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Saturday, April 18 2015 @ 01:45 PM PDT
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Facebook Anti-ACTA Groups - over 30 and Counting!

I've just done another search for ACTA on Facebook - over 30 so far and counting:

At this point I've joined one and now am one of the admins - I don't care if you join one or more - or which one you join at this point - but do make a decision for freedom.

If nothing else, join because your political hacks should not be negotiating anything this controversial in secret!!

Join David Ingram and me tonight to talk about copyright in general and ACTA in particular - 7PM (6PM show start) Pacific at or right here on the Digital Rag.


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"Free" - The Many Meanings to the Newspaper Business


The latest idea from the various newspapers that have been "forced" to go online with their publications is to put up what is called a "pay wall" where their news is hidden from general view behind a members-only for-pay membership. 

The New York Times used to require that you registered before you could read their online edition - then they dropped that requirement, now they're thinking about putting up a pay wall.

You see, the newspapers are upset that Google and others are "stealing" their new, offering it up from within the search engine, and limiting their revenue by not paying for the privilege of doing the indexing and driving people to the paper's site. Rupert Murdoch, newspaper magnate, has threatened to block Google in particular and search engines in general - but anyone who really understands what the internet is evolving to, including of course Google's Eric Schmidt point out that the internet isn't going away, but the newspapers in their present form are - and nothing Rupert Murdoch or any other publisher can do will stop that. They can only hang on and change their ways to deal with the new delivery method and business model the internet represents.

OK - so Newsday's web presence,, has had their pay wall up for the past 3 months now. How are they doing?

When the answer to a reporter's question about this was voiced, Terry Jimenez, Newsday's publisher nodded yes when asked, "I heard you say 35 people, is that number correct?"

Yup, apparently that's the number they got after their $4 million spent on re-doing their web site. Seems like a broken business model to me.

On the other hand, Google has sent something around 4 Billion clicks per month to the newspaper industry - for free! If the newspapers can't turn that tide of visitors into money that totals up to a lot more than $165/month each then they really do need to get out of the business.

So... a note to the publishers of the world - tell Google they can index your site freely and they'll freely send you all the visitors - and between the two of you, you should be able to turn free into a real business again.

Oh, by the way - rumor has it that Apple is about to help you by introducing a tablet computer that may be the forerunner of the item Google's David Drummond alludes to in his remarks to the World Association of Newspapers - now go out and make something of it!

In the mean time, David Ingram and I are ready and willing to take a stab at picking up some of their readers/viewers. Come on over tonight and sample it. We're always ready to learn from our audience - so chime in with some chat too.


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Two words - Fair Use - Get To Know Them - You'll Miss Them


The United States, through the use of their "might is right" abilities in world trade and via secret negotiations of treaties, are trying to force the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) onto any/all of their trading partners. Even if I felt that we needed tougher copyright laws (and I don't), why do I object to the DMCA being brought to Canada?

Why should YOU object to Canada adopting what the US is pushing us toward? Well you should read on for why I'm against it.

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The Artists Tell Their Side


I was reminded as I was looking back over my Blank Media Levy writings about a an article written by Janis Ian back in 2002. Janis, in case you don't know, is a musician who has had her share of hits, mostly back in the late 1960s and mid 1970s with her most memorable hit being "Society's Child", a song that still sends shivers up my spine when I hear it. Make sure you read her follow up which is a PDF wherein she makes "A modest proposal for an experiment that might lead to a solution" - an experiment that has not taken place yet I might add. Yes, Apple has come close - but not close enough.

Janis is web savvy and still producing music and touring. Her take on what was/is wrong with the music industry, even though written 7+ years ago, is still right on.

She also points to the Baen Free Library - a publisher actually "gets it" and notes that the free download initially put up by its proponent, Eric Flint, immediately got him feedback and sales.

Says Eric, "Word of mouth, unlike paid advertising, comes free to the author — and it's ten times more effective than any kind of paid advertising, because it's the one form of promotion which people usually trust."

You might also take a look at some of the letters and comments he's received in his "Prime Palaver" area.

