Cutting the Chai Effect: Guruji Sheds Copyrighted Material

Don’t mind the title of the post. I couldn’t help it. Afterall while T-Series’ army of lawyers couldn’t yet stop Guruji.com from indexing ‘pirated’ content, the previous post on Cutting the Chai seems to have got the website to remove other copyrighted material.

The earlier design for Guruji.com’s homepage, as pointed out in this blog, included unauthorised images from Shutterstock. Now they have removed the erring graphics.

Am now eagerly waiting for the verdict on indexing the music.

Interestingly, the mainstream media has almost ignored the Guruji episode, quite unlike when Avnish Bajaj, CEO of Bazee.com was put behind bars.

Piracy, it seems, isn’t as newsworthy as an MMS scandal.

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On Guruji and Piracy

Guruji.com Screenshot with logoWhile one Guruji (Shibu Soren) has been upto his usual ways in the political arena, another Guruji, of the online sort, has entangled itself in the web of piracy allegations.

According to media reports Anurag Dod, the CEO and founder of Guruji.com and a few other company executives were arrested by the Bangalore police on charges of piracy/copyright infringement. The complainant was T-Series (as you sow, so shall you reap). T-Series, like most music companies, has been crying foul over music piracy. Piracy has hit its bottomline hard.

Here on Cutting the Chai, I have been writing about piracy and the ways that the music and movie industry can counter it.

The arrest of Guruji.com’s CEO is important news, because this case could define the future of online music sharing in India (at least from a legal perspective).

Back in 2006 when Guruji launched, it focused on search results with a ‘desi’ flavour. But when they tried to add some music to it, it was apparent they they were hitting the wrong notes (melodious ones, if you hear from the users’ ears).

The search engine was also touted as the potential Baidu of India. Guruji seems to have taken the Baidu comparison a bit too seriously and went on to incorporate Baidu’s USP – MP3 search (Guruji’s music search was launched in July 2008)

Much like the Chinese, Indians too are fond of their music and like to find it for free on the internet (Altavista was perhaps one of the earliest to include music search, but I can no longer find the feature and Google’s is only for the US).

Before Guruji.com was Guruji.com, it was Terrawiz. A “privately held startup with development center in Bangalore, India … developing technologies to enable the India interested person to search and get relevant results quickly.” Today, if you go to the domain www.terrawiz.com it’ll take you the WAP/mobile version of the search engineNote :

Apparently the name Terrawiz didn’t seem to sound something that will appeal to an Indian audience, therefore Guruji (the teacher). The domain http://www.guruji.com was earlier a site on Muralidhara Swamigal.

Anurag Dod had the right credentials to start a successful online venture, a BTech from IIT Delhi and a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Michigan. And his baby Guruji.com wasn’t doing too bad either (Guruji claims to have over 1.5 billion page views a month). If it hadn’t been doing well, he wouldn’t have been arrested. No takes notice of the failures.

Over the years, Guruji.com has moved on from being a search engine delivering India specific content to a search engine delivering links to downloadable Indian music. They have even rejigged their homepage to show where their strength lies and what interests their visitors the most. They are now taking pride in being the “No 1 in music search.”

What would be interesting to know is whether the standard disclaimers, that Guruji.com and many other sites use, to wash their hands off indexed third-party content, holds any water in the courts.

Guruji Music lets you search and listen to old, new, latest mp3 songs and ringtones. However, we have no liability for websites that claim to have free mp3 downloads.

Disclaimer :
Guruji.com indexes third party websites and does not have control over, nor any liability for the content of such third party websites.
If you believe that any of the search results above, link to content that infringes your copyright, please contact us.

This is very important in a broader sense, because many of us (particularly bloggers) link to external websites whose contents might not be legal according to the laws of the land. Earlier this year, China’s Baidu had won a court case against music groups and was cleared of piracy charges. Wonder, how the Indian courts would read the T-Series versus Guruji case.

Guruji could possibly get into another little copyright trouble over their latest design. A closer look at the new Guruji.com homepage, shows distinct Shutterstock watermarks. This clearly indicates that they didn’t create the image, nor did they take permission to use it. Whoever is responsible for the design, did a lazy job (just picked up from the net and didn’t even bother to clean it up. As they say nakal mein bhi akal lagti hain). Moreover no one at Guruji also seems to have noticed.

Apparently unauthorised Shuttestock images on Guruji.com

To Guruji.com’s credit, their music search works wonderfully. They even give upfront links from where users can download the files directly without necessarily having to go to the website hosting the content. If you don’t wish to download, there is the listen option. You may also dedicate a song to a friend and download a ringtone-version of the song for your mobile phone. The website is available in eight languages and it indexes songs of at least nine languages. Too much of a good thing can sometimes get you into trouble.

At a previous workplace I was trying to bring in more music content for our music website and had almost inked a deal with the impressive new startup Grooveshark. They seemed to have everything right about them and claimed that they even paid the due royalties. But the legal mumbo jumbo was a bit grey in some parts and we didn’t want to get our hands burnt. Though it had a lot of potential, we had to unwillingly, shelve the plans. “Music is risky business,” my boss told me. Since Anurag is his own boss, no one seems to have told him that.

