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(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Globe and Mail’

UBB: Still Misunderstood

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 3, 2011

No Usage Based BillingJohnny Rocket passed this along on the comments page:

Toronto Star: Ottawa to reverse CRTC decision on Internet billing

Oh look, another one: The Vancouver Sun: Harper Conservatives to quash CRTC decision killing unlimited Internet

Sounds like the Government is pressing the CRTC to overturn the ruling.

This sounds promising, but at the moment it is nothing more than talk.

The real story is Jason Koblovsky: CRTC To Appear Before Committee On UBB
That the CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein will be addressing Industry Canada tomorrow, presumably to explain the ruling.
Four days are allotted to the CRTC. Of course, anything can happen.

Nothing has actually changed.

The reality is that Usage Based Billing has been approved and has passed through many appeals &tc. since Bell first asked the CRTC for it in 2009.
Currently all the appeals are over, and there is an intact ruling that the Independent ISPs must implement by March 1st.
That has not changed.

Back in May of last year, the CRTC gave UBB conditional approval, saying UBB would not go ahead until all of Bell no longer had customers with unlimited service since imposition of Bell’s UBB on wholesalers would force them to withdraw unlimited service they provide their customers. So for a number of months, it appeared that we were safe from the spectre of UBB. But Bell appealed the decision and the CRTC renegged, instead allowing Independent ISPs to “grandfather” the levels of service enjoyed by longstanding customers, who had accounts dating from 2007.
(2007? What’s up with that? If they were going to do a grandfather deal, at the very least the cutoff should be from when UBB was approved.)

The CRTC has made incredibly bad rulings in regard to the Internet. There are a couple of other incredibly important longstanding issues that need to be looked at here as well.

Hopefully, Industry Canada will be looking at these when they talk about UBB, because everything is related:

Throttling

A few years ago Bell began “throttling” the Internet. Not just their own retail customers, their wholesale customers’ customers too.
[No, that is NOT a typo: the CRTC allows Bell to deliberately degrade the Internet service of their competitor's customers.]

When the Independent ISPs brought this to the attention of the CRTC… that bandwidth they pay Bell for was being throttled, the CRTC gave Bell permission to do this.

Interestingly, Bell actually started “throttling” at the same time they were Globe and Mail: Bell launches video download store

Internet Ignorance

The justification for “throttling” was that the Internet was too congested.

Apparently The CRTC bought the Bell argument that the Internet was in danger of getting full and maybe crashing.

Jesse Brown famously asked the chairman about proof, and amidst the waffling, the answer seemed to be that Bell said so.

DPI

The CRTC trashed Canadian privacy protection by allowing Bell to deploy Deep Packet Inspection without the slightest bit of oversight.

If you don’t understand what that means, that’s okay, because apparently the CRTC didn’t understand it either.

The short version is that DPI allows Bell to look at everything on the Internet.

Bell has CRTC permission to read your email without needing a warrant.
Without the slightest bit of accountability.
The CRTC trusts Bell with our private data.

I don’t.

The only way to stop them from reading our email or looking at the naked baby in the bath photo we emailed grandma is to encrypt the email. Of course, the reason Bell asked for and got permission from the CRTC to do this was so that they would know what internet traffic to discriminate against. Because Bell discriminates against encrypted internet activity. On purpose.

“We established independent regulators because they’re supposed to have the expertise, the freedom from partisan pressures, the time and the longer-term perspective to make the painful and complex decisions required to keep industries that are otherwise liable to market failure operating in some semblance of the public interest. “

Globe and Mail: Richard French “Second-guessing the CRTC comes at a price”

Richard French thinks the problem is that the Government is overturning the regulator.

The sad fact is that Mr.French would have a lot more credibility if he wasn’t parroting the oft cited bogus argument about “heavy users.”

Like the CRTC, Richard French doesn’t understand the problem in getting expert advice from the special Interest Group the CRTC is supposed to be regulate.

The problem is that the CRTC does NOT understand the Internet.

Mr. French is writing for the Globe and Mail which is owned by Bell. Coincidence?

Maybe he should read my article Speculation not Prophecy

P.S. Two More Good Links

A Mainstream Media article that understands UBB Financial Post: Counterpoint: Net users will pay a lot more

And a blog: Barrel Strength: The perpetual error of communications policy

It’s not over yet.

