Network: Bytes

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The Independent Culture
THE EUROPEAN Commission last week produced a revised text on the copyright directive which does not penalise Internet service providers (ISPs) who temporarily store copyrighted files in caches on their servers to enable Internet users to access them more quickly.

The initial legislation forbade such a practice, saying it was a breach of copyright. The proposed "cache ban" could have resulted in severe Net congestion and slowdowns, and would have been almost impossible to police. EuroISPA, a federation of ISPs, lobbied for an amendment to the original proposal three months ago. The revised text exempts from copyright law document copies "which facilitate effective functioning of transmission systems".

Meanwhile, lobbying by businesses in Britain resulted in the Government last week dropping a proposal to impose key-escrow encryption in the forthcoming Electronic Commerce Bill. The system, whereby the digital keys to unlock encrypted information have to be registered with an official body so that police and others can access private documents, was seen as inimical to the development of e-commerce.

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MACROMEDIA ANNOUNCED new software and a new business unit at a conference in San Francisco last week. A new version of its Flash authoring package will be released next month. As well as handling vector-based graphics for the Web, Flash 4 integrates support for hi-fi MP3 streaming audio and tools to enable interactive "personalised" and e-commerce sites to be constructed easily.

Shockwave Remote, software that allows Web searches for Shockwave and Flash animations, cartoons and games, will be available later in the summer as part of the Shockwave Player. It allows content to be saved and viewed offline. Shockmachine, a more customisable and fully featured piece of software, will sell for $19.95.

An entertainment website division, shockwave.com, where Shockwave movies and games will be found, is to be set up to take advantage of Shockwave Remote and Shockmachine's search and save features.

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THE AUSTRALIAN Senate passed legislation last week as part of its online services bill that will require ISPs to remove adult-orientated material from the Web. Under the new law, expected to be in place by January, the Australian Broadcasting Authority will investigate consumer complaints about pornography on the Net. It will have the power to order Australian ISPs to remove illegal or offensive material from their servers.

The decision has provoked strong protests from industry groups, civil- rights organisations, the Democrats and the Labour Party on the grounds that it is incapable of adequate policing, likely to be counter-productive, and an attack on civil liberties

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ROLLING STONE magazine said last week that it will support the burgeoning MP3 music scene by using the "Picks" section of its website as a filtering forum where magazine editors will review music posted on the Net by unsigned bands as well as popular artists.

"The Internet is revolutionising music, giving artists new ways to be heard," said Jann Wenner, publisher and founder of Rolling Stone.

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