interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘copyright infringement’

Arresting your customers isn’t the best PR

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 29, 2010

copyright symbol

What price?

No Usage Based Billing

One of the great things about the Internet is accessible information. The point is that it is a network of interconnectivity… that’s why it’s called the INTERnet.

Many people still don’t get this. So sometimes old articles disappear. Which can lead to broken links.

I just discovered a whole pile of broken links in my ACTA Articles, A.C.T.A. is BAD, errata: A.C.T.A. is BAD and A.C.T.A. is still BAD

The Chicago Sun Times has removed the articles about Samantha Tumpach, the 22 year old Chicago woman who spent two nights in jail for videorecording her sister’s 29th birthday party.

The family had decided to celebrate at the New Moon screening as part of the promotional Muvico Theatre Birthday Party package.

Ms. Tunpach camcorded the family party, including snippets of ads and trailers and the movie, all of which included her own running voice-over commentary. In total, less than four minutes of potentially copyright infringing footage was recorded in the theater. Although clearly not engaged in making a bootleg video cam copy of the movie, the young woman was arrested and spent two nights in jail before being released. She was charged on November 2nd, 2009, and charges weren’t dropped until December 11th, 2009.

Statements made by movie company executives in the articles I had linked to indicated they believed this arrest was justified under existing US law (DMCA).

The Press Association story about the New Moon Director trying to make it up to her is also gone. (Funny how that served to point up the corporate heartlessness.)

I don’t know whether the articles being expunged is a case of the Chicago Sun-Times not grasping the way the Internet is supposed to work, or if the embarassment factor (the theater chain, the movie company and the laws that allowed the arrest come out of this look very bad) had anything to do with it. Either way, my blog posts are left riddled with broken links as a result. Even the Wayback Machine can’t help (lending credence to the embarassment theory)

Fortunately TorrentFreak understands the idea that what goes up should stay up, so their coverage of this travesty is still out there. TorrentFreak: New Moon Pirate Camming Farce Comes To An End

If the traditional news media are going to take advantage if the Internet they need to get with the program. It’s a brave new world; vast amounts of digital storage is incredibly cheap; there is no good reason to expunge old news stories.

Today’s news is tomorrow’s history.

Leaving them online is far cheaper than the cost of maintaining an old-style newspaper morgue.

Taking controversial stories like this offline can leave a bad impression.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10973 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

AND

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



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Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

UBB vs. Small Business

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on June 8, 2010

No Usage Based BillingI’ve heard it said that UBB won’t have a negative impact on Canadian businesses, because businesses have business accounts, and business accounts won’t be affected by Usage Based Billing.

But Usage Based Billing will certainly have a huge impact on many small Canadian Businesses. Big corporations like Bell Canada might have “money to burn” but small businesses almost always operate on tight budgets.

Red Maple Leaf graphic

New Business

Private start-ups and “on the side” businesses are likely to enter the Internet via personal internet accounts, not business accounts. Many small businesses start out as hobbies or spare time projects with no bank loans or investors.  There is no outside capitalization; often just an idea or a dream begun as a personal project or a hobby financially supported by the entrepreneur’s “day job”. That’s exactly how almost all those eBay sellers go into business.

A good number of these businesses are created by students.  Or at-home parents. Others are begun by people re-entering the workforce after parenting or other hiatuses or perhaps after being “downsized” (before or during the recession). The clear advantage of setting up a business in this way is that a minimal cash outlay allows you to determine if there is even a market for the business you want to launch. It isn’t necessary to go into personal debt or apply for government grants or subsidies to get a business started this way.

A wide array of online services like eBay.ca, Amazon.ca, Elance, CreateSpace, Twitter, Identi.ca, MySpace, Facebook, Reverbnation, WordPress, Craigslist and Kijiji.ca have sprung up to serve the explosion of online entrepreneurs with little or no cash outlay.

But Canadians will be far less likely to embark on these small business ventures if they can’t afford to launch due to the inflationary cost of Usage Based Billing.

Red Maple Leaf graphic

Old Business

A decade ago the Internet was a luxury item; a time waster for most small businesses. That is no longer the case.

In the beginning small businesses without a computer or Internet component didn’t have to be on the Internet. If they had an owner or employee with the ability to learn how, or the budget for training, they may have put together a web page. Or spent money to hire someone to make a web page for them. Many companies started web pages or blogs, and once they were online, they remained exactly the same. Because maintaining, adding to and changing web pages is expensive.

But it is hard for a small business to justify contracting out or using employee man-hours to create web pages because most web pages don’t generate any income at all.

Big businesses like Bell Canada may have a budget for branding but small businesses usually don’t.

Many blogs and websites are undertaken by people without expectation of recompense. People create nonprofit informational or public service websites to educate and inform people about their area of expertise or subjects close to their hearts. These sites or blogs are in essence avocations or hobbies, although they often add to the reputation of the person or business behind it. They are not income creating websites. It is reasonable and even acceptable for these websites and blogs to be conducted under non-commercial accounts.

Canadian experts may think twice in future before taking on this type of web commitment once Usage Based Billing is implemented. It’s one thing to offer your expertise gratis, but something else to have to have to pay an unwarranted price for the privilege.

Canadians have led the world in embracing the Internet which means that in today’s world small Canadian businesses must have a web presence. It isn’t enough to just have a web page, it is important to continually add content of some kind in order to draw web traffic. Because if no one goes to your web page you don’t have a web presence.