Regulating Canada into the last century will not help our digital economy survive in this one.
We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 13711 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

An Open Letter against UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 28, 2011

No Usage Based Billing

As Canada gets closer to having the Internet squeezed out of us, more people are finding out about it.
I’ve just received a letter from Lynda Fraser, another Canadian concerned about Usage Based Billing, who is active on the FaceBook Stop UBB in Canada page

Hello fellow Canadians,

Was wondering if you would be interested in looking at the recent CRTC decision to allow Bell Canada to basically kill all of us for wanting to use the internet. Sorry but that’s the way I feel about this whole decision.

Basically most Canadians will see
their internet bill double effective March 1/11
especially if they have signed up to watch television over the internet.

I am not a super user by any means, I do the normal banking, occasional shopping, email and Face Book. I will be affected by this as will the majority of internet users in Canada.

CRTC logo
One of the articles that I read said a spokesperson from CRTC said the decision was made so you pay for what you use to void throttling and caps on internet usage.

The throttling will continue and the caps are ridiculous. Most people I know will end up with an internet bill around $100.00 per month.

I thought Canada was a country that promotes healthy competition with it’s suppliers, the CRTC has ensured that Bell will end up being our only provider of internet services. Bell has even admitted in a recent statement to the public that their system for determining usage may not calculate properly and customers usage could be double counted.

And, on top of it all the announcement of large tax cuts for large corporations just tops it all off.

Not only will Bell raise prices, they will save on their corporate taxes.

The following information about costs and caps are directly from Bell Canada/Bell Aliant for Ontario and Quebec and this was all approved by the CRTC.

Old logo with text: The Bell Telephone Company of Canada - in a circle around a Bell which has the text: Local and Long Distance Telephone

Ontario:
Lite Residence – cap of 2GB, $2.13 charge per GB if you go over your 2GB to a maximum charge of an extra $51.00/month
Lite Plus Residence is the same as above
Basic Residence – cap of 25GB, $1.70 charge per GB if you go over 25GB to a maximum of $51.00/month

Quebec:
Lite Residence – cap of 1GB, $2.13 charge per GB if you go over your 1GB to a maximum charge of an extra $51.00/month
Lite Plus Residence – cap of 5GB, $2.13 charge per GB if you go over your 5GB to a maximum charge of an extra $51.00/month
Basic Residence – cap of 60GB, $2.13 charge per GB if you go over 25GB to a maximum of $51.00/month

Each of the above plans have a excessive usage charge as well. If you go over 300GB it is an additional $0.85/GB with no maximum.
They are offering for you to purchase an additional block of 40 GB for a monthly cost of $5.00 each and you can get a maximum of 3 of these per residence.

I could go on forever about this, actually feel like Rick Mercer doing one of his rants Smile emoticon

Please check into the media coverage on this for more information.

Here are a few of the links to the current articles:

Vancouver Sun: Consumer backlash over usage-based Internet billing goes viral

Globe and Mail: How much is that data plan going to cost you?

David Beers: A metered Internet is a regulatory failure

CBC: Extra billing for internet use a ‘ripoff’: NDP

YouTube: Do You Know
“…the Top 10 in demand jobs in 2010…did not exist in 2004 …
We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist …
using technologies that haven’t been invented …
in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet …”

For those with accessibility issues, I am also hosting the OGG version here.

Georgia Straight: CRTC ruling on usage-based billing threatens affordable Internet access, critics say

and the Face Book group that is organizing a rally of protest

You can also check out the stat on internet usage that has been collected by Stats Can which shows that 74% of Canadians are internet users and the study was from September of 2009.

more details of how we use the internet

Regards from a very unhappy Canadian internet user,

Lynda Fraser

There are still so many things to be said about Usage Based Billing.

NOTE: When UBB is implemented, Canadians will be charged for all the bandwidth they consume. That means that watching videos like the excellent “Did You Know” video from YouTube I’ve embedded above will cost much more. Don’t ask me how much, because I have no idea. From the sound of it, Bell gets to make up the figures as they go along.

Regulating Canada into the last century will not help our digital economy survive in this one.
We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11946 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



CREDITS:
OGG conversion via Tiny Ogg Thanks!

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The CRTC is writing Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 3, 2011

No Usage Based Billing

The Globe and Mail’s editorial “We’re overdue for a digital-economy strategy” is calling for Canada to unroll a Digital Economy strategy.

