Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not Copyright-related-- Job Posting from my Day Job 

Who: Phoenix Geophysics is a Toronto-based company that designs and builds geophysical
exploration equipment. We've been around more than 30 years, have almost 50 people on our
team, speak more than a dozen languages in our office, and work all over the world.

What: Develop and maintain a great user interface for our geophysical software.

When: Application deadline is Wednesday, August 6, 2008, 8 p.m. EST., full-time work
starting as soon as possible.

Where: At the Phoenix office in Toronto, Canada (Victoria Park Ave. & Steeles Ave.)

Why: To make our existing software easier to use and make new software to let our users do

How Much: $50,000~$75,000 CDN per year to start (depending on experience), plus good
medical and dental benefits, three weeks vacation per year, and employee profit sharing when
times are good (there was a 15% bonus in 2007).


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Copyright Rules Coming-- Email Your MP! 

Online Rights Canada (ORC) has an online "email your MP" system up and running-- pretty cool, and a good way to let your MP know what you think about the impending new copyright rules.

"The Day Before the Copyright Bill?
The rumours have begun again: that Jim Prentice will introduce his long-delayed Copyright Act reform this Wednesday. Let your MP know you're watching closely, with our new Copyright For Canadians letter to Parliament!"


Monday, February 25, 2008

A Quick and Nasty Dissection of the Songwriter's Assoc. Net Tax Proposal 




"Most Canadians are aware that the Internet and mobile phone networks have become major sources of music. What they may not know is that songwriters and performers typically receive no compensation of any kind when their music is shared or illegally downloaded."

DF: Of course they know! That's why they are downloading songs-- they don't think your work is worth paying for... or at least, not worth paying $18/CD for.

We believe the time has come to put in place a reasonable and unobtrusive system of compensation for creators of music in regard to this popular and growing use of their work.

DF: $5 a month on my internet bill is your version of unobtrusive? That's offensive. You only think it's time because you want some money you're not getting now.

The plan we propose would not change or interfere with the way Canadians receive their music.

DF: $5 a month on my internet bill for what is now free sounds like a big change to me.

"No one would be sued for the online sharing of songs. On the contrary, the sharing of music on Peer-to-Peer networks and similar technologies would become perfectly legal."

DF: P2P should be legal without this crazy tax scheme.

"In addition, Music Publishers and Record Labels would be fairly compensated for the crucial role they play in supporting Canadian music creators."

DF: Canadian music would probably be better off if all the major labels disappeared next Tuesday.

"Canada has given the world some of the greatest music ever produced."

DF: I thought gifts were free?

We believe that implementing a fair way of compensating Canada’s music creators for the online sharing of their music will usher in a new Golden Age of creativity.

DF: Songwriters need more money to be more creative? Let's see-- let's have formal songwriter's exams, organize into songwriting into corporations, and pay songwriters at least $150k a year -- I mean, it works for law firms, it should work for record labels too, eh? At least they admit they want lots of money.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Business coalition opposes harsh copyright reform 

From the CBC website:

"A who's who of powerful companies and business associations have banded together to push for less restrictive copyright reform, driving a stake into the heart of the federal government's argument for its new copyright bill."

Among other things, the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright is calling for:

-A clause that prevents copyright owners from going after people or companies who circumvent for non-commercial reasons the technological protection measures placed on content. A record label, for example, should not be able to sue a consumer who gets around copy-protection measures in order to transfer a song to an iPod.

-No surcharges on downloadable content. Copyright owners have been pushing for downloads to be considered as "communications to the public," and say they should therefore be subject to an additional fee. The coalition believes such a charge would unfairly double the delivery cost of online music, films, games and other software.

-An exemption for violating copyright as part of legitimate business practices, such as when a broadcaster copies a show for its archives.

-No liability for internet service providers for the actions of their users.


ArsTechnica has a piece as well:
LINK to Ars

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Best Buy a New (Copyfighters) Best Friend 

Here’s a news item that caught my eye: a great op Ed in the Vancouver Sun by the electronics retailer Best Buy. Not my favorite shop, necessarily, but every time I go there they manage to upsell me and I end up going home with some great stuff. This piece really helps to point out that at least as many businesses are on the side of “less copyright” as are on the side of drastically increasing copyright controls.

Why does Best Buy care about copyright law? I think that electronics manufacturers and retailers realize that a lot of their value comes from the power their products give their customers -- they're always trying to sell more powerful computers, with more storage, and bigger screens to watch all that copied media. As many others have pointed out, no consumer ever woke up in the morning and wished that it would be more difficult and more expensive for them to watch a TV show on their computer!

Opposing that vision of an open system with computers around the world busy doing what they do best -copying data- are the movie and music companies, who are advocating that we let them lock everything down and basically screw up our computers and the Internet so they can make a buck.

One of the reasons I work on the Wireless Nomad project is that I think that the open system is the better one -- it creates more value, fosters innovation, and reinforces our democratic ideals. Big Internet providers seem to be increasingly getting involved with content companies, and see the potential of using their privileged position in between users and media companies to squeeze some money out of both.

There is a lot of hope that even a little competition in the Internet market will help keep Big Telecom and Big Content in check. That's a Big Task, but as the Best Buy op-ed shows, people supporting the open system model might have a lot more powerful friends than they once thought.

Text from Vancouver Sun op-Ed on Canadian Copyright Law 

Text from Vancouver Sun op-Ed on Canadian Copyright Law:

"Copyright quagmire: Canada needs to update its laws for the digital age, but the wrong choices can lead to higher prices and more litigation"

Ron Wilson, Special to the Sun, on Monday, January 07, 2008

As Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies observed about lawsuits, you can't say 'See you in court' one day and 'See you at Massey Hall' the next.

Undoubtedly, Canada needs to update its copyright law for the digital age.

The right choices could benefit Canadians. The wrong choices will lead to higher prices, more litigation and less useful content and technology.

As one of Canada's most successful entertainment and electronics retailers, we share our customers' interest in acquiring technologically innovative and advanced products at the best prices. Customers have the right to use and maximize their enjoyment of these products, and a fair and balanced copyright law is imperative in facilitating this.

We welcome the emerging debate on copyright reform. The recent federal government decision to delay tabling its new copyright bill is encouraging, if it means that consumers' concerns will be taken into account.

Although copyright law is a useful incentive for creators, it also inevitably grants monopoly rights and extensive marketplace intervention. Therefore, rights conferred on copyright owners must be carefully limited and counterbalanced.

The quid pro quo for these rights should be the fullest and fairest possible access to, and the right to use, protected works in a fair manner.

Canada should not import proven policy errors from other countries. Canadians have deeply held values of fairness and privacy.

Our copyright law is already stronger and better overall than that of the U.S., to pick the obvious and most important example. We already pay far more per capita than Americans for copyright payments in virtually all respects.

Here are the five specific principles that our brands (Best Buy, Future Shop) and our customers believe in:

n "Taxes" on technology are wrong. The private copying levy scheme should be repealed. Why should Canadians pay up to $75 in "taxes" on iPods and similar devices? Given the strong Canadian dollar and the ease of cross-border shopping, this proposed levy would have devastating effects on the Canadian market for these types of devices. Countless Canadians regard this tax as unnecessary, unfair and highly inefficient. Moreover, most of the proceeds leave this country.

n Creators of intellectual property deserve to be paid, but not multiple times through several collectives for proliferating and overlapping rights for the same transaction. For example, if a consumer buys a track from iTunes, the consumer shouldn't have to pay further costs for a "communication" right to receive that track online or for a levy to store it on an audio recording medium. Furthermore, where does one draw the line on the boundaries of this tax? This proposed levy sets a dangerous precedent that can easily extend to other devices such as cellphones, personal computers and laptops; in fact, this has not been ruled out by the Copyright Board.

n Consumers' rights shouldn't be removed by Digital Rights Management ("DRM") technology, which threatens to put digital locks on content, devices and ultimately our culture. Our customers should be able to do anything that is legal according to copyright law, including making backup copies and copying for purposes of fair dealing. The music industry itself is rapidly abandoning DRM. If anything, consumers need protection from DRM rather than the other way 'round.

n Canadians should enjoy a flexible and open-ended list of fair dealing rights, including time, space and format shifting, and the right to mix, remix, mash and engage in satire and parody. Our children now have creative tools we never dreamed of, enabling them to make professional quality movies, sound recordings and engage in remarkable research and learning. Let's not stifle them.

n Our customers shouldn't have to worry about being sued for private, non-commercial activities. Canada is not a litigious "zero tolerance" regime. If the law is amended to facilitate such litigation here, experience suggests that it will surely happen. We agree with Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies who says, "We think lawsuits ... would be terrible for the music business in Canada. It's short-sighted to say 'See you in court' one day and 'See you at Massey Hall' the next."

