Quick Hits

Forget the in-flight movie. Passengers flying German-based Lufthansa Aviation Group are now able to surf the Net while aboard the airline’s Boeing 747-400, which flies between Frankfurt and Washington, D.C. According to the company, the broadband Internet service will be offered free for the first three months, after which passengers will have to pay approximately between US$31 and US$35 to log on to a private server. Free access to news and weather will continue to be provided via a Lufthansa portal. The airline has equipped the 747 with antennae that are linked to the aircrafts’ on-board navigation systems, which are aligned to a satellite at an altitude of 36,000 feet above the equator to enable the connection. Each seat in first-class has a connection, with one connection between every two seats in business and economy classes. For details visit www.lufthansa.com.

Program catches copycats

Students in Britain could be facing more than detentions for plagiarizing Web-based information. Technology from California-based iParadigms is now being used by all British universities and colleges to electronically check documents for copied work. The University of Northumbria’s Plagiarism Advisory Service, based on iParadigms’ turnitin.com service, allows tutors and professors to submit work for checking. The documents come back within four hours, colour-coded according to how much material can be matched to Web-based documents. If the copied material is more than 75 per cent of the document submitted, the text is highlighted in red and instructors are also provided with the specific Web pages from which the information was taken. Visit www.turnitin.com for more information.

Disney keeps royalties

Internet publishers who challenged U.S. Congress to make older Mickey Mouse cartoons, songs and books generally available online without having to pay hefty royalties have lost their case. The U.S. Supreme Court last month concluded that a law imposed in 1998 which extended copyrights by an extra 20 years was neither “unconstitutional overreaching by Congress, nor a violation of constitutional free-speech rights,” according to a CNN report. The 1998 ruling extended copyrights to 70 years after the death of the creator and to 95 years for works owned by corporations. At risk of expiration were AOL Time Warner’s Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind, as well as The Walt Disney Co.’s version of Mickey Mouse in some of Disney’s earliest films.

Xbox challenger unveiled

The formerly anonymous donor who pledged US$200,000 to developers who could successfully complete a hacking project aimed at bringing the Linux operating system to Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox has been revealed to be none other than Lindows.com founder and CEO Michael Robertson. According to the open-source developer Web site SourceForge.net, the money donated by Robertson will be awarded as two prizes of US$100,000 for each completion of two parts of the project. Part A involved running Linux on Xbox – which has been completed – and part B involves running Linux on Xbox with no hardware modifications, which the site said developers are continuing to complete. The Linux Xbox is available as a free download from http://wiht.link/linux-programming.