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Weekly News Digest

December 26, 2000 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

Internet Filtering Bill Passes Congress

A new federal law that mandates Internet filtering was passed on December 15 by Congress and is expected to be signed into law by President Clinton. The Children's Internet Protection Act (which was a rider attached to an appropriations bill) mandates that any school or library that refuses to install Internet filtering software on its computers will lose federal funds for technology upgrades. The Communications Decency Act, an earlier law that restricted Internet-based content, had been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

The American Library Association's Washington Office (http://www.ala.org/washoff) had urged librarians to oppose the bill, stating that, "Federal filtering mandates are not the answer to the very complex question of objectionable Internet material." The American Civil Liberties Union (http://www.aclu.org) has said it will challenge the new law. The American Center for Law and Justice (http://www.aclj.org), a public-interest law firm, has said that it will offer to defend it.

David Bender, executive director of the Special Libraries Association (SLA; http://www.sla.org), said: "SLA has always believed that information professionals and those who manage libraries are best suited to make critical decisions regarding the filtering of information to users. We maintain that outlook despite the U.S. Congress' decision to tie universal service discounts to the implementation of filtering policies. Information professionals across the U.S. will no doubt respect federal law but continue to negotiate for local control."

Sources: American Library Association, American Civil Liberties Union, American Center for Law and Justice, Special Libraries Association

VNU Announces It Will Acquire ACNielsen

Dutch publisher VNU (http://www.vnu.com) has entered into a definitive merger agreement with ACNielsen (http://www.acnielsen.com) under which VNU will acquire ACNielsen in an all-cash transaction valued at $2.3 billion (US). The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2001 and is subject to the usual approvals. VNU acquired Nielsen Media Research about a year ago, so the acquisition will reunite the Nielsen brand name. ACNielsen and Nielsen Media Research were originally part of the company founded by Arthur C. Nielsen and were spun off separately in 1996 in a restructuring of their then-parent company, Dun & Bradstreet.

According to VNU, ACNielsen's retail-measurement data, in conjunction with VNU's existing marketing-information services, should enable the combined company to take a larger role in supporting advertisers in managing their marketing and media investments and monitoring their effectiveness through timely sales reports. ACNielsen's international television-audience-measurement business complements the Nielsen Media Research business in the U.S. and Canada. ACNielsen's AdEx International and Nielsen Media Research's Monitor-Plus will enable the combined company to offer competitive advertising intelligence services on a worldwide basis. VNU also said it would probably sell its consumer and educational information units, which would then make it exclusively a professional information company.

Source: VNU

Wolters Kluwer to Acquire Loislaw

Wolters Kluwer, the Dutch publisher and information-services company (http://www.wolterskluwer.com), and Loislaw.com, Inc., the U.S.-based online provider of legal information (http://www.loislaw.com), announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of Loislaw.com to Wolters Kluwer for about $95 million. When the sale is completed, Loislaw will become a unit of Aspen Publishers of Gaithersburg, Maryland, a provider of legal, business, and healthcare information, and a Wolters Kluwer North America company.

Loislaw is a national provider of primary and secondary source material for legal research that's delivered on a subscription basis over the Internet. Loislaw offers more than 2,200 databases and citation research services, containing more than 10 million documents, covering federal case law, statutory law, administrative law, court rules, and other legal information for the U.S. as well as for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Its LOIS LawWatch provides personalized, intelligent search agents that automatically and continuously search the Loislaw Web site and notifies subscribers when new documents match their search criteria. Loislaw's GlobalCite allows users to scan all of its databases to find documents that have cited the document the user is viewing.

According to the company, Loislaw's primary subscribers are mid-sized and small law firms (typically with fewer than 20 lawyers), corporate legal departments, and judges. In addition, the company provides Loislawschool.com to faculty and students in 95 percent of the American Bar Association-accredited law schools.

Aspen currently publishes a range of practice-focused books, newsletters, CD-ROMs, and online services. Aspen's analytical legal materials will be complemented with the addition of Loislaw's source data. The acquisition serves to provide Loislaw with the backing to compete in the legal information marketplace against larger and more established services.

Source: Wolters Kluwer and Loislaw.com, Inc.



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