We have spent a lot of time and money over the years fighting for our customers' rights. To do this, we have joined forces with our competitors under the leadership of the Retail Council of Canada and fought alongside key vendor partners.

We urge concerned Canadian consumers to join with us and write to their members of Parliament, Industry Minister Jim Prentice, Heritage Minister Josée Verner, and to Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself. They should join the tens of thousands already using Facebook and YouTube to make their voices heard.

Ron Wilson is senior vice-president, merchandising, Best Buy Canada Ltd.

Copyright © 2008 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

LINK to original article

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Japanese Copyright Laws: TVs can Show Sports Sounds, but Not Pictures 

Sitting around in the Marshall Islands Resort hotel on Majuro, blasted from jetlag and too many hours inside whizzing aluminum tubes, I switched on the TV to the NHK channel to try and learn a little bit more Japanese. The Japanese newscast was as strange and cute as usual: earthquakes, super-trains, another Godzilla movie... and then the sports highlights came on... sort of. NHK played the audio of fans cheering in the background and an excited announcer shouting "he shoots, he scores!" (well, that's what it sounded like they were saying), but instead of a soccer ball being kicked around on some grass, they showed this great pic below:

And then the damn thing came on again a few minutes later, and I had to scramble for my Canon SD750 once more:

Gotta love (if indeed the TV message is actually true...) copyright laws that somehow mess up the one thing TV is really good at-- showing pictures!

As our government keeps trying to ram through new copyright restrictions, this is another object lesson about how a lot of overly-restrictive copyright laws make things difficult for companies just trying to do business, and can screw TV viewers out of seeing some good soccer action!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Privacy trumps revenge: commentary in the Montreal Mirror 

Some commentary on privacy protections in "The wrong profile" in the Montreal Mirror:

...Privacy trumps revenge...

"As annoying as that was, Damien Fox, the coordinator of the Electronic Frontier Canada, a group dedicated to protecting online privacy, says Facebook had good reason not to share the messages the impersonator had sent or posted.

“First, they want to save their own skin,” says Fox. “They want to get people using Facebook and attract advertising,” which could be undermined if Facebook seemed keen on handing out user information.

“You have a system that makes sense against the disclosure of private information,” he says. Had Facebook complied with my request to release the information, even though it was information from a fake profile, it would raise the issue of “how privacy is stripped away,” says Fox. Such a disclosure should only be made after a rigorous process that includes a court order, he says.

“It’s about who should have the right to know what, when and where. It’s not a perfect system, and some cases like yours slip through the cracks, but it’s going in the right direction,” he says. “There is a process in place that protects individuals from malicious acts by other individuals.”

Still, what would happen if an impersonator used a profile to issue death threats or harass another user? Fox says it would be up to the recipient to report the harassment to Facebook and the police. In my case, Facebook’s promise to investigate whether the fake Elatrash had done anything illegal was, if true, a problem in itself, says Fox.

“How would they know something is a crime?” he says. “Think of all the ways a joke can be written. Would you really want Facebook to go over everything and report what they think is a crime?”


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

CIPPIC 2007 Summer Internship Program 

What a great opportunity!

The CIPPIC Summer Internship Program is open to all Canadian law students who have completed at least one year of law school. It runs from 07 MAY – 27 JULY 2007 (12 weeks), and includes a stipend of C$6000 to cover accommodation, travel and living costs.

Interns will actively work on CIPPIC policy documents and case files, attend conferences and workshops, and participate in other aspects of the University of Ottawa Law & Technology Program.

Applicants must send a cover letter, curriculum vitae and copies of University transcripts to:

CIPPIC Summer Internship Program
The University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law
57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, ON CANADA K1N 6N5

Deadline for applications: February 19th, 2007

For more information, please contact CIPPIC at:
cippic@uottawa.ca or 613.562.5800 x2553


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

IBM to SCO: Shove It, And Here's Why 

An older post on SCO v Linux, but worth looking at. Amazing how long this stuff can drag on-- I wonder when SCO is going to run out of money (maybe one of the reasons for many of the numerous IBM lawyer's motions...)



Saturday, November 11, 2006

PATRIOT scares Canadian unis off US servers 

From BoingBoing:

Universities move to hide work from U.S. eyes
From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Concerned about the U.S. government's prying eyes, a number of Canadian universities are changing the way their professors and students conduct online research.

Many university libraries subscribe to RefWorks, a popular U.S.-based Internet tool that allows academics and students to create personal accounts and store research information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies.

But the Patriot Act — which grew out of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and which potentially allows U.S. authorities to sweep through databases such as RefWorks — has prompted Canadian postsecondary institutions to abandon the American server for one housed at the University of Toronto.

“There is certainly concern within Canadian university libraries. It's a concern about a foreign country having access to your personal information without good cause,” said William Maes, librarian at Dalhousie University in Halifax. “That's the devious thing of the Patriot Act, they can do this without letting anybody know.”

Globe LINK

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Conservative Gov't Plans to Sell Us Out on Copyright 

"Many people are still in summer mode, but the Canadian copyright rumour mill suggests that there is a lot happening behind the scenes with a copyright bill quite possibly a top priority once the fall session begins in 31 days. While there was much to criticize about Bill C-60 (the last attempt at copyright reform), given the continuing pressure from the copyright lobby and the U.S. government, I fear that the Conservatives' bill may be far more extreme in its approach."


Monday, June 12, 2006

Support the EFF, 'cause They're Supporting the 'Net! 


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Access Copyright Funds Scam 

Access Copyright not caring for the money it collects from all those so-callled "royalties"... Nice PR spin, but if they don't look after the money entrusted to them (albeit sent unwillingly by so many Canadian students and academics) it's their fault, and they shouldn't put the blame on low-level ex-employees. Vigilant? Only after snoozing through our money being lifted.

Access Copyright PR Spin release/

Thursday, May 11, 2006

NDP Takes Side on Copyright, Supports Artists, Not DRM 

"Music coalition a wake-up call on copyright law – NDP"

"NDP Heritage Critic Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) says the emergence of the star-studded Canadian Music Creators Coalition (CMCC) is a welcome addition to the long simmering war over copyright legislation. The Coalition is in Ottawa to meet with Industry Minister Maxime Bernier and Heritage Minister Bev Oda.

The CMCC intervention comes as the government discusses legislation that could have wide-ranging impacts for music fans, educators and software innovators. Restrictive copyright legislation could be used to squash the development of new digital distribution models, sue kids who share music files and impose tollbooths on the educational use of the Internet."


Friday, April 21, 2006

New US law requires some businesses to secure their WiFi networks 

Nuts in New York...

"One New York county has solved the "problem" of unauthorized access to unsecured wireless networks by passing a new law. Businesses operating in Westchester County will soon need to turn on security settings for their WiFi networks if they are used to access financial information for their customers."


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

IPaction ACTUALLY Buying IPods For US Senators 

Er, music to our ears?


Monday, April 10, 2006

All Our Base Are Belong To Us 

All Our Base Are Belong To Us

All Our Base Are Belong To Us

Trusted Computing on a Mac? (Again?) 

"Among technology enthusiasts, the topic of DRM often makes for heated debate. If nerds were polled, you would likely find a majority opposed to the idea on philosophical grounds, but also likely resigned to it. Not so among the geek fringe, where "information wants to be free" is more than an inane, anthropomorphic cliche, it's a belief system.