After all, other countries have them.  But we have some serious issues, so I thought I’d share the comment I posted there:

“Quite frankly, I suspect we are in better shape with no Digital Economy Policy than rushing to implement a bad one.

But wait: you’ve entirely neglected to mention that the CRTC’s approval of Bell’s Usage Based Billing proposal means Canada’s Digital Economy Policy is being written by the regulator without government oversight.

Artificially inflating the cost of Canadian consumer internet access for the express purpose of discouraging Canadian consumer Internet use will certainly prove to be a pretty strong drag on Canada’s Digital Economy.

http://stopusagebasedbilling.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/overturn-the-crtc-ruling/

If you want to talk about education it is necessary to look at the fact that our public education system isn’t educating our children about computers and programming, we are training them to use the proprietary software of the day. Of course that’s hardly surprising when all levels of government appear to be wedded to brand names rather than getting in on the ground floor with Free-Libre Open Source Software.

There is a serious need for MEANINGFUL government consultation on these issues.

No policy is better than bad policy.”

—Laurel L. Russwurm, Comments, The Globe and Mail: We’re overdue for a digital-economy strategy

Funny, they didn’t even mention Usage based Billing.

Further Reading on FLOSS:

Canada: Free/Libre and Open Source Software
Europe: The impact of Free/Libre/Open Source Software on innovation and competitiveness of the European Union
United States: The Free Software Definition

We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11503 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Wind Mobile: The Canadian Government Listened

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 15, 2009

WINDmobile

New Kids

No Usage Based BillingYou could have knocked me over with a feather.

The Canadian Government actually listened to Canadians

On Friday Industry Minister Tony Clement overturned the CRTC decision to deny Wind Mobile the use of the spectrum they purchased. Instead, Globalive’s WindMobile now has the opportunity to roll out their new cel phone service.

Canadian Cel Phone Service

Canadian cel phone costs… ooof.   And have you noticed how every Canadian seems to have at least one cel phone horror story.   I haven’t heard anything good about the state of Canadian cel phone service– except from those who are profiting from the cel phone incumbents.

The Canadian government looked at Canadian Cel Phone service and realized that Canadians were paying through the nose. Our government decided to attempt to remedy the situation by auctioning some cel spectrum on which the incumbents would not be allowed to bid. The point was to introduce new players. The hope was to trigger competition.
Canada Flag
Which could only be good for Canadian consumers.

Vetted by Industry Canada, Globalive’s Wind Mobile was allowed to bid in the spectrum auction— because they had been approved.   They paid their money then went on to lay out piles of cash to set up operations and hire staff and create advertising; they were gearing up to go.

Even before Wind Mobile opened for business strange things began happening in the world of Canadian cel phone service.   Some of the incumbents began changing some of their worst policies.   After all, they were about to be faced with actual competition in the cel phone market.   What a concept!

Canadian consumers were happy…

Of course, the incumbent Cel providers were not.   They complained to their friends at the CRTC.   They said that Wind Mobile is not Canadian enough.

CRTC listened to the complaint, and decided that Wind Mobile was not Canadian enough.   Even though as near as I can tell, Wind Mobile is a Canadian company run by Canadians. They have foreign investment capital. Most businesses require investment capital. Just as most people need financing to buy a home. Just becasue a bank starts out holding the mortgage doesn’t make it the banks’s house.

Even though Wind Mobile had paid the Canadian government millions for the cel spectrum they had won in the auction, as well as spending plenty more for the business start up, suddenly Wind Mobile was in limbo.   Talk began to float around about how the incumbents would now be able to buy the Wind Mobile spectrum   —   at bankruptcy prices.

…thoughts of competition had danced in our heads

Canadian consumers were not happy to have the competition we wanted snatched away.   There was grumbling.   And muttering. Many voices were raised in opposition to this CRTC decision.   Many voices.   For instance, I muttered and grumbled in this very blog.   And I was not the only one.   One of the things I read and heard over and over again were complaints about the lack of “Canadianess” of our Canadian Cel phone providers. (Although some of them operate under more than one name, which may be confusing the CRTC into thinking that there is lots of competition, there are really only 3 Canadian cel providers, the “incumbents”… Bell, Rogers and Telus.
Bell Canada Logo
Although these companies are “Canadian”, Bell Canada, for instance, has shut down much of their operations on Canadian soil in order to set up operations overseas so they don’t need to spend as much money.   (Not that they passed any of this savings along to consumers, you understand.)