More recently the Canadian Music Creators Coalition shows 209 different artists who together protest the actions of the music publishers in trying to extend copyright law in the directions taken in the US.

Please let these artists know that you support them.




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Public Domain Day - January 1


January 1 is public domain day. Each year the works of artists and authors and others whose works fall under the copyright act in the countries of the world who died X years ago fall into the public domain. The problem is that X is a number that has been changed from time to time, and currently here in Canada it is life plus 50 years. 



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ACTA Will Change Internet Forever


The Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty negotiations continue in secret - but the word is leaking out and commentary continues to pile up as people (finally) start to understand what it is that the United States is trying to push on the world in the form of a trade agreement. The intrusion into sovereign law by this "treaty" is incredible. itWorldCanada says:

A secret international copyright treaty will impact IT managers just as much as the music and movie industry. Find out what ACTA will do if passed, why it’s even being discussed, and how it might be stopped"


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Britain is Off My List of Holiday Destinations - Internet Insanity!


I have relatives in Great Britain and I'd love to visit them - but after the recent complete insanity of their "Digital Economy Bill" there is no way I will ever again go there - at least until they repeal any such insane laws. It's bad enough them having so many closed circuit cameras all over the place - but this is too much!

And I vow never to purchase anything that is published by a british media publisher either (I'll purchase directly from an artist though). They've successfully lobbied the British Government to install what I can only call the worst law ever for British consumers. It subverts the courts and gives an appointed commissioner powers that some Kings and Queens have wished for. I wonder if Queen Elizabeth understands that she now has a rival?

The law, currently before parliament, would put in place a regime that completely ignores many of the precepts of a "free and democratic society," like that of being able to address your accuser and defend yourself against allegations before being punished. A whole internet connection, used by a family for example, might be cut off due to the actions of one individual - and that individual may not even be in the house if the typical unsecured wireless access point is available to someone parked out on the street. No warning and no recourse.

The presumption of guilt that this law portrays is meant to keep the buggy-whip manufacturers of the 21st century completely in control over their wares - even though their business model is so severely broken that even some of their artists who were their staunchest supporters early in the game are now leaving them as fast as they can.

I thought the US government was bad with their work to get their ACTA treaty passed - and maybe they are. At least the British are only going after their own people, not the rest of the world (yet).

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ACTA again "in the news" or It Should Be


Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s I worked for the local telephone company, BC Tel. At that time (and now too) it was designated a "common carrier" which amongst other things meant that if someone used its facilities to perform an illegal act, the telephone company could not be held liable or chaged as an accessory. I, as a technician, was told that only if I "in the course of my normal duties" witnessed an illegal act was I to report it. I was NOT allowed or encouraged to go looking for them.

In 1991 through 1996 I was co-owner of Wimsey.COM - Canada's first commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP) and Internet Access Provider (IAP) (started in 1986 by my partner, Stuart Lynne). At that time, and to this day, ISPs have worked toward the goal of also being a "common carrier" - in this case of information, not just telephone conversations (and faxes) - a fairly trivial distinction in today's wired age.


Common carriers are subject to special laws and regulations which differ depending on the means of transport used, e.g. sea carriers are often governed by quite different rules than road carriers or railway carriers. In common law jurisdictions as well as under international law, a common carrier is absolutely liable[3] for goods carried by it, with four exceptions:[4]

  • An act of nature

  • An act of the public enemies

  • Fault or fraud by the shipper

  • An inherent defect in the goods

It is the concept of non-liability for "Fault or fraud by the shipper" that concerns us here.

The recently leaked wording of the ACTA - the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement - that is in secret negotiations between the USA and many other countries of the world including my home, Canada, will put a 100% kibosh on that if the US has its way.

Included in the wording of the treaty is the concept of 3rd party liability for ISPs whose systems are used by anyone who breaks copyright rules. The application of this treaty would follow that of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the US where "notice and takedown" provisions have been used to assault free-speech and competition - but unlike the US where there are legal fall-backs, the treaty would not provide things like fair use (Us Copyright law) or fair dealing (Canada's Copyright law) which partially offset this draconian measure.