And while OS X has acquired a certain amount of street cred among propeller heads, there is also wariness. After all, iTunes is arguably the biggest exporter of DRM on the planet. Well, if this blog is correct, Apple Computer may have just joined the Evil Empire. It appears that a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) has been tracked down at last, and the reaction is not surprising."


Friday, April 07, 2006

OS X Kernel Panic, PBG3 Doesn't Do 10.4.6 

Installed 10.4.6 on my Pismo PB G3, had a panic attack. First time for everything, I guess.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

WiFi N2N ISP Co-op Wireless Nomad Blog 


Friday, March 31, 2006

Drop Kittens, Not Bombs? Been there, done that... 

Drop Kittens, Not Bombs? Been there, done that...

Cats Not Bombs, eh? Careful what you wish for...

"Probably the warning I heard most often in conversations about the Gates Foundation had to do with the law of unintended consequences.
“Grant-making on that scale is a very difficult art,” says Edward A. Ames at the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, who fears that the people in charge of the “huge new pools of money being turned to philanthropy” may not know enough about “the impact they can have on the fields that are the objects of their generosity.”...

The best story about unintended consequences comes from Gordon Conway at the Rockefeller Foundation, who worked as an entomologist in Borneo in the 1960’s. In an attempt to control malaria, the W.H.O. sprayed houses with DDT.

The campaign did kill mosquitoes and reduced the incidence of malaria, but it had side effects. House lizards ate the dead bugs, then cats ate the lizards and died from the accumulated insecticide. Without cats, the local rat population exploded—rats that could carry plague and typhus. Neighboring states donated cats to the affected upland regions.

For the remote interior, the W.H.O. and Singapore’s Royal Air Force devised a maneuver worthy of Disney called Operation Cat Drop: they packed cats into perforated containers and sent them plummeting into upland villages by parachute."


real cat drop story

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Huge and Awesome Lego Aircraft Carrier 

Huge and Awesome Lego Aircraft Carrier... this is WILD. Crazy, but wild.

Huge and Awesome Lego aircraft carrier

Saturday, March 18, 2006

CRIA's Own Study Counters P2P Claims 

"CRIA's own research now concludes that P2P downloading constitutes less than one-third of the music on downloaders' computers, that P2P users frequently try music on P2P services before they buy, that the largest P2P downloader demographic is also the largest music buying demographic, and that reduced purchasing has little to do with the availability of music on P2P services."

Geist's website/

Sunday, March 12, 2006

PowerBook for sale on eBay- this baby worked at CIPPIC! 

well, the time has come to part with my 12 inch PowerBook, and what is served me well over the last several months. It is still practically brand-new, but it's back to the old G3 (Pismo!) and a Windows box...

If you're in the market for a shiny new Mac PowerBook, check it out.

Bye-Bye, PBG4... :-(

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blast from the Wired Past 

wow, I found this goofing around on the Web... hard to believe it's almost 11 years old.

I guess it just goes to show that the insanity began early, and that where you start out is often where you end up.

I was working in the Philippines at the time, and had left my beloved PowerBook 165 (or was it a 145b?) home in Toronto because I thought it might get stolen or that I might not actually really need it. Sure enough, by the end of August, my fingers had gotten a bit twitchy and it was time for some PowerBooking.

Of course, I sent a postcard to Wired magazine lamenting my situation and they deemed it crazy enough to actually print in issue 3.12. I think it qualifies for the "raves" part of th "rants and raves" section. ;-)

"Fetish Fever"

I've been traveling for three months, and, oh, god, I missed your magazine. Then the unmistakable logo caught my eye at a newsstand in the Philippines. My neurons tingled in anticipation as I tore the plastic sleeve off to caress the smooth, glossy pages. Gently, I laid the issue down on a clear spot on the bench beside me and leafed through to your aptly titled Fetish section, which filled my materialistic heart with technolust.

"I need a computer!"

I screamed inside, my fingers itching for the tactile ecstasy of a keyboard and trackpad. I want to get home, flip open my PowerBook, and listen to my baby hum, the RAM sizzle, the hard drive spin, and the keys go click, click, click, as I sit bathed in the pale phosphorescence of the screen in the surrounding darkness. It's hell on my retinas, but I just love that 4-in-the-morning-and-still-clocking-40-words-a-minute feeling.

Damien Fox

Manila, Philippines


Rants and Raves 3.12

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hello, Rexton! 

See you tomorrow PM!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Linux, Java, Mocha, etc. 

WiFi in Toronto, with Linux, coffee, a park, the 2600 crowd, and Co-Op owned-internet by Wireless Nomad.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Wireless Nomad Co-Op Gets a New Web Site, Blog 

Good afternoon, everyone!

Continuing its quest to bring WiFi to the Toronto masses and put people in control of their Internet, Wireless Nomad has a nicer look on its web site and has a blog
, so people can keep in touch and see what co-op members have been up to, like the Hillcrest Mesh Network or the free WiFi in Kensington market.

Check it out, and if you're interested, drop the co-op a line to lend a hand.

Friday, February 10, 2006

suckered into the copyright debate on a web forum once again... 

here is my response to a posting called "Anti-copyright: a rebel sell?" at www.blog.thismagazine.ca-- search for it, I'm not going to vote for it with a link.

True, few people working for/with Access Copyright want to stop an academic from citing a work and thereby censoring free expression: all they want is to have the academic pay them money each and every time they quote or speak. But free expression should be exactly that- free expression- not someone's business model, and should be the expression of an individual citizen, free from political censorship or economic coercion.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not guarantee freedom of expression only for those who own a printing press; nor does it only guarantee freedom of expression only for those who can pay to use someone else's printing press. Rather, it explicitly guarantees the right of every Canadian citizen to express themselves freely, out loud or on paper. It guarantees the right to criticize politicians, writers, judges and academics, and to criticize or quote anyone else, and for good reason.

That's only the beginning, because it's leaving out the obvious part about why free expression is important, but I will take it for granted we all agree that it is so.

The problem isn't only about censorship, though. It's also about business models acting as parasites, creating economic inefficiencies and using unfair "market" power.

Here's example of how it's happening already: the Copyright Act explicitly allows copying for research and/or private study, but for some reason Canadian universities charge Canadian students millions of dollars a year and give that money to Access Copyright as "compensation". As if students aren't paying enough already for the right to obtain education, Access Copyright has bullied the universities into letting them pick students pockets.

Why should university students, far from being the wealthiest members of society, and some even being under the age of majority, find themselves paying money to an organization to "allow them" to exercise a right to copy which they already have explicitly under the Copyright Act?

It's wholesale rip-offs like these that people see is unfair, and rightly so. Most students don't even know they are paying this tax, and from the point of view of Access Copyright, that perfect: taxation without representation has always been the most lucrative business model out there, despite its moral illegitimacy, and despite the fact that those being unfairly treated eventually figure it out and do something about it.

So instead of attacking people like Russell McOrmond, who is himself an author (albeit of computer code, which has equal copyright protection as poetry or any other work), the Access Copyright crowd had better start thinking about how they will pay their bills in a few years, when this nonsense is finally stopped, and students are no longer treated like cash crops, and are instead treated with respect and integrity. Copyright is no longer the game of big media companies, academic institutions and government lobbyists. With personal computers and the worldwide Internet, it's everybody's business, and, no, people are not just going to shut up and take it- they're going to do something about it.

Some are going to copy without authorization, infringing copyright left and right, without a care in the world. Some are going to make their own media, like Creative Commons. Others are going to make their own software, like open source programmers are doing. Others still are going to try to change the silly laws and policies and ways of thinking that got us into this situation in the first place. If being angry is what it takes, that's what we're gonna get.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

French Police Abandon Ballmer's Microsoft For Mozilla 

meaning that they can freely run it on Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

French Police Abandon Ballmer's Microsoft For Mozilla

The Freedom Revolution, you could call it--if you're a politically correct U.S. patriot. Yet it's been a non-violent, bloodless radical change over in France, where the country's police force is renouncing Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser for the Mozilla Foundation's open source browser Firefox.

