|Yahoo's Zacharias: Blurring picture
It has been a rough couple of months
for George Zacharias, the recently appointed Managing Director
for online giant Yahoo's India operations. First, he was dragged
to court by home-grown rival Sify over a case of data theft; more
recently, Yahoo's local language operations have come under sustained
fire from the blogging community for allegedly lifting content
from other sites and publishing it on their Kannada, Malayalam,
Tamil and Hindi portals. The matter got even more heated when
more bloggers joined the chorus of protests, this time stating
that Yahoo! had uploaded water-marked (and therefore copyright-protected)
food pictures on their local language portals.
Yahoo! quickly issued a public clarification, blaming Webdunia,
its content provider, for the snafu. "The content on Yahoo!
India's language portal is provided by Webdunia, under the express
representation that it has the necessary rights and authorisation
for the content," says a Yahoo! India representative. Just
when the tension seemed to be ebbing, more bloggers joined the
chorus, this time claiming that Hindi poems by Ramdarsh Misra
were copied without permission of the author. "According
to Yahoo!, the content for their local language portals is provided
by Webdunia. Yahoo! republishes the content assuming that Webdunia
has obtained permission from the concerned parties. But that's
clearly not happening and both the companies are profiting from
the other's content," asserts Amit Aggarwal, a professional
blogger in a post on Digital Inspiration. Adds Singari Indira,
who runs an Indian food blog called Mahanandi: "We think
the buck starts with Webdunia but Yahoo! is ultimately responsible,
since the evidence is on the Yahoo! domain and on its portals."
Inji Penu, who writes on Ginger and Mango says: "Indian bloggers
think it is high time Yahoo! put a halt to this plain and simple
stealing that is happening in the name of content development"
Legal experts, too, side with bloggers such as Indira, citing
Sections 2 and 13 of the Copyright Act and Section 79 of the Information
Technology Act, 2000 to hold the online giant responsible for
this faux pas. "Yahoo! is definitely on the wrong side of
the law since content that is posted on a blog is seen as original
and copyright-protected by the owner. At the same time, Yahoo!
could also be liable as a network service provider in this case,"
says Pawan Duggal, Managing Partner at Pawan Duggal Associates
and a specialist in technology and intellectual property law.
While Zacharias refuses to bow to pressure from bloggers to
take more severe action, two key executives at Yahoo! India, Ajay
Nambiar, the Portal's head of Content and Niyati Sen Gupta, Head
of Entertainment, have quit. While company officials confirm their
departure, they deny it has anything to do with the ongoing content
fiasco. "Yahoo! respects the blogging community and the etiquette
followed by bloggers. We regret any inconvenience caused by the
inadvertent posting of the recipe without attribution. Yahoo!
India is concerned about the sentiments of the blogging community
as we completely endorse the values of blogging on the internet,"
says a company rep. "The punishment for copyright violation
is harsh, so companies may tread carefully," adds Duggal,
who will litigate on six cases of alleged copyright violation
over the next few months.
Both have India insurance joint ventures.
|Prudential's Feige: Money matters
When DLF announced its
joint venture with Prudential Financial Inc. earlier this year
for life insurance, there was a rider at the bottom of the press
release. "Prudential Financial Inc. of the United States
is not affiliated with Prudential Plc which is headquartered in
the United Kingdom."
Meet the other Prudential in financial services, a 130-year-old
company that's a giant in its own right with $616 billion (Rs
27,10,400 crore) in assets under management and $2.1 trillion
(Rs 92,40,000 crore) of life insurance in force worldwide (the
150-year-old Prudential Plc had £237.5 billion or Rs 20,18,750
crore in assets under management as on June 30, 2006). Interestingly,
Prudential Financial did draw inspiration for its name from the
UK company when founder John Fairfield Dryden visited that country
in the 1870s.
In India, of course, the UK Prudential is present as a joint
venture with ICICI Bank and the joint venture is the largest private
sector insurer in India. That, along with the 15-odd other players
in the life insurance market, doesn't faze Timothy E. Feige, Co-President,
Prudential International Insurance Co. "When we entered Japan
20 years ago, almost 95 per cent of all families owned insurance.
But we came in with a differentiated approach and today we are
the second-largest foreign life insurance group in Japan,"
says Feige who was in India recently. The partnership with real
estate company DLF came about after almost a year of negotiations.
"We talked to around 10 different players of very diverse
nature, but DLF was very compatible with us," says Feige.
Watch out for the Prudential vs Prudential battle.