Wind Mobile’s head honcho Tony Lacavera fought the CRTC decision.   He gave interviews in the mainstream media so Canadians knew what was happening.   He appealed to Industry Canada. They had after all given him the go ahead, and all the costs Globalive had incurred to start up Wind Mobile were done in good faith.   He took it to the Canadian Cabinet.

[We're in a recession!   Here are Canadian entrepreneurs bringing a huge investment into Canada.   And the CRTC is telling them to go away?   Do they not live in the same world you and I do?]

Most amazingly of all, our government listened.   Industry Minister Tony Clement overturned the CRTC ruling Friday December 11th, 2009.

Globalive Welcomes Gov’t of Canada Decision and Prepares to Bring WIND Mobile to Market in time for Christmas.

BRAVO!

Imagine my surprise to read this diatribe Telco decision violates Telecommunications Act: Union from Canada’s “largest telecom and media union” criticizing the Canadian Government’s decision.   I would have thought that a union of telecom and media workers would support new investment in Canada’s telecom industry.   Instead they are parroting the Incumbent Cel phone companies.

Am I naive in thinking that a union representing telecom workers would welcome a company that could offer jobs to the many telecom workers who lost their jobs due to downsizing or when Bell moved so much of their operations overseas?   If I was a member of this union I would be wondering whose side CEP is on.

Critics of Mr. Clement’s decision are citing foreign ownership as the problem.

Is foreign ownership bad for Canadian culture?

I have a hard time believing foreign ownership of a phone company could have much impact on Canadian culture.   The only change in our culture I can envision is that griping about our cel phone providers may no longer be a national pastime.

If you want to know about culture, let’s just take a quick peek at the “Canadian Music Industry”. The four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association are: Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada. Please note that all four have “Canada” appended to their names to differentiate them from the non-Canadian mother companies, Warner Music Group, Sony Music, EMI Music, and Universal Music. For decades the Canadian music industry has been dominated by “branch plants” of foreign companies.

Foreign domination of our music industry has been the reality accepted by Canadians since the mid twentieth century.

And let’s not forget that once upon a time the Canadian Parliament passed a special law incorporating a largely foreign owned company– Bell Canada — as a Canadian Corporation.   Isn’t it about time our telecommunication industry got some new blood?

Wind Mobile could hardly do worse than the incumbents.


I don’t know about you, but I still believe one of the best things for Canada would be the dissolution of the CRTC, so
If you haven’t yet: Sign the Petition, check it out at:

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/
10316 signatures

and if you have, tell everyone who will be affected by increased internet costs

stop usage based billing logo

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

D: BitTorrent

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 24, 2009

No Usage Based Billing
No Usage Based Billing

[The First Part of this series was <<A: Open Source. The second installment of the Stop Usage Based Billing alphabet series was <<B: Packets and the Internet. The third installment was <a href="<<C: Deep Packet Inspection, and the final installment will be E: Open Source Deep Packet Inspection]

What is BitTorrent Anyway??

“BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol used for distributing large amounts of data. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, and it has been estimated that it accounts for approximately 27-55% of all Internet traffic (depending on geographical location) as of February 2009.”

Wikipedia on BitTorrent

BitTorrent is an extremely fast and efficient means of uploading and downloading. BitTorrent is an excellent way to distribute large materials to many people via the internet.

Radical Ideas

Like so many of the radical new ways to do things that technology and the internet have made possible, BitTorrent can only work through co-operation. BitTorrent requires a network of “peers”, or other people’s computers who are willing to share the file. This is referred to as “peer to peer” or “p2p.

If I have a large file I want to transfer, the first step is to “seed” the file, transferring portions of the file to multiple members of the p2p network.

BitTorrent begins seeding portions of the file for transfer

Diagram 1: Seeding

It only takes a small fraction of the file to be passed along before the process speeds up enormously.

Seeding continues, but peers have begun exchanging data

Diagram 2: Seeding and Sharing

Once I have a small portion, i pass it along at the same time as I’m receiving new bits of the same file, either from the original seed source of another peer.

uploading and downloading

Diagram 3: Upload + Download = Speed

With many participants (peers) uploading and downloading at the same time, large files can be distributed very quickly indeed.

Diagram 4: Finish Fast

Bell Canada “Throttles” BitTorrent

Bell Canada

When Bell Canada was first caught “throttling” internet traffic to the Independent ISP customers, Bell Canada’s justification to the CRTC was that the internet was too crowded, and that it was necessary to “manage” the traffic. Bell claimed that they needed to employ Deep Packet Inspection to identify BitTorrent Traffic so that they can “throttle” it.