We don't know if the gendarmes affectionately refer to the browser as "le renard du feu", yet AFX News quoted the IT director of the force as saying 70,000 desktop computers would be converted to Firefox and its e-mail client Thunderbird because of the navigator's "reliability, security and inter-operability with other state services". The transition, which follows the department's decision to migrate from the Microsoft Office suite of applications to OpenOffice for all of its desktops last year, should be complete by the end of the year, he added.

The wily Firefox navigator has apparently gobbled up nearly 18% of the French Internet browser market, approaching the European average of 20%. This has left blogging wags predicting excellent sales of chairs should the news of Mozilla's success reach Steve Ballmer's ears.

"By the end of 2006, the French police plan to install Firefox and the e-mail client Thunderbird on 70,000 desktops. The force is pleased with Firefox's adherence to World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards and cross-platform capabilities, "

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

EFF's Class-Action Lawsuit Against AT&T 

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on January 31, 2006, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications."

LINK: http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/

Monday, January 30, 2006

Wireless Nomad Makes Now Magazine List of Tech 2005 Top 10 

Wireless Nomad Co-Op, a subscriber-owned ISP I work with in Toronto, made it on to Now Magazine's list of top 10 technologies for 2005, their "Tech 2005 Top 10."

From the magazine's web site:

Tech 2005 Top 10 list #5: FREE WI-FI

Cities around the world have begun to reimagine Internet access as a utility rather than an upper-middle-class privilege. Philadelphia, San Francisco, even the island of Mauritius are on their way to becoming wireless and totally free. NYC Wireless and Montreal's Isle Sans Fils have made headlines for popularizing the feasibility of free wireless for everybody. Toronto has its own grassroots Wi-Fi community in the hands of local upstarts Wireless Toronto and Wireless Nomad, both offering community service."


Social Tech Brewing Co.'s February event on Copyright 

Lots of people interested in making copyright work for Canadians will be getting together Thursday night courtesy of the Social Tech Brewing Co.

what: gathering of public domain defenders
where: 215 Center for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina Ave, Toronto
when: Thursday, February 2, 2006, 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.

"It's timely that the night after the $250-a-plate fundraiser for Sarmite Bulte and the "balanced meal" counter-dinner hosted by Online Right Canada- and just days before a federal election that has brought Canadian copyright issues back into the media spotlight - Social Tech Brewing should have opportunity to bring you such an incredible line-up of voices for freedom and fair use."

LINK: Brought to you by: http://socialtechbrewing.org

LINK: http://upcoming.org/event/51961/

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Orientation Visualizer 

"AMS Visualizer is a logical graphical extension of th amstracker command-line tool. It displays a 3D image of a PowerBook 15 that appears to "hang" in space. Note that the PowerBook model is hardcoded, but it would be easy to make the image correspond to the physical machine the program is being run on. The orientation of the on-screen image is a real-time approximation of the computer's physical orientation. Thus, if you tilt the PowerBook left, the image will immediately tilt left; if you roll the PowerBook backwards, the image will roll backwards, and so on."

LINK: http://www.kernelthread.com/software/ams/ams.html

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Computer OS Market Share, 1975-2005 


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bare Naked Ladies: We Choose Our Fans before Our Lawyers 

Steven Page from the Bare Naked Ladies says:

"As I’ve said to friends, we can’t expect to tell our fans “see you in court” and then “see you at Massey Hall next fall” – we have to choose one, and I choose the latter. This current litigious atmosphere is simply a product of the record business trying to prop up a dying, obsolete business model. The labels aren’t the enemy; they’re often run by people who love music and are passionate about the promotion of Canadian culture, but their responsibility is not to the Canadian people, but to their parent companies’ shareholders."


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Coolest OS X.4 Widget 


Google becomes the largest censor on the planet 

By launching a censored search engine for China, Google is compromising its position as the search engine of record: by providing massively censored search results for an entire country they've shown they can't be trusted as a neutral intermediary, at least not in the way many hoped they might. Google has now taken a side: the side of censorship, the side of state control, a side the Internet is not on. Today, they are cooperating with a one-party dictatorship to suppress democratic rights and political dissent- how long will it be before they start cooperating with any politician to suppress opposing views and unpleasant facts? As a public company, they answer to their shareholders, not their users... but the management should remember, "do no evil" as a company motto is a valuable part of their brand, and shouldn't be squandered.

But think about it: Google has agreed to help the Chinese government cover up a massacre of over a thousand students peacefully protesting for the democratic right to vote. Maybe the protesters are right, maybe they weren't. Whichever side you're on, though, it happened- and letting power dictate truth is to surrender freedom and reason.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Japanese anime-style giant robot Lego sets 

Lego is finally wising up: they just released a line of ultra-cool Japanese anime-style giant robots as part of their ExoForce series. Lego has always been the best toy ever: sure, there were a few dark years in the late 90s and at the turn of the millennium, but somebody at Lego gets it and gets it good. Fully poseable, 10 inches tall, with giant blasters and Lego minifigs with spiked blue hair, these are the toys I dreamed of when I was eight years old!

Beyond being cool, I think these are the first post-modern Lego sets. Just like Joss Whedon's hybrid Sino-Anglo Firefly/Serenity future where cowboys swear in Chinese, a Danish company selling most of its products to English-speaking North Americans has its new toys covered in Chinese characters.

Japanese animation used to be hard to find; you had to either get a copy from a friend's copy VHS cassette, or wait around after school until the guys running Suspect Video in Mirvish Village would finally roll out of bed and open their shop. Now it's everywhere, even the robot toys that were almost impossible to find over here. Lego doing Star Wars was a good move: Lego moving into anime robots is just awesome.

On top of all that, each of these mecha comes with a new kind of brick I've never seen before: it's transparent plastic, the size of a regular 2 x 4 Lego brick, but it has a little watch battery and an LED light inside. The LED connects to a little flexible fiber-optic tube that kids can plug into the laser sight on the mecha's laser rifle. Squeeze the button on top, and a little red laser designator lights up!Lego is finally bringing cheap electronics into their plastic bricks, paving the way to a day when kids (okay, well, growing-ups too) will be able to make programmable robots and other devices since it by clicking some Lego bricks together. 2016 is going to be a great year to be a kid...`

Friday, December 09, 2005

Online Rights Canada launches! 



Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Putting the Napster Genie Back in the Bottle- HAHAHA! 

"Putting the Napster Genie Back in the Bottle"
New York Times (11/20/05) P. 3-1; Hansell, Saul
"File-sharing service Grokster plans to introduce peer-to-peer technology by the end of the year that will monitor the file-trading of copyrighted works, and force the file-swapper to pay for a song or block the attempt to download the content directly on another computer. The technology that Grokster will use was been developed by Snocap, the new company of Shawn Fanning, 25, who developed Napster seven years ago while he was a student at Northeastern University in Boston."

These guys have about as much of a chance of stopping peer-to-peer file sharing as a cow does of flying over the moon.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Wireless fidelity co-ops are on the rise 

"A few weeks ago NOW ran a story about the absence of wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) community groups in Toronto.

It turns out that there are a few nascent groups just itching to provide wireless access for the masses.

Every month at the Bishop and Belcher on Queen West, Toronto's digirati gather to discuss the newest applications of wireless technology. Members organize through www.meetup. com, and are the largest Wi-Fi meet-up group in the world.

Damien Fox, organizer of the meetup crew, is vice-president of Wireless Nomad, a new company dedicated to bringing Wi-Fi to entire neighbourhoods at a time.

"The idea behind this co-op is that it's run by the people, for the people," he tells me..."

LINK: http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005-11-03/goods_next.php

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Edmonton cops violate restricted database to target journalist 

From the Boing:

"After an Edmonton journalist wrote an article criticizing red light and speed cameras in the city (citing statistics that the cameras "raise about $14 million annually for police" but do nothing to reduce traffic injuries), the police there targeted him in a sting operation, hoping to bust him on drunk driving charges.

The police broke the law when they used a restricted database to obtain information on the journalist (who, much to the dismay of the police, had a clean record). The police were also unsuccessful in their attempt to bust the journalist."

