Date: December 29, 2000 

Cyber Law College To Bring Offline Courses. Invites Marketing Franchisees. Contact Naavi for details.

What's New

Let's Define Fair Use for Software

The market in India is hot with Software Copyright issues being discussed vehemently both in the Legal and the IT circles. After the arrest of Radiant officials following a complaint from Oracle, and the announcement of the Nasscom reward scheme, the industry is worried that minor differences in interpretation of a Copyright agreement can land people in jail. 

The solution to this lies in the interpretation that the Court may have to give in the instant case. If the Court holds that "Fair Use" of an application software "Includes its use for Training", then the IT training industry can breath freely.

Read the Detailed Story

CEO s and CTO s- Keep your anticipatory bail ready.

The Police raid on training offices of Radiant Software in Chennai on 19th December resulted in the arrest of two branch mangers. Both of them have now been released on bail.

This should also focus the attention of IT professionals on the legal responsibilities of such managers.

Read the Detailed Story

Violation of Copyright by Radiant-Some Issues

The recent raid on Radiant Software in Chennai and Bangalore by EIPR (Enforcers of Intellectual Property Rights) at the behest of Oracle Software India Ltd, has brought the issue of Copyright on software to the focus.

According to today's press reports, the case has been filed against Radiant under Sec 420 of IPC. It is also reported that the infringement has arisen because the license held by Radiant was an "User License" and not a "Commercial License" required for its use in the training system. If these reports are correct, this is not a case of "Software Piracy" as was reported yesterday, but a case of violation of the terms of Copyright license.

The issues that arise out of the case are

1.Is the violation one of Copyright or Cheating?

2.Does Oracle have a Copyright enforeceable under the Indian Copyright Act?

3.What is the difference between Piracy and Violation of license terms? ...

Read the Detailed Story

MIT takes CERT initiative.

We have been discussing the need for a Computer Emergency Response team for India to protect its Netizens from organized Cyber Crimes. We are glad to note that the Ministry of Information Technology has taken the initial steps to start a National IT Security Guidance center in association with CMC, Hyderabad.

In its website http://www.itsecurity.gov.in, CMC has put up information on Computer Security, Virus etc. This could be a good beginning for developing the concept of CERT.

The starting of the National IT security Guidance center need not however is an end in itself. The private sector can still take

Detailed Story in Economic Times

New Disclosure Norms for Indian DotComs.

Recognizing the need to develop separate regulatory norms for Companies engaged in Internet Business, new disclosure norms are being prepared by SEBI(Securities Exchange board of India). A draft report prepared in this regard by a commitee headed by Mr Y H Malegam will be shortly available for public comment before finalisation.

The guidelines will be applicable for both pure dot com companies as well as brick and mortar companies and would be applicable both during the time of a public issue of shares as well as during the normal times.

The committee was headed by Y H Malegam and included Sebi board member J R Varma, Infosys Technologies chief financial officer T V Mohandas Pai, National Stock Exchange managing director Ravi Narain, chairperson of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India Bhavana Doshi and Sebi executive director Pratip Kar, who is the member-secretary.

We look forward to the detailed report to analyse it more closely.

Detailed Story in Economic Times

"Net Telephony" set to enter India.

In a significant announcement, Mr Pramod Mahajan, the Minister of Information and Technology announced that the final draft of the Convergence Bill will be placed on the web for public comments by December 25. .. The bill is expected to lead to the repeal of a large number of legislations

...One of the major developments coming out of this Bill is the legalisation of Net Telephony which has been a long awaited demand of the Cyber Community in India.

Read the Detailed Story

Can an Indian Maintain a Sex Site?

The passage of the ITA-2000 and the zealousness with which the Pune Court has acted against Rediff.com on an alleged action involving distribution of obscene material, has opened a question mark on whether Indians elsewhere in the world can be punished for offenses under Sec 67 of the ITA-2000 even though such an activity may not be a crime in the country in which they are living..
..If therefore an offense is committed under the Act and the person is under some control of the Indian Government such as having a passport issued in India, it is likely that the person may be brought to book even though the "Offense" committed may not be an "Offense" under the law of a foreign country where the Indian citizen may be residing...
..The situation here is similar to the French case against Yahoo- Nazi Memorabilia site. The larger issue is "Whether the Indian National Government can impose itself on the Cyber activities of a person (Indian or Non Indian)?" not within the geographical jurisdiction of India? And Is it practicable to extend the jurisdiction of the Non Cyber Society to the Cyber Society across borders? ..For the time being, there may not be final answers to these questions. There can be only opinions.

