Reports from or about the Business Software Alliance (BSA), Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft (CAAST) and other regional lobbyists for the legacy "software manufacturing" methods of creation, distribution and funding of software.

Is The Penguin Listening?

Frank J. Ohlhorst of CRN Technology news muses about some of the latest Apple commercials and what they would look like if done by a Linux vendor.

The Mac guy, the PC guy and a penguin are all standing around having a conversation. The Mac guy, of course, would be pointing out the flaws of Vista, but there would be a twist, the Penguin would be asking, "Why do I have to buy a new computer to avoid all of those Vista problems?" And then the Penguin would jump on the PC guy's shoulder and throw snowballs at the Mac guy. Perhaps the Mac guy would wander off muttering something like, "Those damn inexpensive alternatives!"

WSJ: Monolithic software -- bits in a shrink-wrapped box -- is a dying business.

An article by Paul Kedrosky in the Wall St. Journal (Requires registration) discusses the decline of the legacy "software manufacturing" business model. Mr.Kedrosky is a venture capitalist and CNBC analyst, and is saying things that some of us in the FLOSS sector have been saying for decades.

In truth, Vista problems are just symptoms of a deeper Microsoft malaise. Monolithic software -- bits in a shrink-wrapped box -- is a dying business. It is being slayed by software sold as a service, by open source, and by ad-centric online software (i.e., Google).

US lobbiests, including the US government, continues to attack Canada..

Canadians should know the pressure that US special interest groups, including US government agencies like the USPTO and USTR, are exerting against Canada. A recent CBC arts article included:

A powerful coalition of U.S. software, movie and music producers wants the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush to put Canada on a blacklist of intellectual property villains.

Michael Geist has blogged on this issue, saying that Canada is in Good Company with other countries who have more balanced laws (balanced between the desires of big media companies and the rights of creators/citizens). Howard Knopf has also written on the issue.

If not for the fact that the USA is the author of this list, the USA would be on the list itself as its lobbiests are asking for worse laws to be enacted worldwide than the USA has itself.

It is important to realize that what is wanted is not better protection for the rights of Canadian or foreign creators, but protectionism for specialized business models where US corporations dominate. The war they are waging isn't against infringement, but competition.

Thoughts on Thoughts on Music

On Tuesday, Steve Jobs sent out an open letter titled "Thoughts on Music". This letter includes a more honest description of how a "DRM" system works than you normally see from DRM vendors. At the same time it paints Apple as having no choice in the matter and passes the buck to major labels and studios, just as Microsoft has claimed with it's Vista DRM, something which I consider to be less than honest.

How the net turns code into politics

A BBC article by Bill Thompson talks about how technology and software issues often turn into political issues, including partisan politics.

Vista's DRM even aroused the wrath of the Green Party, which condemned it for requiring "more expensive and energy-hungry hardware".

To me this is obvious, given code is a form of regulation, and thus those who author code are a form of regulator. This is something Lessig speaks about in "Code and other laws of Cyberspace". Given this, I am going to be writing a more detailed commentary of Steve Jobs's open letter "Thoughts on Music".

Piracy worked for us, Romania president tells Gates

According to a Reuters article, Romanian President Traian Basescu told Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates that "Pirating" Microsoft Corp software helped Romania to build a vibrant technology industry.

I have a hard time having sympathy for this all too common viewpoint. If people do not like the business model choices of Microsoft the right answer is to switch to Free/Libre and Open Source Software alternatives. Governments of more poor countries should be creating incentives to switch, and ensure that their laws are never a barrier to switching. Infringing Microsoft's copyright doesn't harm Microsoft, contrary to their very vocal claims. While Microsoft would prefer people pay for their software, infringing their copyright is still more beneficial to them than people switching to FLOSS alternatives.

Vista's Fine Print

With Microsoft's Vista set to hit stores tomorrow, Michael Geist's weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) looks at the legal and technical fine print behind the operating system upgrade. The article notes that in the name of shielding consumers from computer viruses and protecting copyright owners from potential infringement, Vista seemingly wrestles control of the “user experience” from the user.

If you think that the owner of computers should be in control of what they own, rather than some third party (whether virus authors or the manufacturer/maker), then please sign our Petition to protect Information Technology property rights.

See also: DRM, Vista and your rights by Borys Musielak, and
A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection
by Peter Gutmann. SlashDot referenced this story.

Canadians spend a record $933 million on video games in 2006

A Canadian Press article is documenting how, "Canadians spent a record $933 million on video gaming in 2006, up 22 per cent from the previous year."

We need to keep this in mind when the business associations claiming to represent game software developers claim Canada needs to ratify the 1996 WIPO treaties. Like the major labels in the recording industry who claims that Canada is a haven for copyright infringement, as well as falsely claim that they are loosing money to this alleged infringement, they are seeing considerable market gains despite their ongoing attempts to harm the marketplace.

p2pnet: The Pirates of Osan has an interesting article about commercial infringement in South Korea, and how the major labels, studios and "software manufacturers" tend to have their priorities misplaced by seeming to be focused on non-commercial sharing.

Liberal vice-chair of Industry Committee lobbies for CRIA/CAAST position in Copyright revision

The Hill Times this week has two Copyright related articles. One is from Gordon Duggan who is co-founder of the Appropriation Art Coalition who talks about the appearance that the Minister of Canadian Heritage is not listening to all sides of the debate (p29). The Liberal vice-chair of the Standing Committee of Industry, Science and Technology, Dan McTeague (Pickering - Scarborough East), signs an article that reads as if it was authored by CRIA or CAAST (p31).

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