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With an objective of promoting Nepali software and exploring markets for knowledge-based industry, the first national software expo began here at United World Trade Centre (UWTC) today.

The four-day long event named – CAN Softech-2007 is being organised by Computer Association of Nepal (CAN) for the first time in the country and will last till May 5.

Inaugurating the event, Mahantha Thakur, minister for environment, science and technology, reiterated the government’s support for the development of information and communication technology (ICT).

“ICT has always been a priority sector,” he said, adding that the government would soon unveil new projects for ICT.
Thakur further said that policies to attract foreign investment in ICT and to create a conducive environment would be soon formulated.

“Nepal holds a huge potential in ICT, particularly software development, BPO and outsourcing,” said Ashank Desai, president of Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation (ASOCIO). “The government’s support is crucial at the initial stage for the development of any sector,” he added. The event is featuring Nepal’s latest development in software, BPO, computer solutions and other related industries.

The expo would give exposure to the Nepali software developers and industry people to the international arena and will be beneficial for them in exploring markets outside the country, said Biplav Man Singh, president of CAN. “It will also serve as a platform to highlight Nepal’s strength in software development, BPO and IT solutions.”

About 60 different companies, including four from India, three from South Korea and one from Sri Lanka are showcasing their products and services through 77 stalls during the CAN Softech-2007.

According to CAN, the event is expected to attract about 30,000 quality visitors. Two separate halls have been arranged for demonstration of the products and services. Business meeting room, telephone and internet facilities in each stall are some of the features of the event, which will facilitate both the exhibitors and customers to experience a real virtual world.
An IT conference on ‘middle level management of IT companies’ is being organised tomorrow, which will feature keynote speakers from India and South Korea. The event would be a platform for Nepali companies and software developers to interact with their ounterparts from the region,” said Rajan Panta, general secretary at the CAN.

Meanwhile, a two-day long plenary meeting of ASOCIO concluded here today. ASOCIO is an organisation formed by leading ICT organisations of 26 countries in Asia and the Pacific region. A delegation of over 40 representatives of ASOCIO attended the meeting and discussed about FDI in ICT, software exports and efforts for the market exploration among the member countries.

The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post are the official media partners for the event.

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Responding to Viacom’s $1 billion copyright infringement suit over video clips on YouTube, Google says it will not back off, declaring that the law is on its side.”We are not going to let this lawsuit distract us,” Michael Kwun, managing counsel for litigation at Google, told reporters Monday.

In its response to the lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Google said Viacom’s allegations were unfounded and asked for a judgment dismissing the complaint.

In March, Viacom, the parent company of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, sued Google and YouTube, the video sharing site that Google acquired last year, saying they were deliberately building a business on a library of copyrighted video clips without permission.

Earlier this year, Viacom had asked YouTube to take down 100,000 clips that it said infringed on its copyrights.

Google’s court filing gives few new details of its legal thinking, which relies heavily on the so-called “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, enacted in 1998. Those provisions generally hold that Web site owners are not liable for copyright material uploaded by others to their site as long as they promptly remove the material when asked to do so by the copyright owner.

The 1998 law “balances the rights of copyright holders and the need to protect the Internet as an important new form of communication,” Google said in its filing.

“By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom’s complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression.”

Viacom said Google’s response misses the mark.

“This response ignores the most important fact of the suit, which is that YouTube does not qualify for safe harbor protection under the DMCA,” Viacom said in a statement. “It is obvious that YouTube has knowledge of infringing material on their site, and they are profiting from it.”

Kwun, the Google lawyer, said there had been no talks between Google and Viacom to discuss a settlement. “We feel pretty confident about the case and are ready to take it to court,” he added.

In the suit, Viacom had complained that it was unfairly forced to devote significant resources to police YouTube. “Every day we have to scour the entirety of what is available on YouTube, so we have to look for our stuff,” Philippe Dauman, Viacom’s chief executive, said in an interview earlier this year.

In recent weeks, Google’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, has said the company will soon unveil new tools that will make it easier for copyright owners to spot their content on YouTube. Schmidt had said that those tools, to be called Claim Your Content, will make Viacom’s complaint moot.

But Kwun said Monday that Google was not compelled by law to develop those tools or to make them available to content owners.

