Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
October 2, 2001, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 277.
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FTC Files Suit Against Mouse Trapping Scammer
9/25. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a civil complaint [PDF] in U.S. District Court (EDPenn) against John Zuccarini, an Internet scam artist who operates a mouse trapping operation on the web. The Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order [PDF] on September 25. However, the defendant continues to operate in violation of the TRO. See also, FTC release.
The Complaint states that "Defendant redirects unsuspecting consumers to his sites and then traps them in a barrage of Web pages and pop-up windows. Defendant places Web pages on the World Wide Web with domain names that are misspellings of other domain names; transpose or invert words, terms, or phrases in other domain names; or are confusingly similar to others' famous trademarks, service marks, or names. When consumers type one of Defendant's domain names in to their browser's address bar, they are immediately redirected to Defendant's Web sites. ... Once Defendant redirects consumers to his Web sites, he traps them there using a variety of tactics that obstruct consumers' ability to exit Defendant's sites. These practices force consumers, including children, to navigate through multiple windows displaying solicitations for online gambling ... or pormography."
The complaint alleges violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a), which provides that "Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are hereby declared unlawful."
The District Court entered a temporary restraining order (TRO), in effect until October 9, that bars defendant from "both (1) the combined practice of redirecting and obstructing consumers on the Internet or World Wide Web and (2) obstructing consumers on the Internet or World Wide Web." The TRO also bars defendant "from registering any new domain names ... without notifying counsel for the Commission within 24 hours." Finally, the TRO orders both the defendant, and web hosting companies, to take down several web pages that enable the mouse trapping aspect of the scam.
Speaking at a press conference on October 1 in the FTC's Internet Lab, FTC Chairman Timothy Muris stated that "this scheme prevents consumers from controlling their internet browsers, invades their privacy, robs them of their time, exposes kids to ads for pornography, and violates trademark rights. And this scam, and ones like it, undermine consumer confidence in the Internet. That's why the FTC brought this action." See, Muris statement.
This scam is a variation on a page jacking and mouse trapping scam that the FTC shut down in FTC v. Pereira, U.S. District Court Case No. 99-1367, filed on September 14, 1999. See, TLJ stories, FTC Obtains Injunction of Page Jacking and Mouse Trapping Scam, September 24, 1999; How the "Page Jacking" and "Mouse Trapping" Web Scam Works, September 24, 1999; and Page Jacking and Mouse Trapping, December 8, 1999.
Marc Groman is the lead attorney on this case. (D.C. No. 01-CV-4854, E.D. Penn.)
FTC Chairman Muris to Unveil Privacy Agenda
10/1. The FTC announced that its Chairman, Timothy Muris, will give a speech at the Privacy 2001 Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 4 in which he will unveil the FTC's privacy agenda. The FTC stated in a release that Muris "has spent the past four months meeting with agency staff, consumer groups, information technology executives, academics, and several trade association representatives on privacy issues." It continued that he "will describe the specifics of how the FTC plans to increase protection of consumer privacy in the market place by focusing on: telemarketing, spam, ID theft, and pretexting, as well as enforcement under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the Gramm Leach Bliley Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. He will also discuss his views on legislative activities."
5th Circuit Grants En Banc Rehearing in Veeck v. SBCCI
5/27. The U.S. Court of Appeals (5thCir) issued an order granting a rehearing en banc in Veeck v. SBCCI. A three judge panel issued its divided opinion on February 2, 2001, upholding the District Court's judgment of copyright infringement. Both Courts held that a copyrighted work does not lose it protection when adopted into law.
Background. The Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) is a nonprofit organization that develops, promotes, and promulgates model building codes. Local governments, in turn, enact its codes into law by reference, in whole, or in part. SBCCI asserts a copyright in each of its codes. Peter Veeck, who also uses the name Texoma Regional Web, operates a web site that contains information about North Texas. Several towns in North Texas have adopted SBCCI model codes. Veeck purchased from SBCCI CDs with copies of the building codes. In disregard of the software license and copyright notice, Veeck copied and published these building codes into his web site.
District Court. SBCCI filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (EDTex) against Veeck. The Court ruled on cross motions for summary judgment that Veeck had infringed valid copyrights, and permanently enjoined Veeck from further infringement.
Appeals Court. A divided three judge panel affirmed. The majority wrote that "if code writing groups like SBCCI lose their incentives to craft and update model codes and thus cease to publish, the foreseeable outcome is that state and local governments would have to fill the void directly, resulting in increased governmental costs as well as loss of the consistency and quality to which standard codes aspire. A second glance at the names of the amici supporting SBCCI's position in this case provides an idea of the potential sweep of a contrary holding that the authors of model codes could not enforce copyrights in their works once the ultimate reason for their very creation is realized."
