Apple/EMI, compulsory blogs and corduroys

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Apple and EMI write the news

The world's favourite tech story this week was Apple and EMI doing a deal to offer DRM-free music tracks. This has been a longtime coming and, as such, was so welcomed that hardly anyone stopped to question the deal. Except the European Commission.

Along with other regulators, like Norway, the commission is still not impressed with Apple or the major labels. It reckons people should be able to play music they buy on more than one MP3 player. The fact that Apple has now relaxed the restrictions on new music is unlikely to satisfy regulators unhappy with the company's behaviour since 2000. If found guilty, Apple could be fined as much as 10 per cent of worldwide turnover.

Broadband Britain arrives

More than half of British people now have broadband internet access at home, according to figures from Ofcom. There's more on the 13 million homes with broadband access and on the 1.7 million homes which now have an unbundled, BT-free lines - that's 10 per cent of all connections.


While we're on record breakers, a daft plucky Brit is currently in training to take on Everest in order to make the world's highest mobile phone call. A base station in China will link him to the world.

Letters to Greatest Living Briton

A recent debate with Sir Timothy Berners-Lee led to a pretty fiery discussion on spam and the future development of the internet.

While we're on the subject of discussions, we've expanded reader comments to pretty much every story on the site - so get involved and post your thoughts on the stories we're covering.

Legal email

There's a couple of timely reminders on the site this week. One is a guide from the ePolicy Institute on making sure your company is following legal best practice for email use and abuse. There's also a straightforward legal guide to the issues raised by company email and internet use. Read them before someone reads you your rights.

Glastonbury website bogged down

Setting up a ticket-selling website for the Glastonbury Festival was never going to fun. There always many thousands more people than tickets, and distributing them without rewarding pesky ticket-touts is a challenge.

This year, 400,000 people pre-registered for tickets - even sending in photographs to stop multiple applications. But when the time came to buy the 175,000 tickets available, both the website and the phone lines struggled to stay up. There's more here on the problems, and some interesting comments from readers on what went wrong.

Blog or begone

Assuming you're as irritated as us by the guff spoken by various companies about blogging and how it's going to save the world, you'll be glad you don't work for SonyBMG.

Ged Doherty, chairman and CEO of SonyBMG, has made blogging compulsory, yes that's compulsory, for all staff. Fair play to Ged, he does have his own blog - tagline "The buck stops with me..." - but do we really need an online diary from every Sony employee? The company is also no longer accepting demo tapes or CDs.

Hacker or slacker?

Gary McKinnon lost his appeal against extradition to the US this week. This is the man who allegedly used default passwords to get into Pentagon computers to look for evidence that the US government is working with aliens. He could face a sentence of between 30 and 46 years served in an orange jumpsuit if found guilty. He might be a dork, possibly even daft, but is he really that dangerous? More here on McKinnon's last stand. Though it's not quite his last stand - he can still go to the House of Lords.

Double offers for DoubleClick

This week's takeover tango was performed by online ads expert DoubleClick and Microsoft, or should that be Google? The Microsoft rumour got off to an early lead - the company could certainly do with some help with its online ad attack. But next up was Google, which is frankly in the frame for buying just about anyone at the moment. Rumours round-up is here.

US Navy robot planes are go

Well not quite go, but two competing bids are in from Boeing and Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman for robot planes which are a lot more sophisticated than current Predator drones. Boeing's offering is capable of seven hours' flying, mid-air refueling, and carrying a load of up to 3,000lb of bombs. The issue will soon be how Navy pilots feel about doing their jobs from a call centre in Rhyl rather than from a seat high above the clouds.

Go gadget, go

Good luck to Expansys - the seven year old gadget website which is set to float on the Alternative Investment Market next week. See why the company rejected venture capital offers and opted to float instead.

Class action clackers

Daft lawsuit of the week is provided by the US.

Now, maybe you've tried Vista and didn't like it. Maybe you re-installed your old operating system and got on with your day. What you should have done, of course, is launch a class action suit against Microsoft for emotional distress.

A class action case has been started in California over allegations that some people bought computers marked with stickers saying "Vista Capable". The suit claims such machines were only capable of running the most basic version of Vista, missing many of the most heavily-advertised features.

Home Office tweaks data laws

The Home Office has opened a period of consultation on data retention and the keeping of phone call records. Companies like ISPs have to keep certain information for potential police investigations. Current proposals suggest keeping this information for a year. The rules even allow for a discretionary payment from the Home Office.

Blessed are the corduroys

Cyber-bullying has long been a problem for ISPs plagued by pesky kids setting up nasty MySpace pages for each other. But now teachers are suffering from cyber abuse too. Websites like RateMyTeachers offer a ready home for abusive posts, although not all the posts are abusive.

A union survey also found that almost half of all teachers had received an abusive email.

Monitor your snooping

Finally, the European Court of Human Rights ruled this week that snooping on staff email, phone calls, and internet use might breach their human right to privacy. The case was brought by an employee of a Welsh college. It seems the college went well beyond running a firewall and checking emails and it failed to tell staff they were, or might be, monitored.

Companies still have the right to monitor communications, but you must tell staff what you're doing and allow them access to private communications which are truly private.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading and have a happy long, Easter weekend. ®

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