Business & Finance
Commentary
4/24/2004
01:23 AM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
50%
50%

IT Confidential: Quid Pro Quo And An Online Blitzkrieg

'We will pursue these thieves regardless of their location'

When John Ashcroft's Justice Department decides to do something, it does it big. Last week, the feds pulled off what they call "the largest multinational law-enforcement effort ever directed at online piracy." As part of Operation Fastlink, more than 120 searches were conducted in 27 states and 10 foreign countries: Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Sweden. The searches nabbed more than 200 computers, including 30 servers that functioned as storage and distribution hubs. The computers contained hundreds of thousands of copies of pirated software, games, music, and movies; one distribution server seized in the United States reportedly contained 65,000 pirated titles. Operation Fastlink involved undercover investigations by the FBI's Cyber Division and the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. Nearly 100 individuals are being investigated, including leaders and high-level members of international piracy organizations.

The government of the People's Republic of China last week decided to hold off implementing a proprietary wireless LAN encryption standard set for June 1. At a press conference held by Commerce Secretary Don Evans and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi said China will indefinitely delay the standard, which had generated a great deal of controversy among wireless manufacturers (see "Joining WTO Means Playing By Global Rules," April 5, 2004). The decision followed high-level discussions between U.S. and Chinese officials at the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting in Washington. As part of the negotiations, the Associated Press reported that the Bush administration agreed to reconsider its ban on ex- ports to China of high-tech products that could have military use.

Longtime rivals Oracle and Microsoft may be about to set aside some of their differences. Oracle president Charles Phillips says the two companies plan to make "some noise" about ongoing collaboration efforts very soon. Earlier this month, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems kissed and made up. What's behind the sudden rapprochement? Self-interest, of course. Oracle wants to sell its databases and applications to Windows users, and Microsoft wants to stanch the progress of Linux. Says Phillips, "They would rather see us doing well on Windows than us doing well on Linux."

Ahh, there's no better motivator for collaboration than the blatant self-interest of the free-enterprise marketplace-it warms your heart, doesn't it? Know what else would warm my heart?-an industry tip. Send it to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about online piracy, international technology standards, or Linux versus Windows, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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