LINK: http://www.boingboing.net/2005/09/21/creepy_cops_violate_.html

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Submission to the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Review Panel from Wireless Nomad Co-op 

Here's my submission as VP of of Wireless Nomad Co-op:

Telecommunications Policy Review Panel Secretariat
Submission to the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Review Panel from Wireless Nomad Co-op

Honorable members of the Policy Review Panel,

1.  Wireless Nomad is a young telecommunications company that provides high-speed Internet with meshing WiFi wireless for businesses, homes, and neighborhoods across Ontario.  We incorporated in February of 2005, and have been steadily growing our network. Most recently, we have moved into new offices on King Street at the Toronto Business Development Center, and have been collaborating with the CRACIN project at the University of Toronto to build Toronto's first wireless mesh network in the neighborhood called The Annex.

2.  Our business model is simple: using DSL as backhaul, we install custom-built meshing WiFi access points on the premises of each of our subscribers, which provides each subscriber with a wired DSL connection, an 802.11g wireless local area network, and free WiFi 64kbps web access for all community members within range of one of our signals after they create a free account.  Each subscriber gets everything they would get with a standard DSL-based Internet service provider, but also gets high speed wireless roaming at all of our locations at no extra charge, and a way to share their wireless connection at no extra cost, with proper authentication, security, and legal agreements for all users.

3.  This model provides a flexible, bottom-up way to deploy an urban WiFi network with significant coverage, no extra cost or risk for any subscriber or free account user, and minimal up-front capital requirements.  Where sufficient density of subscribers is achieved, the cost of Internet access can be reduced by using secure mesh networking to share DSL backhaul amongst subscribers and eliminate unnecessary monthly costs for redundant DSL lines.

4.  Essential to this business model is our ability to obtain DSL circuits through a reseller at a reasonable cost with flexible quantities and the ability to add additional circuits as required. With today's technology, there is simply no better way to provide a backhaul for low-cost wireless networks in urban areas.

5.  The current regulatory regime which requires incumbent carriers to resell access to the lines which they developed as a protected monopoly serves new and innovative businesses well.  It has enabled us to create a totally new type of Internet service using a corporate structure and business model that is fundamentally different from that of other Internet service providers. Our subscribers own and control their own Internet connections, following the principles of user control, open access, and user input upon which the Internet itself was constructed. 

6.  The incredible success of the Internet as a global network is without doubt largely a result of this architecture of access, plurality and feedback. Wireless Nomad is using those same principles in the hopes of continuing the tradition of innovation, political engagement, technical collaboration and economic success that have been the hallmarks of the personal computer and telecommunications industries over the last decade.

7.  Eventually, we anticipate using high-speed long-range wireless to provide backhaul from Internet backbone connection points to neighborhoods and clusters all of our subscribers connected to one another by low-cost wireless mesh equipment.  There are several promising technologies which have, so far, failed to materialize in an effective or cost efficient form.  We do not anticipate that any wireless technology suitable for this purpose will be available in a usable form for approximately 5 years.  

8.  Until then, our ability to create a new network and community-based business model depends entirely upon our ability to obtain access to the lines of incumbent carriers.  We respectfully submit that the current regime that provides mandated access and resale be continued and possibly expanded where appropriate.  It has served as an effective means to correct for the obvious market failures induced by our legacy of telecommunications and broadcasting monopolies, has greatly reducing the cost of market entry for new businesses, and has provided choice for consumers and citizens in the Internet services marketplace.

9.  Thank you for your time and consideration.  We look forward to continued support by the CRTC, Industry Canada, and other bodies of the Canadian government for free and open markets for telecommunications services, where the consumer, the subscriber and the citizen benefit most of all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Big Mother Bell is Watching 

There's been lots of talk the last couple of days about cell phones that let people locate users within a couple of meters based on GPS and cell phone signal triangulation. It's mostly been marketed to parents that want to be able to keep track of where their kids are (or at least where their kids cell phones are). Bell Canada has just announced such a service, called SeekAndFind.

Sure, this technology has many potential problems, including possible gross violations of individuals' privacy.however, the system that Bell Canada has created, SeekAndFind,incorporates a couple of very basic protections that make the system somewhat acceptable from a privacy point of view. First, if you turn your cell phone off, nobody can locate you at all. Of course, then you don't have any telephone communications, so that isn't a perfect solution. Second, the system only lets people on the cell phone users' white list locate that user. That means only preapproved family and friends can find you, not just any business(except for Bell Canada, of course). Third, the system provides the cell phone user with notification every time somebody locates them using the GPS and triangulation system. That meansyou know when you have been located and who located you.

Compare these features to what the RFID systems provide for the end-user: the RFID can't be switched off, anybody can access information, and there is no notification of access when somebody reads your RFID tag.

Of course, all these privacy protections are only as good as the amount of trust you place in Bell Canada to treat your personal information with respect, and the amount of trust you place in their security systems to prevent other people from abusing the location finding system. Parents will have to decide if knowing the location of their child's cell phone is worth the potential for intrusive marketing by telephone companies and their business partners, and the potential for an attack on the system that exposes the personal information and physical locations of subscribers. I wouldn't want to be the network guy in charge of that system ;-)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Apple to add Trusted Computing to the new kernel? 

People working with early versions of the forthcoming Intel-based MacOS X operating system have discovered that Apple's new kernel makes use of Intel's Trusted Computing hardware. If this "feature" appears in a commercial, shipping version of Apple's OS, they'll lose me as a customer -- I've used Apple computers since 1979 and have a Mac tattooed on my right bicep, but this is a deal-breaker.

I travel in the kinds of circles where many people use GNU/Linux on their computers -- and not only use it, but actually call it GNU/Linux instead of just "Linux," in the fashion called for by Richard Stallman. Some of these people give me grief over the fact that I use Mac OS X instead of GNU/Linux on my Powerbook, because the MacOS is proprietary.

LINK: http://www.boingboing.net/2005/07/31/apple_to_add_trusted.html

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Apple Mail plug-ins and tools 

A repository of plug-ins and tools that extend the functionality of Apple's Mail.app (v. 2.0 and above). New plug-ins and tools are periodically notified on the site update notification list (see below).

LINK: http://www.tikouka.net/mailapp/

Sunday, July 24, 2005

build community network infrastructure with Wireless Nomad 

Wireless Nomad is Canada's Community Wireless Internet Provider.
Advanced communications infrastructure for your neighborhood using wireless mesh technology –a network providing sustainable, secure and reliable Internet access at home, at work and on the road.

Let 'em know how you'd like to help.

Telus censors internet connections 

Telus Communications Inc., Canada's second-largest telephone company and an Internet service provider to thousands of Canadians is censoring the Internet connections of its subscribers by blocking access to several web sites. These web sites are run by the Telecommunications Workers' Union of Canada, which is currently locked out by Telus as part of a labor dispute.

Censoring the Internet connections of its subscribers is an abuse of its paying customers, abuse of its position of privilege as a supposedly neutral telecommunications carrier, and abuse of the public trust. Imagine if Telus, as a phone company as well, started blocking all calls into the union headquarters. The people that are paying Telus each month to get online have paid for using the entire Internet, not just the parts that Telus management thinks they should be able to read.

Censorship by a telephone or Internet company is a sucker punch to one of the democratic values Canadians hold most dear: the right to free expression, as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We pay our money and put our trust in these companies to behave ethically and fairly, and often they do. Sometimes, though, they do something like this, and their subscribers pay the price. But all Internet users have a choice: there are lots of other companies out there besides Telus that are willing to treat you with respect and keep up their side of the bargain when you pay them your $45 a month. If I was a Telus customer, I'd be looking for one right now, before they block those web sites, too.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Dissected lies of a Canadian recording industry shill 

Dissected lies of a Canadian recording industry shill
This week, the Canadian Recording Industry Association had its bid to indiscriminately force ISPs to reveal their subscribers' personal information on the mere say-so of a rightsholder. Seeking to contain the crushing defeat of justice, the head of the CRIA gave a press interview where he attempted to spin this as some kind of victory for his side. Michael Geist has fact-checked his ass, revealing the lies and delusions that this shill told the press:
"The judge has determined that uploading, downloading, it's illegal."
Actually, the court did no such thing. Concluding its copyright discussion at paragraph 54, the court says:

"I make no such findings here and wish to make it clear that if this case proceeds further, it should be done on the basis that no findings to date on the issue of infringement have been made."


