PENN STATE PROSECUTES ILLEGAL FILE SWAPPERS
Penn State University has fingered some 220 students caught illegally sharing files online. The students were using direct-connect file sharing methods to circumnavigate the university's weekly bandwidth limits. According to the online version of the campus paper, The Collegian, the students will be able to use the university's computer labs, but their dorm-room Internet access has been shut off. Clifford Rodack, network administrator for the university's residence halls, told The Collegian that direct-connect allowed students to link locally with the Internet protocol address of a person from whose system they wanted to download a file -- which does not count against Penn State's bandwidth limits. Rodack sent a letter to the implicated students informing them of the federal punishments for illegal copying, including fines of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison for "flagrant cases of infringement." The students' fates will be decided by the university's Judicial Affairs committee, university officials said.
BUSH CYBERSECURITY CHIEF TO RESIGN
The Bush administration's top cybersecurity adviser is planning to retire at the end of the April. The action leaves the administration without anyone to spearhead implementation of its newly announced cybersecurity strategy, The Washington Post reported. Howard Schmidt, former Microsoft security chief, became chairman of the president's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board in February and played a key role in drafting the White House's new strategy, which in January consolidated the work of five federal cybersecurity offices under the Homeland Security department. The Post article gave no reason for Schmidt's departure, but security experts said they were worried it would leave the administration without a cybersecurity head during a time of a high cyberterror threat.
EU IMPOSES NEW TAX HURDLE FOR U.S. E-COMMERCE
New EU regulations on value-added taxes are scheduled to take effect July 1. The rules will impose new hurdles for U.S.-based businesses that provide digitally downloaded products and services in the European bloc, according to InternetNews.com. This includes U.S. companies offering everything from Web-hosting, downloadable software and upgrades, electronic books and even distance-learning services, InternetNews said. "These new rules will cause major challenges for businesses that have to adapt their systems to meet the requirements," said John Fay, VAT partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ireland. The U.S. Treasury Department, meanwhile, has voiced "serious concerns" over the issue, InternetNews reports. However, PricewaterhouseCoopers has set up an informational Web site that Fay said should help U.S. and other non-EU e-commerce companies navigate the regulations.
SLATE TOPS 6 MILLION VISITORS IN MARCH
The oft-troubled online magazine Slate said Monday it had received a record 6 million unique viewers in March. The Redmond, Wash., company attributes its success in part to its coverage of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. According to Slate, the site attracted 1.7 million workplace viewers during the first full week of the war, a nearly 71 percent increase over the previous week. In total the number of unique viewers has jumped 94 percent from a year earlier, and the site has nearly doubled its online audience since March 2002 to a 4.5-percent audience reach. Nielsen/NetRatings reports March's results put the news provider in the top 15 Web news sites in the current events and global news category.
NEW ONLINE SERVICE MAKES WORKPLACE MUSIC EASIER
Online paid music subscription service MusicMatch has taken a step to make it easier for workplace surfers to listen to music. The company will provide a new online player that does not require software downloads, USAToday reports. The Internet-based player, available free at musicmatch.com/MX, bypasses the downloading requirement -- often prohibited by work computer systems. MusicMatch, formed in 1997 to help users manage their MP3 files, now has 33 million registered users. The jukebox software and offshoot MX are free, while subscribers pay $4.95 or $6.95 monthly to listen to the site's pre-programmed or personal radio stations, using either the new Internet player or existing software.
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