Mandate:
“The CRTC’s mandate is to ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public. ”

CRTC Role, CRTC Website

Amazingly, the CRTC had nothing to say about Bell Canada’s plans to discriminate against particular Canadian internet users.

The CRTC has accepted Bell’s unsubstantiated contention that this discrimination was necessary, and in approving it they have allowed Bell Canada to think that this discrimination is acceptable. In no way does this serve the Canadian public.

You might almost think that the CRTC mandate was to suppress Canadian creativity and the creation of Canadian movies and music. The availability of the technologies that exist to make it easy to create our own movies and music should be welcomed as an opportunity to add to and help grow our Canadian Culture.

Why single out BitTorrent traffic for throttling if it is an efficient use of the available bandwidth?

One of Bell Canada’s arguments for implementation of Usage Based Billing is that Canadian internet bandwidth is in short supply, making it necessary for them to “manage” bandwidth by penalizing heavy users.

So how could anything as efficient as BitTorrent possibly be seen as a bad thing if the Internet is so crowded?

It doesn’t make sense to discriminate against BitTorrent use. There is nothing inherently bad about BitTorrent use or BitTorrent internet traffic. But Bell Canada’s contention is that BitTorrent is bad because people use it to download movies and music.

Which begs the question: how does that make BitTorrent bad?

The Copyright Red Herring

The “Copyright Lobby”, which consists of large media producers and distributors (like Disney), and corporations and organizations (like MPAA), who distribute commercial movies and music, want us to believe that this is a bad thing.

This corporate special interest group has spent a great deal of time, energy and cash trying to promote the “pravda” that any digital copying of copyright works is bad. Making no distinction between commercial bootleggers who distribute illegal copies for profit and legal purchasers who seek to make a back-up copy or digital format shift for personal use, the Copyright Lobby has been pressuring governments the world over to criminalize personal use copying.

The problem for ordinary citizens is that these corporate interests have vast quantities of money to spend and a great deal of media power. This makes it incredibly difficult for governments to stand up to their onslaught. In some parts of the world this persistent advocacy has paid off for the Copyright Lobby, as lawmakers knuckle under and legislate to the detriment of their own citizens by making it illegal even to copy or download movies or music for personal use.

Here in Canada the Copyright Lobby is seeking to influence our lawmakers to criminalize personal use copying. They are trying to make Canadians think that people who make copies for personal use are performing criminal acts, and should be penalized the same as a a bootlegger who films the latest theatrical release off a theatre screen and proceeds to sell hundreds of thousands of bootleg DVDs.

Once again, Channel Four’s hilarious I.T. Crowd puts this question in perspective with this send-up of a video piracy commercial I found on YouTube.

Strong and free?

Strong and free?

Canadian Law says

RIGHT NOW, in Canada, personal use copying is simply not illegal.

RIGHT NOW, in Canada, use of the BitTorrent file transfer protocol is also perfectly legal.

RIGHT NOW, in Canada, peer to peer (p2p) file sharing is legal; Canadians break no laws simply by joining in a p2p network.

The Copyright Lobby’s smear tactics have gone a long way toward making the world believe that BitTorrent is inherently bad.

Bell Canada has convinced the CRTC that it is acceptable to “throttle” BitTorrent, because of BitTorrent’s reputed connection with possible copyright infringement. So although BitTorrent is perfectly legal, Canadian internet users are paying the price for the success of this Copyright Lobby propaganda.

Myth: All BitTorrent/p2p internet traffic consists of copyright movies and music

The Corporate world doesn’t understand radical ideas like Open Source software and p2p file sharing because these concepts are so different from anything appearing in the old business models. Even more incomprehensible to the outdated business models is the fact that it may or may not generate a direct monetary profit.

International Business Machines

The classic example of corporate myopia is:

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. ”

—attributed to Thomas J. Watson, president of International Business Machines, circa 1943

IBM For many years IBM has taken the rap for this quote whether or not Mr. Watson really did say it. (Most likely not.) Maybe proving it wrong is part of why IBM is such a going concern in the 21st Century. Having weathered the storms of fortune today’s IBM is a world leader by continuing to innovate and adapt alongside evolving attitudes and technologies. IBM has been steadily increasing their participation and involvement with Open Source software in this new century.