In fact, the wording seems to make the ACTA more of a copyright act rather than an anti-counterfeiting act and imposes US (lobbyists') rules on other countries using the trade might of the US to shove them down the throats of otherwise non-US citizens.

Everyone should write their MP (or local federal representative in other countries) and express their complete dismay that the Canadian foreign Affairs negotiators are even thinking about signing a treaty that so affects our copyright regime - recently expressed by Minister Tony Clement, the Industry Minister, as "...fully consistent with its international obligations" (Michael Geist)

The USA should not be allowed to foist its broken concepts of copyright and intellectual property rights on other countries disguised as some sort of trade agreement. Don't get me wrong - the concept of tracking and bringing to justice wholesale counterfeiters (those who make and sell fake copies of everything from dollar bills to purses, prescription drugs and yes, even music and video recordings) is well worth while and should be done via trade agreement. Just don't use this "nose of the camel" to introduce radical changes to legislation that affects otherwise law-abiding citizens of other countries where the legislative checks and balances that the US has in its constitution provide at least some mitigation for their otherwise wacky DMCA. Canada does not have fair use for example, and the fair dealing we do have does not help us as individuals against a DMCA-like act!



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Spying on You - With Impunity - Not on My Computer!


I'm writing this for two reasons:

  1. I'm (almost violently) against unwarranted (literally meaning without judicial warrant) intrusions into my and other citizens' private affairs by government or anyone - especially by self-serving media moguls eager to advance their own sales of what I can only consider "buggy-whip" products in the 21st Century's air-car marketplace.
  2. I want to note that this particular topic again points up the incredible dominance of Microsoft over the public's computer facility options and how I simply don't play that game; at all!

Russell McOrmond's Digital Copyright mail list points up several articles (BoingBoing, Michael Geist) and the fact that Canadian legislators are again being lobbied heavily by the copyright and telecommunications industries to add ammendments to the proposed C-27 Copyright anti-spam bill to include un-known and unauthorized surveilance of personal computers by those self-same lobbyists - NOT THE POLICE!!! but BUSINESS!!!

Without judicial review or oversight!

This is just one more slip down the slippery slope toward a police state (and in fact this is worse) the likes of which we've seen in Soviet Russia and in China. Do you really want to live under such a microscope?




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Media Levy 2005-2006


The 2005-2006 round of the Media Levy proposal by CPCC (Canadian Private Copying Collective) is now out. According to the copy of the Supplement to the Canada Gazette I received (as a former objector) from the Copyright Board (page 4, top) "The tariffs proposed by CPCC for the year 2005 are identical to the tariffs certified by the Copyright Board for the years 2003 and 2004"

I'll be filing my objection before the deadline of June  9, 2004, and you may think about doing the same. Last round we had 100 objectors initially, which winnowed down to about 30 by the time the hearings actually went ahead - mostly due to the fact that many didn't really understand the objection process and how onerous it might be. The comments of the 70 who dropped out of the formal process were still "heard", and I believe many were taken into consideration - the rest were likely "outside of the jurisdiction of the Board" due to being of the nature of rants against the concept of the levy at all.

This year's round promises to be far different from that of the last one. Last time the increases asked for were downright exorbitant, as was the proposed extension of the levy to media normally used for purposes other than audio (camera flash-cards, etc.)

This year I expect that external factors affecting the market as well as new studies and information on the actual effects of "downloading" on music sales will be the focus of efforts by the objectors to roll back the current levy. I don't think we can rest on our laurels and simply accept the status quo. In addition, there are a number of treaties that Canada is or soon will be signatory to that tilt the playing field farther in the direction of Digital Rights Management facilities and laws that will make private copying all but unfeasible. The CPCC needs to be told (and through them the music industry) "DRM or Levy - pick one."  If, as seems to be the case, they are picking DRM and enforcement, then they must back off on the levy. Too bad for CPCC.

My Web Log at has a Media Levy section where I'll be posting items as I find them. If you have information you want to share or opinions on what I have to say (or articles you want to post yourself) please visit me there.



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