Roundup: Microsoft gearing up for proxy battle, wiretapping, click-through study and more

Here’s the latest action:
1. Microsoft gearing up for proxy battle?
2. Senate says telecoms immune in eavesdropping lawsuits
3. U.K. downloaders could get banned from the Internet
4. Study says “click-through” advertising model is broken
5. Dell acquires MessageOne for $155M
6. Layoffs coming to Cisco?
7. Coal prices on the rise
8. Bill Gates quits Facebook
9. At Harvard, a proposal to publish free on Web
10. ComicWonder raises $750,000 for user-generated audio jokesMicrosoft gearing up for proxy battle? — The New York Post reports that Microsoft isn’t just going to accept Yahoo’s reaction of its $44.6 million takeover bid. Instead, it’s hired proxy solicitation company Innisfree in anticipation of a proxy battle to replace Yahoo’s board. There could be an ugly fight ahead.

Senate says telecoms immune in eavesdropping lawsuits — The U.S. Senate voted 67 to 31 today against stripping away telecommunication companies’ retroactive immunity to lawsuits alleging customers’ privacy rights were violated by the governments’ warrantless wiretapping program. President Bush has promised to veto any bill that does not grant such immunity. The proposal would have been part of an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the Senate is racing to pass before FISA expires on Feb. 15.

U.K. downloaders could get banned from the Internet — The British Parliament will be discussing legislation that could require Internet service providers to terminate the contracts of customers who repeatedly download music and movies illegally.

Study says “click-through” advertising model is broken – Starcom USA, Tacoda and comScore have announced the results of a study claiming that a very small, unrepresentative portion of the U.S. online audience is responsible for most ad click-throughs. If these findings hold up, they’re bad news for the idea that click-throughs are an accurate way to measure the success of brand-building ad campaigns.

Dell acquires MessageOne for $155M — The move will supposedly help companies that want to outsource management of their tech equipment to Dell, but the Wall Street Journal’s Business Technology blog notes that the purchase is also a nice boost to the Dell family, because MessageOne co-founder Adam Dell’s is the brother of the computer company’s founder Michael Dell.

Layoffs coming to Cisco? — With Frank Calderoni taking over as Cisco’s chief financial officer, GigaOm’s Om Malik says he’s hearing rumors that there are going to be substantial layoffs in multiple divisions.

coalsmall.jpg Coal prices on the rise — Coal prices are shooting upward globally. This could give a boost to clean tech, since one of coal’s major selling points is its low price. On the other hand, anti-coal advocates may not want to celebrate yet, since the price hikes are being driven by increased demand.

Bill Gates quits Facebook — After Microsoft invested $240 million in Facebook last year, Gates spent 30 minutes a day on the social-networking site, the Sun reports. But he signed off after getting more than 8,000 friend requests a day and spotting weird fan sites about him.

At Harvard, a proposal to publish free on Web — Faculty members are scheduled to vote on a measure that would permit Harvard to distribute their scholarship online, instead of signing exclusive agreements with scholarly journals that often have tiny readerships and high subscription costs.

ComicWonder raises $750,000 for user-generated audio jokes – More here.