Micro Entrepreneurs

Micro entrepreneurs are the owners of small businesses that have fewer than five employees and have startup costs of less than $35,000 and annual revenue of less than $100,000. There are nearly 21.5 million micro entrepreneurs in the U.S. Examples of micro entrepreneurs are owners of bakeries, beauty parlors, child care facilities, repair shops, arts and crafts shops, painting businesses, contracting businesses, family-owned shops, auto body shops, small-scale restaurants, and small-inventory trading businesses.

Micro entrepreneurs face many hurdles in getting startup financing, and they sometimes lack the skills necessary to manage the financial aspect of their business. As a result, many micro entrepreneurs cannot grow and develop their business beyond a micro enterprise. Various micro enterprise development programs have helped micro entrepreneurs achieve great success and growth. These micro enterprise development programs have immensely helped micro entrepreneurs who lack collateral needed to secure a loan or those who have low or no credit by providing them with training, support, help in developing a solid business plan, and assistance in building their businesses. Successful micro entrepreneurs have contributed much to society by creating wealth, economic assets, and jobs.

How To Become A Micro Entrepreneur

It is essential to study the market thoroughly and understand that market’s customers before deciding on the type and kind of product or service to be offered.

Here are some suggestions:

Work out a sound business plan by doing extensive research and seeking help from the various micro enterprise development programs.

Make arrangements for the startup capital by using savings, opting for a micro loan program, or applying for a grant.

Do extensive market research, get the necessary training and skills required, and learn how to use technology to help run your business easily.

Study the competition and analyze how you can better them.

Get a good retail space to run your business as well as decide on the price, making sure it is right and has a profit margin; decide how to utilize the profit, whether you want to save it or reinvest and expand your micro business.

Make sure that the quality of the product is never compromised and that your customers are happy, ensuring customer retention.

Assistance for Micro Entrepreneurs

Micro entrepreneurs in the U.S. are in need of training and skill development workshops as well as help in utilizing technology to help run their business. Some micro entrepreneurs need access to easily available funds for startup and growth. In order to encourage more people to become micro entrepreneurs, state, federal, and private sectors should make available ample funding for such enterprises.

With a little effort, you can find firms that sell their services as well as products to help run successful businesses. You can even seek professional help to arrange business credit for micro enterprises.

Importance of Acquiring Knowledge in Business

Knowledge is a resource referred to as knowledge capital or intellectual capital in a business. It is the essential element that allows businesses to operate in the market sector. The knowledge of the organization is within the human capital of the organization. Despite the rapid global changes, knowledge addresses key issues that can lead to successful management within organizations and can be used as leverage in collective bargaining of existing knowledge and creating new ones.

Understanding customers’ needs and the business environment is a huge interface of information. If a market research is done, then the knowledge of the market can be integrated to the target clients specifically in developing new products/ services and improving existing ones.

Having knowledgeable staff sets the business on a competitive edge because it helps the business run more smoothly and efficiently. For example, knowing customers’ needs and feedback to develop products or services to ensure that their needs are met.

Moreover, monitoring and reporting the changes in the business world is also needed. Knowledge in building networks by professional associations and trading partners can provide an easy way to find out what the competitors are doing and to see the latest innovations in the market sector. Making product research and development is a vital source of knowledge that can help in retaining competitive edge.

Furthermore, using knowledge more effectively can improve goods/services offered. It can increase customer satisfaction. Knowledge of the market can result better awareness of what customers want and what the staff require. Knowledge or information sharing can also improve staff productivity.

In order to manage the utilization of knowledge, there is a need to build a culture in which knowledge is valued across the business to retain the competitive advantage and understand the characteristics of the target market.

Knowledge of the business can help entrepreneurs evaluate and understand the needs of potential customers and develop products/ services that meet customer satisfaction since possible customers show different behavior patterns and preferences such as brand loyalty and the like.

Through knowledge acquisition, business supply chain management is visible everywhere and anywhere. It leads to faster growth and development. It also impacts the competitive advantage and become strategically important to understand knowledge transfer in a more predetermined fashion. The sustainability of organization depends largely on the acquisition of knowledge with a continuous learning process.

