Canadian

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.

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).

Cineplex Now Offering Online Movie Rentals

Film rentals and purchases are now available to Canadians via the Cineplex store site, some of them discounted, or even free, with Scene point redemption.

But to view this content you will need to install the Cineplex Media Manager, which is not available yet for Mac and Linux machines, and have Windows Media Player 11 installed.

The content downloaded from this web site is therefore limited to Windows machines (Windows XP SP2/newer, Vista or 7), Plays for Sure devices that can sync a 1500K video and the Xbox 360.

The site states they will be expanding their compatibility shortly.

Free Shipping Offers For Canadians

Amazon Canada and chapters.indigo.ca have altered their free shipping offers and are now offering free shipping for order above $25.

Other companies offering free shipping to Canadians :

New Proposed Copyright Act Amendments

The Canadian government has just introduced a bill to update the Copyright Act in response to new technology and international criticism.

Bill C-32 will further legalize private copying by enabling consumers to record and copy copyrighted music, film and television programs legally for private use.

It will also enable the consumer to convert this material into other formats, so this material can be played back on various devices. And provisions in regards to “Fair Use” have been updated, enabling copying for the purpose of “research, private study, education, parody or satire”.

Unfortunately this bill also proposes limitations on these acts, by making the circumventing of copy protection illegal, which would result in a penalty up to $5000 for non-commercial violations.

Most record companies have yielded to consumers in regards to copy protection. But the DVD manufacturers still use these schemes, including a DVD region code that renders DVDs legally purchased from one region unplayable in another DVD region.

Blu-ray discs have similar region codes and many of the film distributors have decided to release films without this coding. But what if the record companies and film distributors decided to re-introduce these “technological protection measures” ?

What if they decided to release the material in a proprietary format, rendering the material unplayable on devices not licensed to play this material ?

We should have the ability to view and make private copies of material that we’ve legally purchased but the provisions would subject us to the whims of the labels, film companies and their distributors, some of which own the rights to distribute material in certain countries and regions without the legal obligation to do so.

Canada is generally lumped with the United States when it comes to foreign films, concerts and music video compilation releases so we are subject to trends that are detrimental to material that is not or was not popular in the United States because of language or other factors.

For example, I like a french pop duo called Les Rita Mitsouko but unfortunately they did not have enough of a following in North America to justify the release of a Region 1 version of their limited edition “Bestov” CD/DVD compilation in 2001.

If I had not imported it from France back then I wouldn’t have it now because it’s no longer being distributed. And this issue isn’t limited to francophone releases.

Norwegian pop rock band a-ha had released a video compilation entitled “Headlines & Deadlines” in 1991 in the United Kingdom. This compilation was re-released again in 1996 and in 1999, whilst North American fans waited for a Region 1 release. Why ? Because in the States they’re considered a “one hit wonder”.

Then there are the complications brought on by the mislabeling of regions by the retailer or distributor, like the “Toutes Zones” Johnny Hallyday DVD I purchased directly from his label, Universal Music France.

An All Region or Region 0 DVD would not require the circumventing of region coding, complying to the provision proposed by Bill C-32. But “Master Serie” was mislabeled as an All Regions DVD on the label’s site, the DVD’s package and on the DVD.

I believe the circumvention provisions should reflect the fact that DVDs that are coded other than Region 0 and 1 can be legally imported by Canadians, resulting in the collection of rights in the country from which the products were purchased.

The copyright holders of the content found on these DVDs were compensated for transactions that would not have taken place if protectionist measures were in place restricting the distribution of Region 2 DVDs to Canadians. And no restrictions in regards to the distribution of the aforementioned Region 2 DVDs were imposed on or implemented by the re-known online retailers I purchased them from (Universal Music France, Alapage, Amazon U.K).

I will be contacting my local Member of Parliament on this issue and will be posting updates in this blog.

You can find your local MP’s contact information by postal code.

Bill C-32 was introduced by Tony Clement, Minister of Industry.