Guruji.com is an easy target for the music companies because they haven’t shrouded themselves behind a clock of anonymity. Go to Guruji.com and you’ll find all that you want to know about them, the management team, their addresses. On the contrary, another popular Indian music search engine Phulki has played it safe. They haven’t put up any contact info on their website and a whois search draws a blank as they have kept their contact info private. But I’ve heard of Phulki executives doing the rounds to tie up with other websites. Don’t know if they hand out a business card or not.

What Guruji has been doing is very borderline. But as I have argued before, the music companies are getting it all wrong. They could take Guruji to court but what about songs.pk (haven’t deliberately linked to the site, unless T-Series decides to drag me to court too. I can’t even afford a decent lawyer) and the innumerable other sites and blogs that pass on illegal content. And the biggest of them all, P2P. They can’t be shutting them down all. They have to come up with an alternative, at least T-Series tried to.

Apple’s iTunes Store has displayed that people are willing to pay for their music, but then it hasn’t been tried out in India. We Indians often react a lot differently than the world. But someone needs to go out and do something. In.com, Bollywood Hungama and Rediff SongBuzz are letting us listen to music for free and that too legally.

Interestingly, Guruji.com doesn’t seem to index the above mentioned three Indian websites that legally stream music. At least the random search that I ran, didn’t find any mentions.

What we need is a also service via which we can download music to our devices and at a small fee. Something in the range of Re 1 to Rs 5 per song would be fine. Personally, wouldn’t mind paying a small amount (~ Rs 10-15) for an album. Given that the files are of good quality (~320 Kbps) properly sorted and tagged. Something the pirate sites never do well and when they do they don’t forget to include self-advertisement in the tag fields.

Give me websites from where I can legally download my music from and not too a high a price (after all it’s about pricing it right) and also have websites like Guruji which can then become a legal music search engine (and also a selling platform). I search for the songs I like on Guruji (and also preview them) and add them to my cart on Guruji (that saves me the hassle of going to the T-Series website for one song and then to Saregama for another). I make my payment on Guruji.com and download the songs from there itself. Guruju.com can be a desi iTunes Store but thoda hatke (How they share the revenue, is their problem).

The truth is that CDs are fast becoming obsolete. MP3 is here to stay, until a newer and better format is widely accepted. Indian music companies have to innovate fast or they would just fade away. And that will be a loss for music, musicians and music lovers.

While some may argue that Guruji is only indexing and displaying relevant results to the user and there is nothing illegal (or unethical) about it. JPK at JudeTheObscure says “It’s like arresting L&T executives because people have been transporting hooch over the flyover they built.” But here it appears that, they have also built a special carriageway for the exclusive purpose of transporting hooch.

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Mouse left click not working? A quick fix solution

Before you proceed further reading this post, please note that this is just a quick fix solution, a jugaad, that will help you tide over a current crisis and shouldn’t be treated as a long term permanent solution.

The trigger for this post was a desperate call from a friend who was working on something urgent and her left mouse stopped responding. I assumed that it would be a hardware fault and there wasn’t much I could do over the phone about it (the three-tight-slaps formula didn’t work).

Since the left button (the most used by right-handed computer users) wouldn’t be working, also including instructions (in brackets) on using the keyboard to navigate.

- From the Start menu go to Control Panel (Press the Windows Icon – placed to the left of the Space Bar, then use the Arrow Keys to select Control Panel and press Enter).

- In the Control Panel window click on the Mouse icon (Press the Tab button until one of the icons from the Control Panel contents gets selected. Then use the Arrow buttons to reach/select the Mouse icon and press Enter)

- Under the Buttons Tab (in the Mouse Properties window that opens) check the ‘Switch primary and secondary buttons’ check box press OK (Use the Arrow buttons to choose between the tabs, and press the Tab button to move within the selected tab. Use Shift+Tab to move in the bottom-up direction. When the ‘Switch primary and secondary buttons’ is selected. Press the Space Bar, the check box will get checked, and then press Enter)

Mouse Properties on Windows XP

Now, for the time being, you will be able to continue with your work using the right button of the mouse as the primary button. It might be a bit cumbersome to use, but you’ll get used to it in a while.

As for the functions of the right mouse button, you can either use any of the following:

- The Menu button on your keyboard (Usually located to the right of the Space Bar, next to the Alt key).

- Shift+F10 or Ctrl+Shift+F10 (whichever works for you).

The instructions/examples refer to Windows XP. The process should be similar in other Windows versions – Vista, Windows 7

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When the Indian Air Force bombed Aizawl

In the aftermath of the massacre of 76 security personnel by the Naxals in Chhattisgarh, a debate is on regarding the use of air power against the leftist militants.

While the government might still be contemplating about initiating such action, it wouldn’t be unprecedented for India.

[I had, almost five years ago, posted a post on this blog, but am not able to locate it now. Thankfully, found it in the email inbox. Reposting.]