Hence, knowledge is vital to any organization because it empowers entrepreneurs to take informed decisions, improve services, produce better marketing decisions and increase profitability.

How I Became A Successful (Part-Time) Import/Export Agent

Several years ago, when I was invited to sit on the board of Wade World Trade, an educational institution established in 1946 to help entrepreneurs become import/export agents, I thought I would try it out for myself. I have to say that although I am not a natural entrepreneur (I hate anything which smacks of ‘selling’) I have never regretted the decision.

My first challenge was to find something to import or export. After much thought I decided I had to pick an area I was interested in anyway so I chose food. Since ‘artisan’ food producers are not very commercial it was a good decision. They find it easy to sell their products locally but tend to be hopeless at marketing overseas. I soon negotiated agency agreements with half a dozen companies for a range of related products – jams, chutneys, oaten biscuits, relishes, tea, hot chocolate and chocolate. All were manufactured (or at least packaged) in the UK and none had ever been exported.

The next step was finding possible buyers. My approach was to send an email containing photographs of the products I had on offer to – literally – thousands of buyers in Europe, the USA and Commonwealth countries. In the email I offered a ‘sample’ pack for the cost of postage. I also sent out about 2,000 mail shots. All together I must have spent close to £1,500. But I received requests for 70 sample packs and from this I obtained 15 regular customers. With three months I had made back by £1,500. Within a year I was generating a very nice income. It probably absorbs about 8 or 10 hours a week of my time BUT the beauty of it is that I can work at it largely when it suits me – in the evenings and weekends.

How to get into the lucrative world of Import/Export without a penny in capital and without leaving home.

If you would like to know more about becoming a successful Import/Export Agent then why not visit the Wade World Trade website (http://www.wadetrade.com). If you decide to take their course as a reader of the Power Report you will be entitled to the full £100 discount.

Know These Potential Risks and Limitations of Candlestick Charting Unknown to Many Traders!

Candlestick charts is a visual representation of the battle between the bulls and the bears that takes place in the market. It takes time for this battle to take shape. Candlestick patterns on the very short timeframes used for scalping and some other day trading strategies may not give signals that can be properly interpreted and traded.

In the last decade electronic trading has become highly popular. What this means is that significant volume of the trading takes place outside of the regular market hours. This trading can cause patterns that don’t reflect the full picture to appear on a candlestick chart.

For example, stock ABC trades on NYSE. NYSE officially opens at 9:30 AM EST for trading. Stock ABC open price is $60 per share. However, this stock had been trading on the electronic network in the pre-market hours as low as $59. Now the open on the NYSE may not be a true reflection of where the stock had been trading initially on that day.

What this means is that the open recorded on the candlestick chart is not accurate. Now, suppose the stock ABC never trades down to $59 during the day. So, the low on the candlestick chart may not be an accurate depiction of the day’s price action.

So, electronic trading makes these charts somewhat inaccurate. Couple this with the fact that on short timeframes, candlestick charts are not very accurate. These charts are good for timeframes of 1 hour and above. Just keep these two limitations of candlestick charts.

Apart from that candlestick charting is a powerful tool in the hands of an experienced trader. When an experienced trader combines these charts with technical indicators, this combination can produce highly accurate trading signals.

Candlestick patterns can be a good buy and sell signal when combined with a technical indicator like the RSI or the stochastic. There are simple as well as complex candlestick patterns. Single stick candlestick patterns are easy to spot however, two stick and three stick candlestick patterns do not appear quite frequently but when they do, they are very accurate and can be highly profitable to trade!

Now Yahoo Finance is an excellent free resource that you can use to create candlestick charts for any stock by just entering the stock ticker symbol. You should play around with the options available for Yahoo Finance. This will help you to learn a lot of new things about candlestick charting.

Bollinger Bands Shocking Secrets

How do you measure the volatility in the market? Price volatility in the market is mostly measured with the standard deviation. Bollinger bands are technical indicators that plot the standard deviation of the price action. Two bands are plotted. One above and the other below the moving average. The period of the moving average is 20 mostly as this time period effectively represents the intermediate trend.

