Business & Finance
Commentary
9/23/2005
10:50 AM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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IT Confidential: Copyright, Spam, And Pamela Anderson

FAIR USE? As expected, Google has been sued over its controversial plan to document and make searchable the contents of many of the great libraries of the world. The Authors Guild and three authors filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in New York last week, claiming Google's plan represents a "massive" infringement of the writers' copyrights. Google claims its strategy is covered under what's commonly referred to as "fair use" of copyrighted material. Also, Google says copyright holders can have their books excluded from the program if they want, but the Authors Guild says Google should contact authors first, not the other way around. Copyright issues concerning the Internet--especially Internet search--are a long way from being worked out. Google was sued several months ago by a magazine called Perfect 10, for including thumbnail images of the magazine's girlie pictures as part of the search function, which sounds like innocuous litigation but actually approaches some of the fundamental issues of what Internet search is and how it works.

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS. Spam is declining as a percentage of total E-mail traffic, according to MX Logic, a message-filtering vendor. So far this year, spam accounted for 67% of the E-mail run through the company's filtering servers; last year at this time, spam was 76% of the total. "The drop in spam volume could indicate that improved E-mail defense technology and high-profile prosecution of spammers might be having some effect," Scott Chasin, MX Logic's chief technology officer, said in a statement.

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS, PART 2. The House of Representatives approved legislation last week to boost technology for small and midsize manufacturers. The Manufacturing Technology Competitiveness Act provides grants for working on new manufacturing technologies and establishes scholarships in manufacturing sciences. The bill increases funding for the National Institute of Standards And Technology's manufacturing program by $10 million over the next two years, to $120 million a year.

SEARCHING FOR PAMELA ANDERSON. Speaking of search, one of the Internet's first search engines, Lycos, came up with a list of the top-10 search terms for the last 10 years (September 1995 to September 2005), according to The Associated Press. Topping the list: Pamela Anderson. Also in the top 10 were Pokémon, Britney Spears, tattoos, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and Christmas. Lycos said it excluded queries for X-rated related material, but Ms. Anderson ended up on top anyway. A Lycos spokeswoman told AP, "She's just the patron saint of the Web."

Patron saint? I think Ms. Anderson would get a hoot out of that. And what does that make her ex-husband, Tommy Lee? Oh, yeah, right--Tommy Lee. I hope this gives me an excuse to put Pamela Anderson on The News Show (and perhaps boost our search numbers). Watch The News Show at noon ET every weekday, at www.TheNewsShow.tv or on informationweek.com. And send your Pamela Anderson tips--and industry tips--to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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