Spam, antenna, and important court rulings

Spam, antenna, and important court rulings

By Richard Heller

In last week’s column I reported on programs to cut down on the amount of junk e-mail and pop-up ads that you get while surfing the web. I have since discovered a product from Cosmi ( that offers many of the same features but at a price of only $15.

“Perfect Spam Only Eliminator” works with Microsoft Outlook and includes a free copy of Eudora e-mail client. The program features customizable settings, address validation tools and block sender lists and will update itself from the Web. Also included is a file encryption program, an identity theft protection course, an ad blocker program and a credit repair kit.

While not actually a computer subject but may still be of interest to those of you with satellite TV, is a new product from Radio Shack ( Because Rockford does not receive the local TV stations off the satellite, you either have to subscribe to cable or install an antenna. There are antennas that fasten to the dish or mount on the roof, or there are always rabbit ears.

The problem with rabbit ears is that you have to get up and move them when you change channels. But now the Signal Finder antenna will move itself when you change the channel. This $40 device is programmed using your remote to remember the position of the antenna for up to 50 channels; from then on, the antenna will go back to where you programmed it for the best reception for that channel.

One of the most important developments concerning file sharing over the Internet happened on Friday. U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson’s decision, if it survives appeal, essentially absolves Grokster Ltd. and StreamCast Networks Inc. of liability for any illegal copying conducted by the services’ users. Grokster distributes file-sharing software by that name, and StreamCast distributes Morpheus.

In his ruling, Wilson cited the movie industry’s efforts to hold Sony liable for Betamax videocassette recorders that could be used to make illegal copies of copyright works. The Supreme Court in 1984 ruled that sale of copying equipment by itself did not constitute copyright infringement.

Unlike Napster, the pioneer file-sharing service ordered shut by the courts, hosted directories of users’ files on its servers. Grokster and StreamCast say they only provide software and technical assistance.

The ruling does not apply to a third and more popular service, Kazaa from Sharman Networks Ltd., because it did not join the request for a summary judgment.

The 34-page ruling was a major blow to recording companies and movie studios, which have been aggressively filing lawsuits and pushing new laws to stem the illegal copying and distribution of their copyright works.

Jack Valenti, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Wilson’s decision, but stressed that the public should not consider it a green light for piracy.

Hilary Rosen, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said, “Businesses that intentionally facilitate massive piracy should not be able to evade responsibility for their actions.”

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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