Read the Detailed Story

Amic-India hosts conference on E-Governance

The Indian Chapter of the Asian Media Information & Communication Center (AMIC), hosted a two day National Conference in Chennai on "Electronic Governance and Democracy in the New Millennium-Challenge and Opportunities" on December 11th and 12 th. The key note address was delivered by Dr M.Anandhakrishnan, I.T. Advisor to the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu. Dr T.H. Choudary, I.T. Advisor to A.P. Government and Senior Technical Directors of NIC from Tamilnadu and A P shared details of some of the E-Governance initiatives undertaken by the respective Governments.

A Copy of Naavi's presentation at the seminar is available here.

Respond? or React? An E-Governance Dilemma

Recently there has been reports of a spate of Rogue Web sites carrying "Anti Indian" messages, the latest being the one from the Tamil Nationalist group interlinked with the Islamic fundamentalists....it would be interesting to see how the Government reacts to this challenge.. Here is a suggestion on how to deal with such issues of E-Governance

Read the Detailed Story

"Investigative Hacking"- Need for Checks and Balances

In an interesting crime busting attempt, it has been reported that FBI recently obtained a court order to "Break in to the premises of a suspect and plant a software in the computer". The software monitored the key board strokes and sent the information to FBI. Using this information, FBI has been able to break the PGP encrypted communication and file a case in the Court on the illegal activities of the owner of the computer which included loansharking, racketeering, and running an illegal betting operation. The case has opened up discussions on the "Right of the State" to violate the privacy. While according to some "Any means which lead to a good end" is acceptable, there is a genuine concern that if this is left un challenged, it may create a precedent that can be grossly misused by the FBI. The crux of the problem is " Can the Judiciary and the Police be trusted with such powers?". Normally the answer to such a question is "Yes". However one should think whether extra checks and balances are to be built in the system so that such powers are not misused easily.

Related Article in Newsbytes

E-Commerce Law in Europe tries to define jurisdiction

In a bid to enhance the confidence of the Consumers trading on the Net, the European union passed a law last week to define the jurisdiction for Courts. According to the regulation which would be called "The Brussels I regulation" coming into effect from next March, if there is a dispute between a consumer in one EU country and an online retailer in another, the consumer will be able to sue in a court in his or her own country.

A Landmark Order - For What?

It has been reported that a court in Pune has summonned the directors of Rediff.com on a charge of "Distributing Obscene material" and given a notice that they may be sentenced upto 2 years. (As per Business Line report of November 30)

This is being hailed as a landmark order which should settle the law in this matter. However, it is necessary to debate whether this order was necessary. According to ITA-2000 which overrides all other laws regarding Electronic Documents, "Publishing","Distributing" or "Causing to Publish" obscene material are punishable offences. Maintaining a "Search Engine" appears to be outside the definition of this provision. Also as an ISP the Search Engine site should be immune to actions based on the content of the sites that can be reached through them. If the principle of vicarious responsibility for "Publishing Obscene material" is extended to a Search Engine, then they would also be responsible for any copyright violations made by any of the sites.

Can the publisher of a "Telephone Directory" be liable for any offence committed by the use of a "Telephone"? Similarly, a Search Engine should not be held responsible for what a surfer does using them.

Obviously, the problem has arisen because the Court has not been properly appraised of the concept of "Search Engine". This is a "Cyber Society Service" and no "Meta Society Law" can clearlyidentify its nature and tag it along to other known "meta Society devices". Any attempt to do so will lead to in coherent and un acceptable results.

I wish that this be a "Land Mark Judgement" only to put it beyond all doubt that "Search Engines" are in no way responsible either for the Content thrown up nor for how it is used by the Users".

It is also incorrect to say that Porno content can be filtered. Filtering of "Sex" can also filter "Sensex" and there are any number of words under which Pornographic information may be distributed.This limitation has to be recognized and appreciated.

This is a fight for "Freedom" of the Search Engines. Let India not be a party to a judgement which would make the world ridicule Indian Cyber Law understanding.

A Revolt? or Self Destruction?

In a move that may be very significant to the future of Internet Domain Name administration, a serious challenge has been thrown at ICANN. Presently, ICANN administers the Domain Names through its DNS system and accredited Registrars. At last week's ICANN meetings in California, the country code chiefs formed a working group to explore the option of taking the name business beyond its control. 

Breaking away may be an exciting idea but may ultimately be "Self Destructive".

