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Top five ways to do business unethically in India

Over a decade long career , I have often been reminded of this saying from erstwhile mentors in long forgotten consulting email group- It is not WHAT you KNOW, it is WHO you KNOW. The power of WHO you KNOW can defeat even what you know , have learnt or worked hard at. Accordingly these are some wry observations on how businesses sometimes take shortcuts in India, and the whys and wherefores.

1) Regulatory Arbitrage due to Lack of Regulatory Oversight- This is especially true in terms of labor practices. This includes under-paying Caucasians and non -Indians for internships , or jobs (in the name of sponsoring the work visa). India is an extremely inexpensive place to stay in, but it is sometimes unfriendly (in terms of laws not people) to people visiting from the West. This ranges from amusing things to paying 10 times the price for non Indian visitors to Taj Mahal- to not so funny things as paying them lower salaries because they need  a reason to stay on. Unfortunately this is true in many countries -underpaying aliens, but it is much better regulated in the West.

2) Stealing Intellectual Property- I have often known people to steal presentations and even excel macros from the place they were working to the new place. Almost no one gets prosecuted for intellectual property theft (unless you are caught with 10,000 pirated music or film cds)

3) Using Pirated Softwares – Lack of awareness of FOSS means many SMEs use shortcuts including downloading software from Pirate Bay and using this to work for clients in the West. Example- This could be as simple as downloading SAS software from Internet, or using WPS software for training and mis-representing SAS Institute’s name. (added confusion due to SAS -software,company,language ) . There are other major companies who suffer from this too, notably Microsoft.

This could be as complex as using academic versions of enterprise software for businesses purposes. In each case because of the geography, legal risk is quite low, and returns quite high from pirated software. It also helps lower the unethical vendor’s quotation of prices compared to the one who is doing it straight.

One way to avoid this is -ask your vendor to show you copy of how many legal licence’s for software. It can also help in cutting down exaggerated bench strength claims of vendors, as sometimes businesses hire many people and then put them on internal projects.

4) Illegal Trade practices- This include making employees sign a 1 year bond for not leaving the company after they have visited the West for company work- in the name of training . This also includes abusing the loopholes in various types of visa.

5) Ignoring signed contracts and negotiating to lower prices at every step illegally, in collusion with other vendors ( there is no effective anti -trust act ) and using the complete inadequate and lengthy nature of filing court cases in India.
Almost every non Indian client I know pays on time- almost every Indian client I know needs reminders. This is more of a mindset problem , knowing the reluctance to file lawsuits in India given slow progress in the courts ( India has 1.2 billion people and per capita access to judges and lawyers is quite low). The buzz word is- How much can we settle this? Lets do a settlement!

In the long run, this is choking off growth and potential of SMEs in India. In a continuing series- I will help the non Indian users with ways to use technology for legal remedies  in India for intellectual property  along with known case studies and examples.

How to use Bit Torrents

I really liked the software Qbittorent available from http://www.qbittorrent.org/ I think bit torrents should be the default way of sharing huge content especially software downloads. For protecting intellectual property there should be much better codes and software keys than presently available.

The qBittorrent project aims to provide a Free Software alternative to µtorrent. Additionally, qBittorrent runs and provides the same features on all major platforms (Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, OS/2, FreeBSD).

qBittorrent is based on Qt4 toolkit and libtorrent-rasterbar.

qBittorrent v2 Features

  • Polished µTorrent-like User Interface
  • Well-integrated and extensible Search Engine
    • Simultaneous search in most famous BitTorrent search sites
    • Per-category-specific search requests (e.g. Books, Music, Movies)
  • All Bittorrent extensions
    • DHT, Peer Exchange, Full encryption, Magnet/BitComet URIs, …
  • Remote control through a Web user interface
    • Nearly identical to the regular UI, all in Ajax
  • Advanced control over trackers, peers and torrents
    • Torrents queueing and prioritizing
    • Torrent content selection and prioritizing
  • UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding support
  • Available in ~25 languages (Unicode support)
  • Torrent creation tool
  • Advanced RSS support with download filters (inc. regex)
  • Bandwidth scheduler
  • IP Filtering (eMule and PeerGuardian compatible)
  • IPv6 compliant
  • Sequential downloading (aka “Download in order”)
  • Available on most platforms: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, OS/2, FreeBSD
So if you are new to Bit Torrents- here is a brief tutorial
Some terminology from

Tracker

tracker is a server that keeps track of which seeds and peers are in the swarm.

