For the record 29 July
Monday, July 29 2002
by Sylvia Leatham

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High Court appoints examiner to Twelve Horses | New ruling says linking to newspaper stories violates EU law

The High Court has appointed Dublin accountant Tom Kavanagh as an interim examiner at technology company Twelve Horses Ltd. Company CEO David Malone said in an affidavit that the business of the company was essentially sound. He said that were it not for the "irrecoverability" of a loan to US subsidiary Twelve Horses Inc of USD7.6 million and difficulties experienced with the management team in the US, the Irish company would in fact be solvent. Funding for the examinership could be financed by available cash balances, together with the collection of debts and payments to be made by USA Investment Partners, Malone added. In addition, a number of directors had undertaken to underwrite short-term cash requirements up to EUR100,000.

The EU Commission has established a Radio Spectrum Policy Group and a European Regulators Group. The two advisory groups will assist the Commission in the development of the Internal Market for the Information Society. The Radio Spectrum Policy Group will assist and advise the Commission on radio spectrum policy issues, on the co-ordination of policy approaches and on harmonised conditions with regard to the availability and efficient use of radio spectrum. Radio spectrum corresponds to radio waves which allow the transmission of mobile and fixed wireless communications. The European Regulators Group will act as an advisory group of independent national regulatory authorities to assist and advise the Commission in consolidating the Internal Market for electronic communications networks and services.

Linking to stories on a newspaper's Web site using a search engine violates European Union law, according to a recent ruling by judges in Germany. The case, brought to Munich's Upper Court by German newspaper Mainpost against search engine NewsClub, could set a legal precedent for search engines across the EU. Mainpost charges that NewsClub violated the "Database Directive" law by searching through and linking directly to Mainpost content. The Database Directive protects against the "unfair extraction" of materials contained in a database, specifically mentioning downloading or hyperlinking as examples of prohibited extraction methods. Legal experts believe that if the ruling is upheld, it could easily become a firm legal precedent across the European Union, limiting the information search engines are allowed to provide to their users.

IBM is providing enhanced voice recognition technology for a new navigation system that will be a feature in some 2003 Honda Accords. The "Touch by Voice" navigation system will allow drivers to ask for directions and hear responses over the existing car audio system. The system has a vocabulary of about 150 English-language commands and can recognise a range of accents. The new Accord will include the system, which is powered by IBM's Embedded ViaVoice technology and software developed jointly by IBM and Honda R&D.

An Australian court has given Sony PlayStation owners the right to use code-breaking chips in their consoles to play imported and copied games. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission hailed the ruling as a victory for consumers because the regional coding of games and DVDs limited consumer choice and access to competitively priced goods. The judgment by the federal court contrasts with recent rulings in Britain and Canada, where Sony won copyright infringement cases against people using so-called mod chips to bypass regional coding. Sony Computer Entertainment Australia said it was considering an appeal.

Malaysian schoolchildren and teachers are to be allowed to use pirated software under a radical plan being considered by the government, according to vnunet.com. Malaysia's Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs is considering granting permission to schools to use pirated software for educational purposes. Malaysia's Sunday Star newspaper reported that Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin believes that the use of pirated software would increase computer literacy among schoolchildren. Many observers see the move as an attempt by the government to cut the costs of installing software in schools, and software manufacturers have said they are concerned that a government would endorse any form of piracy.

Walt Disney Internet Group and KG Telecom have entered into an agreement to distribute Disney Mobile wireless content to KG Telecom wireless subscribers in China. KG Telecom is the first telecom operator to launch the Disney Mobile service on the i-mode platform in the Chinese market. The agreement allows KG Telecom's wireless Internet-enabled mobile phone customers in Taiwan to subscribe for downloadable content such as screensavers and ringtones featuring Disney characters.


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