Let's not forget "United we stand, divided we fall".. of course, I am talking of the Netizens. 

The "Power centers" will always have the opposite dictum, "Divided we grow strong, United we grow weaker".

Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that the utopian dream of a "One Global Internet Society" can linger on for some more time.

Detailed Story

Banning Cookies to protect online Privacy

The growth of Internet as a commercial medium has attracted the attention of all marketing agencies. As a high tech medium, Internet offers opportunities for these agencies to tap information on the surfing behaviour of Netizens by planting a "Cookie"...At present the "Privacy" rights of Netizens are normally governed by the legislation or practices concerning "Tapping " of telephone lines... What is the option?..

Read the detailed story here.

E-Signature  Launched and Adopted..But

A  Hyderabad-based software company is reported to have launched a new product called "eSign" which  can capture and verify hand written signature on a digital pad using a digital pen. Many major corporates including some Banks are reported to have already adopted this technology into their system.

But, is the system Cyber Law Compliant?..

Read the detained story here.

Regulation -By the Netizens, For the Netizens and Of the Netizens.

While discussing  the ethics of Web communication, we often need to sort out the dilemma of  Whether running a Web site tantamounts to "Advertising"?...

...It is  ridiculous to consider a Web site as "Advertising" material without defining different components of a web site differently. Just as a "News Paper" has an "Editorial", "News Report" and an "Advertisement", a web site can also have all elements. After all, there are "Banner Ads" which are clearly identifiable as nearest to " Advertisements". But "Story Headlines" or " Story Content" or "News tickers" or "Q&A sections can never be equated to "Advertising" even if some sites cleverly use them for carrying advertising messages. Any attempt to do so would infringe on the "Freedom of Cyber speech".

...the regulatory bodies will also have to create separate bodies for regulating Cyber transactions. Such bodies should be purely created in Cyber space and should be by the Netizens, for the Netizens and of the Netizens. 

Detailed Story Here

More Virus Attacks Required !!

Last week, Chennai, in India witnessed  two Cyber Crimes. Firstly, many of the top IT companies in the city were inflicted with a virus identified as “fun love”. 

Secondly, many who had registered themselves at www.appuonline.com started receiving mails redirected from the server mailsend@appuonline.com. Some of these mails were redirected with the sender’s name substituted with one of the member’s email addresses. ...

....It is in this context that attention has to be again drawn to the need for a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for India...

The earlier attempt of Naavi.com to draw the attention of industry leaders to come together to discuss the need drew a blank. Communications sent to Infosys, Wipro, Satyam and many others in this regard have been totally ignored. Had such a set up been in place, the experts could have moved in quickly to reduce the adverse impact of these attacks and  capture vital clues before they are lost. They could then have put together a research team to crack the virus and prevent further damage. 

Perhaps all the industry majors are too busy making money in the short term and are not able to visualise the long term needs of the society in which they have  large stakes.  Perhaps a few more such attacks are required  to wake them up from their slumber!!.

Detailed Story Here

New Top Level Domain Names Cleared

ICANN has cleared seven new top level domain names for registration. they are
 .info, .biz, .name, .pro, .coop, .museum and .aero 
Will this ease the domain name shortage? Only time will tell. Naavi.com reserves its comments on this development 

Related Article in Washington Post

Are You Cyber Law Compliant?

The passage of the Information Technology Act 2000 in India with effect from October 17 has created a legal recognition for Electronic Documents. In the light of this provision, every act of a Company on the Internet, Intranet or Extranet may now be legally binding on the Company. Companies having websites should watch out whether any of the web pages constitute an "Offer" or a "Warranty" on any of their product or service...

In the meantime however, a responsible Company dealing with Cyber transactions however has to guard itself against unintended violations of law and legal loop holes. They perhaps need to take up a "Cyber Law Compliancy Check" both on their web presence and in the Corporate environment and introduce systems to monitor the Compliancy situation continuously. 


Censorship of the Net is already here in India???

A shocking episode of censorship of the Net was reported today by a Netizen from Delhi. As a window to the World showcasing the positive developments in India, it pains me to bring this shameful act to the notice of the world....

I would also take this opportunity to raise the larger issue of the "Right of the ISP to interfere with the customer's E-mail Box"...

Click Here For More

Taxing Music Down Loads

It is reported that OECD is discussing the possibilities of taxing music downloads on the Net. While the taxation authorities all over the world are engaged in capturing the net transactions to tax the beneficiaries on the ground, there is need for the taxation authorities not to go overboard with the concept.

