Saturday, April 29, 2006

Boing Boing: Sony screwing artists out of iTunes royalties, customers out of first-sale

Has the first dart been thrown to hit the bulls eye on what is happening with the online exploitation of paternal copyright holders and users?

Boing Boing: Sony screwing artists out of iTunes royalties, customers out of first-sale

Sony clearly wants to have each song it distributes sold in every possible way, in every possible medium, distinctly, without any interoperability, without any other use or any further use.

Its beyond me how this could not be construed as a licensed sale as the transfer of the right to use the copy of the recording is conditional and not permanent. If one were looking at a tangible property, it would be akin to a rental rather than a purchase as the ties to the vendor remain to the use and enjoyment of the property.

In Canada, this is taking it past the line drawn by the Supreme Court case of Theberge, where the artist cum distributor is retaining past the sale an interest in the property that the user now should control.

Sale? Sony better be careful about these kinds of "sales" as they might not be just looking at lawsuits from the paternal copyright holders, the artists, the lyricists and composers, the performers on their sound recordings and any other royalty owners and middle men and women in the creation of music products: the users may be next hiring lawyers too.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Canadian Music Creators Coalition: A New Voice

Well finally a grass roots bunch of higher profile Canadian artists, with "Names" saying what they believe in about the Canadian music scene and forthcoming Copyright Law changes.

Canadian Music Creators Coalition: A New Voice

Timely too is the fact that the CRTC is reviewing the Canadian content regulations, and well, if anyone has been watching, the CRIA on behalf of the big "4" made its representation, then peoing everyone else off. Witness shortly thereafter the resignations of Canadian owned major labels from the CRIA.

The Canadian less, CRIA will have to ponder the right forms of deception before the CRTC to actually not be laughed out of the box. True the CRIA represents Canadian companies owned by foreign companies and they should be heard, but if the stats from Statistics Canada are correct, their core group has done little but cherry pick in Canada, marketing 35 new foreign artist releases for every ONE new Canadian artist release.

Only in Canada .... no where else in an English language market is music so dominated by foreign marketeers.

One vote here for CMCC.

Do you want to advance Canadian music? Sign up for their newsletter here and stay tuned. If they ask for help, consider it.

For Canadians who like to hear their own music, and have our own culture develop musically, its a "have to" to do. Well beyond a "need to" to do.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Take the Levy to the Levy?

Jeremy deBeer - The Role of Levies in Canada's Digital Music Marketplace

I like a good argument!

Jeremy deBeer argues that a levy is not the solution to the unlicensed use of digital music from a background of law and technology with some normative conclusions.

He prefaces his paper at this link with some background and some lead in material to hook you up to what you are going to get and not get, if you go on to read his "authoritative" -read, well documented- paper through the links he provides.

He does make a very important observation first:

"Parties not directly involved in the use of copyright-protected music have increasingly become the targets of established or proposed schemes to provide revenues for the music industry."

This is clear. But it is a long story perhaps not best left in entirely in his hands alone.

Are consumers at fault as non-professional users of copyrighted work, as they seek ways to use their final purchases differently than the intended use? The Theberge case in the Canadian Supreme Court did not seem to think so.

This case is a classic case where the artist thought that someone had infringed on his rights by making unauthorized copies from the gallery photographic plates (guidebooks) he authorized and made money on. He did not anticipate that someone would transfer those plates to canvas, one for one, and then sell those works, in effect competing with his own originals. The court found that he may have a moral rights case but not an infringement case, but to pursue his moral rights case he had to go before a court to argue that these works put his reputation at risk.

I should note, that the copies expostulated as to be infringing would be in no way comparable to the real work, nor did they contain his signature indicate that they were his, and would be of questionable value to an art affectionado. The court found in a split decision that this was "cool."

In my thinking, this is the same state of affairs as you find in a file sharing situation: the derivative copy is not quite the same as the original as generally speaking it is a degraded copy, compressed into a different format for transmission efficiency. That compression is not found on a commercial CD as there is no question that with a CD player there is not a bandwidth issue.

Should the recording industry pursue their moral rights in their works? Maybe. Infringement? I don't think so. Not in Canada.

Jeremy deBeer also sets up a background that is very hard to actually find in reality, in whatever age one looks at this music business:

"Traditional business models in the music industry have been built mostly upon the voluntary exchange of rights in a free market"

Voluntary exchange? Huh. If we are talking about money voluntarily surrendered for rights, yeah, no one is breaking arms to sign deals I think or blowing up factories or suing Aunt Martha, whoops, they are suing lil old ladies and kids. Thank G-d for Terry McBride, who heads Nettwerk Music Group, who is fighting no less the RIAA, and by association the CRIA, back here. Do the politicians get this picture??? We will see.

This is not the academic market: this is business and for every right imaginable, there is a rightsholder claimant, singular, joint, severable, assignable, waivable, and hanger-on, ad nauseum, who wants to be paid. One only has to leaf through the excellent tomb by Paul Sanderson "Musicians and the Law in Canada" or David Baskerville's "Music Business Handbook and Career Guide" to get very far away from any notion of voluntary exchanges. Do you need a lawyer, an agent, a manager, a publicist, or an inhouse lawyer and a retained law firm for a "voluntary" exchange?

On a final purchase, you might even need a lawyer to read an end user license (EULA) to accept after the fact a purchase of software or music, and then try to get back your money from your friendly retailer who says all sales of music and software are final, after you find your privacy is found to be traded or invaded, or your property is threatened (here, here, ...). A big sigh, to the late Anne Wells Branscomb for her prescient and great book "Who Owns Information?" (1994).

So I go forward into this article with a reluctance as the basis appears poisoned if one assumes a world of voluntary exchange amidst the legal profession's buffet feeding line here.

That said, I have now another reference to Daniel Gervais work in a similar vein, "Use of Copyright Content on the Internet: Considerations on Excludability and Collective Licensing" to find a solution for a problem that appears to me, to be a creation of the major recording companies themselves.