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Another reason to download FireFox 

More Microsoft bullying: M$ has reportedly told Denmark that if it doesn't support software patents (which are pretty dumb) Microsoft will close a Danish IT company it recently acquired that employs 800 people. If Bill Gates wants " clarity on the rights issue," here it is: NO SOFTWARE PATENTS FOR YOU! There, that's clear... now, can we keep our jobs?


Friday, February 11, 2005

Toronto Copyright conference- Update! 

The Sixth Annual TIP Conference, Sound Bytes, Sound Rights: Canada at the Crossroads of Copyright Law, has come and gone. Judging by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd in attendance, I'd say the conference was a resounding success. Congratulations, U of T!

Important observations:
-First, I've finally seen firsthand how of upset, and frankly, narrow minded and selfish, some artists and their representatives are. On the other hand, artist/producers like Neil Layton from Fading Ways Music were absolutely incredible, showing how they are making music and making a living using new technologies, and without suing anyone.

-Second, I've seen firsthand now the outstanding ability of politicians to say two things at the same time that are completely contradictory, yet somehow are also absolutely meaningless. Sarmite Bulte, MP, actually told the audience with a straight face that she was trying to ram through legislation that would tax Internet users and destroy fair dealing by providing legal protection for digital restrictions management systems BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO WORKS. (WTF? @!$?!) Let me get this straight: she really wants people to use material on the Internet, so she wants to put a tax on Internet connections and put passwords on content so people can't use it without special permission or paying royalties? That just makes no sense at all. NO. SENSE. AT. ALL.

-Third, Bulte, as member of parliament and a servant of the Canadian public, should disclose how much money the recording industry and artists' groups have given her and the Liberal Party campaign over the years. Being in a position of public trust, she should not be advocating for a small group of interests if that group is giving her substantial amounts of money. Her job as a politician is to represent her constituents, not to represent industry lobby groups that might be financing her campaign.

-Fourth and finally, Electronic Frontier Canada, by means of yours truly, Damien Fox, met lots of great people interested in the work Electronic Frontier Canada is doing and that want to help. They saw people like Bulte spew their doublethink doubletalk, and aren't going to take it lying down. Go on over to www.efc.ca and get in on the action.

Monday, February 07, 2005

EFF releases logfinder 

Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released logfinder, a software tool to help people reduce the unnecessary collection of personal information about computer users... By finding unwanted log files, logfinder informs system administrators when their servers are collecting personal data and gives them the opportunity to turn logging off if it isn't gathering information necessary for administering the system.


Toronto music copyright conference 

This Friday, there's going to be a great conference about Canadian copyright law at the University of Toronto. The focus will be on music and entertainment law, which is pretty much the main battleground for copyright law change in this country. they've got some good speakers lined up, including Prof. Geist from CIPPIC, and Prof. Chisick from U of T (practitioner). Yours truly will be there, providing CNN-like coverage on this here blog.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

MPAA condemns itself, slinks away with tail between legs (not) 

"BitTorrent has attracted the enmity of Hollywood. (....)[MPAA antipiracy chief John] Malcolm described the operators of the targeted servers as "Traffic cops connecting those who wish to steal a movie with those who have a copy of it."

"These people are parasites leeching off the creativity of others," said Malcolm. "They generate ad revenues by way of popup ads, banner ads... and they solicit online donations."

Hmmm.... sounds a lot like what the record labels and movie studios are doing themselves. by generating hype and trading lavish marketing campaigns, they make millions and millions of dollars from the creative work of others. Of course, content on its own isn't worth much without a distribution system-- the thing is, though, we just don't need that old distribution system anymore, now that we've got the likes of BitTorrent.

LINK: http://www.boingboing.net/2004/12/14/mpaa_people_operatin.html

Monday, December 13, 2004

dot-ca registrants: DO NOT TO RESPOND to verification of CIRA User Account 

"The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is advising dot-ca domain registrants (holders of dot-ca domain
names) NOT TO RESPOND OR REPLY TO ANY EMAILS requesting verification of CIRA
User Account Numbers and Passwords.

...an unknown party is attempting to obtain CIRA User Account Numbers and Passwords from dot-ca registrants by sending MISLEADING EMAIL NOTICES that appear to originate from CIRA. These misleading emails request that CIRA User Account Numbers and Passwords be provided to validate registrant information and prevent domain name suspension (inactivation).
The emails originate from COMPLIANCE@CIRA.CC. CIRA's compliance email address is COMPLIANCE@CIRA.CA"

What is DRM? 

Almost every academic paper, press release for news article discussing digital Copyright has an introductory paragraph where it talks about DRM and TPMs-- that is, digital rights management and technological protection measures.

Well, I'm not going to write a new definition here, especially since most people that read this know more about it than I do. What I will say, though, is that we should at least call it what it is. From now on, I'm not going to talk about DRM or TPM, and instead use the term TCM, or Technological Control Measure. It gets rid of the need for the two existing terms, and has the added virtue of being a true and accurate description of the technology in question. Let's face it: encryption, water marking, etc. is all about controlling access to the related content in controlling who can copy that content. The recording industry talks about " protecting " content - but you don't protect things from your customers, you instead control how your customers use those things. it's time journalists, academics, consumers and technology users stop using the words the recording industry is putting in our mouths.

Next week, we will talk about what piracy actually is!

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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

DMCA Reversal in US: printer cartridges not copyrighted material! 

Hurray! Another American court has refused another plaintiff's ludicrous interpretation of the DMCA, choosing to allow competition rather than let copyright law used to squeeze out other businesses on account of a bogus litigation. Another lesson for Canadian lawmakers: don't even try to make copyright laws that prevent competition or restricted expression, or the courts will smack them down for all sorts of good reasons. Besides, why should consumers be forced to pay more just because some intercompany intentionally makes their products incompatible?

"This just in --- Static Control Corp. has won its appeal against Lexmark over the right to produce after-market replacement cartridges for Lexmark printers."

LINK: from lawgeek

LINK: EFF Case archive

Monday, October 25, 2004

NoSoftwarePatents.com Launches Campaign Against EU Software Patents 

A new campaign against software patents in the EU was launched today in 12 languages at www.NoSoftwarePatents.com. (Munich, Germany 20 October 2004).

"Software patents are used for anti-competitive purposes, stifle innovation, and would cost the entire economy and society dearly", Florian Müller said. "On the bottom line, they create more injustice than justice. There is only a small group of people in the patent system who would benefit from them, and some large American corporations have ulterior motives. The public interest must prevail because every European citizen, every European company and every European government would end up paying a high price for such a monumental mistake."

As digital copyright Canada points out, "In Canada we await the promised public publishing this month of Chapter 26 of the Manual of Patent Office Practices drafted for the review of computer implemented inventions and business methods." patenting software makes about as much sense as trying to patent any other math formula-- That is, it doesn't make any sense at all. Allowing software patents opens the floodgates to the patenting of almost anything that can be represented by any mathematical symbols. There's plenty of evidence that the existing level of patenting is already a large drag on innovation and productivity, so it's hard to see how thousands more patents will do us (citizens and businesses alike) much good.

LINK: http://nosoftwarepatents.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Diebold hammered by EFF, US courts for false copyright infringement claims 

Diebold, everyone's favorite error-prone electronic voting machine manufacturer, lost big a couple of days ago down in the US, and agreed to pay $125,000 in damages and fees. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's release, "a California district court found that Diebold had knowingly misrepresented that online commentators, including Indymedia and two Swarthmore college students, had infringed the company's copyrights."

Chalk one up for the good guys, and let it be an example of why Canada should have a "notice and notice" system rather than a "notice and take down" system for allegedly infringing material on host servers.