Bollinger bands may be applied to any market or security. Any timeframes from daily, weekly, monthly to intraday can be used. Primary advantage of using these bands is to check if the prices are relatively low or high

Bands will be narrow when the volatility in the market is low. These bands expand when the volatility in the market increases. This information can be especially useful to options traders as options prices are heavily influenced by the swings in volatility.

Now, prices can be within the band or outside the band. When prices are outside the bands, this is taken as a signal that the trend is most likely to continue. When prices are above the upper band, this is taken as a sign of strength in the market. However, when the prices are below the lower band, this is taken as a sign of weakness in the market.

Rapid and substantial price moves often tend to happen after the band tightens. Bollinger bands are often used in conjunction with other technical indicators to detect high probability trend reversal or turning points. The primary indicator that works best with these bands is the RSI (Relative Strength Index), MACD or the CCI ( Commodity Channel Index).

Now the recommended setting for these bands is two standard deviations above and below the moving average with the period 20. These bands will keep on moving close or away from the moving average as a function of the market volatility.

But sometimes, you want to trade a longer timeframe. In that case, 50 is usually used as the period for the moving average with longer trends and the standard deviation settings for the two bands should be increased to two and half standard deviations. In case of very short timeframes, the moving average period should be lowered to 10 and the standard deviation should also be decreased to one and a half for the two bands.

Trading these bands is one of the most powerful concepts that is available to any trader whethet stocks, futures, forex, options or commodities. As said before, these bands are traded in conjunction with other technical indicators. In case of the stock market, a period of 20 for the moving average is okay.

However, when prices touch these bands, it should never be taken as an absolute signal. It should only be taken on a relative basis and the price action needs to be confirmed with other technical indicators before trading on these signals.

Time Segmented Volume – The Undistorted TradeStation Indicator

Many traders ignore volume. Although volume is a simple concept, it is difficult to analyze correctly due to inherent challenges in the markets. These challenges make it impossible to read true volume with standard volume indicators. Read through this article to learn the best way to overcome volume distortions and how using a TradeStation indicator called Time Segmented Volume will increase your trading “edge”.

Often traders use average volume indicators where the average of volume is calculated over a given number of past bars to see if volume is increasing or decreasing over that time period. It is okay to look at volume this way, but you will be missing the most vital volume information. This is not the best approach to analyze volume.

Volume has inherent distortions which cause faulty analysis by many traders. For example in the stock market (and other markets to a lesser degree), the opening of the day is fraught with a multitude of orders that had built up overnight and all get processed at once. This large influx of trade volume creates a major distortion to what is actually happening in the market.

Another distortion is created in the middle of the day when the majority of market makers go to lunch and market activity slows down immensely. This is called the lunch doldrums.

A third distortion happens at the end of the day, when traders try to adjust their orders before the market closes. They may want to be flat overnight or they might want to get into a trade, but this influx of orders at the end of the day is another distortion to volume.

Another inherent challenge to using a volume average indicator is that every instrument has considerably different levels of volume. For example compare, GE with 40 million shares per day vs. a stock with 100,000 shares per day. This vast difference makes it difficult to read volume from one symbol to another symbol.

Additionally, if you change from one time frame to another there will be huge volume differences. The volume on a 1 minute bar chart is much different than the volume on a 60 minute bar chart or a daily chart. The key to getting past these challenges is to use the time segmented volume TradeStation Indicator.

Time segmented volume is the way to get consistent volume data and eliminate all the volume distortions that we discussed above. Here’s the key to why time segmented volume works: Let’s start with volume on a 5 minute chart and for this example, look at the 10:15 bar. Now take the average of only the 10:15 bars over the prior month and compare that average to the current 10:15 bar. The difference will give a true reading on whether today’s 10:15 bar volume is higher or lower in comparison to the exact same time bars over the past month.