Seed

Seed is used to refer to a peer who has 100% of the data. When a leech obtains 100% of the data, that peer automatically becomes a Seed.

Peer

peer is one instance of a BitTorrent client running on a computer on the Internet to which other clients connect and transfer data.

Leech

leech is a term with two meanings. Primarily leech (or leeches) refer to a peer (or peers) who has a negative effect on the swarm by having a very poor share ratio (downloading much more than they upload, creating a ratio less than 1.0)
1) Download and install the software from  http://www.qbittorrent.org/
2) If you want to search for new files, you can use the nice search features in here
3) If you want to CREATE new bit torrents- go to Tools -Torrent Creator
4) For sharing content- just seed the torrent you just created. What is seeding – hey did you read the terminology in the beginning?
5) Additionally -
From

Trackers: Below are some popular public trackers. They are servers which help peers to communicate.

Here are some good trackers you can use:

 

http://open.tracker.thepiratebay.org/announce

http://www.torrent-downloads.to:2710/announce

http://denis.stalker.h3q.com:6969/announce

udp://denis.stalker.h3q.com:6969/announce

http://www.sumotracker.com/announce

and

Super-seeding

When a file is new, much time can be wasted because the seeding client might send the same file piece to many different peers, while other pieces have not yet been downloaded at all. Some clients, like ABCVuzeBitTornado, TorrentStorm, and µTorrent have a “super-seed” mode, where they try to only send out pieces that have never been sent out before, theoretically making the initial propagation of the file much faster. However the super-seeding becomes less effective and may even reduce performance compared to the normal “rarest first” model in cases where some peers have poor or limited connectivity. This mode is generally used only for a new torrent, or one which must be re-seeded because no other seeds are available.
Note- you use this tutorial and any or all steps at your own risk. I am not legally responsible for any mishaps you get into. Please be responsible while being an efficient bit tor renter. That means respecting individual property rights.

Interview Prof Benjamin Alamar , Sports Analytics

Here is an interview with Prof Benjamin Alamar, founding editor of the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sport, a professor of sports management at Menlo College and the Director of Basketball Analytics and Research for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA.

Ajay – The movie Moneyball recently sparked out mainstream interest in analytics in sports.Describe the role of analytics in sports management

Benjamin- Analytics is impacting sports organizations on both the sport and business side.
On the Sport side, teams are using analytics, including advanced data management, predictive anlaytics, and information systems to gain a competitive edge. The use of analytics results in more accurate player valuations and projections, as well as determining effective strategies against specific opponents.
On the business side, teams are using the tools of analytics to increase revenue in a variety of ways including dynamic ticket pricing and optimizing of the placement of concession stands.
Ajay-  What are the ways analytics is used in specific sports that you have been part of?

Benjamin- A very typical first step for a team is to utilize the tools of predictive analytics to help inform their draft decisions.

Ajay- What are some of the tools, techniques and software that analytics in sports uses?
Benjamin- The tools of sports analytics do not differ much from the tools of business analytics. Regression analysis is fairly common as are other forms of data mining. In terms of software, R is a popular tool as is Excel and many of the other standard analysis tools.
Ajay- Describe your career journey and how you became involved in sports management. What are some of the tips you want to tell young students who wish to enter this field?

