Consumer Information

New Streaming Movie Service Soon

Zip.ca and Samsung Electronics Canada have partnered to offer a new streaming service to Canadians.

According to the press release, Canadians will have access to thousands of films and television programs on their SMART Televisions, Blu-ray players and Home Theatre products from Samsung, though no commencement date is mentioned.

Warner Music Group Sold For $3.3 Billion

Warner Music Group will be sold to Access Industries for $3.3 billion Cash according to an official press release.

The group, which consists of multiple labels and music publishing companies, had considered to sell individual parts of the company but has recently decided to sell the group as a whole.

Blockbuster Canada Not Safe After All

The Globe And Mail reported that Blockbuster Canada has gone into receivership.

It appears that when Blockbuster restructed in the United States in September 2010 they had used the profitable Canadian operation as collateral. And now the studios have decided to sell Blockbuster Canada to recoup some of their losses.

Blockbuster Canada had issued a statement last September that their operations would be unaffected by the restructuring of the American operation. But had in April issued a notice to customer that they would not be issueing gift cards or Blockbuster Rewards memberships by April 30th, 2011.

So, what does it mean ?

As you may have heard the Conservative Party was elected as a majority in Canadian Parliament yesterday, the New Democratic Party having been elected into the opposition. And you must be wondering what next ?

Well, it obvious that copyright reform will likely be on the agenda shortly.

When the election was called Bill C-32 died whilst it was being reviewed by a legislative committee, the legislation’s digital lock provisions having been a major issue.

Had Bill C-32 passed, consumers in Canada would have been able to make private copies but would not have been able to circumvent copy protection to do it.

This meant that the counsumer would again be subjected to the whims and experimentations of the film and music distributors, who in the past had attempted to impose digital locks that kept people from copying material, even for personal use, to the extent that it caused security issues (i.e Sony BMG’s rootkit).

Basically Bill C-32 appeared to give the music and film industries an ability to disable private copying whenever it suited them, independently from the democratic process, whilst possibly giving them the ability to impose additional levies to conform to several World Intellectual Property Organization treaties. And of course this didn’t bode well with the Canadian consumer, who refused to pay the exhorbitant rates proposed on iPods/mp3 players and were wary of RIAA style copyright litigation.

Format shifting, the ability to copy copyrighted material from one medium or device to another, will probably remain a major issue in the forthcoming new copyright reform bill. And i’m hoping we have progressed on the issue.

The majority of consumers simply want more control in regards to the accessibility and portability of the content they purchase. They should not be subjected to obtuse allegations of piracy nor should be subjected to levies or taxes on devices on which they store legally purchased material.

Royalties are obtained from this legally purchased material, some of which is dependant on the existance of devices that enable the consumer to access this material.

For example, if it weren’t for iPods and mp3 players the consumer would not be purchasing music downloads from legal distributors, who pay royalties to rights agencies.

Levies on such devices may sound good to some artists but in reality it would result in fewer purchases because the consumer would eventually be presented these extra costs by the manufacturers. After all, the WIPO treaty ratifications would have resulted in additional levies for foreign content, resulting in prohibitive costs for the consumer.

This may be being sold as a compensation scheme for artists and composers but in reality quite a large amount of levies collected from the sale of blank audio media failed to be distributed from the current levy.

According to the Canadian Private Copyright Collective ‘s financial highlights, only $183,301,000 of the $284,878,000 collected from 1999 to 2009 was distributed. And nearly 11% of the monies collected were used as expendatures by the collective itself.

One can only guess how much of these levies would remain available for distribution if international copyright owners were to get levies. But is clear that all of these schemes would be quite costly to the consumer.

In March 2002, the CPCC had requested a rate of $21 per gig, as publisized in the Canada Gazette, and the Copyright Board had decided on a rate of $15 or $25 per device in December 2003 until having their decision overturned by the Federal Court Of Appeal, twice.

I certianly hope both the Conservatives and New Democrats appreciate the fact that this is not the time to hinder the sale of consumer products by introducing costly levies that fail to be distributed to the artists and composers.

Update On Playstation Network Breach

It appears that Playstation Network and Qriocity users can breathe more easily when it comes to their credit card information.

Sony has stated that a vital piece of information related to purchases, the card security code, was NOT stored or archived by their system.

This code, which is usually three or four digits long, is used to confirm purchases online and by phone. It is printed on the back on Visa and Mastercard credit cards, next to the signature strip, and in the front of many American Express cards, just above the credit card number.

This card verification code expires with the credit card and another code is issued whenever new cards are sent out. So if the credit card you used on the above mentioned networks was about to expire, you should have no problem.

Furthermore, with the introduction of chip cards and services like Visa‘s Verified by Visa and Mastercard‘s Securecode services, information gathered from the security breach would not likely be useable. But I would definately advise vigilance in regards to purchases, just in case.

Canada’s major credit card companies had adopted Zero Liability programs years back for unauthorized purchases so i’m guessing the issue wont cause many problems, though it should be noted that Sony will NOT be asking people to provide personal or credit card information via email or by phone.

BTW, Sony has stated that some of the services will be reactivated this week and some of their users will be eligible for a free month of Playstation Plus. Details can be found on their official blog.

Privacy Commissioner Investigating Breach

A representative of Canada’s privacy commissioner has told Postmedia News that it is investigating this month’s Playstation Network/Qriocity security breach.

The security breach has caused additional headaches for Sony in California, where a class action lawsuit was filed on Wednesday over this issue.