It is a little known fact but perhaps the only instance in history where a country conducted an air raid on its own territory, against its citizens. On March 5-6, 1966 the Indian Air Force carried out air raids on the town Aizawl, in Mizoram, to soften the situation, so that the Indian military can recapture the town.

This dark chapter of Indian anti-insurgency history remains shrouded in the classified files. Very few people have spoken about it.

Gen. (Retd.) DK Palit states “… 5th March was the crucial day. At last, at 1130hrs came the air strike, IAF fighters strafing hostile positions all around the battalion area. The strafing was repeated in the afternoon… (6th March)… There was another air strike that day and that put paid to the investment. The hostiles melted away.”

[Gen. (Retd) DK Palit, Sentinels of the North East: The Assam Rifles, p. 264.]

Shobhit (in a comment to this post) asked for a more information on the incident. Here it is:

In 1958 there was a famine (locally called Mautam – meaning bamboo death in Mizo) in the Lushai Hills area of Assam (now Mizoram). Disillusioned with the lack of administrative aid during the famine, the Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF) was formed.

The MNFF in 1961 changed its name to Mizo National Front (MNF), an armed political organisation. The MNF waged a secessionist movement against the Indian state. In early 1966 parts of Lushai Hills including the district headquarters, Aizawl, slipped out of the administration’s hands into MNF control.

The Indian government, in an attempt to regain control over the rebel occupied regions, called in Air Force fighter planes from the Tezpur air base. The town of Aizawl and Tualbung and Hnahlan villages were bombarded.

The administration also moved out people from villages in the hills and resettled them in regrouped villages along the highways as a counter insurgency measure.

Though the government was successful in regaining control over Aizawl town, the insurgency continued for 20 years and ended with the signing of the Mizoram Accord between the Government of India and the MNF in 1986.

Pu Laldenga, the founder of the MNF, was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the newly crafted state of Mizoram in 1986.

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Toffees for change? Take this sandal instead

My wife, Varsha, gets peeved whenever the attendant at the cash counter offers toffees instead of change. She refuses to accept the toffee-currency and has even offered to pay them back in toffees. But Nana Patekar in the forthcoming release Tum Milo To Sahi does better, he offers a sandal.

I strongly support my wife (and Nana Patekar) in her endeavour against this illegal tender. The reasons:

- Neither the Parliament of India nor the Reserve Bank of India have designated toffees (of any denomination) as legal tender, therefore we are not legally bound to accept it and it is within our rights to reject any such form of pseudo-currency.

- The cost price of the toffee for the retailer is lesser than the MRP. Therefore, it means that everytime a shopkeeper hands us a Re 1 toffee, he stands to make a profit of around 20 paise (or whatever the margin is). Therefore it is in their interest to insist on toffees instead of change.

- For those who don’t have much of a liking for toffees (or the brand of toffees that they offer) it is a lose-lose scenario.

- It is quite unlikely that the supermarket/shop would accept a payment made in toffees (or a sandal in Nana’s case). If no take, then why give?

I agree that could be a genuine shortage of coins in the market, given that so many of them end up stored for years in piggy banks.

Well, here is a business idea, for anyone interested:

A virtual piggy bank. You go to a supermarket make purchases for Rs 99 and pay Rs 100 in cash. As usual, no change. But you don’t have to settle for that unwanted toffee. Just take out your virtual piggy bank card and the attendant will swipe it to add the Re 1 to your virtual piggy bank account. So every time there’s a shortage of change, the money gets added to your account. And one day when you have accumulated enough balance on your card you can redeem it.

If this doesn’t sound very feasible, here’s a simpler way out: Use your credit/debit card. But don’t take that toffee (unless you want to).

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Google Chrome’s IPL / Twenty20 Cricket Ad

With the IPL broadcasting (deferred) live on YouTube, the Twenty20 bug also seem to have bitten Google Chrome.

Came across this online ad for Google Chrome:

Google Chrome IPL Twenty20 Ad
Fast cricket
in a fast browser.
Get Chrome
by Google

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Why I hate the new Tata Sky Plus (Elevator) Ad

I stay on the 12th floor of a 14-storey apartment building. This morning I had to rush to work and was waiting for the elevator and it stopped at every floor before it could reach mine.

No, as in the new Tata Sky Plus (Tata Sky+) ad my wife isn’t to blame. In fact I made a premptive purchase of a Tata Sky Plus DVR just before I got married.

And this has been happening quite frequently ever since the ad in question (see below) began airing on TV. I suspect that is either disgruntled women (the IPL season is on) or inspired kids (more likely) pressing all the buttons. Whatever the reason, it’s me doing the waiting.

The guys at O&M should think of the consequences when they come up with ideas that give people ideas (they also have wives at home, unless they already have a Tata Sky Plus or multiple TVs)

Tata Sky Plus – Cold War (Elevator / Lift)

My woes apart, the ads are fun. Here a couple more from the Tata Sky Plus ‘Cold War’ series:

Tata Sky Plus – Cold War (Burnt Toast)

Tata Sky Plus – Cold War (Mixie)

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