Netwatch

News, Culture, Controversy on the Internet

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Where Is Wired ?

In its editorial pages, glossy, brash Wired magazine takes the position that information wants to be free. It runs articles arguing that Gutenberg-era concepts like copyrights and patents can't be adapted to something as fleeting as digital expression. But Wired is a lot less freewheeling about its own intellectual property: it has bullied smaller publications into dropping the word wired as the name of a column. Now the newsletter Information Law Alert reports that Wired once tried to trademark (the symbol universally used on the Internet to separate a user's name from his domain) as the magazine's logo. "We see no inconsistency between the editorial and business practices of Wired," says editor Louis Rossetto (http://wired.com) Besides, he adds, Wired lost all interest in the "at sign" when it was adopted by the online service of the fuddy-duddy New York Times.

Crackdown at Carnegie Mellon

For years universities have turned a blind eye to the Internet traffic passing through their computer systems -- including the sexually explicit words and pictures in such USENET newsgroups as alt.sex and rec.arts.erotica. Those days may be over, at least at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. According to a new policy scheduled to go into effect this week, C.M.U. will no longer distribute dozens of sexually oriented bulletin boards -- even those that are primarily discussion groups. Experts in constitutional law say C.M.U.'s new policy may be ill advised. "The idea that you can't discuss sex in a university is absurd," says Mike Godwin, staff counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Have they given any thought to the copies of Henry Miller in the university library?"

Scooped by the Strikers

The day after 2,600 employees walked out of San Francisco's two daily newspapers -- the Chronicle and the Examiner -- management tried to get around the picket lines by publishing the news on the Internet. But the strikers put out their own electronic tabloid -- complete with columnists Herb Caen and Jon Carroll -- and were the first to report that Dianne Feinstein may have once employed an illegal alien as a housekeeper.