competition

Competition / anti-trust issues.

Microsoft fines OK'd by European Union countries for ongoing anti-trust violations

An article by Gavin Clarke in The Register discusses the fact that the European Union's 25 member countries have, according to reports, unanimously found Microsoft guilty of non-compliance with the commission's landmark 2004 anti-trust ruling.

I find it frustrating that we are still having to lobby governments of all levels, including school boards, to support alternative software from vendors who are not guilty of breaking the law as many times and in as many countries as Microsoft. What exactly does this teach our students: That crime not only pays, but gets you a priviledged position in the school boards?

France has an exclusive right to not be interoperable?

I find that the excessive expansion of exclusive rights granted to copyright holders is going further and further astray. I now read in a MacNewsworld article that, "authors' rights in France would allow artists whose works are sold on the iTunes Internet store to require that the songs work only on iPods".

I'm sorry, but such a "right" should never exist: An author of a book does not get to choose what brand of eye glasses I wear, the colour of my eyes or the colour of my skin. A copyright holder should never be allowed to decide what brand of hardware and/or software I use to access content. The practise used to be considered "tied selling" and was properly understood as something that should be illegal, not something that should be protected by law.

European Union members seem to have lost their way from when they recognized the importance of interoperability in their 1991 directive on the legal protection of computer programs (91/250/EEC).

Swedes in good hands with P2P insurance policy?

An article by Greg Sandoval and Amanda Termen, Staff Writer, CNET News.com, includes:

File-sharers in Sweden, which recently began cracking down on Internet piracy, can now buy insurance to protect themselves from government fines.

This is another case where the entertainment companies are missing the boat. While it is clear fans are interested in flat-fee "all you can eat" type services, requiring payment rather than permission like how commercial radio and cable television works, the industry is handing the market over to an insurance company.

Watching the World Cup -- in China

Like many other people in Canada, I've been watching as much World Cup (soccer) as possible. Today, I manage to squeeze in part of a match during the lunch hour and the tail end of the Italy/Ukraine match. Since the games are on during the work day (in my time zone), I've entertained the notion of watching streaming feeds. Another person has made the same decision, choosing to use a set of streams out of China.

This seems like a typical story of trial and tribulation where the author finally resorts to a questionable method when all reasonable attempts to legitimately acquire the content fail.

CBC: French copyright law leaves loophole for Apple

I sent the following as feedback to a CBC arts article.

I find it frustrating that Apples idea of "let the market decide" is to push for laws which explicitly circumvent the "tied selling" and "refusal to deal" aspects of competition law. The way that Apple creates their so-called "copy protection" is to technologically tie the ability to buy music from iTunes (one service) to the purchase/use of a player that Apple controls (a separate product). Section 77 of Canada's competition act specifically disallows this type of tied selling for very good economic reasons: it allows the monopoly in one market to leverage that monopoly to illegally control another.

I'll let the reader decide whether Apple's growing monopoly is because of the iPod, iTunes, or because of the illegal tie between the two.

Continuing open conversations with Christopher Moore (writer of history, Access Copyright director)

The following is part of an ongoing public conversation between myself and Christopher Moore. I am posting this as a new article rather than an addition to the ongoing thread in a past article to draw more attention to the conversation and invite additional participation.

Christopher,

We have many different topics mixed together in one thread. I'm going to try to divide them up by themes, so please let me know if I did so incorrectly.

I thought – think – Lessig’s nostalgia for that era suggested the way his vigorously stated support for copyright-in-principle can sometime flag at about the point when practical suggestions for copyright administration are offered.

Coalition of Canadian Art Professionals Releases Open Letter on Copyright

A press release from the Appropriation Art Coalition:

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Over 500 Art Professionals Call for Balanced Copyright Laws

Ottawa, ON – June 6, 2006 – Over 500 members of Canada’s art community have today released an open letter to the Ministers of Canadian Heritage and Industry calling on the Canadian government to adopt balanced copyright laws that respect the reality of contemporary artistic practice. Appropriation Art, A Coalition of Art Professionals, comprises artists, curators, arts organizations and art institutions who share a deep concern over Canada’s copyright policies and the impact these policies have on the creation and dissemination of contemporary art.

See also: Geist: Hundreds of Canadian Artists Call for Balanced Copyright, Slyck: Canadian Art Professionals Demand Copyright Reform, ArtDaily: Open Letter of Coalition of Canadian Art Professionals.

Compatability worries fuel battle over iPod law

This Toronto Star article by Michael Geist includes:

Apple, along with rivals such as Sony and Dell, use proprietary formats that limit consumers' ability to easily transfer songs between competing devices, leaving some fearful that their investment in digital music files will permanently be consigned to a single device that may become obsolete.

While not discussed in this article, many believe that these incompatibilities are a far greater contributor to the decline of music sales than the unsubstantiated claim that unauthorized P2P distribution is the source. The lack of a guarantee of vendor neutral standards is one of the reasons why I do not purchase digital media.

The Internet Way To Address Canada's Cultural Deficit

From Michael Geist's BLOG:

The departure of six leading indie labels from CRIA is timely given that my Lawbytes column this week (Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) focuses on Canada's growing cultural deficit.  Late last month Statistics Canada released data on Canadian trade in cultural services.  The data tracks the import and export of cultural services such as film production, television broadcasts, and music royalties. The latest report reinforces the economic importance of cultural services - imports and exports total nearly $5 billion per year in Canada - as well as the apparent inability to reduce the "culture deficit."  That deficit, which reflects the gap between the amount of money flowing out of the country relative to the amount coming in, now stands $546 million dollars, up from $477 million the year before.

See also: Government policy may increase trade deficit that I wrote in March 2004.

China president at Gates house, not White House

This Reuters article includes:

SEATTLE--The first lavish dinner of China President Hu Jintao's historic visit to the United States next week will be in a big, secure house in Washington where the host is one of the world's most powerful men.

The White House? No.

It won't be in Washington D.C., but Seattle, and the Tuesday dinner will be held at the $100 million lakeside mansion of Microsoft founder and the world's richest man, Bill Gates.

The approximately 100-person guest list is a who's who of the U.S. Pacific Northwest power elite, including Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz and Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire, said event organizers.

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