The first case management conference, at which the judge may set an initial timeline for the trial, is scheduled for July 27, Kwun said.

Google has asked for a jury trial.

NEW YORK — Yahoo, the Web brand that’s a distant No. 2 behind Google in search market share and search ad revenue, will try to click better with consumers with a new message: Be a better — (whatever you want to be).

“We’ll let our customers fill in the blank,” says Allen Olivo, vice president, global brand marketing. The idea? “Whatever they want to be, Yahoo’s tools and services allows them to be better.”

In the case of Yahoo, its search engine needs to be a better money engine. Yahoo’s first-quarter ad revenue was $1.6 billion, less than half of Google’s $3.8 billion in the same period. Yahoo’s share of search requests in the quarter remained flat at about 28%, while Google’s rose slightly to 48%, according to Internet tracker ComScore.

Yahoo will blast the campaign all over the Web — on Yahoo-related and other sites — and use traditional media outlets as well, including prime-time TV, radio and print. The offbeat ads promote two of its latest services: Yahoo oneSearch mobile search service introduced in January and Yahoo Answers, introduced a year ago. The services are designed to make Yahoo more competitive not only with Google but also with other popular sites, such as Wikipedia.

One TV ad, for instance, shows how Yahoo can help two friends be better explorers.

In the first part of the ad, a hiker is eaten alive by a red flower that is not identified in their guidebook.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Google | Yahoo | TV ad | Yahoo services

In the second part of the ad, one hiker is equipped with Yahoo’s mobile oneSearch, and he learns that the flower is a “crimson man-eater” and a “potent herbal enhancer” that causes the first hiker’s hair to grow great lengths.

Some of the marketing will try to demonstrate Yahoo services. The TV ad, for instance, will be available online where users can click on their favorite clips and create a new commercial.

Yahoo hopes that the marketing attracts more users to draw in more advertisers. “If from a brand-marketing standpoint we are creating more value and more choice for our users, we are also creating a more engaged audience for our advertisers,” Olivo says.

But will more ad spending bring in more ad revenue? Yahoo hopes so. It traditionally spends a lot more on advertising and marketing than its bigger rival in the race for ad dollars. Last year Yahoo outspent Google by 72%, $353 million in advertising vs. Google’s $205 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

“More engaged consumers also tend to have more interest and give more permission to be introduced to our next generation of products such as Yahoo oneSearch,” says Nick Chavez, senior director of brand advertising. “And through word of mouth they are more likely to share their experience with those products.”

Two of the industry’s best-known end-user monitoring tool vendors — Websense and SurfControl — proposed a merger yesterday, putting an end to a storied rivalry and raising some questions about the future of the SurfControl line.

Websense (nasdaq: WBSN news people ) said that its subsidiary, Websense SC Operations, has made a pre-conditional cash offer to acquire all shares of SurfControl, which makes on-demand Web and email security products. The deal is worth approximately $400 million.

The deal will let the two former rivals combine resources to compete with larger security software vendors, according to Gene Hodges, CEO of Websense. Websense, which makes software that detects spyware, phishing, and other malware, has leapfrogged SurfControl in recent years to become the market’s biggest seller of Web filtering and end-user monitoring tools. It supports approximately 25 million PCs worldwide.

SurfControl, which was one of the first “parental control” tools for filtering unauthorized content from end users, now has some 16 million customers. While it has competed head-to-head with Websense for more than a decade, it has also developed some capabilities that Websense doesn’t have, including an email filtering product and an on-demand filtering and security service called BlackSpider.

“Websense was the better product,” says Rob Enderle, president of the Enderle Group, an IT consultancy. “SurfControl provided adequate coverage for a lot less money and was likely forcing Websense to drop prices. My sense is that, assuming they just don’t do the Oracle/PeopleSoft thing and shut SurfControl down, they will position the SurfControl line as an entry level, value-based offering and Websense as their premium product.”

“This looks more like a ‘pooling of assets’ type of acquisition than a ‘we can do great things with this technology’ type of acquisition,” says Eric Ogren, principal analyst and founder of the Ogren Group, which specializes in consulting services for security vendors. “It perhaps signals the incorporation of email security into a broader application security portfolio, as evidenced by Cisco/IronPort and Secure Computing/CipherTrust purchases.”

