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XBiz News: 07-17-03

Stephen Yagielowicz

This week’s XBiz News looks at Acacia's first victory against porn, Yahoo!s strengthening in the search market, and newly discovered vulnerabilities in Windows Server 2003...

Round One Goes to Acacia
Acacia Research, the company which claims that their current suite of patents covers the transmission of nearly all forms of multimedia content over nearly every form of media, has gained a slight victory in its battle against a handful of online porn companies - the first group of businesses that Acacia’s legal team went after for streaming video on the Internet; a practice that Acacia claims violates their patent rights.

A default judgment was handed down against a group of five adult content providers: Extreme Productions, Go Entertainment, Lace Productions, WebZotic LLC, and Wild Ventures LLC, after they failed to appear in a California district court, in order to challenge Acacia’s claims.

While Acacia has signed licenses with 27 companies such as BabeNet, White Sands Communications, Radio Free Virgin and LodgeNet, not everyone is willing to simply pay them (a fee reportedly around 2% of a company’s gross sales) to go away.

The Internet Media Protective Association (IMPA), a coalition formed by the online adult industry to combat Acacia’s arguably baseless suit, is rallying the efforts of a group of interested content companies to overcome this legal challenge to a common, existing technology and mode of operation. The IMPA will have their chance to rebuff Acacia’s claims later this month when the suit enters the "discovery" phase.

An Overture for Yahoo!
In an effort to expand its paid-for search offerings as well as to develop small business services for their 88,000+ advertisers, Overture will soon be the latest gem in Yahoo!s crown - for the princely sum of $1.63 billion dollars in cash and shares. Yahoo! Is rapidly increasing its share of the search market, with two search engine platforms (Overture and Inktomi), two search portals (AltaVista and AlltheWeb), as well as their own hand-indexed directory.

Overture, which depends upon Yahoo! for 65% of its revenues, based on searches on Yahoo! and MSN (who’s contract with Overture will end in December, 2005), had attempted to build competitive products, but could not overcome the established giants. This strengthening of Yahoo!s position will only bolster their ongoing efforts to fight Google for dominance in the online search arena. Doubtless more developments in this story will be soon forthcoming. Affecting nearly all versions of its new Windows OS, Microsoft announced that a vulnerability in its latest Windows Server 2003 software could allow malicious hackers to remotely seize control of a Windows computer, steal data, delete files and eavesdrop on e-mails.

Windows Sever Vulnerabilities
Affecting nearly all versions of its new Windows OS, Microsoft announced that a vulnerability in its latest Windows Server 2003 software could allow malicious hackers to remotely seize control of a Windows computer, steal data, delete files and eavesdrop on e-mails. Customers are urged to immediately apply the free patch, which is available for download from Microsoft’s Web site (www.microsoft.com/security/ ).

Microsoft was embarrassed over this recent revelation, as it is a serious flaw in their new server software, which was marketed as being their most safe and secure - and was the first product that they have offered under their "Trustworthy Computing" initiative, which was organized by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

The new vulnerability which affects how Windows shares data files across computer networks (including the Internet), was uncovered by researchers in western Poland, and reportedly affects Windows versions that are popular among home users as well as the company’s server software. While Microsoft claims that corporate firewalls will commonly block the data connections commonly needed by hackers to exploit these vulnerabilities, home users are often left unprotected.

Kevin Kean, head of Microsoft's security response center, said that improving Windows software security is an ongoing process. "We continue to try to make it better and when we find a situation where techniques we’ve built into the system are not perfect, we go out and fix them."

Stay tuned for more news next week! ~ Stephen

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