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THE US Department of Justice (DOJ) last week appointed the New York investment company Greenhill to study possible remedies in the antitrust case against Microsoft. The move followed meetings mediated by Judge Richard Posner, aimed at exploring the chances of a settlement after the trial judge's findings-of-facts statement last month saying Microsoft had misused its monopoly power.

Gina Talamona, a DOJ spokeswoman, said Greenhill would act "as financial advisers to assist the division in analysing financial aspects of the full range of remedies in US vs Microsoft, including conduct and structural relief". However, she added that engaging the company did not mean the DOJ had views on whether the case would be settled in or out of court.

The next phase of the landmark trial, the presentation of written arguments, starts today in Washington.

EUROPEAN UNION ministers last week approved a law giving digital signatures on contracts made over the Internet the same legal status as those signed by hand.

The law was approved unanimously at a telecoms meeting in Brussels. EU member states have 18 months to implement the legislation, designed to encourage e-commerce and close the gap between Europe and America in e- business. "We can expect half the European population to be connected to the Internet by 2005," said Frits Bolkenstein, EU internal market commissioner. "Our integrated approach to electronic commerce... is designed to put Europe at the forefront of this revolution."

AN INTERNATIONAL film school will be established on the Internet to allow students worldwide to take online courses in directing, producing, screenwriting, editing, cinematography and other areas.

The Global Film School (www.globalfilmschool.com), which is scheduled to become operational next year, is being set up by the University of California at the Los Angeles School of Theater, Film and Television, the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, and the National Film and Television School of Great Britain. It has not yet decided whether to award degrees.

Robert Rosen, dean of UCLA, said students would have direct online contact sessions with industry professionals as part of their studies.

LYCOS AND AOL launched a co-branded version of AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) software last week, allowing 30 million Lycos users to communicate in real-time online with 50 million AOL and AIM users. The move strengthens AOL's position in the battle with Microsoft for the instant messaging system market.

Lycos and AOL also signed separate deals last week to expand their presence into the next generation of Internet-friendly phones. Lycos signed a deal with Ericsson to deliver Lycos services to wireless devices. AOL announced a deal with Net2Phone to use AIM technology, so users can send and receive phone and fax messages over the Internet to and from PCs, traditional phones and fax machines.

AOL also bought Tegic Communications, for an undisclosed sum. The company is a leading developer of messaging technology, which licenses its software to manufacturers of 90 per cent of the world's mobile phones. Its latest technology enables e-mail and instant messaging to be used on mobile phones.

EMI SIGNED a licensing agreement last week to stream its library of music videos over the Internet through Launch Media, a website with more than two million registered users. Videos will be streamed in RealPlayer and Windows Media Player formats.

"Launch provides new promotional channels to bring our artists closer to the fans," said Jay Samit, senior vice-president of new media for EMI. "We're trying to be everywhere the music fans are."

The library features much back issue material, seen as particularly suitable for online sales. "Amazon.com has sold more different [CD titles] than any retail chain in the world," Samit said. "They are titles that normally wouldn't be stocked in stores and artists that wouldn't have seen that revenue - this is a good thing."

Launch is also hoping to secure a similar contract with Sony Music.

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