Benjamin- I got involved in sports through a company called Protrade Sports. Protrade initially was a fantasy sports company that was looking to develop a fantasy game based on advanced sports statistics and utilize a stock market concept instead of traditional drafting. I was hired due to my background in economics to develop the market aspect of the game.

There I met Roland Beech (who now works for the Mavericks) and Aaron Schatz (owner of footballoutsiders.com) and learned about the developing field of sports statistics. I then changed my research focus from economics to sports statistics and founded the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. Through the journal and my published research, I was able to establish a reputation of doing quality, useable work.

For students, I recommend developing very strong data management skills (sql and the like) and thinking carefully about what sort of questions a general manager or coach would care about. Being able to demonstrate analytic skills around actionable research will generally attract the attention of pro teams.

About-

Benjamin Alamar, Professor of Sport Management, Menlo College

Benjamin Alamar

Professor Benjamin Alamar is the founding editor of the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sport, a professor of sports management at Menlo College and the Director of Basketball Analytics and Research for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA. He has published academic research in football, basketball and baseball, has presented at numerous conferences on sports analytics. He is also a co-creator of ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal. He has consulted for teams in the NBA and NFL, provided statistical analysis for author Michael Lewis for his recent book The Blind Side, and worked with numerous startup companies in the field of sports analytics. Professor Alamar is also an award winning economist who has worked academically and professionally in intellectual property valuation, public finance and public health. He received his PhD in economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2001.

Prof Alamar is a speaker at Predictive Analytics World, San Fransisco and is doing a workshop there

http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/sanfrancisco/2012/agenda.php#day2-17

2:55-3:15pm

All level tracks Track 1: Sports Analytics
Case Study: NFL, MLB, & NBA
Competing & Winning with Sports Analytics

The field of sports analytics ties together the tools of data management, predictive modeling and information systems to provide sports organization a competitive advantage. The field is rapidly developing based on new and expanded data sources, greater recognition of the value, and past success of a variety of sports organizations. Teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, as well as other organizations have found a competitive edge with the application of sports analytics. The future of sports analytics can be seen through drawing on these past successes and the developments of new tools.

You can know more about Prof Alamar at his blog http://analyticfootball.blogspot.in/ or journal at http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jqas. His detailed background can be seen at http://menlo.academia.edu/BenjaminAlamar/CurriculumVitae

Analytics for Cyber Conflict

 

The emerging use of Analytics and Knowledge Discovery in Databases for Cyber Conflict and Trade Negotiations

 

The blog post is the first in series or articles on cyber conflict and the use of analytics for targeting in both offense and defense in conflict situations.

 

It covers knowledge discovery in four kinds of databases (so chosen because of perceived importance , sensitivity, criticality and functioning of the geopolitical economic system)-

  1. Databases on Unique Identity Identifiers- including next generation biometric databases connected to Government Initiatives and Banking, and current generation databases of identifiers like government issued documents made online
  2. Databases on financial details -This includes not only traditional financial service providers but also online databases with payment details collected by retail product selling corporates like Sony’s Playstation Network, Microsoft ‘s XBox and
  3. Databases on contact details – including those by offline businesses collecting marketing databases and contact details
  4. Databases on social behavior- primarily collected by online businesses like Facebook , and other social media platforms.

It examines the role of

  1. voluntary privacy safeguards and government regulations ,

  2. weak cryptographic security of databases,

  3. weakness in balancing marketing ( maximized data ) with privacy (minimized data)

  4. and lastly the role of ownership patterns in database owning corporates

A small distinction between cyber crime and cyber conflict is that while cyber crime focusses on stealing data, intellectual property and information  to primarily maximize economic gains

cyber conflict focuses on stealing information and also disrupt effective working of database backed systems in order to gain notional competitive advantages in economics as well as geo-politics. Cyber terrorism is basically cyber conflict by non-state agents or by designated terrorist states as defined by the regulations of the “target” entity. A cyber attack is an offensive action related to cyber-infrastructure (like the Stuxnet worm that disabled uranium enrichment centrifuges of Iran). Cyber attacks and cyber terrorism are out of scope of this paper, we will concentrate on cyber conflicts involving databases.