Why their problem? The majors consolidated. The majors did not anticipate final use. The majors did not respond in any timely way to the market demand for downloadable online music (in economic terms, they forced the production of "bad" music, as an imperfect substitute to the "good" music that they did not offer but was yet demanded). The majors do not in Canada promote Canadian artists to the extent of foreign artists yet Canadian recordings sell better in Canada (DOH!). They appear to cherry pick the independents, and then kill the expected extra output otherwise from the acquisition. All while crying to the government for help, using whatever means are available to them to make their case, including direct political donations to politicians.

On to the role of levies in Canada ...

Post-script: A Canadian company "Zunior", now offers 2 download types for each album it sells: the superior CD quality FLAC version, and for $2 less, the MP3 variant. If you have the ears, equipment and hard drive, FLAC versions very much demonstrate an express example to the overall point of this post: If the recording owners had provided quality downloads at reasonable prices would there be any issue at all about DRM? Frankly, I think the answer is no. Bad money chasing good with good not even showing up ... another reverse of Gresham's Law but with a twist.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Avril, Ladies back Nettwerk's offer to fight downloading lawsuit - Yahoo! News

Avril, Ladies back Nettwerk's offer to fight downloading lawsuit - Yahoo! News

As a student of copyright law, and student might be a misnomer, I particularly like the comments of Jon Newton of Very early when one is examining the history of copyright law, the reason for its being was to prevent professionals from stealing from other professionals ie. commercial competition.

While final consumers can now replicate works, it is not for a commercial purpose such works are being replicated.

Now of course one can argue as they will in Canada that the uploading, making available right, is not in the realm of the consumer to make, and the act of uploading would be illegal but is sharing files "uploading" technically, or in spirit.

The fact of the matter is that I don't encourage anyone to share their music files, it does not mean that if they are shared I would not sample them, and if I liked what I heard, buy the real deal.

The promotional aspect of filesharing is not well argued publicly yet in one study 3/4 of the artists benefited from filesharing. The more accomplished 1/4 did not. A classic rich vs. poor dichotomy and in some measure a case of cutting the ropes for those seeking to climb them by those first up.

A better solution to cutting the ropes, is a collective licensing measure but then others will argue they don't want to pay twice for the actions of the free riders.

Much more on this to come.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tiring Yet Inspiring

Canadian politics was pretty boring. The scandal of the decade, the 90's, was really a forgotten political pain outside of those directly "hurt." It is unmeasureable the effects of the perceived dirty money on political history and the relativistic wisdom of the then Prime Minister making the decision in Cabinet to spend over 5 years, $250 milliion in sponsorships promoting Canada in Quebec secretly.

In context of budgetary reviews and the loss of 45,000 public sector jobs, restraint on civil service wages, cuts in health spending, education, defence, this $250 million could have eased the pain.

Yet there is nothing illegal about this spending choice, as governments black box expenditures for things like "National Security" and free democrasies in the main accept that as a limitation in the system as a price of freedom, or more closely to our case, "Peace, Order and Good Government" when faced with external threats.

In the case of the patchwork of Canada, this was directed internally to influence internal political opinion favourably to the concept of Canada as the nation that Quebec was also a vital member of and within.

Without doubt, a different reasonable line would be that this did boost Liberal fortunes in Quebec, but this is the dirty part of the secret sponsorship funds. How mendacious would a Prime Minister be in the face of all these cutbacks, to keep his electoral base "alive"?

But this part of the scandal is now spun out away from this by more recent Gomery Report's focus on the administration of the funds. Personally, the administration sucked, clearly, and the report outlines instances of kickbacks to the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party that are truly unfathomable to their real depth to the forensic experts themselves, but highlighting a very large ethical lapse in a lurch of the end justifying any necessary means.

It is not a wonder now why Prime Minister Martin decided to clean his hands of it all, resign his leadership and personally get some fresh air, after losing an election he could not win with Quebec, his base, but destroyed.

The judgement of this Prime Minister in coming clean, calling the inquiry, will be forever debated. He had a choice, and he chose the "right" way but not for these times? If his courage is not exploited politically, yes, he miscalculated, and he is falling on his sword without a tear from many.

I however express sympathy for him, for his idealism and self-evident drive to get it right was not apparently as tasty politically for his compatriots in his camp to "sell". They clearly abandoned him but perhaps he could not communicate what would have worked for him as it did for Harper: convey your message simply and positively. Could they have run ads that had clips of his reaction to the Auditor Generals' report, calling for the Gomery Report? Get him some distance from the inevitable exploitation? The Gomery Report was out of the bag early as a political tool that was going to be wielded by the Conservatives.

No. I think this high road campaign was not in the plan, or if it was, it was considered briefly and then labelled as ill conceived, untennable, or unwise. Or was it forgotten that a high road did and could exist?

The watercooler discussion of today was that had the Liberals run more of the personal ads that showed the Prime Minister in his office, talking to Canadians (seen once) instead ads with false claims of what the Conservatives were going to do with abortion rights or the cozy genuflections of the happiness of a perceived unpopular US President with a Harper win (seen a dozen times), that instead of a Prime Minister elect with a strong western base of support, we would still have this Prime Minister to deal with. The talk of a Liberal electoral timeout to regroup would be replaced by the strength of the leadership of Paul Martin and his capacity to capture the essense of what it is to be Canadian and survive, a crucial quality and Canadian value.

The punditry in the MSM will not understand this.

I did make this up.

Blogs Don't Get the Credit They Deserve?

I had a hunch that the mainstream media (MSM) would overlook the blogosphere and its role with at least one candidates fate.

As I sat in my dentist's office waiting for a cleaning (sigh), I read the latest Macleans Magazine and low and behold, I flipped to "Wrath of the Bloggers", an article I had already read online courtesy of a another's bloggers link (The Accordion Guy).