Hodges positioned SurfControl as a means of expanding Websense’s prospects in the small- and medium-sized business market, and analysts said they expect the combined software company to continue to sell SurfControl as an entry-level product, then upsell the Websense line to companies that need more sophisticated content filtering tools.

“After the transaction closes, we are committed to supporting SurfControl’s and Websense’s customers and channel partners,” Hodges said. “We plan to introduce a customer satisfaction and retention program and pledge to support SurfControl’s layered software Web security solutions at least through 2010. We plan to enhance these products with data from the merged research databases of the two companies. We also plan to renew existing SurfControl subscriptions at competitive levels, similar to their historical prices.”

The merger shortens the list of content filtering choices for users, and perhaps opens the door for competitors, analysts say. “If the SurfControl customers get the sense that their product will be crippled over time — or worse, discontinued — they will treat Websense like they did CA (nyse: CA news people ) in the ’90s and move to another vendor,” Enderle says. “And this does seem rather likely.”

Websense and SurfControl have very different corporate cultures, which could create problems, Ogren says. “It is very very difficult to integrate acquired organizations, and in this case, Websense and SurfControl are literally oceans apart,” he notes, referring to Websense’s U.K. headquarters. “Retaining star contributors and incenting the teams will be a challenge and a half.”

The transaction, which has been approved unanimously by the boards of both companies, is expected to close approximately four months following regulatory approval by U.S. and U.K. agencies.

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, said on Monday it plans to offer a streaming video service that stores and hosts video for its new Silverlight online media platform.

Silverlight, which is now available for download in a test version, is a rival to Adobe Systems Inc.’s dominant Flash player and a new application to deliver video, games and animation through a Web browser.

Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live is one of the first applications announced by Microsoft to take advantage of the company’s heavy investments in building a data center infrastructure backbone for its Web services.

The company said it will store and host up to 4 gigabytes of video for Web developers.

“You should consider this as a sign of things to come in terms of our software and services platform,” said Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, in a keynote speech at its MIX 07 conference for Web developers and designers.

Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in building a network of massive data centers filled with computer servers, data storage and network systems to provide the company with the computing power needed to compete with leading Web services provider Google Inc.

The company’s “software plus services” strategy aims to bring a host of new Web services — some supported by subscriptions and others provided for free with advertising — without compromising its cash cow desktop software business.

The company further announced it will begin on Monday shipping Microsoft Expression Studio, a suite of graphic design and animation tool software that allows designers to create applications for both the Web and Windows operating system.

Source: reuters.com

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Belgian French-language newspapers were back on Google on Thursday after agreeing that the search engine can link to their Web sites, the first signs of a thaw in a bitter copyright dispute.

But neither has so far settled on a key part of the dispute: the use of newspaper story links used on Google News.

In February, Google Inc. lost a lawsuit filed by the newspapers that forced it to remove headlines and links to news stories posted on its Google News service and stored in its search engine’s cache without the copyright owners’ permission.

Google had earlier removed all reference to the newspapers to avoid legal trouble, meaning that a search for even the name of Belgian daily “Le Soir” would not bring up the publication’s Web site.

But searchers will now find that paper and 16 others — although they will not be able to access stored versions of older content that the newspapers want to charge for. It is similar to the system used by The New York Times and others for premium content that marks stories with a “no archive” tag so it won’t be cached.

In a joint statement, Google and the newspapers’ copyright group Copiepresse said they had decided that Google could once again list the newspapers on the search engine.

But they made no mention of one of the main parts of their dispute, Google News, merely saying they were still in talks.

“The Belgian French and German-language daily press publishers and Google Inc. intend to use a quiet period in the court dispute to continue their efforts to identify tangible ways to collaborate in the long term,” they said.

The Brussels Court of First Instance ruled this spring that Mountain View, Calif.-based Google could not call on exemptions, such as claiming “fair use” because it says Google News reviews press articles when it displays headlines, a few lines of text, photos and links to the original page.

The company behind the world’s most-used search engine is still appealing that ruling to clarify what it covers. It claims its Google News service is “entirely legal.”

Google says the court has still had not settled the question of what the ruling covers, claiming it only applied to Google News Belgium and google.be. The company says it has been in compliance since September.

It was unclear if Google would have to pay retroactive daily fines of 25,000 euros (more than $32,000) for each day it did not comply — and what date any fines should start from.

