Canadian

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.

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.

International Record Store Day 2011

Today is Record Store Day, a day in which Independent Record Stores through-out the world are celebrated and participate in various promotions.

A list of participating stores in Canada can be found on the Official Record Store Day website.

Must Reads On Usage Based Billing

The following documents dispell many of the claims used to justify Usage Based Billing : “Canada‚Äôs Usage Based Billing Controversy: How to Address the Wholesale and Retail Issues” by Michael Geist and “Myths and Fallacies about Usage Based Billing (UBB)” by Bill St. Arnault.

The later was commissioned by Netflix, who have recently decided to offer additional video quality settings to their customers because of this issue.

For additional information on Usage Based Billing, consult Michael Geist’s blog.

Online Retailer Adapts To Usage Based Billing

Netflix Canada has decided to offer additional options to their customers in response to the usage based billing issues.

Canadian subcribers will now be able to access additional options when it comes to the quality of the videos they stream from Netflix in order to reduce their consumption of bandwidth.

According to Netflix, they will now offer three levels of video quality to their Canadian customers :

  1. Good – Max. 625 kbps Video/64 kbps Audio, which translates to about 9 gigabites of data for 30 hours of content.
  2. Better – Max. 1300 kbps Video/192 kpbs Audio, which translates to about 20 gigabites of data for 30 hours of content.
  3. Best – Max. 4800 kbps (1080p HD video) and 384 kbps (5.1 audio), which translates to about 67 gigabites of data for 30 hours of HD content.

On the Best setting transfers will fluctuate depending on if the content is in HD and/or whether there is congestion. This means 30 hours of non-HD content on the Best setting will translate to about 31 gigabites of data.

It should be noted that American and Canadian television episodes from before 2009 are not likely going to be available in HD, so people who enjoy watching this content can use the Best setting. And several films on Netflix are not available in HD as well, including many by Paramount, who have just signed onto the service in Canada.

Songwriters Propose Another Flat Rate

The Songwriters Association Of Canada have proposed a flat monthly fee of $10 in response to music piracy on the internet.

This fee, which would be charged to consumers via their internet providers, would enable Canadians to download an unlimited amount of music downloads and would compensate Canadian songwriters.

This all you can eat buffet may appeal to some peer to peer users. But unfortunately this fee would likely result in additional fees, as it does not compensate copyright holders. And at the moment there are music services that offer unlimited streaming for $5 that pay royalties that are forwarded to songwriters and copyright holders via the appropriate rights agencies.

I believe that a royalty scheme for peer to peer services is preferable, as it would enable the current rights agencies to collect funds from the peer to peer services and distribute these funds to songwriters and copyright holders.

Peer to peer services could obtain funds from advertisements and premium subscription sales, as well as affiliations, to pay these royalties.

As a consumer I would prefer a choice in regards to what services I subscribe to and pay for. And at the moment I purchase music via the legal services listed on this site. I also use free, advertiser funded services.

My current internet provider also throttles peer to peer services so I see no point in paying upwards from $10 to compensate songwriters and copyright holders for transfers I am unable to perform.

Yes, I am aware that some of these measures can be bypassed. But I am simply not interested in downloading music via the peer to peer services. And the majority of peer to peer users download porn and films according to an Envisional Study published in January of this year.

I suspect the internet providers will resist this fee, in respect to a 2004 Supreme Court rulling that found they were not legally responsible for the file transfers on their networks. The internet providers would likely oppose having to pay to administer the collection of the fee, or subsequent levies or fees.