Cyber Ramblings - June 26, 2001

26 June 2001
Compiled by Kevin Smith

Microsoft Dropping ListBot Service

Microsoft Corp. will shut down the free e-mail newsletter service ListBot as it pushes to attract users to its paid service. In an e-mail sent to users Thursday evening, the Redmond-based software giant, which bought ListBot as part of its a larger acquisition in 1998, said the service would be shut down in August. Microsoft's List Builder will be offered in its place for $149 a year (the standard fee for the service, which launched in February). The popular ListBot service, funded in part by advertisements, has between 90,000 and 100,000 customers.

AOL Reaches 30 Million Subscribers

America Online has increased its subscriber base to 30 million, the company reported Monday, just eight months after hitting the 25 million mark. By comparison, it took 10 months for the company to increase its subscriber base from 20 million to 25 million. Included among the 30 million members are 6 million foreign subscribers. AOL Latin America, for instance, has 750,000 subscribers, and the AOL service in France has more than 1 million members. AOL's biggest competitor, Microsoft's MSN service, has just over 5 million customers.

King of Wins Again

Freedom fighter after freedom fighter has gone up against the powers that be at ICANN and lost time and time again. But Dan Parisi has won another battle against the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers--the international nonprofit corporation that usually oversees such disputes. Parisi owns over 600 URLs that end with "sucks," such as,, and His latest victory came when he was allowed to keep, which he's owned since 1999, despite the efforts of the New York mayoral hopeful to stop him. In the past Parisi won the right to keep the domain, in reference to Lockheed Martin.

Reserve Bank of India Warns Against Internet Banking

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently issued Net banking guidelines stipulating, among other things, that only banks licensed in India and operating a domestic branch network will be permitted to offer Internet banking in the country. The move could be seen as somewhat shortsighted given that the government is currently pushing several Indian cities, most notably Mumbai, as potential offshore banking centers. Banks will need to seek the RBI's approval to offer online banking services and will be restricted to local currency transactions for account holders only. The RBI notification follows the recommendations of the Working Group on Internet Banking, which looked at technology, security, legality, regulatory and supervisory issues. The guidelines are due to be implemented in phases.

'.Biz' TLD Hits Snags

Domain name registrars involved with the new ".biz" top-level domain are reporting strong interest in a pre-registration claim service that has been promoted as valuable protection for trademark owners. However, the protection is not what many expect, and the service is not without problems. The ".biz" domain is one of seven generic top level domains authorized last year. The company charged with the organization of the ".biz" registry is U.S.-based NeuLevel. Several authorized domain name registrars, including four in the United Kingdom, will take the applications.

At present, an Intellectual Property (IP) Claim Service is being operated by NeuLevel. Trademark owners are invited to pay $90 to stake their claims to a ".biz" name. An applicant must identify its trademark, whether it's a registered trademark or what's known as a common law trademark--which could be the case for a business that has built a reputation in its name without registering the name as a trade mark. For every word or phrase a business wants to protect, it must pay $90. At this stage, nobody checks the validity of the claims and more than one party can claim the same name.

The phased introduction of the ".biz" registry is more confusing because NeuLevel has refused to guarantee the dates for each phase. The first phase, the IP Claim Service, was due to end July 9, after which no more claims could be submitted. This week, NeuLevel extended this deadline to Aug. 6, although the website continues to show conflicting dates on its pages. Files Suit Against US Counterpart, a Belgian ISP and producer of online entertainment for women, has sued a U.S.-based rival for the sum of EUR 1 million (around £612,000), claiming that illegally used copyrighted, search-engine-optimized text from Euregio.Net's EasyScopes Entertainment Network.'s lawsuit claims that, which is part of the Web property of, used content from to improve its search engine rankings. Although the word "EasyScopes" was replaced by "Internet Horoscopes" throughout the text, the publishers of the infringing site kept original spelling mistakes and references to other trademarks of Search engine queries for the copyrighted text and trademarks brought up the Belgian site. has now removed the infringing text and published an acknowledgement of the infringement on However, has not met's demands for compensation. Accordingly, Euregio.Net filed for damages in a Belgian court.

WAP and PDAs Give Porn Operators Another Avenue

Like it or hate it the interactive porn industry is once again proving to be on the cutting edge of technology and the Internet. Adult content providers were quick to adopt emerging mediums such as VHS, CD-ROM, the Internet, streaming video and more. So, it should come as no surprise that wireless Internet sites with such names as, wapsturbate and sexwap are cropping up. (WAP is an acronym for wireless application protocol, a standard for wireless communications.) Considering that the porn industry continues to make profits for its operators while nearly all other genres struggle to make ends meet, adult content could dominate WAP and PDAs like it did in the early days of the Internet.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Freelancers

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that publishers violated freelance contributors' copyrights by putting their articles in electronic databases, extending the reach of copyright protections in an online age. The high court, by a 7-2 vote, upheld on Monday a ruling that the publishers must pay freelance writers, photographers and artists extra for work included in online and CD-ROM databases or must remove the material. The decision was a defeat for The New York Times; The Tribune Newsday; AOL Time Warner's Time Magazine Inc.; Lexis/Nexis; and ProQust Co.'s University Microfilms International. The law "does not authorize the copying at issue here," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said for the court majority. "Both the print publishers and the electronic publishers, we rule, have infringed the copyrights of the freelance authors."

The dispute applied mainly to electronic news databases and came before the exploding use of the Internet to make information available. The ruling stemmed from a 1993 lawsuit filed by six freelance authors led by Jonathan Tasini, president of the New York-based National Writers Union.