Now when you read the 10:15 bar you read the price bar against the volume bar. For example, let’s say the price action shows a larger than normal bar, maybe 2 times normal. Let’s say price started out close to the bottom of the bar with no wick, and it runs up and closes close to the top of the bar. This means a strong bullish bar, but if you look down and you see less than average volume, then you should be cautious about the price movement. In contrast, if you see 200% or 300% percent volume you’ll know that increased volume was the reason for the extra large price bar. In this example the price bar and volume bar are in harmony.

Alternatively, if you saw that same 200% – 300% volume bar, but the price action looked completely different, let’s say it was a bar that was 1.5 times normal size. Let’s say it started very close to the bottom for the open, it ran up to a high and then it pulled back and closed in the lower third. This is a bearish sign. Now this would be saying a major switch took place and the volume was cause by bearish selling volume. The sellers came in and over dominated the buyers and pushed it from the top of the range clear down into the bottom of the range before closing. If this bar occurred at the end of a multiple bar move up it is probably the end of the up cycle and it might be time to reverse your trade direction.

The key to understanding volume is reading price action and volume action on the same exact bars, using time segmented volume to give you the true volume information you need, and reading the chart to see if price and volume are in harmony or if they are divergent. Time segmented volume can confirm the move, make you suspect of the move, or tell you if it is the end of the move and if a likely change in direction is coming. In any case, using time segmented volume will eliminate volume distortions and increase your trading edge.

A King’s Collection: Tapestries at Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII, king of England from 1509 to 1547, is famous for many things. But not everyone knows he was a great collector. For one thing, he collected wives. He married six different women in an age where divorce was basically forbidden and wives didn’t cooperate by dropping dead on their own very often. The king also collected houses. He laid claim to numerous great homes and palaces, including Westminster, Berkhamsted, Fotheringhay, Warwick, Kenilworth, and some of his favorites: Greenwich, Whitehall, and Hampton Court. He even had Royal Residences in the Tower of London. One of King Henry’s biggest collections was tapestries. He eventually collected more than 2,000 of these woven pictures to spruce up Hampton Court Palace and his other royal residences.

But why would the King spend a lot of money and energy to collect woven pictures to decorate his walls? What was behind these expensive wall hangings?

Tapestry making was huge industry in northern France and southern Netherlands during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Tapestry is a form of textile art created by skilled craftsmen. The pieces were woven by hand on a weaving-loom. Weaving a tapestry required that each thread be carefully placed on the loom by hand. This painstaking process allowed workers to create complex designs that included intricate features for people, animals, and plants. Usually the chain threads were made out of linen or Picardy wool. The striking threads were made of Italian silk or gold and silver threads imported from Cyprus. Textile workers and guilds flourished in Belgium and France, ad tapestries created there were exported all over Europe.

Tapestries were sometimes woven in sets. A set of tapestries often told a biblical or mythical story through a series of pictures. This art in woven tapestry was intended to produce illusions of what reality should be-a more intellectual, more scientific, more grand world. This world could follow the owner wherever he went, as tapestries were portable and could be transported from one residence to another.

Wealthy and powerful men collected tapestries because they could really impress visitors. Before he had to give Hampton Court to King Henry, Cardinal Wolsey sent London merchant Richard Gresham to Brussels with 1,000 marks to purchase the finest tapestries he could find. The Venetian ambassador told this story of his visit to Wolsey: “One has to traverse eight rooms before one reaches his audience chamber, and they are all hung with tapestry, which is changed once a week” (1).

In September 1528, King Henry became displeased with Wolsey’s work and took over Hampton Court Palace. King Henry embarked on an enormous rebuilding project, creating new kitchens, a Council Chamber, and a series of private rooms for himself. In addition, Henry rebuilt the Great Hall, which featured great walls for displaying tapestries. To decorate Hampton Court and other royal residences, Henry collected tapestries to communicate his wealth and power. The tapestries adorned such important public rooms as the Great Hall and the Great Watching Chamber.

One of the most famous series in Henry’s collection is the History of Abraham series, which he commissioned specifically for Hampton Court. This series was woven in Brussels about 1540 by Wilhelm Pannemaker to the designs of Bernard van Orley. The History of Abraham tapestries include ten separate pieces, each of which is approximately sixteen feet high and twenty-six feet wide. These tapestries are of amazing quality, featuring highly skilled weaving and a high metal thread count, with many gold and silver threads. In fact, the amount of gold makes them one of the most opulent products of the Brussels industry.

