Friday, January 31, 2003

In this decision handed down on January 9, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the Securities Exchange Act implicitly repealed section 1 of the Sherman Act with respect to claims that U.S. stock exchanges and their members who acted as market makers conspired to restrict the listing and trading of particular options to one exchange at a time. In so holding, the Second Circuit rejected the position of the Justice Department, appearing as amicus, that implied repeal was not warranted because the challenged conduct violated both the Sherman Act and rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

CNET News reports that Verizon Communications has appealed the Jan. 21 decision by U.S. District Judge John Bates, who ruled that the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act requires Verizon to give the Recording Industry Association of America the name of a Kazaa subscriber who allegedly downloaded hundreds of music recordings. CNET News elsewhere reports that Microsoft has reached an agreement with the European Union to implement changes in its .Net Passport online authentication service, to prevent the service from running afoul of EU data protection laws. According to the story, the changes should give Passport users more control over how their personal data is shared with sites such as eBay.

As reported in this Department of Justice press release, the DOJ has entered into a settlement with the nation's two leading publishers of alternative news weeklies – NT Media, LLC (New Times) and Village Voice Media, LLC (Village Voice Media) – requiring the companies to terminate a market allocation agreement and to sell the assets of the alternative news weeklies that they agreed with one another to shut down in Cleveland and Los Angeles. The DOJ said that requiring the companies to sell these assets, as well as take other actions, is necessary to stop the companies from illegally allocating the markets for advertisers and readers in Cleveland and Los Angeles and to restore competition in those markets.

According to this story in the San Jose Mercury News, a study being released today by the University of California--Los Angeles reports that the Internet is rapidly emerging as a powerful information medium in its own right, significantly cutting into television viewing.

Newsday reports that the Senate approved the nomination of John Snow as Treasury Secretary last night after he gave assurances that he would review a proposed Treasury Department rule on pensions that opponents claim discriminates against older workers.

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, one of San Francisco's largest law firms, informed employees yesterday that it is closing its doors, a victim of the tech implosion. According to the article, Brobeck partners voted to wind down operations after merger negotiations collapsed Wednesday with Philadelphia law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.

"Brobeck will likely wind down its operation according to a process that will be defined in the next few days," said company spokesman John Pachtner, who blamed the economic downturn and the defection of key attorneys over the past eight months.

Monday, January 27, 2003

In an 8-1 decision released today, the Supreme Court held that the Federal Communications Commission improperly seized more than 200 wireless licenses from a bankrupt telecommunications company, NextWave Telecom Inc. NextWave won the licenses at a 1996 auction but filed for bankruptcy before paying for them. The majority opinion rejected arguments that the FCC had a valid regulatory interest in taking licenses from a company in reorganization proceedings. Dissenting, Justice Breyer argued that the majority's holding will make it more difficult for the government to collect debts than private businesses like car dealers and appliance companies.

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