Some examples are given here-

Types of Knowledge Discovery in -

1) Databases on Unique Identifiers- including biometric databases.

Unique Identifiers or primary keys for identifying people are critical for any intensive knowledge discovery program. The unique identifier generated must be extremely secure , and not liable to reverse engineering of the cryptographic hash function.

For biometric databases, an interesting possibility could be determining the ethnic identity from biometric information, and also mapping relatives. Current biometric information that is collected is- fingerprint data, eyes iris data, facial data. A further feature could be adding in voice data as a part of biometric databases.

This is subject to obvious privacy safeguards.

For example, Google recently unveiled facial recognition to unlock Android 4.0 mobiles, only to find out that the security feature could easily be bypassed by using a photo of the owner.

 

 

Example of Biometric Databases

In Afghanistan more than 2 million Afghans have contributed iris, fingerprint, facial data to a biometric database. In India, 121 million people have already been enrolled in the largest biometric database in the world. More than half a million customers of the Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank are are already using biometric verification at ATMs.

Examples of Breached Online Databases

In 2011, Playstation Network by Sony (PSN) lost data of 77 million customers including personal information and credit card information. Additionally data of 24 million customers were lost by Sony’s Sony Online Entertainment. The websites of open source platforms like SourceForge, WineHQ and Kernel.org were also broken into 2011. Even retailers like McDonald and Walgreen reported database breaches.

 

The role of cyber conflict arises in the following cases-

  1. Databases are online for accessing and authentication by proper users. Databases can be breached remotely by non-owners ( or “perpetrators”) non with much lesser chance of intruder identification, detection and penalization by regulators, or law enforcers (or “protectors”) than offline modes of intellectual property theft.

  2. Databases are valuable to external agents (or “sponsors”) subsidizing ( with finance, technology, information, motivation) the perpetrators for intellectual property theft. Databases contain information that can be used to disrupt the functioning of a particular economy, corporation (or “ primary targets”) or for further chain or domino effects in accessing other data (or “secondary targets”)

  3. Loss of data is more expensive than enhanced cost of security to database owners

  4. Loss of data is more disruptive to people whose data is contained within the database (or “customers”)

So the role play for different people for these kind of databases consists of-

1) Customers- who are in the database

2) Owners -who own the database. They together form the primary and secondary targets.

3) Protectors- who help customers and owners secure the databases.

and

1) Sponsors- who benefit from the theft or disruption of the database

2) Perpetrators- who execute the actual theft and disruption in the database

The use of topic models and LDA is known for making data reduction on text, and the use of data visualization including tied to GPS based location data is well known for investigative purposes, but the increasing complexity of both data generation and the sophistication of machine learning driven data processing makes this an interesting area to watch.

 

 

The next article in this series will cover-

the kind of algorithms that are currently or being proposed for cyber conflict, the role of non state agents , and what precautions can knowledge discovery in databases practitioners employ to avoid breaches of security, ethics, and regulation.

Citations-

  1. Michael A. Vatis , CYBER ATTACKS DURING THE WAR ON TERRORISM: A PREDICTIVE ANALYSIS Dartmouth College (Institute for Security Technology Studies).
  2. From Data Mining to Knowledge Discovery in Databases Usama Fayyad, Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, and Padhraic Smyt

SOPA RIP

From http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/01/14/obama-administration-responds-we-people-petitions-sopa-and-online-piracy

  1.  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 (AJ-yup)
  2. We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet.  (AJ-note this may include peer-to-peer browsers, browser extensions for re-routing and newer forms of encryption, or even relocation of internet routers in newer geographies )

We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.

While we are strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights, existing tools are not strong enough to root out the worst online pirates beyond our borders.