I recalled the first MSM shot, where Jim Rankin of the Toronto Star had picked up on the blogs of Michael Geist, a law professor of reknown, and the blogosphere reactions, and then queried Sarmite Bulte. In his article published January 6th, 2006 came forth the famous "friends" line and the rest is history.

Notice the order of events, blog, blog, then MSM. (then blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, MSM, MSM, MSM, MSM, blog, blog, blog, blog, MSM, MSM, MSM, blog, MSM, blog (NOTE: the final word to the blog)).

In between the flurry of the final weeks of the election, a surprised candidate is asked at an all candidates meeting in the riding, in light of her campaign contributions from the copyright lobby and her forthcoming fundraiser, will she take the copyright pledge? [There is a petition on this link too]

The video of her response in 12 hours later or less is on the blog site of "The Accordion Guy" which sets the blog world on fire at the unappologetic MP caught like a deer in headlights, and in anger. What was that pithy line of never in public, especially in a debate, showing your anger. OUCH.

Note the order, blog, MSM? Not bad for a new form of communications that some dismiss as irrelevant. Irrelevant at your future political life it is.

Now did blogging increase the election turnout? Maybe.

Examining the riding, it had a 63.8% turnout in 2004, and a 72.3% turnout in 2006, an increase of 12.7% whereas nationally the increase in voter turnout went from 60.9% to 64.9% of registered voters, an increase of 6.6%. Relatively, this ridings turnout showed a whopping 93.3% increase relative to the national increase.

I note Bulte lost only 6.3% of her 2004 votes, but Peggy Nash gained 27.7% votes. The Tory gained 21.4%. Interestingly, the Greens lost 13.2% of theirs.

So Bulte did not lose many votes, but her opponents significantly increased their votes. To tie Bulte at her lowered levels, Nash would have needed an increase of at least 14.1% over her 2004 results, which would be greater than the overall increase in voter turnout. With her increase of 27.7%, and voter turnout 93.3% above the national increase, did blogs play a causal role?

Bulte loses 6.3%. National turnout up 6.6%. Nash gains here by staying flat, only 12.9%. She needs 14.1% or she loses. She gets a 27.7% increase and the keys to the Parliament.

Its not a chicken and egg thing here: the blog came first, then MSM.

Did an aroused electorate respond? Seems so.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sign of Incompetance

Random Ross Rader :: Sam an outright liar?

Strong words, not my own but then a person using the words of another word for word is but a plagiarist to me and deserves what plagiarists get, discipline.

Without a doubt so many feelings have been brought about from the logical assertions one must take to some of the information revealed in this sorry month surrounding this MP, Sarmite Bulte.

It was bad the "campaign contributions."

It was bad the "fundraiser", in the face of the "campaign contributions."

It was bad the "attack" on Michael Geist and pro-user zealots, defending her "friends".

It was bad that January 22, 2006 in writing in the Toronto Star, she is revealed as a mere plagiarist and apparently lacks any independent research but that provided by industry associations that largely represent foreign interests.

Worse for me, is I wonder what the heck her own department does for its living so to speak, if it cannot provide to her facts independent of the many industries she is seeking to intelligently regulate on "our" behalf.

The last bit of trouble (somehow I doubt that this is it) is of her own doing in an article published by the Toronto Star claimed as authored by Sarmite Bulte torn up eloquenly in the "Confirming the Copyright Gap" article posted by Michael Geist. This man is clearly very intelligent, and with out doubt one of the leading law professors in our country on this issue area, nationally and internationally reknown. Listening to his lectures, without one bit of doubt in my mind (I am 100% skeptical by my own background), he is fair minded, and only perhaps becoming zealous when in sight of obvious injustice. That is the kind of guy you want your kids to look up to if you are blessed to have kids who are of an intellectual mind.

Debating this type of guy publicly with ad hominem attacks, makes the person throwing the attacks the loser. Get the facts, get the angle, get your homework done, and without a doubt this guy of all guys, might give one then options, and further the debate.

In debate, I think Michael vs. Sam would be a sorry beating to observe on any subject. And this is coming from someone who as a student put Allistair Gillespie, Minister of Energy, in his place at Hart House, with respect, without ad hominem attack (nor good heckle).

So one more day for the MP or more. Who knows tomorrow today (sigh).

The curse though is definitely out there of interesting times, particularly surrounding the underlying reform in Copyright law required however bad it might be, it must be done, or it must the inaction on changing it, must be a policy decision of the next government. A stance is required.

(note the original posting has been changed that this blogtorial points to. Perhaps the writer had second thoughts of the extent of the lie he perceived? )

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Liberal MP at centre of blog controversy

Liberal MP at centre of blog controversy

Bloggers attack Sam Bulte's stance on copyright laws
Mark Evans, Financial Post
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"And in practice and theory, she is right because there is nothing wrong with accepting political donations from groups or individuals as long as they follow the letter of the law. The NDP, for example, is not going to turn down financial support from a union that wants politicians to support pro-labour policies."

I don't think Mark has looked at the Conflict Rules that the Office of Ethics Commissioner is charged with enforcing. Of course it requires a complaint from an MP to start the ball rolling.

I wonder if Mark had read the ZDNet UK article, "The Best Democrasy Money Can Buy,"and seen what the UK IT Press thinks of this situation.

And now, newsflash, Peggy Nash of the NDP declares she is not going to take Union money. Wonder how Mark is going to deal with that, in tripe remarks.

To me, pulp comments like he made are a cop out due to his lack of research. Why he could have read "my" little piece on the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of Parliament, enacted by the PM.

Now over to the Toronto Star, for at least a new spin:

Voters ask about global issues
Liberal MP grilled on fundraiser
Jan. 17, 2006. 12:01 AM

Ethics, an issue nationally, was raised locally when a questioner asked Bulte, who has worked on a copyright law, if it was correct for her campaign to accept money raised at a recording industry fundraiser to be held at the Drake Hotel Thursday night.