The reality is that IBM not only understands the importance of open source, the corporation has actively supported and promoted adoption of Linux and Open Office in the corporate world. And naturally BitTorrent is a part of the equation because it is such an efficient means to distribute large files (like for instance, Canonical’s Ubuntu.)

“Think.”

—Thomas J. Watson, president of International Business Machines

Seems IBM actually does heed their most enduring slogan (which definitely was coined by Mr. Watson). Sadly, this type of foresight is uncommon. Because BitTorrent is such a radical idea, most entrenched corporations simply aren’t capable of understanding it.

There are other uses for BitTorrent that are not only legal, but even perfectly acceptable in polite society.

The Nightingale and the Rose
Probably my favorite use of BitTorrent is the amazing Project Gutenberg. This organization has been digitizing books in the public domain and distributing them freely… via BitTorrent, since this is such an efficient method of digital distribution. After all, BitTorrent is used for transferring very large files like music and movies because it is very efficient.
firefox logo

BitTorrent file sharing is not all movies and music. Like IBM, many people actually use p2p to help distribute open source software like OpenOffice via p2p. There is a growing body of open source software available, for instance my favorite web browser is Mozilla’s Firefox.

In fact, there the awesome SourceForge website which provides a place to find all manner of open source software, or where you can release your own.

When a new distribution of Ubuntu is released, people around the world gather together and have Ubuntu Release Parties making more good use of BitTorrent

And of course the Pirate Party of Canada has established Captain: the Canadian Pirate Tracker, their own BitTorrent site where Recording Artists and Filmmakers (and I imagine novelists, and software creators as well would be welcome to utilize this) to freely distribute their work.

Every bit of music and every movie transferred is not a copyright infringement. If I get to the point where my home made movies may prove marketable, I would certainly be looking at BitTorrent Distribution. In fact it would probably be easier to distribute home movies to family via BitTorrent than it would be to try to burn DVDs. (DRM makes the two commercial movie making software packages I’ve purchased almost unusable. Of course it doesn’t slow down the bootleggers.) If YouTube is an indicator, I’m not the only person who wants to transfer music and movies freely … not as copyright infringements. I have paid levies to the music industry for home movies I have made and burrned to CD for distribution to friends and family. If I choose to transfer them via BitTorrent now I can avoid the levy but instead suffer the added expense of Bell Canada’s deliberate throttling inflation?

Another really good legal use of BitTorrents are the actual commercial websites where people can go to to purchase downloads of music. So far no one seems to have found anything wrong with this practice.

But that’s not all. Canada’s own CBC Television Network tried their own experiment by releasing an episode of their program Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister via BitTorrent. Unfortunately the BitTorrent didn’t work so well because of Bell Canada’s CRTC approved BitTorrent “throttling”.

Geist tweets about the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation

Which is not to say it wasn’t a good idea. Not too long ago Michael Geist tweeted about the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation‘s foray into BitTorrent use. All accounts indicate that their experiment was very successful indeed, which is having a big impact in the way they do business.

Ink Poster

The sad tale of a pirated Independent film can be found in this TorrentFreak article Indie Movie Explodes on BitTorrent, Makers Bless Piracy.

I guess it isn’t such a sad story after all.  

Thanks to piracy this Indie film called INK was has been achieving a distribution level that the filmmakers had never dreamed of.  They are of course extraordinarily pleased.

I think what is being called piracy here is BitTorrent p2p personal use sharing. Friends sharing with friends is one of the most effective ways to achieve recognition. They used to call it a “grass roots” movement. This is one of the major issues for the large movie studios. This is the place where they complain of being ripped off. What they don’t seem to realize is that this is a good thing. Exposure garners fans, makes a “name”. Fans buy stuff.

BitTorrent Traffic is not the only thing Bell Canada is Throttling

keys
Rumour has it that there are people who actually work from home.

Time was the government encouraged the idea of people working from home. There are all sorts of advantages to society, like reduced congestion on actual highways, less wear and tear on our roads, a decrease in commuting based pollutants in our environment, a reduction of human depletion of fossil fuels.

But if you work from home, you are probably going to have to transfer files back and forth between your home and workplace. Chances are good that you are going to encrypt this type of traffic for security reasons. Although Bell Canada says they are only “throttling” BitTorrent traffic, in fact there have been instances of Bell throttling encrypted internet traffic on the assumption that if it’s encrypted, it must be BitTorrent traffic.

