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CompuServe Responds To Newsgroup Charges


In November, 1995, the German federal prosecutor's office began an inquiry into the issue of availability, to CompuServe Incorporated (Nasdaq: CSRV) members in Germany, of Internet newsgroups and other content alleged to be illegal under German law.

Although CompuServe Incorporated (a U.S.-based company) and not CompuServe GmbH provides the CompuServe online service to its members worldwide, nevertheless Felix Somm, as general manager of CompuServe GmbH (Munich), was named as the subject of this inquiry.

Based on the preliminary inquiry, an official accusation has now been filed against Mr. Somm in the Munich law court. The materials assembled by the federal prosecutor's office have been turned over to the Munich court. After thoroughly reviewing these materials, the Munich court will decide whether the accusation has sufficient merit. As part of this review process, we will be given an opportunity to submit further information to the court.

CompuServe Incorporated has repeatedly stated that it cannot control Internet newsgroup content, which comprises thousands of "discussion threads" participated in by countless individuals worldwide (only some of whom may be CompuServe Incorporated members). Internet newsgroup content changes constantly and cannot be monitored in advance in any meaningful way. As for its own newsservers, CompuServe Incorporated does not carry on those computer newsgroups that have been validly reported to CompuServe Incorporated as containing child pornographic or bestiality material and which CompuServe Incorporated has been able to verify through the assistance of third parties. Furthermore, all newsgroup access through CompuServe Incorporated facilities can be blocked at the customer level by using software tools provided by CompuServe Incorporated to all of its members worldwide.

CompuServe Incorporated believes that the accusation against Mr. Somm is entirely groundless and that he will ultimately be vindicated. We plan to vigorously oppose this action against Mr. Somm, and to fully support him through this personally trying period. We will not comment further at this time due to the pending litigation.

Founded in 1969, CompuServe Incorporated provides the world's most comprehensive online/Internet access through its two brands CompuServe Interactive and SPRYNET. Through CompuServe, its Japanese licensee NIFTY-Serve and its affiliates around the world, more than 5 million home and business users in more than 185 countries are connected online and to the Internet. CompuServe Network Services manages complex global data communications environments for more than 1,000 corporate customers. With world headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, the CompuServe organization includes offices in Reading, UK; Munich; Utrecht, Netherlands; Zurich and Paris. SOURCE CompuServe CONTACT: Gail B. Whitcomb of CompuServe, Incorporated, 614-538-4457, or gailw@compuserve.com