Thursday, March 30, 2000
3/30/00 9:49:51 AM
Demon Internet settles Usenet libel case.
will have repercussions for British ISPs -- they may be forced
offshore by the high cost of monitoring users' postings, or by a
declining customer base, or both.
A Canadian notorious in certain Usenet circles had sued Demon for
libel in the UK courts. Demon had refused to remove a posting that
Laurence Godfrey claimed was forged and libelous. Under English law,
an ISP is not treated as the publisher of material on the Net, and
therefore cannot be sued over its content, if the ISP takes
"reasonable care" to assure that illegal material is not published,
and takes steps to remove such material once notified of its
OBTW, Demon is now owned by the Scottish telecomm company
Thus [sic]. It is the first and, I fervently hope, last
company ever to change its name to an adverb. Each sentence
in the BBC
story that refers to Demon's parent is a marvel of stumbling
awkwardness. You cannot write a sentence in which an adverb acts as
a noun and have it turn out otherwise.
Thanks to Marcus Price for the quick note on this development.
Tuesday, March 28, 2000
3/28/00 1:14:02 PM
Interview with the search engine.
FNwire has got me
as they do just about every week. This time it's their
with Jeeves, currently employed by Ask.com. No one could make up the
stone non-sequiters that Jeeves comes up with -- did you know the
Internet is somewhat like a non-arthritic New Zealand bee?
Credit to the FNwire folks for the concept and for delicate
3/28/00 11:19:39 AM
Mattel undone by CPHack GPL?.
Mattel may have claimed victory
in their lawsuit against the creators of CPHack, the program that
reveals Cyber Patrol's list of banned sites. Eddy Jansson and
Matthew Skala initially released
CPHack and their research paper
under the GNU Public License. Even though both programmers have now
over rights to the program to Mattel in order to settle the
copyright lawsuit against them, the GPL may guarantee that the
corporate giant will never control the program's distribution.
Here's Eben Moglen, FSF general counsel and a law professor at
GPL is software that cannot be revoked. Anyone downstream who
possesses a copy of the software may redistribute it. It's a very
Sunday, March 26, 2000
3/26/00 11:32:47 PM
"Loopholes" menu opens up DVDs.
In case you haven't followed this amusing development on
alt.video.dvd.tech, Circuit City has been selling a Chinese-made DVD
player called the APEX AD 600A. It sells for between $139 and $179
and has a number of attractive features out of the box, such as a
interface and the ability to play MP3 CDs. But its real selling
point is a software backdoor that you can access by an keying in an
sequence on the remote control. The "Loopholes" menu lets you
turn off DVDCSS encryption, disable regional codes, and cripple
Macrovision, which normally functions to prevent copying the DVD to
a VHS tape. Here's a
Washington Post's take
on the story; it seems that many, if not most, DVD players to reach
market may have similar backdoors, they just haven't been discovered
by the Slashdot community. And see this considerably more pointed
LaWeekly; it points out the absurdity of the MPAA's legal pursuit of
Scandanavian teenagers when hardware such as the APEX AD 600A is available
at Circuit City.
Canadian California distributor of the APEX
AD 600A has promised to close the loophole, but any unit you
find on the shelves for at least the next 2 to 3 weeks is likely
to sport this embarassing feature.
Thanks to Monty Solomon for passing it along, and to Chuck Bury
for straightening out the confusion between Ontario, Can. and
Let's follow Bury off on a promising tangent on makeshift
[The CA/.ca confusion] reminds of a domain registration issue.
California's state goverment improperly uses the domain
ca.gov, which I'm sure has resulted in a lot of
accidental visits to the site [from Canadians], though it
wouldn't be the right domain for Canada's government either.
If you do some hunting you will find there are several country
TLDs that could easily be confused with US states: .ca,
.md., .ky, .ma. As a result, some
fast-thinking entrepeneurs have registered domains like
Baltimore.md and LosAngeles.ca.