XBiz News: 08-07-03

Stephen Yagielowicz

This week’s XBiz News looks at troubled times for Sealand, a new trade group for SE pros, and the latest suit in the ongoing battle over peer to peer file trading...

Rough Seas Ahead for Sealand
HavenCo, also known as “Sealand,” is a proposed regulatory ‘safe haven’ located six miles off England’s cost in the English Channel. The ‘bomb proof’ World War II era gun-tower, was recently intended to be a co-location Web hosting facility for companies attempting to avoid legal problems arising from setting up their Web servers in legislatively restrictive areas of the world. Claiming to be an independent nation, the abandoned weapons platform has its own currency, postage stamps and flag. It also has a seriously robust connection to the Internet.

Launched in June, 2000, HavenCo received much publicity as it strived to offer a ‘safe haven’ to companies who’s interests included porn, gambling, and copyright free distribution of movies and audio files; practices which would cause legal problems elsewhere.

Now, due to what he sees as a variety of political, technical and management problems, Ryan Lackey, the ex-Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of HavenCo is moving on, telling an audience at the recent DefCon hacker’s convention that “My business partners had become nervous about hosting objectionable material and were leading the company toward financial ruin, with only about six customers remaining.” He added “The key lesson on this is if you're going to put a co-location or virtual site-hosting facilities somewhere, political and contract stability in that jurisdiction is very important…”

An official from the company begged to differ, commenting that “He [Lackey] is no longer in a position to know details about its workings. We have a moderate-sized installation which is growing monthly, very many more than the alleged six customers and their servers in operation, and in the last eight months or so have been able completely to reengineer our network and its international connectivity arrangements.”

Search Engine Pros Form Trade Group
Officially announcing its launch later on this month, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) will be formed, including over 300 search engine marketing professionals hailing from a variety of optimization and paid search service providers.

“Search is such a powerful thing that if they have a line item in their budget for advertising, PR and trade shows, they need to have a search engine marketing line item, too. It’s no longer just an interesting thing that you do just in your spare time – it’s a mainstream and very effective part of the marketing mix…” said spokesman Greg Jarboe, of SEO-PR, a company that helps corporations optimize their content for greater reach with their marketing efforts.

The new group’s mission will be to increase business awareness of their industry (which is projected to grow to $7 billion worldwide by 2007), while promoting the value of search engine marketing to companies that have yet to understand the significance of search engines as a vital marketing tool. SEMPO will begin this process by collecting case studies that demonstrate significant ROI and profit gains realized from the implementation of SE marketing programs. PBIS, which claims to act only as a “passive conduit” for its subscriber’s activities, asserts that it “does not initiate or direct the transmission of those files and has no control over their content or destination”

PacBell Sues RIAA Over P2P
San Antonio-based SBC Communications’ California Internet service provider, Pacific Bell Internet Services (PBIS), has filed a lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America in Federal Court that questions the constitutionality of the RIAA’s efforts to identify peer to peer (P2P) online music sharers.

The federal suit alleges that many of the subpoenas the RIAA served against PBIS were filed improperly, claiming that 154 subpoenas seeking customer’s e-mail addresses were mistakenly issued from the wrong jurisdictions. Going further, PBIS claims that the RIAA’s overly broad demand for information concerning multiple, individual file-sharers cannot be lumped together under one single subpoena.

PBIS, which claims to act only as a “passive conduit” for its subscriber’s activities, asserting that it “does not initiate or direct the transmission of those files and has no control over their content or destination” is seeking a jury trial, and a declaration that the subpoenas are overly broad in scope, and should have been issued through a California district court, rather than through the District of Columbia.

In response, the RIAA (which filed over 870 federal subpoenas this month alone, demanding subscriber information from ISPs and universities which would identify users of the ‘KaZaA’ file sharing network) deemed the PBIS suit “procedural gamesmanship,” insisting that ISP’s have an obligation to reveal the identities of copyright infringes, citing a federal judge’s affirmation that music companies may force ISPs to provide the names of suspected music ‘pirates’ after receiving a subpoena from any federal court.

Things are changing quickly - Stay tuned for more news! ~ Stephen