Friday, August 31, 2007

ICASA guns for unlicensed WISPs

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) has vowed to crack down on wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) that operate without a licence or allocated spectrum.

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Mobile subscriber registration almost law

The National Assembly yesterday passed amendments to the monitoring of communications law.The amendments mandate cellular operators to register all prepaid customers within one year and that all visitors must register their cellphones. SA's estimated 38 million cellphone subscribers largely consist of prepaid users.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Disloyal Employees?

The Shadow may know, but some courts couldn't care less. Employers increasingly use the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to seek redress against former employees that pilfered company data. Courts have split, however, on whether a former employee's improper use of company information is enough to make out a CFAA claim. As we have previously reported, several courts have held that an employee who accessed information for an improper purpose -- such as his personal benefit or that of his employer's competitor -- acted "without authorization" or "exceed[ed his] authorized access" within the meaning of the Act. But a few courts have gone the other way. Most recently, a federal court in Pennsylvania ruled in Brett Senior & Associates v. Fitzgerald that a former employee's allegedly unauthorized use of client files did not establish that the employee exceeded his authorized access when he took the files.

© Copyright 2007 Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Friday, August 10, 2007

German Court Rules that Skype Violated Open Source License

Open source software (OSS) is big right now. Part of what makes OSS so attractive is its licensing structure. OSS licenses require that software source code (i.e., the version that can be read and changed by human programmers) must be made publicly available, and most OSS licenses -- including the most popular, known as the GNU General Public License (GPL) -- require anyone who distributes a program based on OSS must likewise make their changes publicly available. Many companies have discovered that using OSS code in their products makes good business sense. But using OSS software in a commercial product can also create legal complications. A case in point is a German court ruling (see case summary) that distribution of an OSS mobile phone using the Skype software without a copy of the GPL or source code violated the license's terms.

© Copyright 2007 Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Friday, August 03, 2007

Amendments – Notices required

In the first U.S. appellate court decision to address the issue, the Ninth Circuit has ruled that a provider of long distance phone service may not change the terms of its service contract "by merely posting a revised contract on its website." Since the provider did not show that it had given the subscriber any notice other than the posting, the Ninth Circuit struck down a lower court's order to compel arbitration based on a clause of the modified contract. The court's ruling sets an important precedent, and highlights the importance of giving subscribers clear and prompt notice of all contractual revisions.

© Copyright 2007 Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Steptoe & Johnson LLP