"How can we count on you to carry on ... impartially when you are taking money from special interest groups?"

Bulte replied: "They are not hosting a fundraiser for me. ... It's a celebration of my support for the arts community."

Nash said she decided in this campaign to accept donations only from individuals.

I hope the electors are smart to see "spin" when they see it and hear it. And the conviction and integrity that Peggy Nash is showing.

Personally this reign of 1 year, 4 months and 10 days, and the election afterwards, is starting to make the prior PM's reign much more appealing particularly when the current PM attempts to distance himself from it in public debates.
Remember one thing about the sponsorship scandal: We were never supposed to find out about it. More treacherous than graft or collusion is the secrecy that provided an environment in which these alleged abuses flourished. This was a secret program, designed to leave as little as possible in the way of paper trail, and when newspaper reporters began investigating, public officials tried to cover up.

Anne Kothawala, President of the Canadian Newspaper Association
in The Hamilton Spectator, Jan 16, 2006
Said "political history" makes me welcome change, not from any zealotry but my sense of right and wrong.


It is pretty simple to me. You follow the rules. You make some debates sparkle. You help your constituents, and you protect their rights. You stay on the high ground.

1. The purposes of this Code are to

(a) maintain and enhance public confidence and trust in the integrity of Members as well as the respect and confidence that society places in the House of Commons as an institution;


2. Given that service in Parliament is a public trust, the House of Commons recognizes and declares that Members are expected

(a) to serve the public interest and represent constituents to the best of their abilities;

(b) to fulfill their public duties with honesty and uphold the highest standards so as to avoid real or apparent conflicts of interests, and maintain and enhance public confidence and trust in the integrity of each Member and in the House of Commons;

(c) to perform their official duties and functions and arrange their private affairs in a manner that bears the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that may not be fully discharged by simply acting within the law;

(d) to arrange their private affairs so that foreseeable real or apparent conflicts of interest may be prevented from arising, but if such a conflict does arise, to resolve it in a way that protects the public interest; and

(e) not to accept any gift or benefit connected with their position that might reasonably be seen to compromise their personal judgment or integrity except in accordance with the provisions of this Code.

4. The provisions of this Code apply to conflicts of interest of all Members of the House of Commons when carrying out the duties and functions of their office as Members of the House, including Members who are ministers of the Crown or parliamentary secretaries.

Using influence

9. A Member shall not use his or her position as a Member to influence a decision of another person so as to further the Member'’s private interests or those of a member of his or her family, or to improperly further another personĂ‚’s private interests.

Prohibition: gifts and other benefits

14.(1) Neither a Member or any member of a Member'’s family shall accept, directly or indirectly, any gift or other benefit, except compensation authorized by law, that is related to the Member'’s position.

I have been very upset over this Bulte affair. She has been exposed as the political driver to bring in a US style DMCA to Canadian copyright law, an experience along the way typified by stonewall responses to intelligent questions, that retrospectively make scents.

With the SONY Rootkit experience not having made a shift in the policy stance of the Liberal Party, from the recent responses CIPPIC received, it makes you wonder if this law is paid for already.

She is and remains unappologetic: "I'm not being influenced by them. They're supporting me," she said. "These people have become my friends and I don't apologize for that."

Its obvious that she seems to think she is wearing a form of hubric "electoral teflon"(TM), and that none of this will stick to her or her supporters. That a new spin can makes things better => the "fundraiser" by the copyright interests is now termed a "celebration" with all proceeds going to ?????

In my opinion, this corruption is going to stain Canada's reputation more than the stain it is getting by being listed in the piracy tables that the IFRI itself shows Canada as having the same rate of "piracy" as the United States in their most recent report on piracy, less than 10%. 57 countries are worse than Canada in their on piracy tables, and no less than 15 are ranked equally.

Why are they picking on us? Because they can with fluff ball stories like the one by Mark Evans, and fluffy politicians I suppose floating around too, afraid of seizing a live one here and taking the case farther than the media has cared to take it, to date.

The pressure on "friends" by the CRIA through the IFRI now seems to have voided some common sense on the optics here. A report by one blessed to live in the riding says that well they know they look bad. Big time.

The stain is there. And growing.

With friends of friends publishing drivel that harms the reputation of your country, you got to examine your friendships, particularly if you are a MP.

Will the electorate do the deed? Stay tuned. The day is fast approaching.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century :: Joey deVilla's Weblog :: Big Content: Ice Harvesters of the 21st Century

The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century :: Joey deVilla's Weblog :: Big Content: Ice Harvesters of the 21st Century

I like this post. Thought provoking while making for a day without you know who in reference, to me, is very much a cleaner day.

Is "old" content going to resist? Just like the Ice Harvestors ... love it.

He makes well the point that there has indeed been a destructive level of innovation that society's that advance *protect*. Forward looking societies have balance in the inertia of that society to let new ideas in and let old ideas die a peaceful death. They don't protect the old industries, they take the leaps of faith, or better, they let the invisible hands work their magic to make the better mouse traps (PETA alert).

When such balance is not present, do we really have a just society, where everyone can get the same shots, where the debates are clean, where the road blocks you run into, are not from payoffs, but are rather from the competitive force of better ideas?

Yes, we have seen non-competitive means employed where you have one side paying for a stonewalling of anothers interests, that was contemporaneously inexplicable, yet is now exposed.

The victims of the stonewalling are angry. Not zealots for the sake of religion but people who want justice where they see blatantly an injustice committed in the field of ideas.

But maybe its worse than that.

Its not just ideas, and being allowed to be heard; its about being listened to and considered. It is one thing to hear someone, its another thing entirely to listen without having the idea of lunch with your friends on your mind, and what they will say on your actions of today in your appearance of listening.

