At an eBay convention in Las Vegas this week, the company announced that from Monday 19 June sellers of certain types of items will be able to add a “Skype Me” link allowing potential buyers to contact them through the VoIP service. This launch has been expected since eBay spent US$2.6 billion to purchase Skype.

The service will be available for 14 categories of (high-value) items, including real estate, cars and trucks, silver coins, and beds.

Are Internet telephony companies a good investment? Perhaps not–or perhaps just not yet.

Atlanta-based law firm Motley Rice has filed a class action against Vonage, on behalf of shareholders who bought stock in the Internet telephony provider prior to its intial public offering on 24 May, and have already lost a great deal on their investment. Filed on Friday 2 June in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, the suit alleges that investors were mislead by the company, its officers, and certain underwriters of the IPO, when they were offered shares in the company. (more…)

A few interesting developments on a number of fronts:

The Register has a story panning the trial judge’s decision in the Apple trade secrets vs blogging case. According to the story, “Judge Rushing cites Wikipedia as a source, a mistake which earns students an ‘F’ grade today. He talks about the need to disregard economics and sociology in favor of a ‘memetic marketplace’ – whatever that is – and allows himself some flights of technological rapture.”

ArsTechnica has an interview with the CEO of eMusic. You may not have heard of eMusic, but it is currently the number 2 seller of downloadable music, behind only Apple’s iTunes Music Store. And the interesting part: eMusic does not use DRM. (And its songs cost only about 25c each, from what I can see on its website). I wonder how Napster can complain about this one?

Finally, an interesting post claims that a newly-created lobby group for net neutrality is just a shill for telcos. And according to SourceWatch (run by the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy) the primary funder of the group is … AT&T.

At lightning speed, following on a 4 April announcement, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, has introduced Do Not Call Register legislation.

Unfortunately for small businesses, they are prohibited under the proposed legislation from joining the register. Only private individuals will be able to sign up to the Register, which will make it illegal for telemarketers to solicit them. There will be no charge for individuals wishing to be listed on the Register. Small businesses, including those run by individuals from their homes, will not be eligible. (more…)


Yochai Benkler has followed a trend set by such people as Larry Lessig and Michael Geist, and made his new book, The Wealth of Networks, available under a Creative Commons License. He’s gone further than Lessig or Geist, I think, and has put the ideas in the book – which are all about commons-based and cooperative production – to the test in the real world. It will be of interest to anyone who thinks the whole concept of the Commons, Creative Commons, and ‘social production’ are interesting. Comments on this method of publication, and the book itself, over the fold. (more…)

Australian Minister of Communications Helen Coonan today announced the formation of a National Do Not Call Register. The Register, which is due to be up and running by early 2007, will allow individuals and small businesses to opt out of receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls. There will be no cost for listing in the Register.

Enforcement of the Register, which will apply to all telemarketers operating in Australia (and overseas telemarketers representing Australian companies), will include warnings, fines, formal directions, and financial penalties. The Register will not apply to organisations that may have public interest objectives (ie, charity groups and persons undertaking social research), nor to companies with an existing commercial relationship with the individual or small business.

The cost of setting up the Register is estimated to be A$33 million, with the Government providing A$17.2 million, and the remainder to be provided by industry.

…the OECD has just held a major conference on the Future of the Digital Economy. Michael Geist, who attended, has a summary of the ‘big themes: the battle over DRM, and network neutrality.

This edition of “What is..?” considers VoIP, otherwise known as Internet telephony or IP telephony. VoIP, which stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol”, refers to the transmission of voice telephone calls over the Internet or any other IP-based network. VoIP systems use packet-switched networks to route and transmit voice calls, rather than the circuit-switching systems used by “traditional” voice telecommunications services.

This article provides an introduction to VoIP, including how it differs from traditional telephony services, and considers some of the regulatory issues raised by providing voice telephony over the Internet. While today VoIP might appear to be a niche product, it is in fact threatening to change the structure of the telephony industry, and is evidence of convergence between the Internet and telecommunications. (more…)

Ah, the government submission process. Having finally completed my submission on the inquiry into TPM exceptions being run by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, now I can’t publish it until they decide to publish it. Shame really. I’ll put up a link as soon as it happens…

Oh well, in the meantime, if you’re starved for my views (as if!) there is the submission I made on the Attorney-General’s review of the availability of Safe Harbours under Part V Div 2AA of the Copyright Act. (more…)

United States wireless telco Sprint Nextel has filed a suit in Kansas federal court against Vonage , Voiceglo Holdings, and (Voiceglo’s parent), claiming infringement of seven Sprint patents relating to voice over data packet technology, including VoIP. Injuctions against Vonage and Voiceglo, as well as unspecified damages, are being sought.

Vonage and Voiceglo are big business. Vonage is the largest United States independent VoIP service, with over 1 million subscribers, and is thought to be preparing for an IPO. Its service is designed to replace traditional telephones. Voiceglo offers a computer-based system that allows voice calls between computers or from computers to traditional phones, adopting a similar business model to Skype. (more…)

Since online auctioneer eBay agreed to purchase Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider Skype Technologies for $2.6 billion in cash plus eBay stock, industry analysts have been wondering why. Skype, which allows Internet users wth broadband connections to talk from computer-to-computer anywhere in the world for free, and from computer-to-phone at a deep discount from any rates offered by traditional telecommunications companies, is an example of how VoIP, also called IP telephony or Internet telephony, is revolutionising the telecommunications industry. The focus in the news has been on why an online auctioneer would want to pay this much for a telephony company. Equally interesting are the questions for regulatory policy. (more…)

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