For example, while downloading a file to a client's computer for repeated use is easy to be accepted as a "Sale", "Trial download s" which stay for a limited period in the client's computer and get disabled, as well as "Real Audio/Video" downloads are in a different category. They are more in the nature of a broadcast over a Radio or a TV. Will this difference be kept in mind by the taxation authorities? 

If this principle of "Permanent and Repeated Usability" Vs " Limited ,Trial, or Onetime usability" is not distinguished in 'Music downloads", it would also create precedents which could affect the business of Application Service Providers.

Similarly, if "Music Downloads" are valuable enough to be "Taxable", "Content Downloads" can also be considered "Taxable" if not now, some time in future.

Another controversy which will come in course of time is whether a "Free Download" would also amount to taxation at a "Notional Value"?

It is therefore necessary to consider "Download of all Electronic Documents" as " Transfer of Cyber Property" and not taxable under the laws of the "Meta Society". Netizens have to realize the long-term implication of this attempt to tax music downloads and express their strong reservations against this attempt to tax  Cyber Society.

Send Your View Here.

Are We Going To Witness a Cyber Tianamen Square?

In what could be considered as an attempt to take firmer control on the Cyber Society attached to China, the Government has imposed severe restrictions on the content to be published in the web sites coming under their jurisdiction.

According to CNET.COM ,the rules require general portal sites to use news from state controlled media, seek special permission to offer news from foreign media, and meet strict editorial conditions to generate their own news. Failure to do so could result in warnings, temporary suspension or permanent shutdown, the report said. The rules would also restrict Chat Rooms to discuss only "Permitted topics"

Apart from the desirability of such curtailment of the Freedom of Speech, the practicality of its implementation is debatable. Such restrictions can only be imposed through filtering and blocking of international sites. If this is done, the Chinese Cyber Society would be reduced to a large internal network and severe its connection to the Internet itself. At best it can be called a Chinese Intranet. Such a situation would severely curtail the progress China has made in the recent days.

Are We Going To Witness a Cyber Tianamen Square? Hopefully, without the "massacre". 

Detailed Report 

Beware-You can be a Victim of Circumstances

Last week, India's premier ISP, VSNL (with 60 % + market share), sent a warning to all its subscribers that any "Hacking attempts" would be traced and reported to law enforcement authorities. Today such "tracing" is restricted to  "Tracing the telephone number" from which the Internet account was accessed and the" log in "particulars. We can presume that a real criminal  would always  use the login ID of some body else. He can also use somebody else's telephone line as well.

In the light of this possibility, where a "Telephone Number" can be pointing to a "Crime", it is also necessary to spare a thought for mistakes that can wrongly accuse an honest person. This is of great concern to the "Netizen's Forum for Credible Cyber regulations".

In order to avoid harassment of innocent individuals, there has to be checks and balances and VSNL, DOT, MTNL as well as the Police should work out a strategy whereby the lower level officials donot harass citizens for financial gains. 

Click Here For More

DTH broadcasting in India gets a Go Ahead 

Yet another development in the Indian Communication scene saw the Cabinet approving DTH broadcasting in India. DTH refers to distribution of multi-channel television programmes in KU band by providing TV signals directly to the subscriber's premises. FDI investment would be allowed in the DTH projects upto 20 % with a possible another 29 %  foreign investment through FII or NRI s.

What is of significance to the Cyber Society observers is whether DTH would allow Internet transmission to houses and if so at what cost.


Voice  of a  Bank Manager-- 

      "Hey- Don't complicate our life yar! Stop extending all Meta Society Laws to the Digital Society or Vice-Versa. Keep them different." 

      In the Digital era,  use of e-mails is becoming as common as telephones, and  many Banks are prepared to open and run Accounts on the Internet, prima-facie recognizing a "Banker-Customer Relation ship in the Cyber Society". Any notice of "Loss of Draft" or "Stop Payment of Cheque" through an e-mail will therefore be deemed as sufficient notice to put the Banker on alert. 



Let's form a Netizen's Forum for Credible Cyber Regulations

"...It appears that the implementation of the regulations has passed out of the hands of the few visionaries who were in control of the legislation in the early days onto  shortsighted politicians and bureaucrats   more interested in creating new power bases rather than doing good to the society. ...Since there appears to be one last chance for the Netizens to raise their voice of protest before the Rules are finally passed, Naavi.com has created this voluntary forum to express the Netizen's views on the subject.



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