The contempt for the process now shown is not the way its supposed to work, not in Canada, not in a special area where ordinary people have a vital but to each very small stakeholder interest. Ordinarily, it is an interest insufficient to make them avid participants, but nevertheless an interest that is not to represented by this group or that group, but by rather the parliamentarians we are supposed to trust in a "democrasy."

Back to higher ground, forthcoming here will be the promised Part 2 on the Canadian Recordings Industry, where in the narrative you will get the idea that maybe its just about protecting the massive investments made in content, not anything to do with new content. Stay tuned.

St Lawrence of Google

Face value | St Lawrence of Google |

A little boring of a speaker perhaps and not really innovative, but he has some results to speak of. Google Video, coming to a blog near you.

Sunday, January 15, 2006 - Trademark political shenanigans - Trademark political shenanigans

Cory Doctorow is doing pretty good here making some of the arguments I would make were I capable of having a debate with the other side.

It is certainly troubling to note that while many people are making points to the bulte, nothing is coming back but a line of claim and denial. In short no answer, the very requisite of a good bulte.

There was one error though: there is no private copy levy on ipods and MP3 media in Canada, which surely will be rebutted elsewhere, perhaps at the expense of his more solid arguments. Originally the levy was in the tariff set by the Copyright Board of Canada but in a court case Apple won, the levy collected was ordered refunded. Didn't get your refund? It appears too late.

Think Progress » By the Numbers: Lobbying in America

If you think lobbying is bad for Canada, check out this compilation effort of the US political scene, and wonder why the Accountability Act proposed by Harper resonates with me.

Think Progress » By the Numbers: Lobbying in America

Now admittedly, Bulte's financial support is chump change to the numbers in this table, but no matter: it still reeks when corporations a) don't vote, b) don't go to prison, c) feel they can do anything.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Mathew Good Speaking Out of Turn

This blog posting and the comments growing within it is very important to understanding further what the Canadian Recording industry is going through. The whole industry but most importantly the one that serves Canadian artists, especially any new ones seeking to break out.

From a Canadian artist point of view.

It not the whole story but it captures from an artist, and other artists (see the comments) just what is happenning today, and what has happened to their opportunities with the non-Canadian controlled companies dominating the terrestrial - pedestrian based distribution channels they own or can own through financial predisposition.

The predisposition of a chain retailer in a Canadian mall these days is sometimes as simple as receiving incentives for shelf space and positioning money.
"We are in the age of pricing and positioning. I can afford to put Faith Hill within 10 feet of the door in any store in this country. Can an indie label do that with their product?"


From Larry Leblanc's Report, Music Distribution in Canada, Prepared for the Department of Canadian Heritage, April 2003.
So the old world ways that Mathew Good and Lindsay Stewart more than bemoan is not the reality of today that Sarmite Bulte, MP claims to represent. The reality really that Ms. Bulte pushes is not just for the incumbants and their massive investments in "content" hoping against hopes that content was going to be key in the Internet Age. They forgot that "new content" has a place too at the table, and Ms. Bulte has no answers for new creation but for that within the incumbants models. She appears to ignor exactly what these non-Canadian controlled companies that are behind some of her sponsors, do in Canada with respect to new content:

in 2003, the non-Canadian controlled companies new releases were 97.3 % foreign artist, an incredible 3,553 of them vs. 100 Canadian artist releases

The reality is that Ms. Bulte pushes is against the interest of the many Canadian artists against the few. And against the new Canadian artist for those distributed by the sponsors of her political efforts.

Well I as a Canadian taxpayer resent that this MP is pushing something that appears of no or little benefit to the majority of the Canadian artists while claiming to represent these artists, and not just musical ones (see what Jack Granatstein said to his print collective that donated to Bulte).

I also resent that from the way I see it what she is pushing is to bail out is the wrongful investment choices that foreign multinationals have made in the "content" mania phase of the blossoming of the Internet.

For today, read Mathew Good's very sensible, intelligent remarks and take some perspective from it.

For me, I have to find a Mathew Good work and buy it. I have a hunch I won't find it at a store near me and that is only but one part of this whole problem. But I can find it and possibly get it, within 120 seconds or less, CD version via snail mail, or digital version, 60 seconds later, or less.

That is 2006 distribution. The buzz is on the net. The distribution is on the net. The music is on the net.

Get with it Sam.

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy


When my favourite news team, the diggers in the tech world, pick up a story, Sarmite Bulte's days are numbered as an unknown on the Prime Ministers radar list of scandals brewing.

They did

ZD Net, owned by CNET, has some rather good writers and pundits. Linking up the story to Microsoft, will only make Mary Jo hungry. Watch out Sam, Mary Jo is coming.

And David and Jim, and Charles. And John. And ...

And it got bigger and bigger and bigger ...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Mean? You ain't seen nothing yet!

"If you would know the depth of meanness of human nature, you have got to be a Prime Minister running a general election." -- John A. Macdonald, 1891

I think on this blog I have not been pro-Conservative or pro Liberal. I have a mocking sense though of the Liberals due to the non-answers I have gotten in the past from letters, or from the Bulte affair. I am very upset that Martin did not tell Bulte to back off on her fundraiser. But that is life. He has got himself in lots of his own troubles with the Gomery report and his zero-tolerance for some things (selective ethics is part of the meaness).

The Gomery report in case you did not read it, said that Paul Martin did not administer the funds so he was off the hook. It did not say he did not know of the funds. It gave him deniability and he took it. For me, to think that in some Cabinet meeting a matter of a secret $250 million over 5 years was discussed as Prime Minister Chretien said it was and that Paul Martin Finance Minister was there, is something that the print media and the Conservatives have been soft on. The ethics of such a secret fund was not part of the Gomery Report.

