THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
Skype sued over peer-to-peer technology
StreamCast Networks claims Skype is using its peer-to-peer technology. Plus: Satellite photos show an iPod-like structure in western Australia. Could it be an Apple ad?
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0) - StreamCast Networks, the maker of Morpheus file-sharing software, is suing Internet telephone company Skype, claiming that Skype is using peer-to-peer technology that StreamCast says it owns. Skype founders Niklas ZennstrŲm and Janus Friis also created the technology behind Kazaa, a popular file-sharing network which had battled over technology licensing with StreamCast in the past. If the allegations are valid, the lawsuit could pose a big threat to Skype, which was acquired by eBay (Research) for $2.6 billion in 2005. One of the things that makes Skype better than the competition is its use of the peer-to-peer technology: Skype takes advantage of its users' computers and Internet connections to efficiently connect and transmit calls.

Apple iPod ad a likely hoax

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April 1 is also Apple's 30th anniversary, and the yucks are just beginning. Take, for example, this post claiming that Apple has created an iPod ad visible from space. Blogger Richard Boakes found a spot on the map in Australia that looks a bit like an iPod, and relates an unlikely tale about Steve Jobs winning the land from the late Australian mogul Kerry Packer. Some observers noted that the area abounds with similar structures, which are most likely pools left over from strip-mining operations. A user smartly points out the best reason for deeming this a hoax: The supposed iPod's screen proportions don't match the real thing, a flaw that the perfectionist Jobs would never have allowed.

Grand Theft Auto maker goes online

Rockstar Games, the British developer of Grand Theft Auto, is hiring network-savvy programmers. That likely means, according to Gamespot, that an official multiplayer online version of Grand Theft Auto is coming soon. The company has not responded to requests for comment, but there's clearly demand for such a game -- fans have already created an unofficial multiplayer version of Grand Theft Auto.

Why smart people love dumb networks

Former AT&T (Research) executive Tom Evslin has an explanation for the telecom industry's current merger frenzy. Nine years ago, AT&T Labs researcher David Isenberg wrote a paper, "The Rise of the Stupid Network," about the affect the Internet would have on telecommunications. According to Isenberg, the Internet, as a "stupid network," was better than the telco's "intelligent networks," because anyone could create applications for the Internet, while only phone company engineers could improve their networks. Evslin tried to get his colleagues to read the paper and embrace the Internet, but according to Evslin, they ignored him and made Isenberg remove his paper from AT&T's website. Nine years later, AT&T has been swallowed up in a wave of consolidation, and the Internet -- Isenberg's "stupid network" -- is taking over the transmission of voice, video, and data. Top of page

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