Bell places the onus on the customer to prove their “innocence” before they will consider stopping throttling.

Since the CRTC gave Bell Canada permission to use Deep Packet Inspection to inspect our packets, the only way to ensure that our private information remains private is through encryption. And in Canada any encrypted internet traffic will most likely to be throttled.

Canadian Copyright Consultation

The Canadian Government is looking at updating Canadian copyright law. They held a copyright consultation process this year, traveling around Canada soliciting opinions of stakeholders. Even better, they set up a website where they accepted submissions from any Canadian who wished to contribute. This website was flooded with thousands of submissions. Some are simply a few lines, some are extensive essays covering all sorts of topics, but all I’ve read are heartfelt. Because of the overwhelming response it took a long time to get all the submissions posted. (My own submission finally made online.)

This process led a lot of Canadians, including me, to believe that the copycon process might actually mean that our elected representatives were listening to us.

Unfortunately there is currently a lot of pressure on our government to make copying movies, software and music for personal use illegal. The secret ACTA meetings have caused a feeling of dread to settle over most Canadians. There has been deprecating talk about weak Canadian copyright law.

Except it isn’t true.canadian copyright

If anything, Canadian copyright law is probably more robust than is good for us.

The essential problem that the copyright lobby is attempting to overcome the problem of suing their own customers for what they imagine are infringements. They have noticed that fighting personal use copying garners bad publicity. This problem can be neatly solved by passing the responsibility for finding and prosecuting copyright infringement to governments. And of course the only was to get government to take ob the responsibility is to convince them that the copyright infringement is a criminal offense.

Regardless, currently copyright law is imprecise as regards personal use copying. So we’ll just have to wait for an actual law to be passed before it becomes illegal. (This pressure is actually largely from foreign owned interests– like Disney. It will be interesting to see if our government caves to this outside pressure.)

mixed messages


The government mandated levy we pay every time we purchase a blank CD is a tacit governmental admission that it is legal to burn CDs of our own music.

In the pre-Tivo era, Canadian cable networks actively encouraged Canadians to videotape the movies that they showed so we could watch them when it was convenient. They called it “time shifting” in their massive advertising campaigns. But no media giants took our cable companies to court back then. For the same reason artists will lend or give away their work for free when they’re starting out (because they need to build and audience– exactly like the INK producers mentioned above), back then even Disney didn’t have a channel in Canada. So Disney didn’t kick up a fuss even though they had to have known this was happening. They let it go because it was in their best interests to allow time shifting (i.e personal use copying). Disney knew this was in their best interests because it would help the Canadian cable companies build their market.

Of course now Disney doesn’t want us to record their movies for personal use. Disney would be happy if our government decided personal use copying was illegal. They would be happier still if our government spent time and energy searching out and charging people who download Disney movies.

Disney would be happy they no longer had to expend time and energy chasing down copyright infringements. They would be ecstatic if our Mounties were to do it for them. Gratis.

But this precedent indicates copying movies for personal use is also legal in Canada

So even though p2p networks or copying movies and music are not actually illegal in Canada, our friends the CRTC gave Bell Canada permission to “throttle” anyone using BitTorrent transfers. Because the assumption is that even if you’re not technically performing criminal acts, per se, anyone who uses BitTorrent can’t be very nice.

The CRTC, the government body that is supposed to safeguard Canadian telecommunication consumers, gave Bell Canada legal permission to mess with BitTorrent traffic. Its discriminatory for one thing. If there are copyright infringements happening, there are laws to handle them. It isn’t any of Bell Canada’s business. Or the CRTC’s.

[More on copyright in my other blog-- in the wind: Personal Use Copying vs. Bootlegging]

Dudley Do-Right?

Eirik Solheim's metaphorical image of the internet is the best I've seen: The internet is a series of tubes

Even if it were true that Canadian consumers were downloading music or movies, and even if it had been made illegal under Canadian Law, it should not make a whit of difference.

Because Internet Service Providers or Internet Carriers are NOT branches of Canadian law enforcement. They have not been deputized to enforce the law by the RCMP. If Bell Canada was in fact a Law Enforcement entity they would not be allowed to peek in any citizen’s packets without first acquiring a search warrant. Corporations don’t exist to uphold laws, they exist to make money.