Because of the amount of gold and silver and the high quality of the workmanship, each tapestry is estimated to have cost Henry as much money as a fully fitted and staffed battleship. This means the entire set cost as much as a fleet of battleships. The Abraham tapestries are a good example of King Henry’s primary purpose in collecting tapestries: demonstrating his vast wealth to visitors from around the world. King Henry believed these tapestries would create a positive impression and convince all who came to Hampton Court and other palaces of his kingship.

King Henry was right about the Abraham tapestries being a symbol of wealth and power. Their influence lasted much longer than Henry did. About 100 years after Henry’s death, during the English Revolution, revolutionaries seized control of the country and executed King Charles I, and Oliver Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector. Much of the royal property was sold to the highest bidder. But the Abraham tapestries were worth so much money, he was unable to sell them. They remained in the possession of Oliver Cromwell at Hampton Court. Like the rest of his possessions, they returned to ownership of the crown when the monarchy was restored. These tapestries were selected to adorn the walls of Westminster Abbey at the coronation of King James II in 1685.

The choice of the Abraham tapestries, commissioned by Henry VIII in 1540, to celebrate the restoration of the monarchy more than 100 years later demonstrates their significance as a symbol of royalty and power. Although Henry VIII could not have understood their full historic significance, he did understand the impact of tapestries on his perception as king. Hampton Court Palace was a favorite residence of King Henry. He made it a great symbol of his royalty and the strength of the Tudor dynasty. The magnificent tapestries that adorned the palace walls during his reign were a fitting symbol of the wealth, wisdom, and royalty of King Henry VIII. For him, tapestries were much more than decorations or insulation. They were literally the embodiment of his royal image.

1. Hedley, O. (1971) Hampton Court Palace. London: Pitkin Pictorials.

How to Hire the Best Forex Signal Provider?

If you have been working in or in relation with the Forex trading market, then you will know that this happens to be one of the most lucrative businesses existing, with huge possibilities of getting decent returns from your investments. At the same time, however, the possibility of losing your money due to ill-fated decisions is also high. You need to have your finger on the beating pulse of the currency market in order to make it big in this niche business. Sounds like navigating a minefield right? A Forex signal provider can make this job easier for you – helping you plan your every move in the Forex marketplace. With a reliable signal provider, you can let go of all your anxiety and take the bull that is Forex trading by its horns. How to hire the best Forex signal provider, you may ask? Here is a list of questions that will help you in making this decision.

How do they generate Forex trading signals?

There are two types of signal providers out there – one that uses Forex trading software to analyse market movements and generate signals purely on the basis of technical algorithms and those who take the services of experts and analysts that use a mixture of methods to come up with their trading tips. Depending upon human experience and knowledge is always better when it comes to trading in currencies. Choose a company that at least, uses a combination of software and human analysis to generate signals.

What has their past performance been like?

You will find many Forex signal providers in the market, bragging about how they offer their clients with high yields, but if they cannot back up their claims with a successful performance record, you should steer clear of them right away. There are ranking sites available on the web that legitimately analyse the performance of different Forex signal providers and rate them on the basis of their track record. Make sure you consult these too and only select a company that has a proven history of consistent performance in helping clients with making profits on the Forex market.

How fast are their signals delivered to clients?

In Forex trading, each second is crucial. There are times when currency levels move up and down several times in the span of just an hour. Some signals are valid for only a few minutes so the faster you can open a trade, the more chances are that you will make a profit or avoid a humungous loss. Therefore, choosing a signal provider that is prompt and consistent with their delivery timelines is crucial. Remember to evaluate this aspect during their demo service period to get a better idea of whether they are reliable or not.

The above points should definitely help you in making the right choice in terms of the best Forex signal provider for your trading decisions. All the best with your endeavours!

