UCITA Passes? An Absolute Disaster

I just received an e-mail from the press office of Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, saying that UCITA, probably the most anti-consumer legislation in years in this nation, has passed and will become law in Virginia. It gives software and Internet companies the right to pretty much deny you all rights as a customer — and is a direct attack on open-source programming, among other things.

The magnitude of this disaster for consumers — and companies that do business with the software industry — is almost impossible to overstate. I’m depressed just thinking about it.

“Software Story Board” — A Solution to Bad Patents?

Jordan B. Pollack, professor of computer science at Brandeis University, has a fascinating proposal on how to deal with the abuse of the patent system by software and Internet companies.

The New Economy Captures the Old

Richard Li and his Pacific Century CyberWorks Ltd., a company with almost no customers but an ambitious business plan, won the bidding for Cable & Wireless HKT, the major Hong Kong telephone company. It’s the ultimate (so far) example of the new swallowing the old.

How could this happen? CyberWorks is the ultimate Internet stock play — a company that soars based on the idea that because it’s run by someone smart it must be worth mega-billions even without customers. This is nutty, folks, but it worked.

More in my Tuesday column.

America Online Pledges Open Access

America Online says it’ll open the cable data pipes it’s acquiring as part of the deal to buy Time Warner. AOL’s chief communications officer, Kathy Bushkin, sent me a copy of the “memorandum of understanding” between her company and Time Warner as proof.

The document is a good start, but it leaves some fairly large loopholes through which AOL may find ways to prevent the kind of open access it was demanding when it was on the outside looking in. I’m highly skeptical that AOL will give third-party Internet Service Providers the kind of access it gives itself. Let’s hope AOL proves my skepticism wrong.

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