Edupage, December 9th and 12th 2005

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  • Date: Tue, 13 Dec 2005 09:18:27 -0500

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Edupage is a service of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association
whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting
the intelligent use of information technology.

  State Supreme Court Okays Technology Fee
  GAO Warns of Bad Data in WHOIS
  Study Says Risk of ID Theft Exaggerated
  Putting the Numbers to Software Piracy

STATE SUPREME COURT OKAYS TECHNOLOGY FEE Overruling two lower court decisions, the Texas Supreme Court has found that the Dallas County Community College District did not violate state law in the late 1990s when it raised technology fees. In 1998, students filed a class-action lawsuit against the district, arguing that state law requires the district to tie technology fees with bond payments, which the district did not do. The suit also contended that the fee was imposed under the duress of students. The trial court and an appeals court both found for the plaintiff and ordered the district to pay $12 million to 150,000 students. The state's highest court overturned those rulings, however, saying the district did not act improperly. The court also found that the fee was not applied illegally. Roger L. Mandel, an attorney for the students, said he would seek a rehearing on the question of whether the fee was voluntary. Mandel said that the district, in its argument before the court, did not provide evidence that the fee was voluntary. "The court," he said, "came up with reasons completely on its own." The district has since moved the disputed fees into tuition costs. Chronicle of Higher Education, 9 December 2005 (sub. req'd)

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
indicates that as many as 2.3 million Web addresses are owned by
individuals or organizations that cannot be identified due to bad data
in the WHOIS database for .com, .net, and .org domains. The report said
that 5 percent of all addresses have incomplete or inaccurate
information about the owner, in effect creating a safe haven for
operators of Web-based scams, such as phishing attacks or the
distribution of spam and viruses. When authorities try to track down
those responsible for such malicious activities, they rely on the WHOIS
database to find out who operates suspect domains. When the information
in WHOIS is wrong, authorities hit a dead end. The Federal Trade
Commission has been urging a clean-up of the database for a long time,
but progress has been slow. Data are typically entered into the
database through domain registrars, which bear some responsibility for
ensuring the integrity of the information, along with the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Despite an ICANN
policy requiring registrars to remind domain owners to update their
information regularly, a system that tracks reports of complaints,
however, indicates that only about 60 percent of problems are resolved.
Internet News, 8 December 2005

About Domain Name information

A new study conducted by California-based fraud detection company ID
Analytics found that the risk of identity theft may not be as high as
many believe it to be. The company analyzed data concerning four
incidents in which sensitive information for roughly 500,000 people was
compromised. ID Analytics followed the data for six months and found
that the risk of having your identity stolen based on compromised
information is relatively small. Further, the study showed that the
greater the number of people affected in a breach, the lower the
chances were that anyone would have their identity stolen. The company
went on to say that efforts to notify every individual affected when
sensitive information is illegally accessed might be doing more harm
than good. Rather than notify everyone, according to ID Analytics, a
company should spend its time and money helping consumers who are
actually affected by a data breach.
CNN, 7 December 2005

A study conducted by research firm IDC on behalf of the Business
Software Alliance (BSA) indicates that as much as 35 percent of
software is pirated, down only about 1 percent from last year. The
study covered 70 countries, representing 99 percent of the global
market for IT spending. Software piracy is significantly lower than it
was in the early 1990s, when, for example, the piracy rate in Europe
was nearly 80 percent. That number has fallen to 35 percent, but,
according to Beth Scott, European vice president of the BSA, the
current rate is still 20 times higher than losses to shoplifting. The
IDC study estimates that a reduction in the piracy rate to 25 percent
would lead to the generation of 2.4 million jobs and $400 billion of
economic growth. Piracy remains rampant in some countries, including
China (90 percent) and Russia (87 percent). The problem is so bad that
China, which is one of the world's largest markets for PCs, is not on
the list of top 20 global markets for software because so much software
is obtained illegally.
CNET, 8 December 2005

TOP STORIES FOR MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2005 HarperCollins to Digitize Books Appeals Court Rejects Sampling Defense Song Sites Under the Gun for Copyright Violations P2P Clogger to Close Letter Warns of Problems with Online Job Ads

