Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act

Stephan Dion announced today his new “tough on crime” platform. In it, he introduces the “Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act” to assist law enforcement in fighting crime.

“This bill will allow the police and CSIS adapt to new communications technology. Telephone and internet service providers will be required, subject to vigorous privacy safeguards, to include an interception capability in new technology, and make subscriber contact information available on request to designated law enforcement officials”

This is yet another example of treating the public as guilty before proven innocent. Essentially, he is asking ISP’s and Telephone companies to search and record the activities of all of their customers; collectively, all of the Canadian population… just in case we happen to be doing something wrong.

We don’t allow officers to randomly search people as they walk through Union Station. Why is randomly searching people online allowed?

The Pirate Bay raid opens a can of worms

This week, Swedish police raided the ISP of a popular torrent site, The Pirate Bay. This is going to raise a firestorm for the Swedish Government because:

  • The Pirate Bay is considered legal under Swedish law
  • The US based MPAA has been trying to shut down the Pirate Bay with no success
  • There is evidence that the US government has pressured the Swedish government to act

It appears that an American Industry group has pressured the US Government. The US Government has pressured the Swedish government. The Swedish government has pressured the Swedish police. The Swedish police acted.

Thats not the way it’s supposed to work, is it?

“Fans who share music aren’t thieves”

The Canadian Music Creators Coalition is stepping up to support fans being sued by the RIAA. CMCC members includes big name acts such as Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlin, Sum 41, Our Lady Peace and other notable Canadian artists.

They have identified 3 principles to guide the copyright reform process:
1. Suing our fans is Destructive and Hypocritical
2. Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive
3. Cultural Policy should support actual Canadian artists

Way to go guys!

Which is a worse crime?

The DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) which has been so badly abused in the last few years is undergoing a facelift. They’re making it worse!

As the Inquirer points out, it puts these crimes into perspective. “The new law does send a very strange message as to what the government considers ‘bad’ in the 21st century.”

Assulting a police officer: 5 years
Distributing Child Porn: 7 years
Copying music: 10 years

What is this world coming to?

Antitrust hits Apple

Noting that Apple has an 80% market share on legal music downloads, and 90% of the market share of portable music players, a judge in California has given the go-ahead for an antitrust suit against the Apple monopoly.

Currently, you cannot play songs downloaded through iTunes on a non-Apple player, and you cannot connect your iPod to other music stores. We’ll see where this one goes…

Getting around the Regulators

The FCC regulator in the US has suddenly gone into high gear since the “Wardrobe Malfunction” incedent. Suddenly all live broadcasts are on delay, and the FCC is looking at every broadcast under a microscope. Nigel Wally propses a way around that using PVR’s.

An Internet connected PVR, such as TiVO, or the PVR’s offered by ExpressVu or Rogers could download certain content through their broadband connection, and store it to their hard drive. When watching the show, the PVR could replace video that was broadcast with the video that was downloaded. Downloaded video is not regulated by the FCC or the CRTC. For PVR’s without a broadband connection, the video clips could be sent over a pay-per-view channel, which also aren’t regulated (or not as strictly).

Picture an uncencored version of movies, or Jerry Springer, for a fee. You’d only need to download a few seconds of video of the parts edited out in the broadcast version. The real moneymaker could be selling 30 second ads to cigarette companies and others that aren’t allowed to advertise on “broadcast” television.
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Win a Spam Porsche

AOL is sharing the spoils of their lawsuits. A 2002 Porsche Boxster S, won in a settlement in their lawsuits against spammers is now the grand prize of an AOL sweepstakes launching today.

When AOL launched its lawsuits against spammers, they went straight after the spoils of the spam business. “We’ll take cars, houses, boats, whatever we can find and get a hold of.

Usually, assets are used to pay lawyers, and towards their anti-spam team, but in this case they made an exception because of the cars symbolic value. “Here was a spammer who made some money fast. He bought himself a Porsche”
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Free iTunes Low-Tech Hack

Pepsi’s now infamous Superbowl commercial featuring 16 children that had been sued by the RIAA for file sharing has been pushing people to get free iTunes download codes from the cap of Pepsi bottles.

Someone didn’t QA these bottles though. You can pick up a Pepsi bottle at the convenience store, tilt it, and see if its a winning bottle or not by looking up into the cap. If it’s not a winner, simply grab the next bottle.

Now thats innovation. Even 14-year old RIAA defendant Annie Leith can get free music.
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It’s official! P2P Downloading is Legal!

Friday’s decision by the Copyright Board of Canada futher clarifies the 1999 ruling on Private copying, having a profound impact on the current campaign by the RIAA in the US to halt P2P sharing.

The 1999 ruling introduced levies on blank analog and digital media such as cassette tapes and blank CD’s, compensating the artists for their works that may be copied onto such devices. On Friday, the copyright board futher clarified its stance to include data stored on “Non-Removable Memory” such as solid state memory in mp3 players and hard-drives in computers.

There is still some uncertainty about how the ruling applies to P2P uploading, but it appears that downloading music from P2P networks for personal use is legal.
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Sounding like a broken record

The Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) is now asking the Supreme Court of Canada to ask ISP’s to pay a royalty to them for the music downloads of their customers. Again, the question comes up of whether the ISP’s are responsible for the content that goes through their networks.

They are asking for 25 cents per year, plus 10 percent of any gross profits made through the sale of advertising. ISP’s around the world should be outraged that this is even being proposed.

To even suggest that the onus of paying royalties for music should fall on ISP’s is ludicrous. Next they’ll be going after the electrical companies because their service powers the computers that pirate music. By extention, since the ISP’s are now responsible for my actions on their network, if I hack into the Pentagon’s network through my ISP, I guess the FBI will be chasing after Rogers to throw them in jail.

Come on, guys! Think!
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CD’s and Nostalgia

Remember the days of vinyl? There was nothing quite like buying a brand new record, bringing it home and playing it for the first time. The sound on that first playing was so crisp and clear you felt like you were actually in the room.

I used to DJ in my high-school days. The very process of cueing up a record would damage the vinyl, and it would never sound the same again. I rebelled against the onslaught of CD’s, since they wouldn’t allow you to control the music in the precise way that putting your finger on a record could. Only that control would allow exact mixes and scratches to work.

Over time, of course, the technology would overcome that, providing turntable-like jog wheels for professional use, and I caved in. But now, 15 years later, CD’s are facing the same obsolescence.

People are not interested in CD technology anymore. They want small. They want light. They want hours of music, not minutes. They want to support the artists, but not the conglomerates that publish them. They want to purchase music from home and listen to it right away, not go to a store or order online and wait a week. They want to transfer their music to their mp3 players without having to hack their way around copy-protection.

They want the control that they had with the $5.99 record that they could get 20 years ago. CD’s are fading, just like vinyl, audio cassettes and 8-tracks before them.

Dire Straits will soon be singing “I want my MP3.” A comment on society when people think it means getting your music for nothin’ and your (MP3 player) chips for free.

Build it and they will come

The recording industry has refused to believe that online music sales could work; that piracy was inevitable. Not so. Many people were pirating songs because they weren’t given a viable legal alternative.

The recording industry’s assault on the P2P networks have made these services difficult to use. They have been flooding the networks with corrupted versions of popular songs so that it takes many tries to get a clean copy. Incedently, this tactic has been far more effective than taking users to court. Probably alot cheaper too.

This vigilante action has created a void that Apple has come to fill. Last week, Apple launched the Windows version of it’s previously Mac-only service and they reached the 1 million song mark in just 3 days. Nice moves. They are finally thinking before acting on reflex.
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