Thursday, March 29, 2001

Justices Consider Status of Digital Copies of Freelance Work
There was considerable debate throughout the argument about what actually happens when publishers transmit an issue to Lexis/Nexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. that is also a defendant in the case, for inclusion in its electronic database. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the outcome might depend on whether "the whole electronic analog of the entire paper is transmitted at one instant" or "article by article."

Mr. Tribe said that while a separate electronic file was created for each article, so that the articles can be identified and retrieved, "the technology shouldn't obscure what's happening." The entire newspaper is essentially transmitted at once, he said in an effort to bolster the view that inclusion in a database does not change the basic concept of an issue of the newspaper.

He said the freelancers' view of the law "is really quite a Luddite theory, that putting this stuff in a way that the 20th and 21st century has to have it is an infringement."

But Mr. Gold argued for the freelance writers that "the preparation of the article files as separate article files" for transmission to the database was itself the first in a chain of multiple copyright-infringing acts. It was the "equivalent of printing each article as an individual article that can be combined with any of a million others in a new work," he said.

If that is an accurate description of the transformation from print to database, the publishers would be infringing the freelancers' copyrights because under the law, in the absence of an agreement to the contrary, authors retain their individual copyrights even as the publisher of a collective work like a newspaper or encyclopedia holds the copyright to the complete product or a revision of it. Publishers hold the copyright on individual articles produced by staff writers, as opposed to freelancers.

Since the mid-1990's, publishers have generally required freelance authors to waive their copyright in any electronic republication. So this case, New York Times v. Tasini, No. 00-201, has little implication for current practice in the publishing industry. But if the publishers lose, they face the prospect of considerable financial liability for past copyright infringement. The issue has been joined in new lawsuits filed recently by freelancers against publishers around the country.

Sunday, March 25, 2001

Chicago Tribune | Opinion -- THE AD WAS WRONG
From the 1860s to the 1930s, under the Homestead Act, the U.S. government gave away about 246 million acres for some 1.5 million homesteads. Researcher Trina Williams estimates that today 46 million Americans are current beneficiaries of this wealth-generating giveaway, from which black families were largely excluded.

Until desegregation in the 1960s, whites had exclusive access to most critical resources for building wealth. For example, after World War I the Air Commerce Act gave the new air routes to white-run companies.

Access to wealth-generating mineral deposits and radio and television airwaves was reserved for whites. Access to homeownership was limited by anti-black discrimination.,2669,SAV-0103250290,FF.htm
Chicago Tribune | Opinion -- THE AD WAS WRONG
In an 1860s Boston speech, the white abolitionist Wendell Phillips made the case for major reparations, saying, "There is not wealth enough in all the North to compensate this [African-American] generation--much less the claim it has as heir to those who have gone before."

He added, "Agriculture, cities, roads, factories, funded capital--all were made by and belong to the Negro." The great black leader Frederick Douglass made a similar case.

At an 1865 Republican convention, Rep.resentative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania called for taking hundreds of millions of acres from former slaveholders to provide compensation to those enslaved. Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts called for land grants to those enslaved because legal equality did not eradicate disparities in wealth-generating assets.

Notions of liberal control of the media notwithstanding, details about the price African-Americans have paid for nearly 400 years of oppression have rarely been published. That price remains high. Today, on the average, black Americans live 6 or 7 years less than white Americans, and black families average about 10 percent of the wealth of white families.

Such inequalities are substantially the result of centuries of racism. In a major book, "The Wealth of Races" (1990), economic experts estimate the current value of labor stolen from African-Americans. Two scholars estimate the current worth of the slave labor expropriated from 1620 onward as at least $1 trillion.

For part of the segregation period, 1929-1969, another scholar estimates the cost of labor discrimination against black Americans at $1.6 trillion.

Another researcher estimates the loss from post-segregation discrimination in employment as at least $94 billion for just one year in the 1970s. The accumulated economic loss for African-Americans since the 1600s is likely in the trillions of current dollars, and such calculation does not include the non-monetary costs.

The federal government is heavily implicated in giveaways to whites.,2669,SAV-0103250290,FF.html

Saturday, March 24, 2001

Paranoid Lately? You May Have Good Reason
DURING the endless presidential election, every time-honored institution — from the Supreme Court to the Democratic and Republican leadership to the voting booth itself — fell under mass suspicion. Soon enough, the phrase "the unsuspecting public" became a contradiction in terms: the public did a whole lot of suspecting.

