SOPA and PIPA, the proposed laws make it easier for American copyright holders to cut off access to foreign websites hosting unlicensed copies of films, music and television programs
Online encyclopaedia and the world’s sixth most visited website—Wikipedia—said it would shut down its English version in a protest against the proposed internet piracy laws in the US.
In a statement, Sue Gardner, executive director, Wikimedia Foundation said, “My hope is that when Wikipedia shuts down on 18th January, people will understand that we’re doing it for our readers. We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment."
According to a Reuters report, Google has repeatedly said the Bill goes too far and could hurt investment. Along with other Internet companies such as Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and eBay, it has run advertisements in major newspapers urging Washington lawmakers to rethink their approach, the report says. Micro-blogging site Twitter, however, has slammed Wikipedia's plan to shut its site, reports the Guardian.
The blackout by Wikipedia and Reditt, a popular link-sharing service, is in protest against proposed legislation—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the US Senate—that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia. The SOPA aims to crack down on online sales of pirated American movies, music or other goods by forcing Internet companies to block access to foreign sites offering material that violates US copyright laws.
“We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA and PIPA and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States don’t advance in the interests of the general public. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. All around the world, we're seeing the development of legislations intended to fight online piracy and regulate the Internet in other ways that hurt online freedoms. Our concern extends beyond SOPA and PIPA; they are just part of the problem. We want the Internet to remain free and open, everywhere, for everyone," said Ms Gardner in a statement.
Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, estimated that 100 million English-speaking Wikipedia users will be affected by the blackout and also warned students to “do your homework early”. On Twitter, he posted, “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!”
Wikipedia and several other sites are calling on US lawmakers to block the SOPA and PIPA. They are concerned the laws will “hold website owners liable for links to sources of illegal music and movie downloading, with a detrimental effect on free speech online,” The Financial Times reports.
Reddit and the Cheezburger network, which includes such sites as The Daily What and Fail Blog, also plan to shut down to protest SOPA, The Washington Post reports. The document service Scribd already made a billion pages vanish in protest, the Post says. Craigslist posted a message to all its users explaining it and other website's opposition to the bills.
The SOPA and PIPA, however have created rifts between technology companies like Wikipedia, Google, Facebook and media production companies, including Hollywood studios and music labels. The bills’ supporters are saying that the legislation is needed to protect intellectual property rights and jobs.
Last week, US president Barack Obama's Internet advisors, in a statement, said that the provisions for blocking foreign websites 'pose a real risk to cyber-security'. “Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small,” a White House spokesman said.
Commenting on the White House’s statement, Rupert Murdoch, chief executive, News Corp, which owns vast array of media properties from Fox TV, the Wall Street Journal to Twentieth Century Fox studios, said, “So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery”.
Coming back to India, Google and Facebook told the Delhi High Court that it is not possible for them to control content posted by billions of people on their sites. The high court was hearing a case related to allegedly objectionable content on 21 sites, including Google and Facebook.
Earlier, metropolitan magistrate Sudesh Kumar summoned these companies to face trial for allegedly committing offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 292 (sale of obscene books and material and section 293 (sale of obscene objects to young person).
While Rajasthan police are taking on fraudsters who are operating various MLM and ponzi schemes, the state government is working on a bill to curb the MLM menace
The growing menace of multi level marketing (MLM) and ponzi schemes like Speak Asia are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of several state agencies.
After Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, police from Rajasthan have been pro-active in busting such schemes and are investigating the activities of such companies.
Recently, the Rajasthan police unearthed a MLM scheme operating under the name of Right Concept Marketing (RCM) in Bhilwara district, famous for its clothing industry. The police are tracking couple of other similar schemes.
According to an officer close to investigation, besides RCM, there are lot of schemes offering investment and high returns on gold, while others are selling some kind of products in Rajasthan.
The officer, preferring anonymity, told Moneylife that, “We are looking at the financial analysis of these schemes. Generally, they always promise high income on recruiting new people. There have been few complaints from the people. Apart from booking the master-minds of these schemes under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Banning Act, we have also charged them with certain sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code).”
Recently the bail applications of RCM directors were rejected by the Rajasthan High Court as it found prima facie evidence against them in money circulation scheme.
According to police estimates, the fraud is in the tune of Rs2,000 crore. The business model of RCM, was based on networking where it invited people to become member on the payment of Rs1,500. To avail 10% commission they were asked to recruit more people in the scheme. The company is not registered under the Companies Act.
“We are closely co-ordinating with different government agencies. For instance, we are in touch with enforcement wing of the Income Tax department,” the officer added.
In November, last year, ponzi scheme Gold Sukh made headline after it allegedly duped 1.75 lakh investors for more than Rs300 crore. Gold Sukh promised returns 27 times than the investment in just 15 months and was able to lure many politicians, police officers and businessmen. The Jaipur police are probing the scheme and had also issued a Red Corner Notice, through Interpol, against its absconding directors.
According to a news report, Rajasthan chief minister has asked officials to draft a bill against fraudulent MLM schemes against the backdrop of the on going investigation in the multi-crore Gold Sukh scam.
Brand Trust Report 2012 also throws up some strange names like DLF and Air India
There are names that inspire trust without asking. Like Google or Apple or mom-made food. Then there is the other kind of trust, like people’s trust in the government to perform even worse. But there are also names that make you wonder at what makes them trustworthy.
The Brand Trust Report 2012 has come up with some predictable and some surprising names which Indians trust. Nokia and Tata top the list once again. Nokia, whose market share has come down significantly globally, manages its hold on in India. Tatas too remain the second most trusted brand—despite the company’s name being linked to Niira Radia in the second generation (2G) scam.
However, Nokia’s Korean arch rivals— LG and Samsung are not far behind—they occupy the third and fourth positions, beating Japanese giant Sony. The others in the top-ten list are Maruti Suzuki, Bajaj, LIC and Airtel.
Undertaken by Trust Research Advisory (TRA), the survey takes into account the responses and views on 17,000 brands from over 2,700 participants across 15 cities in the country. It also included personalities as brands. 2011’s newsmaker, Anna Hazare, beat Sachin Tendulkar (after all, that 100th ton is still pending) to become the most trusted personality. Who are the other most trusted people in India? Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan. Incidentally, ‘Bodyguard’ Salman Khan was once involved in a hit-and-run case, and in hunting of an endangered deer species. But like his NGO ‘Being Human’, which has emerged as the most trusted name in the social sector, the Dabaang star has bounced back.
‘Most Trusted’ leaders in some other categories are Armani in branded fashion, NIIT in education, ONGC in energy, PVR in entertainment, Taj Hotels in hospitality, Google in internet, ACC in manufacturing and Thomas Cook in services.
There are names which seem to be resilient even in the face of controversy. Like leader in technology, Hewlett Packard—which became the centre of a sexual harassment scandal in 2010 and saw the exit of the then CEO Mark Hurd. The scandal has refused to die, despite HP’s many achievements in the last year. But maybe the incident hadn’t affected the Indian market—as HP continues to be the most trusted name in terms of computer and printer equipment.
Likewise, Pepsi, despite many reports and lawsuits about unwarranted content within bottles in other countries (traces of harmful fungicides in fruit juices imported from Brazil, a dead mouse in USA), is named the most trusted brand in the food and beverage category.
There are other Indian names which come as surprise. Like DLF in the construction category—which has been slapped with a Rs630 crore fine by the Competition Commission of India for setting a bad example as a market leader by following unethical anti-customer policies. Even the almost-bankrupt Air India, which has some negative incident reported about it almost on a daily basis; has been named as the ‘most trusted’ in its field.