The Great Firewall of America: Is the United States on the Road to Becoming the Next Internet Villain?

by Cynthia Flores January 16 2012, 20:36
In the past couple of months, two Congressional bills have been the subject of a heated debate between media industry giants and some of the world’s largest technology companies: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and its Senate counterpart the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). This legislation is meant to provide the Department of Justice and copyright holders with the ability to curb access to “rogue” foreign websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods. Since the U.S. government does not have the power to take down foreign websites, this bill would grant it the ability to forbid Internet providers from allowing users to connect to those sites. While many entertainment and pharmaceutical companies are in support of these bipartisan bills, digitally oriented companies such as Google, Facebook, and Mozilla have publicly voiced their opposition. Although the problems the bill attempts to address – online piracy, copyright, and trademark infringement – are serious and present a number of enforcement challenges, this vaguely written, catch-all legislation is alarming in its reach. [More]

Fried Chicken, Snuggies, Dish Soap, and the NFL: The Common Denominator

by Jamie Netznik December 30 2011, 15:46
During a typical six-month season, the environment in National Football League ("NFL") stadiums can easily be characterized as masculine. However, during the month of October, players take the field in pink sweatbands, cleats, and chin straps; play with a pink, embellished pigskin; and even wipe their sweat with a pink towel. The referees also take part, blowing their pink whistles when a player in a pink-accented jersey does something that runs afoul of the game. This is the NFL’s way of supporting breast cancer awareness month alongside a multitude of other companies and nonprofits. During October, a breast-cancer-research “superfan” could purchase almost any product allegedly supporting the cause including dish soap, measuring cups, Snuggies, and bike helmets. If that fan is hungry, they can pick up a pink bucket of fried chicken from KFC. Breast cancer awareness month motivates companies to capture consumer dollars with a promise (even if implied) to raise funds for breast cancer research. However, do all of these products actually benefit the research they claim to support? [More]

Anger Across the Atlantic: Flying to Europe May Be More Expensive Than Ever

by Steven Benathen November 15 2011, 00:06
Earlier this fall, the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) Judge Advocate General, Juliane Kokott issued an opinion that the EU’s decision to extend its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) does not offend other nation’s sovereignty or international aviation agreements. Her opinion is a hard pill to swallow for international actors like America and China who stand to be hit by fines. International actors can then either pass the cost of the fines onto their customers or alter their operations to meet the requirements and pass that cast on. That doesn’t sound very non-threatening to sovereignty, does it? [More]

“Friend” for Funding: Are social networks the future of startup funding?

by Matt Diamond November 10 2011, 16:40
Soon, entrepreneurs may be able offer their Facebook “friends” and Twitter “followers” more than just virtual friendship and updates on what they had for breakfast. They may soon be able to offer equity stakes in their business. In an increasingly rare instance of bipartisanship, last Thursday (Nov. 3) the House passed both the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act (“Entrepreneur Act”) and the Small Company Capital Formation Act (“Small Company Act”), each aimed at spurring small business growth through the method of “crowdfunding,” “a form of capital raising whereby groups of people pool money, typically comprised of very small individual contributions, to support an effort by others to accomplish a specific goal.” If approved by the Senate, the bills would allow entrepreneurs to use online social networks to solicit small equity investments in enterprises, a capital raising strategy that is illegal under current securities law. However, some warn that, if passed, the legislation will increase the risk of securities fraud and speculative risk to investors among other things. [More]

World Business Chicago: Helping the masses or just a few?

by Jamie Netznik November 6 2011, 16:29
Chicago, Illinois… ever heard of it? Apparently their mayor, Rahm Emanuel, doesn’t think enough businesses have, or at least seriously consider it as a place to set up shop. Incorporated in 1999, World Business Chicago (“WBC”), a city-funded nonprofit group, is the city’s economic development office, tasked with the duties of “coordinating retention, attraction and expansion efforts in order to spur and accelerate economic growth.” Emanuel has taken a specific interest in this office, roughly tripling its size since his election this past May. [More]

The NBA Lockout: A Momentum-Killing Millionaire v. Billionaire Showdown

by Cynthia Flores November 2 2011, 23:24
On July 1, the National Basketball Association (NBA) instituted a lockout when its collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired and negotiations, which began in January 2010, stalled. Over the past four months, owners and players have made multiple attempts to reach an agreement with no success. On October 10, NBA Commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the season and stated that both sides are still, “very far apart on virtually all issues… we just have a gulf that separates us.” A number of issues have been discussed including: revenue sharing, salary caps, luxury penalties, guaranteed contract lengths, and player exceptions. The owners and players have three ways to resolve these issues: bargaining, mediation, and/or legal action. [More]

Flash Trading: The informational age gone awry?

by Jarrett Szczesny October 24 2011, 10:05
The historical purpose of the stock market, serving as a method for companies to affordably raise capital, is fading quickly. The proliferation of supercomputer trading algorithms and complex derivatives (e.g. Synthetic Collateralized Debt Obligations) has given rise to an age of increasingly complex trading methods. One of the foremost advances is the speed of trading, seen predominantly in high-frequency methods. The expansion of bandwidth and connection speeds has enabled traders to execute trades in as little as one-millionth of a second, a far cry from the historical telephone relays to traders in the pits. However, even with the public outcry for more transparency within the financial markets, little is known about the actual effect high frequency trading has on the markets and the everyday investor. [More]

Too Big to Fail v. Too Small to Survive

by Daniel Scheeringa July 21 2011, 20:32
The Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has issued its final report, and the TARP program is projected to cost much less than forecast. Unfortunately, TARP hasn’t solved the original problem of “too big to fail”. The problem is worse today, and the legislative solution may make things even worse. [More]

So Sue Me!

by Claire Sheppard July 20 2011, 23:34
It is not every day someone says they want to be sued in federal court. But, in fact, Mr. Rajat Gupta, a former board member at Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble, is doing just that. Mr. Gupta sued the Securities and Exchange Commission claiming that the SEC cannot pursue their current administrative case against him because such a case would need to be brought in federal court. Recently, the SEC delayed Mr. Gupta’s administrative case for at least 6 months. Not only is this bizarre case legally fascinating but it places the potency of a section of the monumental finance-reforming Dodd-Frank Act under siege. [More]

The End of Peer-to-Peer File Sharing?

by Kasia Kaminski June 17 2011, 13:31
Peer-to-peer file sharing recently made headlines again. Opponents of LimeWire won another legal battle in phasing out the music distributor and soon its proprietors will be punished on massive financial proportions. [More]

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