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BUSINESS IN BRIEF

House Passes Anti-Piracy Bill

Wednesday, September 29, 2004; Page E02

The House passed a bill to crack down on unauthorized copying of movies, music and other copyrighted materials. Under the bill, using a video camera in a theater to record a movie would become a federal felony punishable by up to six years in prison, and the Justice Department could more easily prosecute Internet users who illegally distribute copyrighted works. The Senate could consider the matter as soon as next week.

MCI Cleared in Europe Antitrust Ruling

MCI, the former WorldCom, has a clean business slate in Europe now that a court there ruled on a technicality that European Union antitrust regulators should not have blocked its aborted 2000 bid for rival Sprint. "MCI can now conduct its business decisions without regulators around the world being influenced by a decision which never reflected commercial and industry realities," said Peter Alexiadis, a legal adviser to the company.


Motorola will cut 1,000 jobs and take a charge of $50 million for severance benefits, after the initial public offering of its semiconductor business in July made some corporate positions unnecessary. The world's second-largest maker of mobile phones employs 88,000 and has offices in 130 countries. Its headquarters, pictured, is in Schaumburg, Ill. (Stephen J. Carrera -- AP)

_____Stock Quotes_____
Walt Disney Co (DIS)
Hollinger International Inc (HLR)
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)
Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)
NextCard, Inc. (NXCDQ)
Adelphia Communications (ADELQ)
AT &T Corp. (T)
iNTELEFILM Corporation (FILM)
Trump Hotel/Casino Resort (DJTC)
Virgin Express Holdings (VIRGY)
Pfizer Inc. (PFE)
Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT)
Seneca Foods (SENEB)

MORE NEWS

Hackers exploited a flaw in Microsoft programs and circulated malicious code hidden in images in the JPEG format. A visitor must download an image and view it using Windows Explorer software. The computer then contacts a server to obtain code that would let an attacker take over the machine.

Amazon and Microsoft sued U.S. and Canadian companies that they claim used their names to commit fraud on the Internet. One suit alleges that Gold Disk Canada committed online forgery by sending e-mails that appeared to come from Amazon and from Microsoft's Hotmail service. Others are accused of using phony e-mail to solicit financial information in a tactic known as phishing.

NextCard executives used improper accounting to hide losses and sold their stock before the ruse unraveled, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged in a civil complaint involving one of the dot-com bust's biggest debacles. The collapse saddled the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. with an estimated loss of $253.5 million.

John J. Rigas and his sons lost a bid to unfreeze $3.6 million from family-owned cable companies to pay for their defense in a $3.2 billion civil lawsuit over their management of Adelphia Communications.

A former AT&T employee and his friend were ordered to disgorge the profit they made by trading on nonpublic information about a pending project between AT&T and Intelefilm in 1999 and pay fines. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Phong Nguyen, a former data networking account executive at AT&T, and his friend Chanh Nguyen, who was employed by an AT&T contractor purchasing computer hardware for the Intelefilm project, purchased shares of Intelefilm shortly before it announced that it was working with AT&T to develop an online product. When Intelefilm announced the arrangement, the company's share price more than doubled, to $6.50.

Walt Disney Co. directors should consider adding Haim Saban and Richard C. Breeden as independent board members, former directors Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold said. Adding independent directors would reinforce shareholder confidence in the search for a new chief executive, they said.

Akimbo Systems, a start-up that plans to deliver video over the Internet to television sets, signed a deal for mainstream content from Turner Broadcasting. The agreement will allow Akimbo customers to access programming from CNN, CNNfn, Cartoon Network, TCM and Boomerang.

The Internal Revenue Service is getting fewer complaints about harassment or retaliation by agents. The number of complaints declined 85.7 percent from 2000 to 2003, the Government Accountability Office reported.

INTERNATIONAL

An Internet casino operator said it offered to buy a $400 million stake in financially troubled Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. Casino Fortune, based in Trinidad, estimated that its cash infusion would give it a 31 percent share in Trump Hotels. A private equity arm of Credit Suisse First Boston had offered to provide the same amount of cash for a controlling interest.

Hollinger, the troubled parent of Chicago newspaper publisher Hollinger International, said it added two independent directors to its board to bring the total to five. Hollinger, accused in a court filing of making improper payments to a holding company controlled by directors, has brought on Robert J. Metcalfe and Allan Wakefield. Metcalfe is general counsel to Canada's Spotnik Mobile, a Telus subsidiary. Wakefield operates a consulting firm for start-ups.

Euro Disney said its lenders agreed unanimously to extend a debt plan designed to keep afloat the theme park operator, which is 39 percent owned by the Walt Disney Co., two days before its deadline to strike a debt-restructuring plan to avert bankruptcy. In the deal, set to take effect Friday, the interest rate on 450 million euros (about $553 million) of Euro Disney's senior debt will be increased and a repayment deadline on some debt will be delayed by two years, until 2014.

Virgin Group chief Richard Branson said he signed an agreement with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to launch a new airline out of the West African nation that will be majority owned by Nigerian investors. Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways will hold a 49 percent stake in Virgin Nigeria and is likely to contribute about $24.5 million of the $50 million initial investment, Branson said. Virgin Nigeria will start flying early next year on domestic and regional routes as well as between Nigeria and the United States, Europe and the Middle East, Branson said.

Pfizer appealed China's revocation of its Viagra patent in a case that may test China's commitment to intellectual property rights. A group of Chinese generic-drug makers convinced the State Intellectual Property Office in July that Pfizer hadn't provided full documentation for its patent.

Three British bankers indicted in Texas on fraud charges involving Enron appeared in a London court for an extradition hearing. David J. Bermingham, Giles R.H. Darby and Gary S. Mulgrew formerly worked for National Westminster Bank. They each face seven counts of wire fraud for allegedly bilking the bank of $7.3 million in a scheme allegedly engineered by former Enron finance chief Andrew S. Fastow.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Lockheed Martin said it won an Air Force contract worth as much as $45 million to repair wing spar caps on the C-130 Hercules transport.

RECALL

Seneca Foods recalled 42,085 cases of canned beets because they may have been undercooked. Seneca, which makes Libby's and Seneca canned vegetables, recalled 15-ounce cans of sliced beets and no-salt sliced beets shipped between July 27 and Sept. 24. Information is available at 866-336-8700.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.


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