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Monday, June 19, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Technology Briefs

Alaska senator offers compromise on Net neutrality

U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens has offered a compromise in the fierce fight over legislation on Internet network neutrality but stopped short of demands sought by content companies.

Google, Microsoft and other Internet companies have lobbied hard for Congress to bar broadband Internet service providers such as AT&T and Comcast from charging them to guarantee access and service quality, often called network neutrality.

AT&T and Comcast, two of the largest high-speed broadband Internet providers, have opposed any obligations imposed on their services or restricting their business operations.

Stevens has added a new section to his proposed bill aimed at preserving consumers' ability to surf anywhere on the public Internet and use any Web-based application, according to the latest draft.

However, the draft by the Alaska Republican does not include a ban on pricing content companies have demanded.

The Senate committee is scheduled to consider amendments and vote on the measure Thursday.

Counterfeit goods

U.S., EU to launch fight against fakes

The European Union and the U.S. plan to jointly tackle the traffic of fake luxury items, pirated music and counterfeit medicines with a deal set to be signed Tuesday that aims to help improve intellectual-property rights in countries such as China and Russia.

The 25-nation bloc plans to work with the U.S. to train customs officials, exchange information and send anti-piracy experts to countries where counterfeiting is rife. The EU warns that countries that tolerate counterfeit goods could lose out on foreign investment and trade.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and EU industry chief Guenter Verheugen plan to sign the anti-piracy strategy Tuesday. President Bush and European leaders are to give it their backing Wednesday at an EU-U.S. summit in Vienna, Austria.

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Initial efforts will focus on working with China and Russia, the EU said, but the plan also includes other countries in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

FCC

Vote postponed on TV multicasting

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin withdrew plans Sunday for voting this week on a proposal that would have required U.S. cable operators to carry extra digital channels that television broadcasters plan to air.

As over-the-air television broadcasters switch to digital airwaves, they will be able to offer additional channels, known as multicasting.

So far, the FCC has only allowed a broadcaster to force cable companies to carry its primary signal.

Martin had proposed cable operators like Comcast be required to carry the multicast channels.

He had scheduled for the five FCC commissioners to vote on it Wednesday at the agency's monthly open meeting.

It appeared he was unable to win the vote of the third Republican commissioner, Robert McDowell, to approve the proposal.

The two Democrats on the FCC, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, have previously demanded the agency first consider the public-interest obligations of broadcasters with these new channels before considering multicasting must-carry.

Goldman Sachs

Board elects new top managers

Goldman Sachs said it elected Jon Winkelried and Gary Cohn as presidents and co-chief operating officers, as the Wall Street bank shuffles its top ranks after its chairman and chief executive was picked to run the U.S. Treasury Department.

Goldman also said it elected as vice chairman John Weinberg, an investment bank co-head thought to be in line for the co-president, co-COO role.

Earlier this month, Goldman said it would name Lloyd Blankfein its chairman and CEO should current chief Henry "Hank" Paulson's nomination as U.S. Treasury Secretary be confirmed by Congress.

eBay

200 million users now registered

eBay has now registered 200 million users of its online-auction services, which would make it the fifth-largest country in the world if its members could form one nation, CEO Meg Whitman said.

The figures exclude other eBay properties such as Rent.com, Shopping.com, and its online-classified-advertising Web sites.

Compiled from Reuters and The Associated Press

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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