The public suspected that one or both parties had exhibited questionable judgment in their post-election antics. The publicsuspected that behind the scenes, the nonfictional characters dwelling on televised deserted islands might be even nastier to each other than they are on camera. The public suspected that in some states, a chipmunk could steal a Social Security number and have no trouble receiving a credit card. Paper shredders became popular holiday gifts.

Friday, March 23, 2001

Warning From Microsoft on False Digital Signatures
The Microsoft Corporation warned computer users today that someone posing electronically as a company executive had fooled VeriSign Inc, a provider of digital signatures, into issuing fraudulent electronic certificates in Microsoft's name.

The false documents could potentially be used by software virus writers or other vandals trying to trick unsuspecting users into running hostile programs on their computers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Workplace: Laid Off and Locked Out of Your PC
Who owns the personal data that employees routinely store on their office computers? And what rights do departing workers have to retrieve their intellectual "belongings" before they are escorted out of the building?

The answers may surprise some workers. The statutes and court rulings that protect a person's physical-property rights do not generally apply to electronic property. That means an employee who is unexpectedly ushered out of his office can appeal to the law to retrieve his sales awards, baby pictures or golf clubs, but not his personal files stashed on a hard drive.
Cryptologists Discover Flaw in E-Mail Security Program
If confirmed, the flaw would allow a determined adversary to obtain secret codes used by senders of encrypted e-mail.

The program, called P.G.P. for Pretty Good Privacy, is used by human rights organizations to protect vulnerable sources, by corporations to ensure secure communications and by millions of individual users.

Monday, March 19, 2001

How Did They Value Stocks? Count the Absurd Ways
Among the harsh realities one stands out. Of all the hot air generated during the great bull market of the late 1990's, none propelled stock prices further than the notion that new economy stocks were a breed apart and should not be held to stringent, old economy investing standards. Internet companies and cutting-edge telecommunications concerns, after all, were revolutionizing the world. So, the thinking went, their share prices deserved equally radical valuation methods. Out went traditional methods used by securities analysis that prized earnings. In came freewheeling measures of worth, like revenue growth, Web site traffic and even customer "share of mind."

Thursday, March 15, 2001

InternetNews - Web Developer News -- Flaw Uncovered in TCP A security hole in one of the Internet's most basic
protocols -- discovered by security consulting
firm Guardent Inc. -- leaves the door open for
potentially devastating network attacks that
would be difficult to defend against, detect or

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Friday, March 02, 2001

Juries Find Their Central Role in Courts Fading
"Why have a jury at all?" one former juror, Michael
McCarthy asked bitterly in an interview.

Mr. McCarthy said he and his fellow jurors were
outraged in December when a Houston judge told
them that Texas' tort-reform law would require a
reduction of more than $100 million in an award
they had given the family of a pipefitter killed in an
industrial accident at a Phillips Petroleum plastics
plant in 1999.

The worker, Juan Martinez Jr., died when highly
volatile chemicals exploded in a 500-degree fireball.
The jury concluded that the accident had resulted
from lax safety measures at the complex, which had
experienced three explosions over 12 years,
including one that killed 23 workers and injured
132 others in 1989.

Thursday, March 01, 2001

Privacy's Guarded Prognosis

…a woman promoting
pharmaceuticals showed up in his office two years
ago armed with juice and bagels for the office staff
and a printout from a computer database for him.

"After the preliminary niceties, she asked me if I
wanted to see a list of my perimenopausal patients
who were not on estrogen replacement therapy," Dr.
Sheehan recalled…

It is still not common for doctors to keep patient
medical records in electronic databases. All told,
only about 5 percent of all doctors' offices do so.
But most hospitals keep laboratory results and
insurance and prescription information in computer
databases, as do pharmacies and insurance firms.
And as data is exchanged, it can be used in
unforeseen ways. The woman who visited Dr.
Sheehan worked for a company running a
pharmaceutical benefit program, so it could have
collected the data about Dr. Sheehan's patients from
claim forms.

Marketing is not the only way patient information
may be put to unexpected uses. Medical information
could also be used to deny insurance coverage, or
even employment, to someone. Another concern is
identity theft because Social Security numbers and
birth dates are commonly used to identify patients.
Tips for Avoiding Computer Crime

Tips for Avoiding Being a Victim of Computer Crime
Copyright 1999-2000 by Ronald B. Standler
con·cept: March 2001