Thursday, February 25, 2010

Google Case in Italy Has Serious Implications for the Web - by Chris Crum

map of the Kingdom of Italy (Regno d'Italia) i...Image via Wikipedia

A judge in Milan, Italy has convicted three Google executives over a video uploaded to YouTube in a case, which could have serious implications for social media and ultimately, the web in general, at least in Italy. The video, uploaded back in 2006, featured a group of school kids bullying an autistic child. Google says it worked with Italian authorities to help ID the person responsible for uploading it, and the uploader and other participants from the video were sentenced to community service.

Now, in 2010, Google executives David Drummond, Peter Fleischer and George Reyes (3 out of 4 defendants) have been convicted for "failure to comply with the Italian privacy code." They were all found not guilty of criminal defamation.

Should these Google execs be held accountable?

"In essence this ruling means that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload," writes Matt Sucherman, VP and Deputy General Counsel - Europe, Middle East and Africa on the Google Blog. "We will appeal this astonishing decision because the Google employees on trial had nothing to do with the video in question."

This is a case of a business being held accountable for user-generated content. Isn't the entire web generated by users? What if Google's search engine (algorithmically) indexed something illegal. Should company execs be penalized, even if they comply with authorities' requests for removal of such content? Ask yourself these questions:

- What if YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. had to shut down because it couldn't control the things users post?

- What if every blogging platform had to do the same?

- What if you went to jail for comments posted on your blog?

You're invited to become a Facebook fan of WebProNews!

You're not likely going to go to jail for comments posted on your blog, but the point is, that by allowing people to post comments on your blog, you are allowing user-generated content, that you can't necessarily control until after it's been posted, unless you don't let them go live until approving them. Google is being held accountable for content that users uploaded, which was not in their control until after the fact. YouTube users upload 20 hours of video every minute, according to Google.

You can see why this case is much bigger than just the specific instance it involves. The case is subject to appeal, but if it is not overturned, what will this mean for the web?

"The video was totally reprehensible and we took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police," says Sucherman.

"To be clear, none of the four Googlers charged had anything to do with this video," he says. "They did not appear in it, film it, upload it or review it. None of them know the people involved or were even aware of the video's existence until after it was removed."

He goes on to talk about how the case "attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built," also mentioning that European Union law dictates that hosting providers have a safe harbor from liability as long as they remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence. "If that principle is swept aside and sites like Blogger, YouTube and indeed every social network and any community bulletin board, are held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them — every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video — then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear," Sucherman says.

If rulings such as the one against these Google execs were to become commonplace, how much do you think that would affect the social media industry? Companies like Google, Facebook, MySpace, etc. couldn't let users upload content, which essentially means social media couldn't exist. User-generated content couldn't exist. How could you blog? How could you leave a status update on Facebook, or upload a family photo to Picasa? There is always the possibility that some user could make a death threat or upload a murder video, so if the companies behind the services that were used to commit these crimes were held accountable, how could their businesses continue?

That's why Google is not only upset about the ruling against its executives, but calls it a "serious threat to the web."

Should Google (or any other site) be held responsible for content that users upload (even when said content is removed)? Share your thoughts.

About the Author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

There's not much difference between prostate and prostitute, is there? - by Sanjay Chabra

When doing business with people and companies from other lands, you can sometimes run into a wall known as "cultural inconsistencies." At least that's what I call it. As an example, I know my husband and I always used to laugh when passing our favorite Vietnamese restaurant (now defunct) called "A Dong."

When Sanjay's story crossed my desktop, I knew I had to share it with you, especially since our economy has speedily become a global one, and as the Beatles once sang, "Hands across the water." - Patty


The flight attendant at Heathrow airport said something to me, and I had no clue what she was saying. I knew she was speaking English, but for the life of me, I could not figure out a word she said. Another English speaking person had to ‘translate’ her English to my English. “You caan’t take the babe buggee insaaide th aeroplane.” It appeared, I wasn’t allowed to take the baby stroller inside the plane.

What? That’s what she said?!

This incident should have been an eye-opener for me (and an ear opener too). It’s not only what comes out of our mouths, but also what goes into our ears, that determines our ‘accent’. By the age of 8 or so, the way we speak and understand a language, is set for the rest of our lives. The muscles in the larynx are formed.

Ironically, I was on my way from Washington DC, where I now live, to India, where I originally come from, to start my transcription and closed captioning office. Outsourcing was the buzz word. The idea was to get US shows captioned there inexpensively and save money, and get rich fast!

I hired the best brains in India to start transcribing documentaries, sitcoms, movies, you name it. Even some Playboy videos. Nudity on screen is illegal in India so we would send only the audio files. You’d think that in the land of ‘Kamasutra’ things would be a bit more relaxed on this front. (There's still a standing arrest warrant for Mr. Rupert Murdoch, whose channel once showed a glimpse of female breasts. So what if this happened 12 years ago, we Indians don't forget breasts when we see them).

