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News, records, and analysis of legislation, litigation, and regulation affecting the computer, internet, communications and information technology sectors

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TLJ had technical problems with its mail server on Thursday and Friday Oct. 5-6, and was unable to send this e-mail alert on schedule. TLJ apologizes for the delay.
Oct. 5, 2000
7:45 AM ET.
Alert No. 35.

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News Briefs

10/4. The FCC issued an Order [PDF] suspending its "political editorial and personal attack" rules for 60 days. The order, which also asks for broadcasters to submit information regarding the rules, is the FCC's latest action in this ancient proceeding regarding the regulation of political speech of broadcasters. The rules require broadcasters to give free air time to if they make campaign endorsements or personal attacks. Broadcasters do not like the rule, and have challenged its constitutionality. On Aug. 3, 1999, the U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) issued its Opinion in the RTNDA case. The Court ruled that "Without a clear explanation for the rules, the court is not in a position to review whether they continue to serve the public interest, and whether they burden First Amendment interests too severely. The court, therefore, cannot affirm the FCC's order, but neither can it conclude that the FCC could not on remand justify the rules consistently with principles of administrative law. Accordingly, rather than enjoining enforcement of existing rules that the FCC might be able to justify, we must remand the case for the FCC to further explain its decision not to repeal or modify them." The FCC then did nothing for 14 months. Now it asks for more information. FCC Commissioners Tristani and Ness support the rules. Commissioner Powell wrote a scathing dissent which attacked both the delaying tactics of the FCC, and the underlying merits of the rules. (His dissent is attached to the FCC Order). Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth also wrote a vigorous dissent.
10/4. The COPA Commission held the first of two days public meetings to write its report to Congress. The COPA Commission is a congressionally appointed panel mandated by the Child Online Protection Act to write a report that identifies "technological or other methods that will help reduce access by minors to material that is harmful to minors on the Internet."
10/4. The CATO Institute hosted a panel discussion titled "Will the FSC Dispute Ignite a Transatlantic Trade War?" The speakers were Rep. Phil English (R-PA), John Richardson (European Commission), Willard Berry (European American Business Council), and Gary Hufbauer (Institute for International Economics). Richardson condemned the FSC (which the WTO found to be an illegal export subsidy), and its replacement, HR 4986 (which has passed the House, but not the Senate). Rep. English  and Hufbauer defended U.S. tax policy. The FSC benefits U.S. companies that sell products abroad, such as Microsoft. If a retaliatory trade war occurs, U.S. high tech companies may be targeted by the EU.
10/4. The U.S. District Court (DUt) awarded Novell over $2 Million in damages from Myung Je. Novell filed a complaint against Myung Je, a Korean company, in May 1998, alleging breach of its OEM agreement with Novell, trademark infringement, and copyright infringement. See, Novell release.
10/4. Alan Fried filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the U.S. In 1996 Fried started radio broadcasting dance music in Minneapolis at 20 watts. He had no FCC license. The FCC seized his equipment. The FCC recently adopted rules for the licensing of low power FM stations. However, as a prior unlicensed broadcaster, Fried is ineligible. Also, the House has passed a bill limiting the FCC's authority to issue low power FM licenses. That bill is pending in the Senate. Fried raises First Amendment and other Constitutional issues. He is represented by the Institute for Justice. See, release.
10/4. John Nannes was named Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division. He replaces Doug Melamed, who moved up to Acting Assistant Attorney General after Joel Klein's departure. Nannes went to work at the DOJ in 1998; he previously was a partner in the law office of Skadden Arps. See, DOJ release. Jeff Blattner, in turn, was named a Deputy Assistant Attorney General. He is a former political aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) who was brought into the Antitrust Division to work on Microsoft matters. See, DOJ release.
10/4. The Kansas Corporation Commission approved Southwestern Bells request to offer long distance service in Kansas. See also, AT&T reaction.
10/4. MP3.com, a company which has been sued for copyright infringement, hired Luntz Research Cos. to conduct a poll of Internet users regarding copying music files on the Internet. The poll found that Internet users support positions taken by MP3.com. See, release.
9/29. The SEC filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DC) against Intelligent Decision Systems, Inc. (IDSI) for failing to file periodic reports with the SEC. IDSI, which markets and leases computer systems, failed to filed 10-K Annual Reports for the fiscal years ended June 30, 1998, 1999 and 2000, as well as 10-Q Quarterly Reports for the fiscal quarters ended Sept. 30, 1998, Dec. 31, 1998, March 31, 1999, Sept. 30, 1999, Dec. 31, 1999 and March 31, 2000. The complaint seeks an order compelling IDSI to make the required filings. (Civil No. 1:00-CV-02341.) See, release.
9/29. U.S. District Court Judge Leonnie Brinkema (EDVa) entered a preliminary injunction order against Tutornet.com Group, and its President, Euburn Forde. On Aug. 29, the SEC filed a complaint which alleged that defendants made false and misleading statements in 8-K Forms in violation of 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5. The complaint alleged that defendants falsely stated that Tutornet was in the process of co-branding with AOL. The order also sets Oct. 10 as the hearing date for the SEC's request for a permanent injunction and imposition of civil penalties. (Civil Action No. 00-1472-A.) See, release.
9/27. The SEC instituted an administrative cease and desist proceeding against YourBankOnline.com and its President, Pakie Plastino. The SEC alleges that they made fraudulent statements about the company's banking software and its financial strength. See, SEC release.
9/25. The SEC instituted an administrative cease and desist proceeding against MainStreetIPO.com, and its President, Joseph Salvani, alleging that they are attempting to induce the purchase or sale of securities and to effect transactions in securities on behalf of others without registering as a broker, in violation of 15(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. See, SEC release.
Editor's Note: This column includes all News Briefs added to Tech Law Journal since the last Daily E-Mail Alert. The dates indicate when the event occurred, not the date of posting to Tech Law Journal.
New Documents

FCC: Order re political editorial and personal attack rules for broadcasters, 10/4 (PDF, FCC)
F-R: Dissent to FCC order, 10/4 (HTML, FCC).
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News from Around the Web (updated daily).
Quote of the Day

"A speaker excluded from a broadcast license may be able to find a voice on cable television, direct broadcast satellite ("DBS"), or the Internet. Similarly, an excluded would-be licensee is not captive to the messages spewed by those fortunate enough to obtain a broadcast license if he can access other ideas from other media outlet. The Majority seems to prefer the view that content regulation is permissible so long as the demand for broadcast spectrum exceeds supply (i.e., allocational scarcity). Of course, because all economic resources are scarce by definition, because demand will always exceed supply where a resource is offered for free, and because the Commission controls the supply, this view assures, for time immemorial, that the government will be able to tread more deeply on broadcast speech. I believe this approach is not only intellectually flawed but dangerous, for having the government empowered forever to direct the content of broadcast messages, regardless of the plethora of other messages available to the public, is itself constitutionally disturbing."

Michael Powell,
FCC Commissioner
(dissent to FCC Order)

 

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