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Breaking: Clear And Telecom Settle
Many of the long-standing legal battles between Clear and Telecom appear to have been settled with the announcement by the companies that they are calling off their sharks -- at least for the time being.

According to reports published this morning, Clear has agreed to forego termination revenues for Internet calls made through the Telecom network -- something which must surely throw the viability of the several "Fee ISP" services in to doubt. Most of these ISPs relied heavily on a portion of the fee to sustain their operations.

Don't be surprised if at least some of these ISPs now turn around and either withdraw from the market or begin offering paid-access with a higher level of service as a way of offsetting the lost revenues.

More coverage is available at IDG's website

Protecting Property On The Net 3 October 2000 Edition
Previous Edition

The case against Napster hits the courts again this week and brings the issue of protecting intellectual property rights back into the spotlight.

It's a fact of life that the easy reproduction of material stored digitally, combined with the power and anonymity provided by the Internet make it very simple for all kinds of intellectual property to be distributed over a wide area without the owners knowledge or permission.

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And -- it's not just the music and film industries who are worried. Microsoft, along with a number of other traditional print and e-book publishers have already expressed strong concern that their products will be the next to become freely traded on the Net.

In a story published today (linked below), Wired magazine moots the prospect of a "Bookster" service for the distribution of copyrighted e-Books -- and it's only a matter of time before this becomes a reality. Fortunately it's still much nicer to read a printed book than an e-book so the effect on book publishers is unlikely to be as hard as that on recording companies -- although it could dampen the level of writer interest in the e-book concept.

So how are the creators and publishers of intellectual property to protect there incomes from erosion by unauthorised redistribution?

One oft-touted solution is to reduce the price of the genuine, authorised article. Most of those who trade music over the Net feel justified because they believe that the recording industry is gouging the purchaser and short-changing the artists.

I tend to think however, that even if the price of a CD was reduced by half, a significant percentage of those using services such as Napster would continue to trade music -- probably then claiming that CDs are now so cheap that the recording companies aren't missing out on much revenue anyway.

So what are publishers going to do?

As I've said here before, music publishers are probably going to have to accept that the music is now "free" and that this is going to really eat into the sales of CDs. Likewise book publishers are going to find out pretty soon that there are illegal copies of their books being traded freely across the Net and the returns on printed editions will be hit.

Music companies -- shift your revenues from CDs to concerts, endorsements and advertising.

Book publishers -- shift your revenues from books to performance rights, endorsements and public appearances by the authors.

What about encryption?
The music and e-book industries appear to be leaning heavily on being able to come up with some kind of encryption to protect their property from piracy -- but they're wasting their time.

Both music and e-books can be "cracked" using relatively low-tech, but perfectly satisfactory methods. I'm not talking about breaking the encryption -- but something as simple as digitally recording the analog output of a digital music player.

It only takes one good-quality digital re-recording to be made and that can then be distributed as freely and easily as today's CD tracks. The fact that the quality might be ever so slightly less than for a genuine original is not relevant -- just look at how many people already gladly put up with the small amount of degradation that MP3 encoding produces.

And, with an e-book it becomes a simple task to grab a screen image of each page and run OCR on it to produce a text-file containing the previously encrypted content.

One only has to look at the ridiculous contortions that Microsoft users now have to go through when they install Office or other products. Having to contact Microsoft just to get "permission" to use a product you've lready purchased and paid for really sucks -- especially when changing your hardware configuration can render that permission invalid and require you to go begging again if you need to reinstall the software.

Any music or book publisher that tries a system as evil as that will be doomed to failure.

Publishers -- stop fighting a battle you can't win and knuckle down to working out how you can take advantage of the Net.

Sorry I'm Late
My apologies for the late publication of today's issue. I suspect the copy of Windows running on this PC somehow objected to the fact that I'm installing QNX onto another machine and packed a hissy-fit at the thought of some competition :-)

Sometimes you don't appreciate the better things in life until you've had to re-install Windows and restore an entire 10GB drive from backups :-(

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

Security Alerts
Microsoft issues new patch for Windows 2000 Telnet security hole (Computerworld)

Windows ME Bugged by Flaw (Wired)

Microsoft adjusts sign-on feature to patch Windows 2000 (CNet)

Word documents susceptible to "Web bug" infestation (CNet)

Trojan horse rears its head on Palms (CNet)

Virus Alerts
UBS warns of new virus (CNN)

Killer Virus Streaming Near You (InternetNews)

'Pokey' virus hits U.S. (CNN)

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Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request