The Rise and Fall of Napster

With one single program written in 1999, an 18-year old Northeastern University computer science student named Shawn Fanning would unwittingly forever transform how people use the internet. The name of his program was Napster. Dubbed after his teenage nickname because of his nappy hair, Napster was a free downloadable program that could transform individual computers into servers that shared MP3 music files across the internet. Rather than a central server where all music files were stored, Napster instead worked as a medium. Users could log in to Napster, search for an artist or song title, and then proceed to download directly from another logged-in user’s hard drive. In a little more than a year after its initial launch, Napster soon became one of the most notorious and wildly popular sites in internet history. At its peak, Napster was touting a grand total of some 60 million users worldwide (Collins, 2002). Little did Fanning realize that his brainchild would soon become as ubiquitous on the internet as email and instant messaging. Nor little did Fanning realize the ensuing legal tempest that his creation would eventually create. Ultimately what began as a simple program written for his friends to share music soon caught the attention of not only young people worldwide, but also the ire of the recording industry.

The story of Napster begins just south of Boston in the city of Brockton, Massachusetts. A 17-year old Colleen Fanning was a high school senior there in 1980. One night, her older brother threw a party celebrating his high school graduation and hired a local band called “MacBeth” to play at the party. It was a resounding success, with some 3,000 people mobbing the house. Colleen’s younger brother John went around with a hat raising money to pay for the band and netting a couple of grand by the end of the night, his first entrepreneurial experience. That same night, say the Fannings, Colleen hooked up with one of the musicians and wound up pregnant. With her dad’s support, Colleen kept her baby, and named him Shawn. However, Shawn’s biological father who happened to be the son of one of the richest families in Massachusetts bailed out. Colleen eventually ended up marrying an ex-Marine who drove a delivery truck for a local bakery. His name was Raymond Verrier. The couple had four more kids, and Colleen took care of them all while her husband worked. “Money was always a pretty big issue,” Shawn said in a 2000 Business Week article. He added, “There was a lot of tension around that” (Ante, 2000).

Shawn grew up near the public housing projects in Brockton. At the time, Verrier could see her already-shy son was withdrawing from the inner-city chaos constantly surrounding him, “He went inside himself real deep and said, ‘I want to get out of this.’ Even though it meant losing him a little bit, it’s what I wanted for him,” said Verrier, employed then as a nurse’s aide. As Shawn grew older, Verrier turned to her business-minded brother, John, to help guide her son. As an incentive to learn, for each “A” he brought home from school his uncle John Fanning gave him money. He also bought his nephew an Apple Macintosh computer that Verrier could never have had the money for (Menn, 2003). Life for Shawn at the Fanning household however was steadily worsening. The relationship between his parents finally culminated when his mother and stepfather had a split. For a year Shawn and his siblings were forced to live in a foster home (Ante, 2000). Nevertheless, Shawn’s entrepreneurial uncle John Fanning was always there to offer support to his young nephew. Shawn worked summers as an intern in the Chess.net division at his uncle John’s internet company, NetGames, in the nearby town of Hull. There, Shawn became quite deft at programming from fellow interns who were studying computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. Yet in spite of John taking a vested interest in his nephew, Shawn was reluctant to absorb his uncle’s attentive work ethic. Shawn had difficulty completing assignments and instead would often focus on playing video games. “I was just getting into programming, so I spent a lot of my time just fiddling with projects and hanging out,” Shawn said (Ante, 2000). It was also during this time however that Shawn learned about what would soon make him notorious, MP3 digital music files (Menn, 2003).

Soon upon graduating from Harwich High School in 1998, Shawn enrolled at nearby Northeastern University. What would eventually become Napster was created in the freshman dorm room of Fanning’s roommate at Northeastern University. After listening to the complaints of his roommate finding nothing but dead links for MP3 music files with conventional search engines like Lycos and Yahoo!, Shawn looked for an easier alternative. His idea was simple. He wanted to combine the conventional ease of use of the internet with file transferring technology similar to the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network. Shawn knew that there should be a way to combine the breadth of search engines like Google with the “presence awareness” of systems like instant messaging, which know who is signed on at any given time (Menn, 2003). This was combined with having the option of individual users choose what files could be shared with others while connected to the Napster network. These innovative elements of the Napster program and network finally eliminated the problems associated with dead links. Additionally, by having all users store their music on their own computers, the electronic pipes would not clog if the new system just connected a pair of people and then dropped its own connection to them (Menn, 2003). Finally, added to these elements was a feature that enabled online Napster users to chat amongst each other in real-time.

