June 19, 2000-- Newsletter #85

By Joe Burns

June 19, 2000--Newsletter #85
Please visit http://www.htmlgoodies.com

Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warrior,

With all the talk about computer viruses, I thought I'd pass along an urban myth (this is untrue) that's been going around the Web. The e-mail arrives claiming 16 people have died after opening packages from the Klingerman Foundation. The package comes through the U.S. mail and contains a sponge soaked with this new and very volatile virus.

It's not true, and according to the page at HealthCentral.com, you'd about have to eat the sponge to get sick from a virus. I just wanted you to know so when the e-mail arrives in your box, you'll be less likely to "pass this one to five of your closest friends." The people you're not closest to can just get the virus, I guess. ;->

Did you hear...

**Julia Roberts has been cybersquatted! She's none too happy about it either. I wrote a newsletter about people buying domains in the hopes that others would buy them back. One of the questions I posted was if I could demand joeburns.com be given to me because my name is part of a business entity. Apparently I can -- Julia did. She sued Russell Boyd of New Jersey and got back juliaroberts.com. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ruled that Boyd had bought the name in bad faith and had no personal interest in it.

**Pennsylvania says Internet crime is real crime. If you spread a virus in or from Pennsylvania you get seven years in jail, a $15,000 fine, and have to pay for the damage you caused. Governor Tom Ridge signed the bill into law at the end of May.

**Have you looked into DSL yet? I have and will be hooked up around the time you read this letter. Basically, DSL is high- speed Internet access through normal phone lines. The kick is that the high-speed access comes in on a different frequency than the frequencies you use to make a phone call, so you can use the same line to surf and talk at the same time.

CNN.com had a story about how many people are very upset about DSL service. The phone companies simply do not have a staff large enough to service all the orders and complaints they get. In fact, when I tried to sign up through the phone company they refused to come out and set it up. The said they were waving the installation fee. No they weren't. They were waving the installation altogether. My point is, keep calling around to different places--like your ISPs--if the phone company cannot provide service. I found a company that will come to my house, set the whole thing up, install the cards, network three computers, and provide service plus a dial-up account if the DSL goes down. The installation costs a bit more, but after that it's only ten dollars more a month with this company than through the phone company (actually, they buy it through the phone company--I just get them to set up the service). It's worth the extra money to me to talk to a human rather than wait on hold for the phone company if something goes wrong.

**The Microsoft offices in Johannesburg, South Africa were bombed two weeks ago. The blast caused little damage and no one was hurt, but that's still pretty darn scary.

Now onto today's topic...

Do you understand the rash of "reality-based" programming that's hitting the TV airwaves lately? Fox is showing us literally every element of human pain caught on videotape, from cars hitting people to polar bears munching on tourists who get too close.

The latest is a show called "Survivor," where CBS dropped a bunch of people on an island and basically allows them to fight over who stays and who goes. I find it funny that there's a full camera crew on the island with them. The castaways may be dining on rats and fish, but that crew sure isn't. Those people are union. I'll bet that the survivors nibble on bones while the crew is eating Papa John's pizza.

Now, as I roll back around to my topic, I want to ask you where all of this started. One quick answer that pops to mind may be the "Real World" TV show on MTV. I dare say it isn't. Might it be ... Internet porn?

Uh, maybe.

I bring up the topic because of a lawsuit that the Internet Entertainment Group (IEG) has brought against CBS, the same people that brought you "Survivor."

Here's the basic concept. IEG put 50 cameras into a house in Florida. The cameras were meant to capture the doings of 6 female college students. Users would pay $34 a month in return for full access to everything the women were doing. As you can probably imagine, the shower and bedroom cams were quite popular. In short, there wasn't much wholesomeness in the broadcast. The site was titled "Voyeur Dorm." In return for living under the camera, the women received free tuition. What a deal.

Well! The people at Infinity Broadcasting Corp. (that's CBS) contacted IEG and asked about using the same format to set up a program for one of Infinity's radio stations, in Tampa, Fla. The show was to be titled "DJDorm." Yes, I know radio is audio only--remember that this is an Internet deal. You would have gone to the station's Web site to see the video.

Now the problems begin. CBS has green lighted a TV show concept called "Big Brother" following the same format as the "Voyeur Dorm"--without the bathroom cams, I would guess. A Dutch company, Endemol Entertainment Holding NV, got paid over $20 million by CBS to set up the technical side of things.

IEG said that was not right because CBS was using the information they learned from IEG to help the Dutch company put it all together. The lawsuit claims CBS is basically bilking IEG out of a whole lot of money.

IEG claims CBS received "marketing strategies and techniques for driving Internet traffic, patterns of use, unique knowledge of Internet video technology, and user demographics". User demographics? Are you kidding me? This is "Voyeur Dorm!" Do you think it might lean a little towards men?

Why would CBS do this? Let me throw one more monkey wrench into the equation. In July of 1999, the Variance Review Board in Tampa, Fla., where the Voyeur Dorm house is located, restructured the property's category. No longer is the house a dwelling, it's now listed in the same category as a strip club and requires an adult occupational license to continue. Of course IEG bought the license. This thing is a moneymaker. Pay the fee and keep broadcasting.

I offer the second piece of information because I wonder if CBS caught wind of the ruling and, all of a sudden, wanted to disassociate themselves from IEG, but still wanted the show.

I don't know that CBS would do well with many parents if those parents knew that the show their children were sitting down to watch was developed in conjunction with an Internet strip club.

When would you run the CBS/internet strip club show? I would think after "Touched by an Angel" wouldn't be the best time slot.

I've said it before, and I'll say it here again: The Internet pornography industry is not as hated as people might think. The industry is one of very few that's making serious money on the Web. As such, they have the research and development money to create new methods of delivering content. The remainder of the Web covets those delivery systems. Television stations want to deliver video over the Web. The research into delivery is done where the money is, and that's you-know-where.

I don't know that CBS dropped the relationship with IEG because they are a company that delivers pornography, but I'll bet that's a defense IEG will bring up in court. CBS wanted the information and technology but didn't want to be associated with the place where they got it.

If nothing else, the lawsuit will raise questions about not only technology, but clean versus unclean technology.

Soon it may not only be that you got the technology, but also where you got it.


That's that. Thanks for reading.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: I used the term 'monkey wrench' above. Many people think the name has something to do with actual monkeys. Not so. The name came from a purposeful misspelling of the inventor's name, Charles Moncky.

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