We should never let criminals hide behind a hollow embrace of legitimate American values

and

We should all be committed to working with all interested constituencies to develop new legal tools to protect global intellectual property rights without jeopardizing the openness of the Internet. Our hope is that you will bring enthusiasm and know-how to this important challenge

Authored by

Victoria Espinel is Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at Office of Management and Budget

Aneesh Chopra is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President and Associate Director for Technology at the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Howard Schmidt is Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff

————————————————————————–

AJ-Why not sponser a hackathon, White House and create a monetary incentive for hackers to suggest secure ways? Atleast a secure dialogue between policy makers and policy  breakers could be a way forward. 

SOPA in its current form is dead. We live to fight another day.

—————————————————————————–

Quote-

Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. John F K

Does Facebook deserve a 100 billion Valuation

some  questions in my Mind as I struggle to bet my money and pension savings on Facebook IPO

1) Revenue Mix- What percentage of revenues for Facebook come from Banner ads versus gaming partners like Zynga. How dependent is Facebook on Gaming partners. (Zynga has Google as an investor). What mix of revenue is dependent on privacy regulation countries like Europe vs countries like USA.

2) Do 800 million users of Facebook mean 100 billion valuation ? Thats a valuation of $125 in customer life time in terms of NPV . Since ad revenue is itself a percentage of actual good and services sold- how much worth of goods and services do consumers have to buy per capita , to give $125 worth of ads to FB. Eg . companies spend 5% of product cost on Facebook ads, so does that mean each FB account will hope to buy 2500$ worth of Goods from the Internet and from Facebook (assuming they also buy from Amazon etc)

3) Corporate Governance- Unlike Google, Facebook has faced troubling questions of ethics from the day it has started. This includes charges of intellectual property theft, but also non transparent FB stock option pricing in secondary markets before IPO, private placement by Wall Street Bankers like GoldMan Saachs, major investments by Russian Internet media corporations. (read- http://money.cnn.com/2011/01/03/technology/facebook_goldman/index.htm)

4) Retention of key employees post IPO- Key Employees at Google are actually ex- Microsofties. Key FB staff are ex-Google people. Where will the key -FB people go when bored and rich after IPO.

5) Does the macro Economic Condition justify the premium and Private Equity multiple of Facebook?

Will FB be the next Google (in terms of investor retruns) or will it be like Groupon. I suspect the answer  is- it depends on market discounting these assumptions while factoring in sentiment (as well as unloading of stock from large number of FB stock holders on week1).

Baby You Are a Rich Man. but not 100 billion rich. yet. Maybe 80 billion isnt that bad.

Chrome Extension- MafiaaFire

The chrome extension MafiaaWire basically gives you an updated list of redirected websites. So the next time , your evil highness shuts down your favorite website- the list promises to give you an update.  While obviously entertainment intellectual property is a very obvious site category for such redirects, in some cases these extensions can be used for simple things like hosting dissents or protesters against govt corruption in non US countries .

Basically under the new SOPA act (an oline version of pepper spray http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act) even browsers like Firefox and Chrome would be liable for any such extension that can be used to download American Intellectual property illegally.

In the meantime – this is an interesting and creative use case of technology and sociology merging in the brave new world.

You can read about it here-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAFIAAFire_Redirector

MAFIAAFire works by downloading a list which contains the names of the “blocked” sites as well as the sites to redirect to. This list is downloaded every time Firefox starts up or every two days on the Chrome version (although the user has the choice to force an update on the Chrome version instead of waiting for two days).

When a user types in a domain name from the list of blocked domains, the add-on recognizes this and automatically redirects the user to the secondary site. Since this happens before the browser connects to the DNS server, this renders any DNS blocks useless.

Although the add-on checks for which sites are entered into the address bar every time (as it needs to check if that site is on its block list), it does not log these requests nor send these requests to any central server. In other words: it does not track the user.

or

Download it from

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hnifiobpjihmmjgiokkaalgomddebhng

Interesting times indeed!

Related-

Encryption

http://poemsforkush.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/encryption/

 

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