Archive for the ‘canada’ Category

More Media “levy” Madness

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Howard Knopf doesn’t like the idea of extending the tax (or calling it one).

I didn’t like having to pay a tax, or “levy”, on the CDs I bought years ago to store photos and backup my HD, but I don’t see any difference between that bit of theft and this one. In fact, although I resent the presumption that the tax, or “levy”, is a fee for some service that I have no intention of using, I can live with the idea of a tax on media being used to support creative activities if that is the collective will of the nation.

Just don’t call it a “levy”, and interpret it as a fee for service, unless

(a)it entitles me to fill it with unlimited personal use copies of any works that I do buy, and

(b)there is some provision for levy-free media which are precluded from being used for copyright material (like the coloured tax-free fuel that is available in some places for farmers).

Time for a Change

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

OK today must be the start of a four year campaign to reach agreement between the NDP, Greens, and remaining Liberals to:

  1. Support an electoral reform which will provide for proportional representation – NOT based on party lists but on something more democratic like STV or some other preferential balloting system
  2. Educate the Canadian public as to the acceptability, efficiency, and desirability of “coalition” governments – even (or perhaps especially) when not including the party which happens to have the most seats in parliament
  3. Commit to endorsing strategic voting in the next Federal Election in order to achieve these ends

Goodbye CBC

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

As a complement to today’s federal leaders’ debate the CBC had a group of first time voters watch and comment. But while the clear majority felt that the NDP’s Jack Layton was the winner (as demonstrated by holding up pictures) there was no identification made for those that couldn’t clearly see and interpret the photos and the segment was edited so that the only leaders or parties mentioned by name were Harper and the Liberals. While this token item may be small in its actual impact, it may be one of the most blatant examples of media distortion I have ever seen in Canada and unless it is corrected I will no longer be a “Friend of the CBC”

Retail Internet Pricing – Without Slogans

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

All sides in the debate on “Usage Based Billing” are off base. The issue is quite complicated and not helped by the use of simplistic slogans which often either ask for the impossible or run counter to the interests of those tricked into reciting them. (more…)

UBB – How Should Cost and Price be Linked?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Michael Geist is concerned because internet service providers do not match price of service at all levels to its actual cost.

But when a commodity is in short supply, selling at the cost price will lead to shortages. (In the internet billing situation, users downloading tons of movies will degrade the quality of my own less demanding service)

What the ISPs are doing is aggressively penalizing heavy use in order to keep the total demand within the capacity of the system (or perhaps just to make a lot of extra money). It should be noted that despite the rhetoric this is NOT “Usage Based Billing”. It is a differential pricing scheme set to penalize both high and low usage rates.

Perhaps a fairer idea is to have true Usage Based Billing with the uniform unit price matching what the cost of  supply would be if supply were extended to meet all demand (and then get on with actually providing that extended service).

And They have the guns!

Friday, March 25th, 2011

From Discover Magazine:

Don’t Stop Darlington

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Here is my (slightly edited) version of the Greenpeace Letter.

Dear Premier McGuinty:

I’m writing to support your plan to maintain the nuclear option by continuing with the development of new  reactors at Darlington and to encourage you not to be swayed by ill-informed fear mongering.

Like so many others, I am saddened by the tragedy taking place in Japan, but I am also awed by the fact that 40 year old reactors have withstood the worst natural disaster imaginable without contributing significantly to the resulting loss of life. The experience at Fukushima, I believe, will provide lessons that should enable even safer designs and protocols to be applied in the future and so should encourage you to continue with your plans for new reactors.

For this reason, I oppose the calls by Greenpeace and others to stop all approvals of new reactors.

The environmental assessment hearings set to begin next week will provide an opportunity to address the capability of the proposed designs to resist the impacts of a major geophysical catastrophe and I encourage you to proceed with those hearings in order that we can have an informed public evaluation the cost and risks of building new reactors.