LINK: EFF Press release

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Toronto ISP end user contracts 

Over the last few days, I've been giving a lot of thought to the terms and conditions Toronto-area ISPs have put in their contracts concerning copyright and other so-called intellectual property rights. In a couple of weeks, I'll post a complete rundown on the EULAs Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Golden, and any others providing high-speed Internet that catch my eye. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

WiFi neighborhood free-for-all (for now) 

Well, it turns out a guy living right here in Toronto has harnessed the airwaves, using WiFi to distribute his Internet connection as well as a massive library of recorded content, including digitized broadcast television.

"Now most of Andrew's neighborhood is watching digital TV with full PVR capability, making unmetered VoIP telephone calls, and downloading data at prodigious rates thanks to shared bandwidth. Is this the future of home communications and entertainment? It could be, five years from now, if Andrew Greig has anything to say about it."

As my hero Ali G asked so eloquently in one of his interviews, "What is legal?" Well, I could answer that I bet this set up is NOT, even though it seems ridiculously convenient, inexpensive and cool. Signal retransmission is allowed in Canada, but the CRTC said that permission doesn't extend to Internet rebroadcasters (Q: is a WiFi LAN/WAN the Internet?). Moreover, doing the PVR thing and providing it to neighbors (Q: are his neighbors the general public, or only his close friends?) Seems to fall on the side of copyright law where you get your butt hauled into court by the Canadian Recording Industry Association or some other such group of Darth Vader's friends.

Sure, sure, you say, this is so awesome that Canadian lawmakers would have to be on the MPAA's payroll not to try and find a way to encourage this sort of innovation that efficiently uses our technological resources, eh? Well, time to come up with a good argument about how all this might actually not fall foul of CRTC regulations and the Copyright Act- but that's for another day.

LINK: I, Cringely (from wirelessbandit)

Virtual economies, where copyright becomes a property right 


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Cool world subway maps 

If you're interested in side-by-side scale comparisons of major world subway systems, this is your thing.

LINK: Subway maps

Toronto Wi-Fi Meetup Group Event 

The Toronto Wi-Fi Meetup Group has an event tomorrow:

What: Toronto Wi-Fi October Meetup
When: Wednesday, October 13 at 7:00PM
Where: Courtyard by Marriott, 475 Yonge Street

Come out for another evening of WiFi networking!

LINK: WiFi Events

Friday, October 08, 2004

Movie Studios and Record Labels snitch and squeal 

"Major movie studios and record labels on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Grokster decision, which had absolved peer-to-peer networks of responsibility when their users download copyright material without permission [ of the file sharing network]."

Don't these people know when they're beaten? Peer-to-peer isn't going to be stopped without stopping the Internet, because the Internet is itself a peer-to-peer network. If the recording and movie people think they can actually win this fight even if they win in court, they got another think coming. See, we've got this thing called the Canadian border, and something else called the Supreme Court of Canada (now with four of nine judges being women- a world first), and if there is NO way the kind of nonsense like "shutting down peer-to-peer" would get past them. Not a chance.

We've also got the CRTC and things like compulsory licensing for audio recordings, and we're keenly aware that most of the money Canadians spend on music and movies flies south to the United States, and out of the hands of Canadians. Our pharmacies are doing a land-office business selling American-designed pharmaceuticals back to Americans at fair prices, rather than the profiteering mark-ups they force upon American citizens through their private health-care plans. Just imagine: Canadian servers sending gigabytes of music southbound, all completely legal in Canada... The war on drugs didn't do much to stop the flow of narcotics, I'd bet he would be at least as hard to try and stop something that is invisible, weightless, odorless and grows for free. Hear that, G.W.?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Compulsory licensing papers 

An interesting collection of academic papers outlining policies and legal requirements for creating a compulsory licensing regime. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has become a proponent of compulsory licensing for audio recordings in the United States as a solution to mass copyright infringement and ridiculous lawsuits by the recording industry- here in Canada, we already have a compulsory licensing scheme for audio recordings, and with a levy (tax!) built-in to the cost of every blank recording medium sold in the country, from blank CDs to Apple's iPods.

LINK: >papers

Monday, October 04, 2004

Massive victory at WIPO! 

Massive victory at WIPO!
"For years now, progressive elements and copyfighters have been trying to get the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization to start thinking about ways of promoting creativity and development instead of just IP... at the general session of the WIPO in Geneva this weekend, the Assembly as adoped a decision to put development and the promotion of creativity front-and-center in its goals. That means that from now on, WIPO isn't an organization that blindly supports more IP no matter what, but rather one that seeeks to improve the world by whatever tool is best suited to the job."

Myabe... but it still seems that it's called the World intellectual Property Organization, and with so-called intellectual property so central in its very name, it's probably still a long way off from becoming a strong supporter of public domain creation and sharing-based innovation. A large step for a further backwards organization, only a very small step so far for the world at large.

LINK: boingboing.net

Friday, October 01, 2004

Canadian Creative Commons license now available!

Following the lead of numerous other countries, Canada finally has a creative Commons license for public use. The CC license provides artists, authors, programmers and other content creators with an easy and efficient set of rules to encourage maximum distribution of their work, while maintaining control over economic exploitation.

Over at the Boing, Cory Doctorow notes that the waiver of moral rights is not mandatory, and could make some potential users think twice before making use of a work and creating directly derivative content. Moral rights in copyright law are a tricky thing, both policy-wise and in terms of clear definitions as to what may impugn an author's moral prerogative and what may not-- The language is all about reputation, etc., highly subjective terms, especially given intense personal connections to artistic works. Canadian copyright law stands somewhere between continental Europe's intense focus upon the rights of authors and the United States' (supposedly!) single-minded Pursuit of economic and scientific progress, and it seems somewhat inevitable that our creative Commons license import both the good and bad from our hybrid legislation.

At any rate, regardless of what one may think of the license terms itself, congratulations to CIPPIC and the University of Ottawa for providing Canadian content creators with another legal mechanism for getting their work out there.

LINK: creativecommons.org

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Schwarzenegger signs bill requiring email addresses for filesharing

"California governor Arnold Schwarzenneger -- a man who found considerable fame and fortune in Hollywood -- signed an MPAA-backed bill into law Tuesday that requires anyone sharing a file that goes to more than 10 people outside their immediate family to provide a valid email address and title of the work."

Yes, this is as ridiculous as it sounds. From now on, when I share a file - say, a summary of my tax class notes from law school- I will be sure to attach a valid e-mail address. How about hotline@mpaa.org?

So far, Canadian legislators have avoided such futile actions, but even if they didn't, this sort of law wouldn't survive a Charter challenge, I don't think.

LINK: from the Boing

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


I've been meaning to do this for awhile: Matthew Skala, a Canadian living in Waterloo, has been running an interesting blog for some time now. If the intersection of computer science, law and copyright policy is your thing, check this guy out.

LINK: Skala's Blog

Globe and Mail website locks content, shuts out public

Why any newspaper would make it more difficult for readers to read its stories, I do not know. Does anybody out there actually want to keep track of **another** password? It seems Canada's paper of record is taking a page from the recording industry's handbook, and treating their customers with little respect. And lest we forget, newspapers don't sell papers; they sell readers to advertisers. Seems to me that passwords and logging in make it less likely readers will read (myself as a case in point), and less reading would seem to lead to fewer eyeballs on advertisements. Well, to each his own...

LINK: Globe and Mail

Thursday, August 19, 2004

EFF wins Grokster! Software doesn't have to be easy for Hollywood to wiretap!

EFF has won its Grokster case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- this is the case that establishes that if you make truly decentralized P2P software -- like Gnutella -- you can't be held liable for any copyright infringement that takes place on their networks. This is the "Betamax principle," from the famous Supreme Court case that established that Sony wasn't responsoble for any infringement that its customers undertook with their VCRs.

LINK: from the Boing

Monday, July 19, 2004


Law student sets up website and P2P file trading for confidential and/or hard-to-find US government documents:

LINK: http://www.outragedmoderates.org/

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Meetup with other local Wi-Fi geeks to talk about the latest developments in wireless technology, especially urban mesh networks, Wednesday, July 14 @ 7:00PM.

