Competition / anti-trust issues.

p2pnet: Canadian satellite radio

A Canadian cabinet committee set up to examine the issue of satellite radio licenses has made a decision: don’t decide anything. And their lack of accord reflects a “deep split within the government,” says the Globe and Mail.

The CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission) recently gave the green light to three groups, two of them formed with America’s largest satellite radio companies, to launch subscription digital radio services in Canada.

Read full story on p2pnet

I want Cabinet to stand up for Canada, not "broadcasting"

The following letter was sent to a number of key MPs, as well as to the editor of the Hill Times. It was published under "Newsmakers" in the October 14, 2005 issue of Canadian New Media.

ACTRA, CIRPA, SOCAN and the "Friends of Canadian Broadcasting" have taken out a full page advertisement in the September 5 issue of the Hill Times promoting government intervention into a recent CRTC decision on satellite radio.

I was pleased that the CRTC decision recognized that subscription satellite radio is not the same as broadcast radio. I support a full spectrum of production, distribution and funding models for creativity, and believe that the greatest threat to Canadian creativity comes from those who wish to impose past models onto all creativity.

World Wide Web Consortium Comments on (US) Copyright Office Proposal to Use Single-Vendor Web Service

This submission from the World Wide Web Consortium includes:

In addition to the numerous practical impediments that the proposed vendor-specific, non-standard implementation will pose, we believe that the strategy of designing a government Web service around a specific piece of software as opposed to seeking conformance with existing and widely used voluntary industry standards is contrary to Federal information policy.

Access to Information request about the "Shared Services" initiative.

I have been aware of the "Common and Shared Services Strategy" (AKA: Shared Services) within PWGSC. There seems to be two incompatable visions: one involves moving towards vendor-neutral interoperable standards and the provision of shared infrastructure when appropriate, and another vision is an imposed vendor choice on the entire of the government for specific IT products and services.

I have sent an ATIP request to Industry Canada (Update: This should have been sent to PWGSC, and has been redirected) asking for the following:

Provide details regarding the information being sought
List of vendors consulted and text of documents created by vendors in relation to the "Shared Services" initiative. The results of any negotiations with vendors that are being considered to supply the so-called common operating system, common application or servers software, and common directory services.

Any policy analysis of whether the "shared services" initiative will be compliant with government procurement requirements in trade agreements, including but not limited to NAFTA Article 1007: Technical Specifications. For further clarification, see CITT File No. PR-2000-073.

PR-2000-073 is the PLCOM case which I document in Canadian International Trade Tribunal and Free/Libre and Open Source Software.

RealNetworks fears legal action from Apple over Apple's anti-competative DRM system

This article by Jo Best includes:

RealNetworks has revealed its attempt to break the DRM that protects iTunes might not only mean a hit on its bottom line but could also land the company in court.

Real introduced its Harmony technology last year. It enabled consumers to buy iPod-compatible tracks from its online music shop. That involved breaking Apple's FairPlay DRM (digital rights management), which ensures that music bought from rival online music sellers won't play on the iPod.

Open-source P2P projects keep swapping

This CNET article by John Borland includes:

BitTorrent, a file-distribution technology developed in 2002, is widely used to swap copyrighted works such as movies and games. But it's also increasingly used for authorized purposes such as distributing open-source operating system files and was even recently built into Opera Software's Web browser.

I am an active BitTorrent user, all for non-infringing uses, including helping to distribute CD images of Linux as well as other FLOSS such as I have also shared music where the copyright holder has authorized such sharing.

Software manufacturers continue to "game" government policy to stop competitors.

In what has become typical of the "software manufacturing" subset of the software industry, they will strongly lobby for changes to PCT laws that make the laws more complex and in their favor against competitors (CAAST press release). They then set up programs to indemnify their customers and partners against the inevitable lawsuits that come out of these excessively complex laws ( article) . These software manufacturers are trying to abuse the courts as a tool to fight against their competitors, which suggest that there is a need for even stronger anti-trust/competition enforcement. Government competition agencies must become more pro-active to ensure that laws that will be easily abused this way are not enacted in the first place (IE: Canada's Competition Bureau should come out against bill C-60).

Microsoft's antitrust offering 'blocks Samba'

This ZDNet UK article by Ingrid Marson includes:

Microsoft's final EC antitrust offering will exclude one of its main competitors, Samba, according to the Free Software Foundation

By allowing Microsoft to exclude FLOSS the EU may be allowing Microsoft to effectively nullify the anti-trust ruling given FLOSS is Microsoft's major competitor in this space.

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