Most importantly, we must seriously look at continuing our use of the nuclear option as the most viable high baseline source of non-combustion-based energy.


Alan Cooper

Looking a Gift Horse

Friday, March 18th, 2011

(via Michael Geist) Some have objected to restrictive license terms on our nation’s new “Open Data Portal” which would stop someone from using the data “in any way which, in the opinion of Canada, may bring disrepute to or prejudice the reputation of Canada.” Treasury Board Secretary Stockwell Day responded to the concern by indicating that was not the intent and that the out-of-date language would be addressed. In the light of our nation’s new name, the language will be corrected to preclude any use which  “in the opinion of Harper, may bring disrepute to or prejudice the reputation of Harper.”

This Must be Said

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

In the light of the apparent opinion of Conservative MP Ed Fast that the mere presence of a digital lock trumps virtually all other copyright rights it must be said that the only appropriate response to passage of Bill C-32 without a Fair Dealing Circumvention Exception is to advocate and support widespread defiance of the law. It needs to be made clear that if the public is expected to support the law and facilitate or at least not obstruct its enforcement then that law needs to be fair and to be seen to be fair. In its presently proposed form it meets neither of those conditions.

Dumb Slogans

Monday, February 14th, 2011

I am sick and tired of watching the “left” shoot itself in the foot by trying to popularize its position with dumb and reactionary slogans which actually work against (what should be) their core principles.

A recent case in point is the campaign against “Usage Based Billing” for internet access.

Previously we have the BCNDP’s foolish “Axe the Tax” campaign to oppose the idea of a Carbon Tax rather than dealing with the nitty gritty of what was wrong with the Campbell government’s specific implementation of it (a position on which they reversed themselves as soon as it had achieved its apparent purpose of loosing them the election!)

And prior to that was a campaign against the idea of “Contingent Repayment” for student loans just because the plan proposed by the government (for those whose education turned out not to be as remunerative as promised) was just deferral rather than true forgiveness (which is what contingent repayment should have been forced to mean).

It seems all the right has to do to kill a good idea is implement it sub-optimally and then the idiots on the left will decide they never liked it and it will be done for.

Many Views on UBB

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Michael Geist provides some useful links to opinions about the “Usage-Based Billing” issue, and has just expanded on his own view, as has also Teksavvy’s Rocky Gaudrault.(More here, here, and here.)

My take on all this is that it is not the principle of UBB but rather the specific implementation and lack of transparency that are the problem – and that the objections to UBB per se are misguided and actually harmful because they identify legitimate objections to current billing practices with the ill-founded and selfish demands of a greedy minority. (more…)

What’s Wrong With Usage-Based Billing?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

The folks at are concerned about the recent CRTC ruling to allw Bell to apply usage-based-billing to independent ISPs. But I don’t se the problem. So long as everyone gets the same speed of sevice regardless of data type it does not seem unreasonable to charge people in proportion to how much bandwidth they actually consume. What am I missing?

To CBC re banning of CC licensed material

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Re : CBC Bans Use of Creative Commons Music on Podcasts.

Moore vs Lavallee on iPod “tax”

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Howard Knopf reports on the exchange between James Moore  and Carolyn Lavalleeon about inclusion of iPods in the Canadian media tax.

The idea of a tax on ipods is no more “toxic” or “dumb” than the one that presently exists on other blank media – which in many cases are *less* likely to be used for “illegal” copies of copyrighted material. (And regardless of what has been asked for, any actual amount would be subject to future ajudication so the requested rate of $75 is certainly not necessarily what would be applied in the law or assigned by an arbitrator.)

If a media levy is to be used to support the creative industries while freeing Canadians to format shift without other fee or penalty, then so be it, but if so then the levy should apply to *all* media types, and for it to be fair there should really be an option for purchase of levy-free media on which copies are not permitted without ownership of a license (analogous to the tax-free fuel provided in some areas for agriculture).