See also, TLJ story, 5th Circuits Affirms Judgment of Internet Copyright Infringement, February 5, 2001.
Novell Sues Microsoft Over Marketing
10/1. Novell filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DUtah) against Microsoft alleging making and distributing false and misleading statements about Novell and its products in violation of state and federal laws. Novell seeks injunctive relief, corrective advertising, a recall of the false advertising, and money damages. At issue are Microsoft statements about Novell's NetWare 6, the latest version of its network operating system. See, Novell release.
NTIA Funds Cyber Cafe and Surveillance Cameras
10/1. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the award of $42.8 Million in Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) grants to 74 non profit organizations. Among the funded projects are a cyber cafe for gang members in Detroit, a network of surveillance cameras on California beaches, and a web site containing pictures of artifacts from Maine. The unifying theme of this year's grants is that all projects make some use of the Internet. Other projects will provide medical, public housing, and other information through web sites. Other projects will provide networking and training. See, NTIA release and list of grantees.
Cyber Cafe. One grant will provide $500,500 to "develop a state of the art Cyber cafe and multi media lab designed to provide employment opportunities to gang involved youth" in Detroit, Michigan. See, project description.
Bay Watch. Another grant will provide $557,378 to fund a "network of video surveillance cameras and meteorological instruments ... along Los Angeles's 72-mile coastline". The purpose of this project is "protecting the lives and property of the more than 50 million visitors that come from all over the world to swim, surf, and recreate each year." See, project description.
Rep. Boehlert Addresses Impact of Terrorism on R&D Funding and Immigration
10/1. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Chairman of the House Science Committee, gave a speech in Albany, New York, regarding the possible impact of terrorism on federal science and technology research and development funding, and higher education generally.
R&D Funding. Rep. Boehlert asked rhetorically, "Do we need to redirect government or academic R&D in the wake of the attacks?" He opined that "while there are a few areas that need additional focus, the general thrust of R&D need not change." However, he added that R&D has been inadequate in "computer security" and "improving the technical capabilities of our law enforcement agencies." He said the Science Committee will hold a hearing on computer security issues on October 10.
He also said that there may need to be more focus on "identification techniques especially biometrics: the use of iris patterns or heartbeat patterns or other aspects of the human body to ensure that people are not using false identities may get a higher priority."
Immigration. He stated that "the United States has to screen all visa applicants more thoroughly and needs to keep better track of those who enter our country, and, in particular, to crack down on those with expired visas. But we must not imperil the openness of our universities, which are magnets for students around the world, many of whom choose to settle in the United States. Foreign students who remain here are absolutely critical elements of our science and technology workforce, and those who return home often increase the goodwill toward the U.S. in their home countries."
Supreme Court Begins New Term
10/1. The Supreme Court of the United States held its opening conference of the new term. It also released an Order List [88 pages in PDF]. The Court denied petitions for writ of certiorari in the following cases: Transglobal Telecom v. AT&T (No. 01-101), El Paso Water Improvement v. Southwestern Bell (No. 01-116), TCI Cablevision v. Intellectual Property Dev. (No. 01-234), and Bonczyk v. USPTO (No. 01-262).
The Order List also contains the following: "D-2270 IN THE MATTER OF DISCIPLINE OF BILL CLINTON Bill Clinton, of New York, New York, is suspended from the practice of law in this Court and a rule will issue, returnable within 40 days, requiring him to show cause why he should not be disbarred from the practice of law in this Court."
People and Appointments
10/1. Martha Boersch was named Chief of the Securities Fraud Unit in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. See, USAO release.
10/1. Glenn Reynolds was named VP Federal Regulatory in BellSouth's Washington DC, Governmental Affairs office. He previously worked at the Federal Communications CommissionFCC, most recently as acting Deputy Chief of the Common Carrier Bureau, where he had responsibility for issues within the Bureau's Policy and Competitive Pricing Divisions. See, BS release.
Computer Crime
9/24. Brian West plead guilty in U.S. District Court (EDOkla) to intentionally accessing and obtaining information from a protected computer without authorization through the use of an interstate communication in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C). See, CCIPS release.
9/25. David Horne plead guilty in U.S. District Court (NDTex) to knowingly possessing child pormography on his PC, which he downloaded from the Internet. He faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a $250,000 fine. See, USAO release.
More News
10/1. President Bush signed an executive order establishing a President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
10/1. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) heard oral argument in AT&T Wireless Services v. FCC, No. 00-1304.
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Tuesday, October 2
The House will meet at 12:30 PM for morning hour, and at 2:00 PM for legislative business. There may be votes after 6:00 PM on bills considered under suspension of the rules.
The Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral argument in NCTA v. Gulf Power (No. 00-832) and FCC v. Gulf Power (No. 00-843), consolidated. See, calendar [PDF].
10:00 AM. The Senate Banking Committee will hold an oversight hearings to examine the activities of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee. The scheduled witnesses are Donald Evans (Secretary of Commerce), John Robson (P/Ch of the Export-Import Bank), Hector Barreto (Administrator of the SBA), Peter Watson (P/CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation), and Thelma Askey (Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency). Location: Room 538, Dirksen Building.
POSTPONED. 10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue its hearing on homeland defense matters. (This hearing began on September 25. Attorney General John Ashcroft testified regarding the Administration's Anti Terrorism Act of 2001.) Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will preside. Location: Room 216, Hart Building.
10:00 AM. The Institute for State Studies will hold a press conference to advocate Internet taxes. The scheduled speakers include Utah Governor Mike Leavitt and Donald Bruce of the University of Tennessee. Location: Room 333, Hall of States, 444 N. Capitol St. NW, Washington DC.
12:00 NOON. The Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will host a panel discussion on electronic surveillance issues. Lunch will be served. RSVP to Megan Kinnaird or Catherine Parsons at 202-638-4370. Location: Reserve Officers Association, One Constitution Ave, NE, Washington DC. The speakers will be Viet Dinh (Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy), John Podesta (Georgetown University Law Center), James Dempsey (Center for Democracy and Technology), and Bruce Heiman (Preston Gates).
4:00 - 5:30 PM. The Cato Institute will host a panel discussion titled "Fighting Terrorism, Preserving Civil Liberties." The speakers will be Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), Solveig Singleton (Competitive Enterprise Institute), Stuart Taylor (National Journal), and Jonathan Turley (George Washington University). Location: 1000 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington DC.
Wednesday, October 3
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism, and Property Rights will hold a hearing titled "Protecting Constitutional Freedoms in the Face of Terrorism." Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) will preside. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
10:00 AM. The House Commerce Committee will hold a meeting to mark up three bills. One pertains to bio terrorism. The second pertains to threats to nuclear facilities. The third is a bill to clarify the application of cable TV system privacy requirements to new cable services. Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building.
Thursday, October 4
9:30 AM. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will continue its hearing on the security of critical governmental infrastructure. (It began this hearing on September 12, 2001.) Location: Room 342, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an executive business meeting. Sen. Leahy will preside. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
2:00 PM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on judicial nominations. The following nominees will testify: Edith Clement (nominated to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit), Karen Caldwell (U.S.D.C., E.D. Kentucky), Laurie Camp (U.S.D.C., Nebraska), Claire Eagan (U.S.D.C., N.D. Oklahoma), James Payne (U.S.D.C., Kentucky), and Jay Bybee (Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel). Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) will preside. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
2:00 PM. The House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy will hold a hearing titled "Transforming the IT and Acquisition Workforces: Using Market-Based Pay, Recruiting Strategies to Make the Federal Government an Employer of Choice for IT and Acquisition Employees" Location: Room 2154, Rayburn Building.
First day one of a two day conference hosted by the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Export Administration on export control law. This is the 14th annual east coast "Update Conference on Export Controls and Policy." It will cover U.S. export control policies, regulations, and procedures through a wide array of plenary sessions and workshops. The price is $595. See, BXA's web page on the conference. Location: Hilton Washington Hotel, Washington DC.
Deadline to submit reply comments to the FCC regarding SBC's Section 271 application to provide interLATA service in the states of Arkansas and Missouri. (CC Docket No. 01-194.) See, FCC notice [PDF].
Friday, October 5
9:30 AM. There will be a press briefing on possible remedies in the Microsoft antitrust case. For more information, contact Bert Foer, American Antitrust Institute, at 202-244-9800 or by email. Location: West Room, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington DC.
10:00 AM. The House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management, and Intergovernmental Affairs will hold a hearing titled "Information Technology -- Essential Yet Vulnerable: How Prepared Are We for Attack?" Location: Room 2154, Rayburn Building.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Wireless Telecommunications Practice Committee will host a lunch. The speakers will be Kathleen Ham and Jim Schlichting, Deputy Chiefs of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. The price to attend is $15. Register with wendy@fcba.org by 5:00 PM on October 2. Location: Sidley & Austin, 1501 K Street, NW Conference Room 6-E, Washington DC.
Second day one of a two day conference hosted by the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Export Administration on export control law.
Deadline to submit reply comments to the FCC in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the concept of a unified intercarrier compensation regime, including reciprocal compensation, and alternative approaches such as "bill and keep." See, notice in Federal Register, May 23, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 100, at Pages 28410 - 28418.