Shawn dropped out of Northeastern in January 1999 in order to devote his full time to perfect his invention. According to Chess.net former colleague Tarek Loubani, he has seldom seen anyone so focused. “I don’t think people can appreciate how hard he worked,” said Loubani (Menn, 2003). He remembers only vaguely that stage in mid-1999, unable to recall exact months, weeks or days. Among the only memories he has of that time is being hunched over his Dell notebook computer, writing the code and snoozing on his uncle John’s couch or floor. Afraid of having a software company introduce a similar product before him, he obsessively wrote the entire source code of Napster in 60 straight hours (Greenfeld, 2000). In May 1999, Shawn’s uncle John incorporated the company as Napster. John Fanning would retain a 70% stake in the corporation while nephew Shawn would only retain 30% stake in the corporation. The justification offered by uncle John was that Shawn desperately needed a seasoned businessman like him to handle the nuances of running the company. (Menn, 2003).

Word quickly spread around the Northeastern University campus as soon as their former classmate Shawn had a preliminary beta program of Napster ready for testing on June 1, 1999. Soon, hundreds of college students were busy trading music. This new revolutionary file sharing service quickly became the buzz among the internet literati frequenting bulletin boards and chat rooms. The Napster network was growing and it was growing at a speedy pace. Faced with the prospect of unprecedented popularity within such a short period of time, the Fannings set out to raise capital for additional bandwidth and servers. The company relocated from Hull, Massachusetts to San Mateo, California to a more spacious location and hired additional workers. The additional capital investment in Napster came just in time. Napster became so popular that some college campuses were experiencing clogged up servers from the amount students using Napster alone. Schools such as the Pennsylvania State University in 1999 issued a moratorium on the use of Napster on campus computers and internet connections in an attempt to alleviate the problem. Napster’s woes were only beginning.

The notoriety eventually caught the attention of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The RIAA filed a lawsuit against Napster on December 7, 1999, alleging copyright infringement. Furthermore, the RIAA wanted compensation of $10,000 for every single copyrighted song traded across the Napster network. The unprecedented lawsuit garnered much media attention and further propelled Napster’s popularity, in particular with college students. Escalating droves of young people flocked to Napster to swap music, and the community soon touted millions of members worldwide. At any given time during this period, there would be millions of users online, trading hundreds of thousands of songs.

Later during spring of 2000, the heavy metal band Metallica learned that an unreleased studio outtake of their song “I Disappear” had been leaked and was being traded on Napster. The result was that the single was heard on numerous radio stations across America. Metallica was determined to find out how the song became so widely disseminated. The obvious culprit was Napster. A copyright infringement lawsuit was filed on April 13, 2000. After hiring consulting firm PDNet, Metallica soon discovered that during one weekend in April 2000, over 335,000 individual Napster users were trading their music online. On May 3, 2000 Napster was presented with 60,000 pages of user names that had allegedly traded copyrighted Metallica songs over the Napster network. Metallica demanded that Napster ban the 335,000 users for trading their copyrighted material, and Napster acquiesced. Napster attorney Laurence Pulgram stated, “Napster has taken extraordinary steps to comply with Metallica’s demands to block hundreds of thousands of its fans from using the Napster system.” He further added, “Napster has always stated that it would act in response to notice from copyright holders, and it has lived up to that commitment in good faith.” (Dansby & Uhelszki, 2000).

On May 5, 2000, Napster received a fatal legal blow. U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled that Napster was not entitled to “safe harbor” status under the 1992 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Napster’s original defense in its RIAA suit was that it was included under section 1008. This section in the Act explicitly stated that:

“No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright [1] based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or [2] based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings.”