More Music Industry Copyright Madness

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

From Michael Geist – Cdn Music Industry Assoc Chair: Format Shifting, User Generated Content Keep Piracy Sites Going.  According to J.P. Ellson, the Chair of the Canadian Council of Music Industry Association and board member of the industry’s Balanced Copyright for Canada site,”the provisions of the Bill that permit user-generated content and transferring digital files to other formats would in fact, keep the pirate flag flying“.

So I’m to be considered a pirate for writing my own content and/or actually listening to music I buy on a device of my own choosing!

When will we ever be free of these lying theiving cheating pious bastards?

Save the Long Gun Registry

Monday, September 13th, 2010

In Canada, there is a law requiring the registration of all firearms, with a period of amnesty having been provided for failure to register hunting rifles and other “long guns”. The amnesty period is due to expire in May, and parliament is now considering a private member’s bill to permanently scrap the long gun registry.

This registry is opposed as an unnecessary imposition by many, especially in rural areas, and the minority Conservative government is supporting the bill for its abolition.

But guns of all kinds are at least as dangerous as cars, which most of us happily accept the need to register already so why should we not register guns as well? All guns do have the potential to be used in crimes, especially ones of domestic violence, and also to cause injury and death in accidents. When such things happen it is important for it to be as easy as possible to trace the weapon involved and, just as for motor vehicles, a registry of responsible ownership is a natural tool for this.

Nothing to Apologize for?

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Maher Arar, in ‘Muslims have nothing to apologize for‘ (Vancouver Sun Sept9) exemplifies the pattern identified in recent studies which show that members of identifiable groups are more inclined to notice criticism of their own group than that of others.  On reading a document which included criticisms of various identifiable groups at various levels of harshness, members of each group reportedly identified more criticisms of their own group than others did, and Arar’s conviction that the sins of Muslims are over reported might be matched by that of Catholics about the amount of attention given to priestly sex abuse. But…see[1]

‘Tea Party North’ fires an EMP

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Tyee gets it. What Harper is doing to StatsCan and the census is classic military strategy. First blind the enemy. Cut off his communication lines, fill the air with smoke, or in modern times, knock out his systems with a computer virus or a high altitude nuclear  ‘Electro-Magnetic Pulse’ weapon. Then go in on land and wipe out the confused and scattered remnants. Brilliant!

CRTC consultation on Obligation to Serve

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

For what it’s worth, here is the main point I made in my submission today:

with regard to the question about ensuring access for all Canadians, I said:

CRTC should set national rate caps for broadband access via both telephone and cable operators AND should ensure ‘net neutrality’ with regard to content type and source. This does NOT preclude charging users on a per data quantity basis. In fact that is the best way to counter arguments for throttling, and is the only fair way to deal with the fact that some users ‘hog’ bandwidth. The most important fundamental principle to apply is that all transmitters via a given carrier should pay the same rate per unit of consumed bandwidth and similarly for recievers (with a difference between unit costs for transmitters and receivers being acceptable).


iPod Levy Proposal Makes Sense

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Michael Geist – Angus Defends iPod Levy Proposal.

IF the “Canadian solution” of a media levy is valid (and I think it is), then there is no logical reason to distinguish in any way between different types of digital memory. In particular, the memory in an ipod is much more likely to be used for music storage than a randomly chosen CD (which is just as likely to be being used for backup of business records or private photo albums as it is for mp3 storage). I favour the ipod levy as it is totally unacceptable that the CDs used to store my personal photographs be subject to a levy when an ipod used almost entitely to store commercial music tracks is not.

In fact, EVERY bit of digital memory should be taxed at the same rate regardless of whether it is a CD, DVD, ipod or computer hard drive, UNLESS its owner has specifically undertaken not to record copyright content on it. But the proviso is essential and must be equally available on all memory types.

This could be achieved by selling specially marked media and devices (much like the coloured tax-free gas that is often sold for agricultural purposes) –  and if this was available, I for one wouldn’t mind if the penalty for abusing it was quite substantial.