Canadian Law

Internet Usage Based Billing To Stay

As you may know the CRTC ruled that Internet Usage Billing was fine on Tuesday, provided that a 15% discount be given to the smaller internet providers.

Unfortunately this means that unlimited internet access will likely disappear, as soon as March 2011 in some cases, reducing the customer’s ability to rent High Definition films and concerts online.

Yes, it is possible to change the settings on Netflix to only watch material in Standard Definition, and to only rent films on iTunes in SD. But most people who have invested in HD televisions and the nessesary internet compatible equipment had expected accesibility to the higher quality video and audio formats.

I, for one, am quite content watching DVD quality films and concerts. But even Standard Definition film streams add up so I will likely continue renting films at the local store or from a mailing service, both of which are owned by one of the larger internet providers mentioned in the CRTC ruling.

I just hope that more automated movie dispensers will make their way into Canadian neighbourhoods to drive the price of rentals down because the prices of HD rentals on my cable box are ridiculous. I refuse to pay $7.99 when I can rent it from a store for two dollars less.

As you can tell I am getting quite annoyed with my cable company, especially now that I know they’ll be raising my rates in March. I am serioulsy considering ending my 20 year relationship with them and going for IPTV or OTA television.

Actually “relationship” isn’t really the most apt word to describe it. After all, I had no real choice but to be subjected to their excessive, stock value padding rate hikes until satellite came in, which has its drawbacks as well. But I digress.

I knew unlimited internet wasn’t going to last in Canada as soon as the broadcasters started posting their material online. This distribution is a threat to the television distribution monopolies of this country, who could cry foul and call this downloading illegal prior to this transition.

They had also resisted digital television in Canada via the networks they own, claiming the analog to digital television expendatures were too great. They’ve even managed to delay the transition for some of their stations beyond the August 31st, 2011 deadline set by the CRTC.

Internet usage based billing will be subject to the same consistant hikes we saw in cable and satellite fees, as the monopolies transition from their traditional distribution to an on demand service.

I believe they are raising their cable and satellite fees as quickly as possible to establish high rates to then sell the illusion of savings to the Canadian consumers who are not aware that we are already paying significantly higher than average rates for internet access according to a October 2009 study by the Berkman Center For Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Copyright Reform In Canada

Just thought i’d bump an interesting collection of articles on copyright reform in Canada : From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda

The individual articles found at the above mentioned link are in the PDF format are are downloadable in respect to the Creative Commons Legal Code.

“Money For Nothing” Censored In Canada ?!?

Don’t bother requesting the unabridged version of “Money For Nothing” in Canada, it has been censored.

That’s right, this Dire Straits classic has been banned from the airwaves in Canada because of a decision by the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council that found that because the song included the lyric “faggot” that it violated their Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code.

Appearently a listener had complained after hearing the song on OZ FM, a station based in St. John’s, Newfoundland that broadcasts through-out Newfoundland and Labrador ; On February 1st, 2010.

I find it rather interesting that this chart topping, Grammy Award winning single had aired on radio since late 1985 without a complaint. It took nearly 25 years for someone to be so offended as to result in a complaint.

A music video featuring the unabridged version of this song also aired quite frequently on Much Music and Musique Plus in the 80’s and 90’s.

Also interesting is the fact that Elton John performed this song with Mark Knofler, Sting, Phil Collins and Howard Jones at The Prince’s Trust concert in 1986.

Canadian Labels Settle Lawsuit

Four of the major labels in Canada have settled a class action lawsuit against them for the unauthorized use and distribution of recordings, as well as unpaid mechanical and video royalties.

EMI Music Canada Inc., Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc., Universal Music Canada Inc. and Warner Music Canada Co. have agreed to pay approximately $47.5 Million dollars to songwriters and music publishers that had not been compensated the use of their works in certain compilations and live recordings.

The class action lawsuit alledged that the labels had distributed over 300,000 works without authorization or compensation, fifty of which whose copyright is owned or partly owned by the estate of Chet Baker, the renown jazz trumpet player, arranger and composer.

According to January 10th, 2010 press release, the settlement will be distributed to the plaintiffs via the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA), and Société du droit de reproduction des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs au Canada (SODRAC).

Interesting Move by Quebec Government

Appearently it is the Quebecan provincial government’s opinion that the recession can be counteracted by higher sales taxes.

Today the provincial sales taxes in Quebec went up 1% to 8.5%. And another 1% hike is scheduled on New Years Day 2012.

I guess they got this brilliant idea from the provincial governments of Ontario, BC and Nova Scotia, who all hiked and/or extended their taxes in July.

In my opinion these additional taxes hinder our recovery.

They burden smaller retailers, who will probably consider this the last nail in their coffin, and force larger retailers to cut expendatures and staff.

It is obviously counterproductive.

Ontario’s Eco Fees Confuse Consumers

If you’re an ONtario resident and you’re confused as to why you’re paying for eco-fees, then you’re no alone.

According to a December 23rd, 2003 article in the Ottawa Citizen, people are still getting sticker shock, having believed these fees were discontinued in October.

The problem is that the government actually said they would be discontinueing the expansion of these fees, which means some items are still being subjected to these fees, some under different programs.

For example, tires are still being subjected to eco fees under the Ontario Tire Stewardship program and electronics like televisions are subject to eco fees via a program operated by the Ontario Electronics Stewardship.

What the Government of Ontario refrained from implementing was a second phase of eco fees, on fluorescent tubes and bulbs, aerosols, portable fire extinguishers, mercury-containing devices, and corrosives, such as acidic cleaning products, drain openers, pool and spa chemicals, masonry products and paint remover.

The remaining first phase results in eco fees on :

* Household paints and coatings and their containers
* Solvents, such as thinners for paint, lacquer and contact cement, paint strippers and degreasers, and their containers
* Used oil filters
* Oil containers of 30 litres or less
* Single-use, dry cell batteries
* Automotive antifreeze (engine coolant) and related containers
* Pressured containers, such as propane tanks and cylinders
* Fertilizers and their containers
* Pesticides, including fungicides, herbicides and insecticides, and their containers

Additional information on the eco fees can be found at makethedrop.ca and stewardshipontario.ca.