Wednesday, November 24, 2004

American lawmakers rip apart proposed copyright extensions 

"WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - After cobbling together a string of copyright bills in the hopes of gaining enough support for final passage, lawmakers are ripping the package asunder in a desperate effort to push some of the provisions across the legislative finish line..."

Surprise, surprise: some politicians actually listen to what their constituents want and act in their interests. (LOBBYIST: "Just sign here and we'll support your campaign next time around." POLITICIAN: "Wait a second- you're taking away my people's rights! Forget it!") Listen up, people in Ottawa; stricter copyright laws are not popular with most voters.

LINK: reuters.com

Monday, November 22, 2004

Toll-free long-distance carrier hotline 

Ever hear horror stories from friends about unexpected changes to their long-distance service, especially changes that end up costing them extra money? BoingBoing mentioned last week that:

"1-700-555-4141 is a toll-free number you can dial to find out who your long distance carrier is. You'll get a recorded message telling you the name of your long distance company."

I tried it on my home line, and it actually works. From my Telus cel phone, all I got was a message "Nine. T. 2. Calls to this number cannot be completed." Not that I actually have a choice of long-distance carriers on my cellphone plan, anyway.

Phone Tips and #


Monday, November 15, 2004

The Globe's Jack Kapica: Copyright Reform Headed Wrong Way 

"Last week, the standing committee on Canadian Heritage resubmitted its recommendations for updating the Copyright Act... Copyright lawyers say that if the changes are made into law, you will not even be able to own your own wedding pictures or save a Web page without paying for it.

...the committee proposes that photographers keep the rights to their work and surfers would have to pay a levy for material even if was offered free of charge. Copyright holders could also shut down websites that they claim -- even erroneously -- are violating copyright, putting the burden of proof on the website charged."

LINK: >Globe and Mail

P2P MythTV: RSS, bittorrent, TV + remote for couch-lovin' fun 

What do you get when you put together RSS, bit torrent, your television and a remote control?

Caveat: you need a functioning MythTV installation to make it work-- but it's still a lot smarter than everyone digitizing analog content separately.

What would the CRTC say about this? Internet rebroadcasting is not allowed in Canada (JumpTV), but when that was decided the rebroadcasters were adding their own advertising content to the network TV programming. While this system is clearly a threat to the distribution model used by cable companies and other television broadcasters, it's not so obvious it's actually a threat to their wider business model and revenues. Really, should Rogers Cable care if customers want to record shows and advertisements together, save them for later, then send them to other people? As long as the ads are in place and being watched, it seems kind of like P2P would be doing Rogers' distribution work for them.

LINK: www.torrentocracy.com

Monday, November 08, 2004

The war comes home 

For years now, Canadians have been able to look at the ridiculous Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the United States and be a little bit self-satisfied that our government wasn't so short-sighted about what creates technological innovation or so beholden to the film and audio recording industries. Now, however, our so-called Liberal government has gotten into its head that it urgently needs to change Canadian copyright law to "ratify" the WIPO copyright treaties-- and that means big trouble for Canadian technology companies, Canadian consumers, and Canadian citizens who value the privacy and freedom of their communications.

How so, you ask?

Well, for starters, some of the changes proposed to the Copyright Act would include making it illegal to circumvent any sort of technological measure used to control access to a copyrighted work. That would mean that even though one part of the Copyright Act says it's perfectly legal for you to copy part of a text for you to review it, another would make it illegal for you to bypass any encryption to actually do so-- that is, by adding encryption, a publisher could extend control over digital works beyond what the Copyright Act actually gives them. So if the publisher didn't want your kind of review written, too bad for you-- and too bad for everyone else who might want to know what you have to say.

Also important, one of the proposed changes would make it so anyone who claims you're infringing their Copyright could have your content removed from the Internet. and if your Internet Service provider doesn't do so promptly at their request, it could be sued in court in a flash. This might not be so bad if all copies not authorized by the rightsholder were illegal, but they're not. In fact, copyright law lets people make lots of copies for all kinds of purposes like research and news reporting, no matter what the author or owner of the copyright says. It's set up this way for lots of good reasons, from allowing free political expression to helping students and scientists learn without some publisher breathing down their neck. And it should stay set up this way, no matter what some $300,000 a year lawyer for the recording industry says, even if he is married to one of the Cowboy Junkies.

Forewarned is forearmed, so go forth and let your elected representatives know what you think about this attempt to hijack Canadian consumers, Canadian artists, writers and programmers, and the Copyright Act itself.

LINK: petition

LINK: from boingboing

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms digest 


Monday, November 01, 2004

Lex Informatica 

For several years now, Jason Young of Queen's University has been involved with the digital copyright reform process in Canada. His adventures are chronicled on his web site, Lex Informatica : check it out.

LINK: Lex Informatica

As a side note, if you haven't yet read the Canadian Copyright Act, but want to, here's the link.

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