Where: SpaHa, 66 Harbord St. @Spadina. Toronto, ON M5S 1G2, 416-260-6133

LINK: Info and sign-up

Monday, July 12, 2004


"Price discrimination is no panacea, however, and as a cure it may be in fact worse than the supposed disease. Everything else equal, it might work, but everything else will not be equal. Most importantly, changes in technology will not be used to their full advantage and innovation will be hampered by excessive and unnecessary centralization of the creative process.

Business models should follow the underlying economic objectives of copyright law, rather than the other way around. Existing industries are merely means to an end, not the end in itself, and ultimately the price discrimination if solution fails to make this critical distinction. "

Full text available at http://homepage.mac.com/ahdfox/copyrightcanada/FileSharing12.html, select CopyrightEconomicsFinal.pdf.


Meetup with other local Wi-Fi geeks to talk about the latest developments in wireless technology, especially urban mesh networks, Wednesday, July 14 @ 7:00PM.

Your Meetup in Toronto, ON is at:

What: International Wi-Fi Meetup Day
When: Wednesday, July 14 @ 7PM
Who: Wi-Fi Geeks and friends
Where: SpaHa
66 Harbord St. @Spadina
Toronto, ON M5S 1G2

When you get there, look for the Wi-Fi Geeks near: Entrance

LINK: Info and sign-up


"It seems to me, however, that as a competition expert, Finckenstein saw copyright for exactly what it is — a government-granted monopoly- and accordingly put the screws to the recording industry when they weren't being competitive." --Damien Fox, Student, Osgoode Hall Law School

LINK: Globe Technology online

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


"There's a bill up right now that could mean serious legal troubles for future iPods, so we just launched savetheipod.com."

Well, go ahead... help save the iPod!

LINK: savetheipod.com

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Meetup with other local Wi-Fi geeks to talk about the latest developments in wireless technology, especially urban mesh networks, Wednesday, June 9 @ 7:00PM.

What: International Wi-Fi Meetup Day
When: Wednesday, Jun 9 @ 7PM
Who: Wi-Fi Geeks and friends
Where: Cafe Next Door
790 Broadview Ave
Toronto, ON M4K 2P7

When you get there, look for the Wi-Fi Geeks near: Entrance

LINK: Info and sign-up

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


Canadian Government Subsidizing DRM Development AT 3 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR!

Heritage Canada now has a special Electronic Copyright Fund "To assist in the development and implementation of copyright management and licensing systems..." Of course, only rights-holders organizations qualify for funding. Wouldn't it be great if the government started giving money to car manufacturers so they could find ways to stop you from driving on the highway without their approval?

Canadian Culture Online Program, Canadian Heritage
Toll-free: 1 866 900-0001, E-mail: ccop-pcce@pch.gc.ca

LINK: Canadian Heritage

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


Meetup with other local Wi-Fi geeks to talk about the latest developments in wireless technology.

Wednesday, June 9 @ 7:00PM

LINK: Info and sign-up

Monday, May 24, 2004

Heritage Committee issues interim report on Copyright Reform

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage released its interim report on copyright reform, urging the government to ratify WIPO treaties without further delay and to adopt legislative reforms designed to strengthen copyright holder's rights.

LINK: interim report

Monday, May 10, 2004

Japan jails academic for writing P2P app (from the Boing)
A Japanese academic who wrote an anonymous P2P app has been arrested for "abetting infringement." This is the kind of perversion of justice we're accustomed to seeing in the US and Norway -- disappointing that the Japanese have so thoroughly bridged the copyright hysteria gap. The programmer faces three years in prison for writing code that allows for anonymous file-transfers. We can only hope that the team that led Microsoft's operating-system effort will be next, followed by the AppleShare team and the pesky authors of ftp.
Mr Isamu Kaneko, a 33-year-old assistant professor at the prestigious University of Tokyo, was arrested on suspicion of developing and offering free downloads on his Web site file-sharing software called Winny, Kyoto Prefectural (state) police said on condition of anonymity.

He is also accused of helping two Japanese men arrested in November on charges of disseminating movies and games on the Internet with Winny, police said.

Thursday, April 29, 2004


LINK: file-sharing FAQ

Copyright Policy is often communications policy in disguise

This doesn't seem to be a very new concept, but working through the connections and discussing the policy implications is useful and rewarding. Check it out.

LINK: Tim Wu's paper

Friday, April 23, 2004

http://www.digital-copyright.ca PETITION

LINK: Petition wiki

Thursday, April 22, 2004

"The levies imposed on blank digital media to compensate recording artists for acts of piracy could double if Canada ratifies an international copyright treaty, a coalition of interested industries warned today."

LINK: Canadian Coalition for Fair Digital Access

Monday, April 19, 2004

More Canadian Copyfighters

LINK: http://www.digital-copyright.ca/

Friday, April 16, 2004

Canadian Government Subsidizing Recording Industry DRM Development!

Heritage Canada now has a special Electronic Copyright Fund "To assist in the development and implementation of copyright management and licensing systems..." Of course, only rights-holders organizations qualify for funding. Wouldn't it be great if the government started giving money to car manufacturers so they could find ways to stop you from driving on the highway without their approval?

Canadian Culture Online Program, Canadian Heritage
Toll-free: 1 866 900-0001, E-mail: ccop-pcce@pch.gc.ca

LINK: Canadian Heritage

Professor Ed Felten puts the smack-down on DRM (again)

"Incompatibility isn't an unfortunate side-effect of deficient DRM systems -- it's the goal of DRM."

LINK: http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Copyright Act, PART VIII PRIVATE COPYING, Copying for Private Use

"Where no infringement of copyright
80. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the act of reproducing all or any substantial part of
(a) a musical work embodied in a sound recording,
(b) a performer's performance of a musical work embodied in a sound recording, or
(c) a sound recording in which a musical work, or a performer's performance of a musical work, is embodied
onto an audio recording medium for the private use of the person who makes the copy does not constitute an infringement of the copyright in the musical work, the performer's performance or the sound recording."

LINK: http://www.canlii.org/ca/sta/c-42/sec80.html

Canadian Heritage Minister wants to Squash Internet User's Rights, End Judicial Due Process

The new federal Heritage Minister has promised to punish music file sharers...

"We are going to make sure that downloading stays illegal," said Hélène Schérrèr, a rookie Quebec MP sworn in as minister last December. "We will make it a priority so it is done as quickly as possible."

(except downloading isn't illegal now in Canada)

LINK: Globe Technology)

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Anne heirs fail in copyright bid (from Lessig)

A bill to extend copyright protection which would have benefited the heirs of Lucy Maude Montgomery has been rejected by the House of Commons... The bill would have extended copyright protection for the unpublished works of dead authors until the year 2017. The L.M. Montgomery estate and others were lobbying the federal government to extend the protection for unpublished works.

LINK: pei.cbc.ca

Canada's NDP leader Jack Layton argues caution in regulating P2P

What Layton says about Internet file sharing over P2P networks:

"I'm a holder of a copyright myself. But it's a book on homelessness and I don't mind if anyone wants to copy it," he says with a grin. "I'm still not so sure how (file sharing) impacts sales -- some studies even say it enhances them. I don't think the dust has settled on this yet. When I was at university there was a great fear that photocopying was going to destroy the publishing industry and that hasn't happened. It's sometimes best to muddle along, take things one step at a time and see what happens. Society can have a way of sorting things out."

LINK: Layton's comments on P2P sharing in Canada

Monday, April 12, 2004

The movie that Disney does NOT want you to watch!

Just in case you thought Disney wasn't a copyright monster ( gobbling up the public domain and scaring people away), this movie disabuses its viewer of such Candide-like naiveté. Produced By Jed Horovitz and Directed By Greg Hittelman... It must be movie day or something.

LINK: http://www.willfulinfringement.com/

Canadians help the Third World hack back

"Hacktivista is the story of three University of Toronto students (Nart, Michelle, and Graeme) who travel with their professor to Guatemala and Chiapas to work with human rights organizations and activists on Internet security and connectivity. The students call themselves "hacktivists" -- a new breed of social activists who use technology to fight for privacy and freedom of speech."

LINK: http://www.citizenlab.org/hacktivista/

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