HARPERCOLLINS TO DIGITIZE BOOKS HarperCollins has announced plans to digitize its own books and make those files available through search services, marking the latest development in the rapidly changing landscape of electronic access to books. Google is working on its hotly contested service to scan vast numbers of texts and make them available online, while other companies have begun their own programs to digitize books. The move by HarperCollins is that company's attempt to be a part of new technologies while retaining control over its content. The company will pay to have an estimated 20,000 backlisted books digitized, as well as about 3,500 new titles each year. Those electronic files will be open to search engines to make indexes but not to download images of the pages. According to Brian Murray, group president of HarperCollins, "We'll own the file, and we'll control the terms of any sale." Jane Friedman, chief executive of the publisher, said, "We want to be the best collaborator, but we also want to take charge of our future." The company said the effort would also allow it to keep certain titles available long after they are out of print. Wall Street Journal, 12 December 2005 (sub. req'd)

Google MONETIZATION of  libraries

An appeals court has upheld a federal court ruling against a woman who
had been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
for illegally trading music files. The RIAA initially offered Cecilia
Gonzalez a settlement of about $3,500, which she rejected, and at her
trial, a federal judge ruled in favor of the RIAA. In her appeal,
Gonzalez argued that she had only downloaded songs with the intention
of "sampling" them to decide if she wanted to purchase them and that
this activity was protected under fair use. Gonzalez's computer
contained at least 1,370 songs that she had downloaded. The three-judge
appeals court rejected her argument and ordered Gonzalez to pay a fine
of $22,500. In its opinion, the court compared her defense to a
"thief's contention that he shoplifted 'only 30' compact discs,
planning to listen to them at home and pay later for any he liked." The
ruling gives the recording industry an appellate-court victory
that--while only a formal precedent in Illinois, Indiana, and
Wisconsin--is likely to bolster its legal efforts to curb illegal file
CNET, 12 December 2005

Fair Use
File sharing is not theft

An organization representing U.S. sheet music publishers has said that
in 2006 it will begin an effort to rein in the illegal online
distribution of music scores and lyrics. The Music Publishers'
Association (MPA) said that such material is widely available on the
Internet and suggested that, in addition to forcing sites to shut down
and fining site operators, sentencing those responsible to jail time
would be an effective deterrent. Lauren Keiser, president of the MPA,
said the effort would initially focus on "very big sites that people
would think are legitimate and very, very popular." David Israelite,
president of the National Music Publishers' Association, echoed
Keiser's comments, saying sites that publish guitar "tabs" and lyrics
are stealing from songwriters and that "all tools under the law" will
be used to curb the practice. Recently, music publishing company Warner
Chappell forced PearLyrics to shut down its Internet site for
unauthorized presentation of song lyrics. Walter Ritter, developer at
PearLyrics, complained about the action from Warner Chappell, saying
that his company provided a service that users want but that is
otherwise unavailable.
BBC, 12 December 2005

Music Lyrics online

P2P CLOGGER TO CLOSE A company that tried to limit illegal file trading by flooding P2P networks with junk files is being shut down and put up for sale. Overpeer, which is owned by Loudeye, contracted with record companies and movie studios to place thousands of bogus versions of songs and movies on P2P services. When users searched for and downloaded those files, they would get garbage or advertisements rather than the desired files. Since late 2002, when Overpeer was at its height, a number of strategies have been developed to allow file traders and the services they use to make reasonably good guesses about files and to filter out the bogus ones. Officials from Loudeye said revenues had fallen significantly and that the division would cease operations immediately. Loudeye will attempt to sell Overpeer's assets. ZDNet, 9 December 2005

A very clear concise explanation from Martin Tobias - Loudeye former CEO regarding the technophoic Music Labels (industry) refusal to get with digital music licensing.

LETTER WARNS OF PROBLEMS WITH ONLINE JOB ADS A nonbinding letter written by an associate legal counsel for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) suggests that organizations using the Internet for job recruitment may be violating one of several federal laws. In the letter, Peggy R. Mastroianni was responding to an inquiry about online practices. Mastroianni made clear that the ideas presented are not the official position of the EEOC but noted that certain online practices may indeed violate federal law in two broad areas: equal access to resources, and collection of specific kinds of information. In the first case, if an organization placed job application information and materials online in a manner that did not accommodate assistive technologies, such as screen readers, the employer is arguably not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the second case, many employers solicit information through "Voluntary EEOC Questionnaires" about applicants. If such questionnaires are required, however, and if they collect information that could be used to discriminate, such as race or gender, those questionnaires could be illegal. Chronicle of Higher Education, 12 December 2005 (sub. req'd)

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