I can only speculate the softness on the Conservatives part is because they were "in the loop" too on this large amount of money not mentioned in the budget papers at the time (I read them too). By agreement or by necessity to look the other way as the money was authorized? Or they were incompetent? Or more likely plain loyal, to their former Prime Minister who set up a Unity Reserve, the predecessor of the Sponsorship program, that they were well aware of was now in the hands of the new Prime Minister.

I like loyalty. I don't like secret funds.

The media? They don't seem to want to do work other than reportage. And the secrecy of the fund itself is perhaps a contemporaneous thing. Or not. I don't like now. I would not have liked it then.

I remember Paul Nowack while instructing a freelance writing course telling me in greater elegance than this, that most reporters need feeding but that it is the rare investigative reporter, hated by his peers, muckraker by his target, tenacious in spirit, that persists in finding the facts to support the writing that needs to be done. He put emphasis on "needs to be done."

The media is afterall a check and balance in a free country and even the softer reporters stand up for freedom of the press.

I suspect Nowack is gone now to higher writing duties, but the blogsphere is something to behold where anyone who wants to dig up the story can and should. Be factual. Link sources. Feeding the reporters is I guess left up to John and Jane Doe, as they have to tell their stories. I am digging up the Sound Recordings industry, the Canadian one, at least from the statistical story that is public information, and the story is well going to be here for those who want the truth (Part 1 is here, Part 2 is coming real soon).

Not just opinions. But linked with facts. That is my only Northworthy way for these types of articles. For other stuff, every body is entitled to an opinion. And beer and popcorn too.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Happy with 'bulte'?

We posted earlier on what the Canadian lexicon could add to its lingua franca.

A "bulte" we remind, is a politician caught with their hands on dirty money -read lobbiest- who has no appologia and instead defends her actions as taking money from their friends.

First if you have doubt, read this from Excess Copyright on the rights and wrong, and the terrible scythe that creators find themselves in as creators and consumers. Read the e-mail from Professor Jack Granatstein to Maureen Cavan, Executive Director of ACCESS Copyright.

Read the whole post that encapsulates this e-mail.

Realize that there is lots of money involved often without a "chain of title", purely as an indemnification measure in case a rightful owner with a claim to a copyright complains of an infringing use, copy, publication, ad nauseum.

ACCESS collected $27 million in 2004. Not just from commercial interests.

The closing remarks of this post though makes one wonder why.

In other words, in the collective system that Canada had already, rightfully, a commercial interest will pay for a license to use the copyrighted work just in case they need one.

The use I stress is commercial.

Let the Supreme Court of Canada explain further. Whenever.

So please, think about what you read.

I and others can listen to you then.

See the exercise? I do.

What one particular MP needs to do and apparently the rest of the MP's too, from the Prime Minister on down, on this MP's behavior, and perhaps others (too many to link now) is to read closely Section 2 (e) of the Code of Ethics that you must abide to be and continue to be an MP, under "Principles."

Or do you?


Paul Martin Promised.

He said he kept all his promises.

He said he would fix a deficit.

He fixed one.


He made all MP's abide by the rules enforced by the Ethics Commissioner.

Or did he?

"Zealots" for fairness



The first full article of January 11, 2006 in this new blog is a winner. Can't wait for the next one and the next one ....

Jack Granatstein – On Political Donations, Access Copyright & Bill C-60

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A picture tells a 1000 words ...

I like music. Very much. I have about 700 pristine albums, vinyl and a few CD's. In some ways, musically, I never got past vinyl as CD's sounded too "engineered", surreal to me as there was a lack of realism to the recordings, likely from excess production engineering.

I use to take my albums and make one copy of them onto cassette tape. Never got to DAT. My ears could handle the hiss and the Dolby B reduction as usually I just cranked it up and the soft parts, well, there were no soft parts! Long live rock!

Flashforward. Maybe 30 CD's, 2 kids ... and a generation later. The sound recording industry is presented in public as being in shambles from Napster, then Peer to Peer. A huge
copyright reform package is presented, and well, I don't like it for other reasons: my computer is mine. The software I license is mine. The freeware I use, is mine cause someone else said I could have it (at least the compiled version). My harddrive to the CPU to the router and between is mine.

Thanks to Mark Russinovich of Sysinternals, he found the reason October 31, 2005 why the copyright reform package presented to Canadians by Sarmite Bulte's Committee for Copyright Reform should be dead, and for now is dead.

Thanks too to Michael Geist for exposing who funded Sarmite Bulte to be re-elected in 2004 and who is funding her current campaign.

Me? What can I do? I can help expose the real Canadian Sound Recording Industry, the version that Statistics Canada reports on infrequently, "87F0008XIE2005001"

Its hard to get around a Statistics Canada report that provides little analysis and lots of data.

But looking for any analysis, I could not find anything independent of the media coverage near the day of its release and the highlight that they had picked out, that new Canadian artist releases fell below 1,000 for the first time, since well, the media could remember.

I think at the time, Graham Henderson of the CRIA was quoted making some reference to this fall in Canadian releases in the media and said something about filesharing and theft caused this and how the copyright amendments were so needed to fix this.

Well I did a few graphs of the data, adding StatCan's tables 10.1 and 10.2 together to get industry totals. Table 10.1 was of the Canadian owned industry. Table 10.2 was the non-Canadian owned industry.

By the way if you click on any of the charts, they get nicer, and then just go back a page to carry on :-)

Chart 1:

Chart 1 shows that the Non-Canadian owned companies take care of their own a lot better than they take care of Canadian artist. Notice the drop from 4.2% of their new releases being Canadian artists in 1998, to just 2.7% in 2003? The Canadian owned companies seem to take care of Canadian artists. More on this later.

Chart 2:

Chart 2 shows how much more of the revenue from recordings, Canadian and non-Canadian, that the Canadian owned sector of this industry is responsible for as all areas show improvement between 1998 and 2003. Untold success story?

Chart 3:

This chart shows that the non-Canadian controlled companies are having a harder time, losing share to the Canadian owned companies. It also shows the domination of these foreign companies in the Canadian sound recordings market, outside of the Canadian artist sales, is slowly diminishing.