Copiepresse first cried foul in February 2006, a month after Google launched a Belgian version of Google News displaying content from local newspapers found by its search engine.

The group was also negotiating similar copyright issues with Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOOnews) and Microsoft Corp.’s MSN.

GENEVA — The U.S. has failed to change its ban on Internet betting to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling that said the legislation unfairly targets offshore casinos, the global trade body said Friday.The ruling opens the door to possible commercial sanctions against the U.S.

In a 215-page decision, a three-member WTO compliance panel sided with the twin Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which has argued that Internet gambling is a lucrative source of revenue and provides an income for hundreds of islanders.

The Geneva-based trade referee has said Washington can maintain restrictions on online gambling, as long as its laws are equally applied to American operators offering remote betting on horse racing.

Shares in London-listed gaming stocks rose after the announcement. Leisure & Gaming PLC closed up 11 percent at 19.75 pence (38.9 cents), while PartyGaming PLC rose 4.5 percent to 52.25 pence ($1.02), after initially surging by 16 percent. 888 Holdings PLC climbed 3 percent to 124.75 pence ($2.46).

“It vindicates all that we have been saying for years about the discriminatory trade practices of the United States in this area, and we look forward to the United States opening its markets,” Antiguan Finance Minister Errol Cort said in a statement.

Washington claimed victory in the WTO’s initial ruling two years ago because the body recognized its right to prevent offshore betting as a means of protecting public order and public morals. But the U.S. acknowledged Friday that the latest decision was a setback.

“The compliance panel did not agree with the United States that we had taken the necessary steps to comply with the WTO recommendations,” said Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. She added, however, that “nothing in the panel’s report undermines the broad, favorable results that the United States obtained from the WTO in April 2005.”

Washington still has yet to say if it will appeal the compliance panel’s findings. A final ruling upholding Antigua’s claims would allow the twin-island nation to seek trade sanctions on the United States for its failure to comply.

To avoid the penalties, the U.S. government would then have to either permit Americans to gamble over foreign-based sites or eliminate exceptions for off-track betting on horses, including over the Internet, as permitted under the 1978 Interstate Horseracing Act.

Nevertheless, it appears unlikely that the U.S. will ease access to companies with servers licensed in the nation of 80,000 people — whose legal efforts were largely bankrolled by British-owned Internet gambling operators.

The U.S. Congress caught the industry by surprise last year when it added a provision to a bill aimed at improving port security that would make it illegal for banks and credit card companies to settle payments to online gambling sites. President George Bush signed it into law on Oct. 14.

The decision closed off the most lucrative region in a market worth $15.5 billion last year. Several British-based Internet gaming companies and a handful in Europe and Australia subsequently sold off or shut down their U.S. operations, losing around 80 percent of their combined business in the process.

The arrest last year of two British Internet gambling executives while traveling through the United States also highlighted the U.S. government’s escalation in its battle against the industry.

Peter Dicks, the former chairman of Sportingbet, was detained in New York but released after former New York Gov. George Pataki declined to sign a warrant extraditing him to Louisiana, where he was wanted on charges of illegal online gambling. Former BetOnSports PLC Chief Executive Officer David Carruthers remains under house arrest in the St. Louis area awaiting trial on federal charges from the U.S. attorney’s office based on the 1961 Wire Act.

On Friday, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said BetOnSports founder Stephen Kaplan was arrested late Wednesday in the Dominican Republic. Kaplan is named in a 22-count criminal case as the company’s top official.

Antigua filed its case in 2003, contending that U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling violated trade commitments the United States made as a member of the WTO. U.S. trade officials disagreed, saying that negotiators involved in the Uruguay Round of global trade talks clearly intended to exclude gambling.

Antiguan authorities also argued that restrictions barring U.S. residents from betting at offshore casinos were harming efforts to diversify its economy. Antigua, a former British colony in the Caribbean, had been promoting electronic commerce as a way to end the country’s reliance on tourism, which was hurt by a series of hurricanes in the late 1990s.

There are 32 licensed online casinos in Antigua, employing 1,000 people and generating yearly revenue of around $130 million. Seven years ago, its casinos had annual income closer to $1 billion.

Antigua is the smallest country to successfully litigate a case in the WTO’s 12-year history.