized material. On the other hand, just before the Google deal was announced, YouTube struck deals with Universal, Warner Brothers, Sony, and others to stream copyrighted videos. Copyright issues, it seems, are solvable.
Then there is the most intriguing issue, how will Google make money off the deal. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a maverick owner of Internet properties famously said that anyone who would by YouTube is a moron. Aside from the deep pockets of any new owner in a copyright suit, how could anyone make money at the site. Analysts have made the same argument.
Google will link YouTube in its ad system, thus making dollars that 78 million viewers bring with their eyeballs. Could Google also think about selling videos through YouTube, a la iTunes? Or the soon to be Zune store? Could it mail order DVD's such as Amazon? Or even partner with original video creators and sell videos and split the fees?
One thing Google has going for it that a number of other property owners don't have is a thriving business that hooks into YouTube as a destination. Would you buy something from YouTube, or a Google owned YouTube through Google Checkout. Someone in the executive suites must have thought this out before the purchase was actually made. It can't be a matter of we have to do this before Yahoo or Microsoft does. Now that Google has YouTube, let's see what they do with it.
Microsoft ends Support for XP Service Pack 1
Microsoft is planning to roll out patches for Windows XP this Tuesday as it customarily does on the second Tuesday of every month. It will be the last time those running Service Pack 1 will be able to get patches. Only those with Service Pack 2 will be able to get November's critical fixes for the OS when they are ready for download.
This Tuesday's cycle includes 11 patches, 6 for Windows, 4 for Office, and 1 for .Net Framework. It's also rumored that IE7 would be pushed out through Windows Update, but Microsoft only said the update would be out later on this month. Certain security features it IE7 will only be available in the Vista version.
October 9, 2006
Federal Court Spanks Samphaus Project with Contempt Order
File this one under "oops." The Spamhaus Project (Spamhaus.org) is a web site that blocks spam by blacklisting what it believes to be known spammers. Many mail servers use Spamhaus lists to block traffic associated with those spammers. Spamhaus is based in Britain. So far, so good.
One of those alleged spammers, E360 Insight, decided that they should not be on a Spamhaus list, so they sued, and the case wound up in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois. (Oddly enough, the court is based about a block away from my office here in Chicago.) Spamhaus entered an answer to the complaint but essentially abandoned the proceedings after that point. Most civil procedure students know that when you answer a complaint you have subjected yourself to the jurisdiction of the courts. Even the D students. The lack of any action by Spamhaus in this case resulted in a default judgment of $11.7 million. Spamhaus seemed not to care believing that that U.S. court orders are unenforceable in the U.K., so there was no way E360 Insight could collect on monetary damages. This is typically true when there is no property to seize to enforce the judgment.
However, federal Judge Charles Korcoras proposed a contempt of court order pulling the Internet domain registration from Spamhaus, essentially shutting them down. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is based in the United States and, in theory, must follow court orders. All of a sudden Spamhaus can use a little extra tea to swallow those crumpets. Spamhaus seems to think that either ICANN or the court will rethink the order as it would unleash 50 billion spam messages per day that are now blocked by the organization. Maybe, but it doesn't help Spamhaus to have pulled out of the lawsuit before it thought out the possible consequences. Not everything of value is measured in money. Courts have been aware of that for hundreds of years. We shall see if the court will let slip the dogs of spam. You won't need a blog to tell you if that happens. Just check you in box.