Chart 4:

This chart shows that the Canadian companies are picking up share in new releases. The striking figure is the falloff of the non-Canadian controlled companies Canadian artist new releases, from 20% in 1998 to 11% in 2003. In 1998 it was 80 / 20, 20 /80 for Canadian artist / foreign artist by Canadian company and foreign company. In 2003, its almost 90 /10, 25 /75.

Before one pops the corks of celebration of the "taking" back of the sound recordings industry, see the next chart for more perspective. The numbers of new releases are striking in particular the number of new foreign releases by the non-Canadian companies, demonstrating vividly how much Canadian product (NOT!) they like to push.

Chart 5:

For brevity, in 2003, the non-Canadian controlled companies new releases were 97.3 % foreign artist, an incredible 3,553 of them vs. 100 Canadian artist releases. Market demand, lowest marginal cost, or something else? We try to answer this later.

Chart 6:

This chart is my favourite, as it shows the consolidation in the industry amongst the non-Canadian controlled companies, a very interesting fact to the "whole" story. There were 17 of them in 1998, and by 2003, only 13 remained. Why is it my favourite? Because it adds great perspective overall to all the changes in this industry.

Chart 7:

The highlight of chart 7 is that it shows the average number of new releases per company was essentially flat amongst all the companies for these 3 years over the 6 years in the report. The fewer non-Canadian companies, each had the same number of new releases in 1998 and 2003 (281) per company. The foreign owned companies show average new foreign artist releases per company flat (+1.5%) but new Canadian artist releases dropped from 11.9 to only 7.7 per company, a 35% decline. The Canadian controlled companies show a slight drop of 0.6 new releases per company, to 6.8, a decline of 7.6% for the period.

With the foreign consolidation shown in Chart 6 in mind, Chart 7 shows the non-Canadian controlled companies produced for the Canadian market just as much in terms of new releases on a per company basis as they did before. With their sharp falloff in new Canadian artist releases however and fewer non-Canadian controlled companies, these facts become crucial to understanding what did occur in this industry.

Chart 8:

This shows that on balance, in terms of changes in recordings revenues, Canadian controlled companies did ok but not gangbusters with their increased market share. In constant dollars, their sales were likely flat for the period with revenues from Canadian releases falling, and their foreign cut deals rising.

Part 2 on this industry is coming soon with the blockbuster "Table 10. "

For a hint, let me say this: the claim that the fall off in sales is due to the theft of recordings has to be put up against the fall in the number of new releases by each of the fewer non-Canadian controlled companies, which is an entirely different problem than theft from filesharing, in my opinion. Industry revenues for the Canadian controlled companies were up $66,915,000 while the non-Canadian controlled companies were down $237,590,000, between 1998 and 2003. With the non-Canadian controlled companies new releases from non-Canadian artists down 22.4% and their new releases of Canadian artists down 50.5%, the non-Canadian controlled companies should be explaining this fact while the Canadian controlled industry is thriving in terms of revenue growth.

What if their new releases from their foreign repertoire did not fall 22%?

What if they did not drop like a stone their new Canadian artist releases by 50%?

Perhaps its not a Canadian problem at all. More to come.

Note: Statistics Canada collects data on a mandatory basis from all companies that operate in this fair land under the Statistics Act. They also publish that data in a non-identifying manner and are very tough to maintain confidentiality.

No other government institution – not even the RCMP or the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency – has the right to see the answers given in confidence to Statistics Canada.

Your information is protected by:

This particular survey is census in nature, with no one able to really back out of providing the information. For the "eggs", there is information on their methodology here.

(edited 11.01.2008)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Michael v. Sam Bulte

Listen to the Program "Ontariotoday" with guests Michael Geist and Sarmite Bulte. Unfortunately, Sarmite's link is somewhere in CBC radio land and we will correct it as soon as possible. While it lasts ...

Explains "bulte" well

Not often you find good stuff to blog on your blog ... but give credit where credit is due.

Time to get partisan has the scoop nicely tied up on my new word, "bulte."

Seem he also noticed what I noticed to, the people that put up with a bulte, should go down with the bulte.

New Canadian Lexicon: A Bulte

Sometimes one has to wonder how words get into the language.

Now often as one who is Canadian, we tend to think that the English language extends to the American lexicon of our MS Word dictionaries but for those few words like colour or centre.

Then comes a situation where there is nothing to describe a situation best but to use the name of the individual surrounding the situation to describe future situations that are similar.

I propose the word "bulte" to be added to the Canadian lingua franca. It will hopefully be a rare word but nevertheless very precise in its use.

A "bulte" describes a politician who is caught accepting money from people they have pushed laws for against the best interests of the people they are elected to represent.

The best part of a good bulte is that for a lengthy period of time, a good many opponents of the law the "bulte" pushes don't understand why the "bulte" is not listening to any good arguments but is insistent that this is good for the opponents, while refusing to reply directly to any concerns.

Now the best part of the bulte is that when the bulte is discovered to have money in their pockets keeping their electoral chances alive, the bulte says that no amount of money would affect their integrity, while normally their party leader says "Return the money, or resign".

When that does not happen, this is the worst "bulte" situation because it questions the leadership itself and its commitment to democracy: governance by the people, for the people. When the worst bulte situation arises, you hope you have an electorate that is widely aware of the situation and tosses the bulte with the party leader out. If they accept the "bulte" and the party leader, you will be knee deep in "bulte" everywhere and be on your own.

Now a "beauty bulte" in Bob'n'Doug terms is when even when the party leader is on vacation, and the "bulte" is left on their own, with all manner of pomp, and ignorance of any direct dissent, the "beauty bulte" goes on to get some more money very publicly.

