Competition / anti-trust issues.


This is becomming more and more common, with artists taking offense at and challenging the special interest of the incumbent intermediaries. This happened at a panel titled The Future of Darknets at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference (SXSW) 2006.

Until we (users, industry groups, lawyers, and politicians) finally make a clear legal and procedural distinction between copying a work for noncommercial creation of new works (like mashups or backups) and wholesale piracy for profit (like duplicating a work for the purpose of resale), we're just going to keep shouting at each other in conference rooms and newspapers, and real innovation will never get made.

Unfair promotion of vendor products by the CRTC

Mathieu Allard, Saint Boniface constituent and NDP candidate in recent election, wrote the following to the Heritage Minister and his MP. I have also written about this important issue, and hope others will write letters to their elected representatives.

The Honourable Beverley J. Oda
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

CC The Honourable Raymond Simard

Dear Minister,

I am bringing this issue to your attention as the CRTC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

On page :

French law targets Apple iTunes incompatibilities

A Reuters article (published in Australian IT) includes:

Under a draft law expected to be voted in France's parliament soon, consumers would be able to legally use software that converts digital content into any format.

It would no longer be illegal to crack digital rights management - the codes that protect music, films and other content - if it is to enable to the conversion from one format to another, said Christian Vanneste, Rapporteur, a senior parliamentarian who helps guide law in France.

Online Auteurs Hardly Need to Be Famous

A NY Times article by Richard Siklos reports that reflecting the surge in the popularity of user-created material, both online and traditional media companies are opening their wallets to make sure that the best of it finds its way onto their television shows and Web sites.

With this increase in competition that user-created material represents for incumbent producers, do we really want to continue to adopt laws (1996 WIPO treaties, the "Analog Hole" legislation) which would take the tools to create and distribute works out of the hands of private citizens?

Will France, birthplace of copyright, be the first to modernize todays copyright regime?

This article by Thomas Crampton of the International Herald Tribune is poorly titled (the debate has nothing to do with "going soft on piracy"), but very interesting in that it is indicative of what I suspect is the wave of the future.

We have the recording industry opposing for non-commercial music sharing the identical collective society regime that applies to commercial radio. The same nonsense is happening in Canada, a country with a "private copying" regime that would be a trivial amendment to expand to cover non-commercial P2P distribution.

More competative market shifts...

While discussing the "problems" of subscriber television, this AustralianIT article by John Lehmann includes a very interesting statistic:

Research in the United States showed that people aged between 12 and 24 spent 25 per cent more time on the internet than watching television.

I believe the same type of statistic would apply to radio as well, as more and more people are tuning-in online for all forms of educational, interactive and entertainment content.

How would this shift in the time people spend in front of different "screens" look from the perspective of Television companies? Will they just continue to claim that it is "infringement" of their shows that is the cause of decline in their market? For obvious reasons of bias, the possibility that people are simply not watching their shows doesn't come to mind. They also don't consider the possibility that offering specific shows for paid download may re-capture some of that audience that no longer wants pre-chosen shows distributed by cable TV stations.

Letter to Information Commissioner: further questions about failed ATIP request.

The following letter was sent in the mail today. I posted the initial ATIP request on this BLOG as well.

Note: I am aware of, but haven't yet read, the ATIP manual provided by On the Identity Trail.

Dear Information Commissioner of Canada,

I sent an Access to Information request to PWGSC as follows:

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.

FLOSS in a competitive marketplace: avoiding the "one true way" myths.

(This article first appeared on CLUE)

I have been complaining for years that the incumbent "software manufacturing" firms have been justifying radical FLOSS crippling changes to the law using invalid statistics. The statistical method that the BSA (and it's Canadian arm with the Orwellian double-speak name of "Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft") use largely include the use of FLOSS software as if it were "infringement".

Their methodology is simple: Count the number of computers shipped to a region and "estimate" the demand for software from BSA members. Then count the amount of software BSA members shipped, subtract the two, and declare the difference as "piracy".

Government trying to both protect and regulating monopolies at the same time?

Two articles that may seem unrelated are actually quite tied:

One speaks about the competitive problems currently observed with the major labels. What a "broadcast flag" mandate says is that new technologies can't disrupt the business models of incumbent content companies.

New competitors must be able to harness new technologies and new methods of production, distribution and funding of creativity. If they are not allowed to unseat the incumbent monopolies, how can there possibly ever be a solution to the competitive problems with the incumbent major labels?

Competition Bureau Shuts Down Internet-Based Job Scams

OTTAWA, February 22, 2006 - The Competition Bureau has successfully shut down two Edmonton-based Internet scams promoting resumé distribution services. Matthew Hovila, of Edmonton, Alberta, and Strategic Ecomm Inc. admitted to contraventions of the Competition Act and have agreed to pay a $100,000 administrative monetary penalty, as part of a consent agreement filed today with the Competition Tribunal.

The settlement with Matthew Hovila and Strategic Ecomm Inc. addresses the Bureau's concerns of false and misleading representations, phoney testimonials and exaggerated ordinary selling price claims with regard to the resumé distribution services promoted on two commercial Web sites.

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