The internet has been called dumb pipes, or a series of tubes, or a highway. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, what is most important is access for all.  
The people who control the pipes should not be allowed to discriminate against particular users for ANY reason. Net Neutrality is so important: the internet should be accessible to all.

revolutionary ideas

In the United Kingdom The Times Online Do music artists fare better in a world with illegal file-sharing? article looked at the benefits of personal use copying applied as peer to peer file sharing with some dramatic results.

Canada’s own ThisMagazine presented this thought provoking article Pay indie artists and break the music monopoly — Legalize Music Piracy which advocates making the law serve the artists and consumers rather than just the corporations.

Further rumblings about changing the way we look at this issue were reported recently by the The Globe and Mail blogs article NDP, Billy Bragg make case for free music


http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/
sign the petition!
10227 signatures

 

STOP Usage Based Billing

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Confusing Canadian Corporate Ownership: Who owns Who?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 27, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

One reader asked why I didn’t spell out the corporate relationships I meant when I referred to “incestuous relationships between our major media carriers and broadcasters” in my last blog post “Usage Based Billing” .

Having read varying claims of corporate “overlap”, but lacking factual authority I was reluctant to go on record to say who owned who.

The Corporate Dance

The problem is a common one for ordinary people in the 21st Century as corporations merge or buy and sell one another. Who owns who can change quickly so unless you’re paying attention– and we all have lives, right?– it’s easy to be confused. My “local” newspaper has been bought and sold so many times in the last few years that I have no idea which giant media corporation currently owns it.

This corporate dance makes it difficult for us lowly consumers to know who we are dealing with. How can we know if there is even a possibility of collusion among related corporations. I don’t think it is deliberate corporate strategy, although it is certainly a happy byproduct for many corporations who would prefer to keep some of their actions in the shadows.

Saying little about Usage Based Billing

Saying little about Usage Based Billing

Neigh: from the horse’s mouth

But now I have it from the horse’s mouth (or at least the GLOBE AND MAIL’s):

Report on Business: Bell takes TV fight to court to escape regulators’ squeeze – Monday, Mar. 30, 2009

Bell owns 15 per cent of CTVglobemedia, which is the parent company of CTV and also owns The Globe and Mail.

Saying little about Usage Based Billing

Saying little about Usage Based Billing

And confirmation of the CTVglobemedia roster is happily provided on the CTVglobemedia Website Home Page

CTVglobemedia
CTVglobemedia Inc. is Canada’s premier multimedia company with ownership of CTV, Canada’s #1 television network, and The Globe and Mail, Canada’s #1 national newspaper. CTV Inc. owns and operates 27 conventional stations across the country, with interests in 32 specialty channels, including Canada’s #1 specialty channel, TSN. CTVglobemedia also owns the CHUM Radio Division, which operates 34 radio stations throughout Canada, including CHUM FM, Canada’s # 1 FM station.

15%

So there is a definite connection between Bell Canada and CTVglobemedia. Bell Canada owns 15% of CTVglobemedia.

Now really, 15% doesn’t sound like very much at all. Until you look at how incredibly massive CTVglobemedia actually is. I would venture a guess that Bell Canada is probably the single largest shareholder. If that’s true, it would mean that Bell Canada would in fact have a very large say indeed in the policy of this gigantic media content provider.

So CTV News, “the most-watched national newscast in Canada” is going to be reluctant to say anything negative about Bell Canada.

So The Globe and Mail, “Canada’s most-read daily national newspaper” is going to be reluctant to say anything negative about Bell Canada.

So CHUM FM, “Canada’s # 1 FM station”, which also operates “34 other radio stations throughout Canada”, is going to be reluctant to say anything negative about Bell Canada.

They are supposed to be in the business of covering the news. But because this issue may be unflattering to Bell Canada, these news outlets have a huge conflict of interest. Due to economic considerations, given the choice, they would prefer to not cover this issue at all.

So they haven’t….   and this screen capture I was sent tells the story:

According to Google

According to Google

This is why the small number of Canadians who are even aware of Usage Based Billing have only found out “too late.”

And most Canadians still don’t even know about Usage Based Billing.

And that is why we have to keep speaking up.  If there is enough outcry, what passes for news media in Canada will HAVE to cover this story or lose all credibility.

And really, Usage Based Billing is just the tip of the iceberg. The reason that there are so many serious problems with the Canadian Telecommunications Industry today is because the CRTC has NOT been doing its job. Canadians need to get informed, so at the very least they can sign the petition!

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/
5843 signatures and counting

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