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World: Internet News In Brief

Prague, 7 November (RFE/RL) -- The following are a series of briefs on some of the latest news and information about the Internet and computer technology:

Mir Astronauts Do Christmas Shopping Thanks to Internet

Not only do the Mir cosmonauts have to worry about computer failures, life-threatening collisions and cramped living conditions --they now have to worry about what to buy their families for Christmas.

A private Internet shopping company called Virtual Emporium announced Wednesday that they have paid the Russian government an undisclosed sum and provided Mir flight commander Anatoly Solovyov and flight engineer Pavel Vinogradov $1,000 each to purchase Christmas gifts via the Internet.

The Russian cosmonauts are scheduled to remain on Mir until mid-February.

Virtual Emporium says it initiated the program as part of a holiday advertising campaign with the theme "The Internet Knows No Bounds."

American astronaut, David Wolf, is not participating in the Internet shopping spree, say Virtual Emporium officials.

The Russian cosmonauts will be able to choose from a wide variety of items such as toys, electronics, appliances and exercise equipment.

U.S. Congress Introduces Bill on Computer Copyright Works

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this week making theft of copyrighted works by computer a federal offense.

The bill was introduced by Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) who said the law was inspired by a case involving a U.S. student who posted legally purchased software on the Internet, making it freely available to others. Under current U.S. law, the student could not be charged for a crime because he didn't profit from the illegal transfer of the copyrighted information.

The bill passed this week would permit an individual to be fined up to $25,000 and imprisoned for a maximum of five years regardless of whether the offender profits or not from the theft.

Sex The Most Searched-For Topic on Internet

A U.S.-based Internet service called MetaCrawler has released data from a study of the Internet's most-searched for words. The company spent a 30-day period from mid-August to mid-September tracking Internet search requests.

According to the results of the study, the top ten most-searched for words on the Internet do not have to do with jobs, politics, news or business, as some might have expected, but instead are related to sex and pornography.

The study said that among the top ten most-searched for words on the Internet were: free, sex, nude, pictures and xxx -- referring to the U.S. rating given to hard-core pornographic movies.