15th > January > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Compaq apologises for Presario freezes

A problem that causes a number of Presario 5800/5900 systems to lock up has forced Compaq to apologise to its customers. According to the firm, Compaq found that "a limited number of computers shipped to the field" experienced random lockups or low system resources. This is a software issue, Compaq confirmed. The company apologised for the problems caused to customers, which caused its support board to be bombarded by irate users over the holiday period. One Compaq technical support member said that the software that loaded on boot-up was decided by marketing rather than technical people. Software loaded at boot sometimes caused Windows 98 resources to fall to a critical level, causing the freezes. Compaq says that it has a fix for the problem, which is available on its Web site. ® See also Frozen Presarios found in Compaq support glacier
The Register breaking news

Investor snaps up eight million AMD shares

A Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing earlier this week showed that AMD stock has become hotter than fire, as yesterday its share price broke the $40 barrier. The filing, on a form SC13G, showed that on the 12th of January last, Friess Associates Inc, based in Jackson, Wyoming, bought 7,969,000 shares in the chip company. Friess Associates is an investment adviser. The large purchase of shares requires an SC13G form to be filed, to show that there is no intent "of changing or influencing the control of the issuer of such securities". In other words, it is an assertion that the buyer of the shares is not involved in any kind of takeover of the company. AMD's share price was around the $35 mark on the 12th of January. Its low point, in the last 52 weeks, was around $14 last April, but for months it rumbled along at $16, during the period it was launching its Athlon (K7) microprocessor. AMD reports its quarterly earnings next week. Intel's share price shot up by $12 yesterday to close at over $103 on Wall Street, a rise of over 13 per cent, following a better than expected Q4. Foster Freiss, who signed the filing and who is chairman of the company, has a "pigs in the trough" theory about investment, details of which can be found here. This theory is derived from his observation that it isn't necessarily the big fat piglets that get to eat first. The Brandywine Funds his firm manages has over $4 billion net assets. This investment gives it around five per cent share in AMD. The AMD filing can be found in the SEC Edgar database, here. ®
The Register breaking news

World Wrestling Federation wins domain-name skirmish

The World Wrestling Federation emerged from court the undisputed champion in the first cybersquatting case pursued under a new policy developed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The court appears to have performed as intended, reaching a decision swiftly and relatively cheaply. The Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) delivered its verdict according to ICANN's master recipe to Californian Michael Bosman, ordering him to relinquish the domain name www.worldwrestlingfederation.com, which he had registered for less than US $100 last October. Three days later, he "offered to sell it back at significant profit," for $1,000, the WIPO ruling states. The panel ruled that the name "is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark" of the World Wrestling Federation. The case was resolved in less than 40 days' time for under $3,000, according to a report in the New York Times. That compares favourably to minimum costs of about $10,000 to $15,000 for pursuing even the simplest cases in civil court, which can take years to resolve, the Times noted. The wrestling organisation filed its complaint on 2 December, one day after the new rules came into effect. There is no appeals procedure under the WIPO system, but Bosman can of course challenge the decision in civil court if he so desires. ®
The Register breaking news

Hollywood big-guns take aim at three Webmasters

Three New York men are being sued in federal court for allegedly distributing software which decodes the copyright protection of DVD disks, and allows their contents to be downloaded onto a computer's hard disk. This would enable virtually anyone with an online computer to distribute a DVD's content worldwide via the Internet. Eight Hollywood studios, Universal, Paramount, MGM, Tristar, Columbia, Time Warner, Disney and 20th Century Fox have teamed up to file the suit against the three New Yorkers, Shawn Reimerdes, Eric Corley and Roman Kazan. "This is a case of theft," according to Motion Picture Association of America President Jack Valenti. "The posting of the de-encryption formula is no different from making and then distributing unauthorised keys to a department store." Well, it's a lot different, actually, as it involves neither trespassing, nor any potential for causing personal injury or property damage, nor any theft of an original, physical copy of the disputed intellectual property. In truth, it's no different from making copies of a video or audio cassette, which is legal in the USA if done for personal convenience and not for profit, though the potential here for profiteers to re-distribute copyrighted content worldwide over the Internet makes it understandably frightening to anyone in the entertainment industry. Valenti's hysterical overstatement speaks to a fundamental weakness in the entertainment industry's relationship with the Internet. As much as it wants to distribute its wares in the over-hyped "electronic marketplace", it has to be terrified of the very technology it seeks to exploit. There is no other medium which offers anything approaching the Net's potential for distributing vast reams of bootleg audio and video files worldwide. It is because the Net's capacity to simplify and facilitate bootlegging is so immense and so uncontrollable that the entertainment industry has been so churlish about protecting its copyrights. Various industry front groups, including the Motion Picture Association, have issued numerous threatening rants about their ambitions to tighten on-line copyright protections. To date, their efforts -- both technical and legislative -- have been hopelessly ineffective, owing to the very flexibility and anonymity built in to the Net and the technology by which their products are recorded. Because of the superstitious faith with which technology is usually venerated, it is unthinkable to most that something like the Internet might not be advantageous to all people for all purposes. Any heretical points of view suggesting that this might not be the case will have to settle in gradually, one instance at a time, as experience contradicts imagination. Film and music are two instances where that settling in seems likely to occur sooner rather than later. If the entertainment industry were to take a hard, adult look at what it can reasonably accomplish in protecting its products from mass, on-line redistribution, it might just conclude that such products, taken as a species, simply don't belong on the Internet. ®