The last frame of reference we find is the "bite the bulte" where the people who paid the "bulte" wake up and realize that their cover with the "bulte" is gone, and they are tainted by association with the "bulte." In that case, they have to "bite the bulte", stop the money flows, and profess an ethical line.

In moral times, the government would have a law on the books, called tampering with an elected official, have the RCMP put the white collars involved on probation, and the self-professed bulte behind bars.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Debating time: 2 mins. Public Relations 118 mins.

Thank goodness I watched this debate sitting on a couch. As soon as my partner could not take it anymore, after kicking at me several times to keep me awake, there was that nice pillow to snuggle down with "to listen" to the debate.

Watching it was painful.

Stephen Harper was like the Joker from Batman, a normal man till hitting the chemical vat and then having a smile burned into his face. Refusing to bite into anything above the level of a Grade 10 student, he said all the right words that someone said was analogous ($50) to the talk level at the Tim Horton's/Coffee Time.

Paul Martin could not say a clear sentence the whole way, saying something then changing tack mid word sometimes, then repeating phrases in the same breath, with me just waiting for a crisp demarcation of a clear thought ended. Ouch.

Jack Layton fade to irreality($50). His lower lip looking fat to match up with his moustache, made me wonder if he had teeth. The partner said "He is wearing makeup" so I guess she didn't notice everyone else was too but Jack must have brought in a specialist. Heard he lost a hockey fight.

Gilles Duceppe. Ever the angry man from la belle Province. He looked just well ornery. In Old West Texas he would be in a gun fight in a flash, and likely a loser. He had nothing to say well, and did not come across as well as he did in the Vancouver debate. He had a hard time with his diction tonight, forget his elocution. With Harper now even in the polls with Martin in Quebec, maybe ... gasp he did ... he did throw barbs at Harper. That is a compliment to Stephen and a sure sign of trouble for the Martin Liberals.

Speaking of Martin Liberals, no day would be complete without a link to a brewing scandal. Actually this one is a scandal, Bultegate, that apparently, no one in the mainstream media thinks is a scandal, circa 2005 Canada. Any other time, this tony type of behavior would be trashed. The sign of Liberal arrogance and a sign that the end is near for the Martin government (note: there has been no support or anti-support of this MP and her actions: the silence is deafening from other politicians beyond this MP's riding). This is a good analysis.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sense Found

Not often you find someone speaking from the same pulpit but ditto, ditto, ditto these remarks.

Election and Copyright Reform

"Houston. We have a problem."

Hypothetical conversation follows ...

"Mr. Prime Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary to Heritage is on the phone again. Do you wish to speak with her?"

"Put her on. This time we will be alone."

"Sam. What are you up to? Are you getting re-elected? I need some good news."

"Um. Paul. I have a small problem."

"Problem. You are not telling me the RCMP is at it again?"

"No. Sir. Its not like that at all."

"Well speak up if you can. The media are not in the 727 right now. Its warming on the tarmac in Edmonton though. This is a loud plane. Makes the House of Commons a library by comparison."

"Well. I think I did it this time. I told the media that the money we got from the music, software and film industry was from my friends. They seem to think that what I do for my friends matters."

" You are telling me that some genius found the money and you told the media in response to this, that they were your friends. You have got to be kidding me? We never say the lobbiests are our friends. We don't pay them to be our friends do we?"

"Um, sir. It would seem that we were going to. We gave them everything they wanted on Copyright reform despite the 700 submissions from Canadians that said we were out of our minds."

"Sam. Sam. Sam. I have a debate coming up and I have to prepare for it. Call Scott up and see what he can do to spin this. Hopefully, he can save you without saying anything about Canadians eating popcorn and drinking beer this time."

Teens Online: Content Creators and Consumers

Very interesting study on the 12-17 year olds of the USA as part of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. They also asked the parent/guardian similar questions and compare the two when relevant. The study was published Nov 2, 2005 and the survey data was at year end 2004.


57% of the teens 12-17 are content creators
19% of teens keep a blog and 38% read them
older girls lead the blogging activity
Half currently download music
Close to a third download video
Most think that getting free music online is easy and its unrealistic to expect people not to do it
US Teens are just as likely to have paid for downloaded music as are have tried P2P.

Of course the rules are different in Canada as far as downloaded music goes, despite the efforts of the CRIA, and one would expect very different behavior by Canadian teens i.e. Northworthy is Canadian.

Time for Study

I have been a sicky lately with a bad cold that just won't go away. 12 cigs a day does not help but nothing else will help my ulcerative colitus. Been writing tons on copyright issues as they are of interest going way back to my University of Toronto days. Law and Economics. That was me. And IP was going to be my bag.

Fast forward, I am a successful government auditor. I kick butt at work. Far cry from my hopes and dreams but nevertheless a good life.

To the good life, I worked like the dickens taking a Statistics Canada report apart: Sound Recording: data tables, October 2005, catalogue no. 87F0008XIE. Kind of dull for lots of folks but for me, a challenge to my CGA studies at present with the course "Statistics" upon me. Too bad that the U of T stuff did not carry weight ... I think I took 4 advanced courses in stats on top of the current equivalent. Dates myself quite a bit. EEK.

The good stuff of my studies of late is some rather disturbing results that I have tried sharing somewhat. Made some nice graphs, for the exercise and for the analysis: a picture tells a 1000 words. Well, taking data and then graphing it, helps big time to explaining the otherwise disassembly of information in the numbers. If I figure it out, I will try to post some of the weirder stuff I found in my studies. If not, its vapourware ... hush ....

It looks to me that I am surrounded by Liberal voters that are disaffected who would drop the party like a bad cold on further bad news. Can't wait for when next Bono is going to bite Martin again.

A Bulte

The new meets the old.

Sometimes politicians open their mouth for any reason without filling it with sense first. A politician caught with her hands on dirty money -read lobbiest- has no appologia and instead defends her actions as taking money from her friends. Welcome to Canada. Bienvenue!