The Court found that Napster’s users were engaged in widespread copyright violation. Furthermore, the ruling also stated that Napster is “contributorily and vicariously liable for their actions.” The exclusion under Section 1008 of the AHRA was inapplicable here, because the Act provides immunity only from noncommercial copying and not public distribution. The Napster network was composed of over 20 million people. Therefore, each time a user was logged onto the network and shared his or her hard drive contents, that user was distributing copyrighted material to the masses. Section 1008 of the AHRA deals with the reproduction and not the distribution of copyrighted material. Therefore According to the court, Napster users were in violation of copyright infringement and the Napster was facilitating copyright infringement. Judge Patel granted the RIAA request for a preliminary injunction and the site was ordered shut down on July 26, 2000.

In the interim, Napster appealed the judgment on October 2, 2000. The Napster appeal was lost on February 12, 2001. A bid of $1 billion from Napster to settle out of court with the recording industry was shortly rejected. On March 5, 2001, the Ninth Circuit Court ordered Napster to stop the trading of copyrighted material on its network. As a result, Napster began to use filters in its search engine. The Napster system completely blocked any artist or song title that was copyrighted from user searches. Popular artists and song titles were no longer showing up in search results. As a consequence, clever users of Napster circumvented the filters by intentionally misspelling the artist or song title on their hard drives. Napster users could still be able to download copyrighted music. As a consequence, Napster completely shut down its whole network in July 2001 to fully abide by the court injunction. On September 24, 2001, Napster settled with copyright holders to the tune of $26 million for the illegal use of music, and $10 million up front to cover impending royalty agreements. Napster announced on May 17, 2002 an agreement with Germany’s Bertelsmann AG. The agreement would allow a subscriber-based form of Napster to develop featuring the Bertelsmann AG music catalog, in exchange for the German company to drop its lawsuit against Napster. However on June 3, 2001 Napster filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. The sale to Bertelsmann AG was blocked, and Napster was forced to divest its remaining assets.

The current legal incarnation of Napster is as a subscriber-based pay service. Roxio purchased the Napster assets at auction in 2002. According to Wikipedia (2005) a monthly charge of $9.95 is billed to members that can provisionally rent songs, with the option of paying an extra $0.80 to $0.90 to permanently download songs. While the new Napster has only a fraction of the old Napster’s popularity, others have filled the void in the peer-to-peer file-sharing world. Popular services like Kazaa, Limewire and Morpheus utilize the technology made infamous by Shawn Fanning. Yet where the original Napster had a central server, these services rely on connecting directly to other network users. They are inherently more difficult to regulate for copyright infringement and likewise nearly impossible to stop.

Cheap Online Discount Stock Broker Trading

Have you ever considered online trading? Trading through an Online Discount Broker is not a daunting task but it sure has its share of ups and downs. You are not a driven stock trader, agreed but you should consider opening an online account considering the recent developments in the online trading arena. Many online trading firms have reduced their fees as well as their responsibilities considering and are offering many low-cost financial services.

The Consumer Reports Money Lab broker Rating

According to the Consumer Reports Money Lab, around 19 online brokers are using a standard web browser such as Internet Explorer and Firefox. The ratings were done on the basis of cost and scope of the services offered by the companies. Eight companies among these 19 companies offered stock trades less than $ 10 while 6 companies reduced the orders to below $ 10 if the investors met their account size needs or trading activity. Some of the firms charged flat fees of $ 5.

Growing list of services offered by the company

Many online brokers are introducing new services to their existing portfolio. These include free stock research, free checking, ATM access, and automatic bill paying.

If you are venturing in the online stock trading market for the first time, check out a couple of online trading sites. Compare discount stockbrokers deals available on the various sites to select the cheapest online stock trading deal. Trade online and when you have gained confidence, invest in the larger stocks.

A prudent move that helps most of the investors is to compare the offers and services of these online brokerage firms. Although the deals look similar on the surface, most of the companies try to individualize their offers and services as much as possible. The commission rates vary from company to company and are often a deciding factor for the investor.

Online stock trading can be a thrilling experience if you learn to play it well and within your self defined limits. Start with small investments and slowly and steadily as you mature as a player, can try your luck at 'no holds barred' online trading game.