Friday, June 27, 2003

The bible and the Qur'an

The Annunciation - in the Qur'an and the bible the angel Gabriel is gods announcer. Muhammad hears the revelations that, for Muslims is the word of god made book. In the bible, Gabriel tells the virgin Mary that she will give birth to Jesus, who, for the Christians, is the word of god made flesh.

Creation - Both the Qur'an and the bible tell the story of Adam and ever. But for Muslims as for Jews, their original sin of disobedience is not passed onto mankind, so they don’t require salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross - a central doctrine of Christianity.

The Ascension - In one story extrapolated from the Qur'an, the prophet Mohammad ascends to the throne of god, the model for the Sufis flight of the soul to god. In the bible, Jesus ascends to the father after he is resurrected from the dead. For Mohammad, it was inconceivable that Allah would allow one of his prophets to be executed as a criminal.

Peace And War - Mohammed was not only a prophet but a military commander who led Muslim armies into battle. Jesus on the other hand, refused to even defend himself against the roman soldiers who arrested him in the garden of Gethsemane after he was betrayed with a kiss by Judas, one of his own disciples. The difference helps explain the contrasting attitudes toward war and violence in the Qur'an and the new testament.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Music industry to hunt Web song swappers

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A recording-industry trade group says it plans to sue hundreds of individuals who illegally distribute copyrighted songs over the Internet, expanding its anti-piracy fight into millions of homes.

The Recording Industry Association of America said it hopes to curb online song-swapping by tracking down the heaviest users of popular "peer to peer" services like Kazaa and suing them for damages that could range up to $150,000 (89,890 pounds) per violation.

The announcement from the RIAA, whose members include AOL Time Warner and Sony, marks a sharp escalation in the industry's battle against Internet piracy, which so far has concentrated on shutting down the services themselves.

Peer-to-peer users now copy more than 2.6 billion songs, movies and other files from each others' computers each month, according to industry estimates. Executives believe such file trading has led to a 14 percent slide in revenues since pioneering service Napster was introduced in 1999.

The RIAA has shut down Napster and several other peer-to-peer networks, and has leaned on universities, businesses and other institutions to make sure their computers block such activity. It sued four college students who operated file-trading networks on campus, reaching settlements between $12,000 and $17,500 each.

But the industry has until now shied away from directly suing users, opting instead to send them online warnings and clutter up the networks with dummy files.

RIAA President Cary Sherman said on Wednesday the time was right to go after individual users because a recent U.S. court ruling makes it easier to track down copyright violators through their Internet providers. A U.S. appeals court in Washington said earlier this month that copyright investigators do not need a subpoena to force Internet providers to reveal the name of customers who may be distributing copyrighted files.

While peer-to-peer users may believe that they remain anonymous online, "you are engaging in an activity that is every bit as public as setting up a stall at a local flea market," Sherman said in a conference call.

Other music executives said legitimate services like Apple Computer 's iTunes are beginning to catch on and provide a viable alternative.

Starting on Thursday, investigators will track down users who make their digital-music collections available for copying, he said. Those who download songs but do not allow others to copy them will not initially be targeted.

The trade group will probably file several hundred lawsuits in six to eight weeks, Sherman said.

Music fans who wish to avoid legal action should change the settings on their peer-to-peer software to block access to their hard drives or un-install the software completely, he said.

Reaction to the announcement was mixed.

The president of the Grokster peer-to-peer network said that while he does not support copyright infringement, the move could further estrange avid music fans.

"The RIAA, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to not only alienate their own customers but attempt to drive them into bankruptcy through litigation," said Grokster President Wayne Rosso, who won a courtroom victory in April when a judge ruled that his network should not be shut down because it could not control what users chose to trade.

One copyright expert who has clashed with the RIAA in the past said she preferred that the industry go after big violators rather than relying on copy-protection technologies that could limit law-abiding citizens' rights.

"On a visceral level it doesn't sound like it's the smartest thing to do, but obviously they've done the cost-benefit analysis and they've decided they have to do it," said Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a nonprofit advocacy group.

RIAA members include AOL Time Warner, Vivendi Universal , Sony, Bertelsmann and EMI Group.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Spam e-mailers face legal battle

By Jim Christie

It's a daily ritual that almost everyone with an e-mail account performs: deleting "spam".

Offers for kinky sex, penis enlargement, bargain mortgage rates, pizza-only diets and scores of other dot come-ons are glutting e-mail accounts, eating up valuable time at work and home and turning people off to a breakthrough technology.

Now as online junk mail piles up -- an estimated 320 billion spam e-mails will be received in the United States this year, according to Jupiter Research -- a California lawmaker wants to allow those on the receiving end to sue spam senders.

Democratic State Sen. Debra Bowen from Redondo Beach near Los Angeles, has introduced a bill making it a crime to send unsolicited commercial e-mails to e-mail accounts in California, and allowing those receiving spam to sue for at least $500 (310 pounds) per violation.

"There was twice as much spam last year as the year before and the amount is spam is increasingly geometrically," Bowen told Reuters. "It's really turning the Internet into a tool of questionable value. I had someone write me to say, 'Spam is turning the Internet into an open sewer, and as the Romans discovered, open sewers are a bad thing.'"

"It's estimated U.S. businesses are spending $9 billion a year to deal with spam," Bowen added. "A quarter to a third of the e-mail being transmitted is spam."

A company with 100 employees could lose $250,000 a year in lost productivity as workers delete spam, and two-thirds of employees spend more than 10 minutes each day deleting junk e-mail, according to a survey by Web security provider Symantec Corp., said J.P. Gownder, a Yankee Group analyst.


A single state law against spam may not amount to much, analysts say. They note that Congress has been discussing anti-spam measures since 1997 with little agreement and a 1998 California law to curtail spam that Bowen wrote has had little effect, underscoring the difficulty of policing cyberspace.

Some 26 states already have anti-spam laws on the books.

Bowen's 1998 law requires senders of unsolicited e-mails to signal in subject headings they are sending advertising and to include toll-free telephone numbers so individuals may request their e-mail addresses be dropped from mailing lists. Local and state prosecutors may seek misdemeanour criminal charges and a $1,000 fine if companies ignore the requirements.

Her first law has been largely ignored and only one case based on it has been brought. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer in September used it to sue a marketing company in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The case is pending.

Analysts say network and computer servers, not courtrooms, will be the front-lines for combating spam.

"I don't believe spam will be stopped through legislation," said Jared Blank, an analyst with Jupiter Research. "It will take technology to stem the tide of spam."

However, Internet marketers are taking a stand against technology proving too aggressive in screening e-mail.

A group of marketers on Tuesday launched an online forum for airing grievances about so-called spam filters. The E-mail Service Providers Coalition hopes individuals will report missing and legitimate e-mail caught in so-called "spam traps".

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