Anyway, we got started with the transcription. This is how it went:

“Hey, what ya doin’?” turned into, “Hey, what goes on there?”

“Hanna Montana isn’t Hanna Montana,” turned into, “Hanamon Tuna isn’t Hanamon Tuna.”

You f* piece of s* I’ll f* kill you”, turned into, “Sir, this is bad language, I can’t transcribe it. I am a good Indian.”

“What up, bro”, turned to “What’s up there Brooke?”

Uncle Harvey, I ain’t gonna do no boogie-woogie”, turned into, “Hey uncle Harvey, I’m late going to the Bookie Wookie.”

And so on… you get the drift.

Trying to run my company from my Washington DC office, I was pulling my hair by now. But, India was my country and these were my people. I had to deal with them with patience and compassion. So I hired an American accent expert and organized a training session for the transcribers.

It did improve things to some extent. ‘What up, bro’ became ‘What up Brow’, but things on the whole remained unacceptable for the captioning world where we strive for 100% accuracy. Compound to that, the difference in spellings: Colour, harbour, favourite, honour, analyse, centre, ageing, arguement, counselling, programme. By the end of it, I was ready to jump of an aeroplane in my pyjamas eating chilli, signing cheques and land on my brown coloured arse!

Some things did go well. Transcribing for Playboy was a breeze…after all, there aren’t too many ways you can misspell Aaaah, or Ooooh!

I felt such a relief when I threw in the towel and moved the transcription operations to Bethesda, Maryland. (We ONLY do captioning in New Delhi now WITH ALL TEXT TRANSCRIBED IN USA). Now the result is perfect, and my hair has come back (naah, not the hair).

So, the moral of the story? If you get your transcriptions done in India, or any other foreign country, then ‘Congressman in bed with enlarged prostitue' can get in a lot of trouble.

Do please have a look at our still amazing low rates (transcribed in USA and captioned in India).

Many thanks,

Sanjay Chabra
Talking Type Captions

Email Sanjay at

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How Do You Define Success? - by Iyabo Asani

Do you know that the more successful you feel now, the more success you will experience later?

What is something you always wanted to do but never took the time to do? For example, surfing, attending cooking classes, taking a photography class. Think of something fun and childlike and not something work related.

I suspect that you have spent many years pursuing knowledge and education while focusing on your career. There are parts of yourself that you have neglected and are now crying out for attention. That is why I ask you what is something you always wanted to do but never did. Those parts of you are crying out to be heard.

You have such a depth of wealth, inside wealth, that you can tap into and create a wonderful life from. That wealth is part of the fullness of who you are. Living from the fullness of who you are is critical to your success. Success is not a partial or compartmental phenomenon but we all treat it like that.

Everyone wants to be successful. Success is encoded in our DNA. One of the critical human needs, is the need for significance in our uniqueness and individuality. This need for significance drives us to pursue success. However, something gets mistranslated in this pursuit of success. The point is that success is already ours. It is not something elusive that we want to chase after. Instead, it is something that is already ours as it is encoded in each of the cells in our body.

Therefore, our objective is to practice success, not pursue it.

Let us redefine success. If you look up “success” in the dictionary, you will find a definition that says: the attainment of wealth, position, honors or the like. What is missing in this definition?


Ingrained in our psyche is a definition of success that includes wealth and honors but not “happiness.” Maybe this is why you have felt unfulfilled in your “successful” job. Our entire educational system and socialization is about achieving success and wealth and position and honors. Now, your happiness is asking for some space in your life.

Did you know that happy people make about a million dollars more in their lifetime than unhappy people? Marci Schimoff in her book, “Happy for No Reason” teaches us that happiness is a habit that is worthwhile creating. Some people are naturally happy and some are not. You can cultivate habits that will help you create more happiness in your life. As you focus on creating more happiness in your life you will find that you are also making more money.

Think of it this way, unconsciously have been waiting for your knight in shining armor to ride in on a white horse and “he” never came. You thought your job, your partner, your car, your accomplishments were your “knight.”

Well, I have breaking news for you. “He” is not coming but you do still get the white horse! Except, you are riding into your life on your white horse and you have been riding it for a long time unaware. You are your own heroine!

For men, you thought you would experience grand satisfaction when you were able to provide for your family. And you did. But that feeling of satisfaction fizzed out and remains elusive. Now what? Your manhood is not tied into how much money you make. I promise you. This is a myth that men share. You are far more precious to your family and kids than how much money you make. You are far more precious to yourself than how much money you make.

So take the time to redefine success for yourself. Include in your definition of success play and laughter. Include happiness in it. Include feeling content and satisfied now in it. This is how you attract and create abundance. And finally, enjoy success now! Not later.

Iyabo Asani is a Business Mentor and Money Coach at Inner Genius Coaching
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