If you are a photographer or an artist, you might want to show off your work.    If you’re a fine artist, you might use your website to show techniques and features of how art is made, educating your readers using your art as examples. If you’re a cake artisan, you will want to show a gallery of your creations. If you’re a card maker you’ll want to put your catalogue onlline. If you’re a musician, you’ll want to sell your music online. If you are an actor, you might undertake a project to do 100 Jobs. If you’re a geek, you might get together with other geeks and put together a website to tell people about interesting stuff.

Taking your existing business “online” may enhance your business, or maybe only allow it to hold it’s own. Not being able to will be detrimental to your business.   Small Canadian businesses running close to the bone will certainly be penalized by these sky-high Usage Based Billing price increases, and may well have to give up their attempts at establishing a web presence as a direct result.

The exorbitant cost of Usage Based Billing may well stop many small Canadian businesses from being able to compete.

Quartzlab Ubuntu Lynx Picture disk open on an aged IBM Thinkpad running Ubuntu

Red Maple Leaf graphic

Computer Business

An unexpected movement has been happening in the computer world. It’s called FLOSS, which stands for Free Libre Open Source Software. As incredible as it may sound to those of us who grew up in the 20th Century, people whose day jobs computing devote a great deal of their spare time working with others from around the world to create and share software. For free. Both free as in speech and free as in beer.

These people often communicate and work together exclusively though the Internet. And by working together they have created such things as GNU/Linux, the operating system used by most of the world’s supercomputers (like the ones at the University of Toronto), as well as a growing number of personal computers. (I don’t know about you, but I think freeing people from the tyranny of Microsoft and Apple is a good thing.) Wikipedia is another bit of altruism that could never have come to exist were it not for people working together for the good of all. The Internet allows people to come together to accomplish these things to benefit all.

Canadians who participate in these non-commercial ventures will now be penalized by the inflationary Usage Based Billing.

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Red Maple Leaf graphic

Cultural Business

Like Vincent Van Gogh, who was unable to make a living selling his art in his lifetime (although his paintings are worth something today), artists create their art regardless of whether or not it is profitable. A tagline on a talented Canadian singer/songwriter/musician/recording artist’s website reads:

“Why music?” “Why breathing?”

Allison Crowe website

For half a century the Canadian Music Industry was been almost entirely controlled by the CRIA, a very small handful of very powerful branch plants of American recording companies. By virtue of their exclusive control of the distribution network they were able to force Canadian artists to sign contracts that were terribly beneficial for the record companies, but more akin to indentured servitude to the recording artists, who generally had to give up some or all of the copyright to their own work in exchange to have their music recorded, promoted and distributed.

Shirley Russwurm, Stompin' Tom Connors, Lynn Russwurm, Lena Connors

Pretty much the only notable exception to this regime was Canadian troubadour Stompin’ Tom Connors. But if you read his autobiographies you will see just what was involved in becoming an Independent recording star in a world dominated by the CRIA.

For most creators just being able to get their work before an audience is the most important thing. The Internet gives Canadian creators unprecedented opportunity to be heard. For the first time in history the Internet has given Canadian creators relatively easy and affordable access to the entire world to disseminate their art and find an audience. Canadian culture is thriving in a way it hasn’t been able to since the 1950’s now that artists can distribute their music yet still retain their copyright and control over their art. Many Canadian artists who might not otherwise been able to get established are able to make a living with their art.

Some will succeed and be able to do business, and some will never become viable propositions. But at least they can take their shot, which is why 30% of the Canadian recording industry is now independent of the CRIA. The horizons of our cultural smorgasboard have expanded. But like anything else, until creators begin generating income, it is reasonable for them to use a non-commercial internet access. Yet this is precisely the type of Internet connection that will at least double if Usage Based Billing is implemented.

Under the old music business model, the best way for a recording artist to become known was through radio airplay. This was such a crucial component of success that a huge scandal erupted when it became known that representatives for the big American record companies had been engaging in “Payola” which was the fine art of bribing Disk Jockeys to play records. After all, no one was likely to go out and buy records of music they had never heard.

One of the chief marketing methods of modern Independent recording artists is to make their music available to their potential audience, by offering the opportunity to listen to it on the artist’s website or download it. Recording artists may well give away digital copies of their recordings freely under creative commons licenses. If the website is in Canada, and the website traffic increases as the music becomes well known, Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing may well put many Independent recording artists out of business — right at the point they are about to become a viable business.

Many Canadian creators may find Usage Based Billing makes access to the Internet prohibitively expensive.

canadian paper money - photo by laurelrusswurm

Coming and Going

Every private Canadian who has chosen to host their own website and paid extra for a domain name– even those who have paid a premium to be get a CIRA dotCA domain name– these Canadians who create content on their own will be hit both ways: they will be charged Usage Based Billing when they upload content to their websites as well as when others visit their site and view it.

What this means is that the more successful the site is, the more expensive it will be to host.

If you are a recording artist, it often takes a while to build a following. Being able to cover the costs of your recording session is not the same thing as being able to make a living from your art. It takes time to get established in any artistic endeavor. And now it will be more difficult as creators will need to pay Bell’s inflationary Usage Based Billing during the difficult early days.

The only way to avoid being penalized for our success will be to make the painful but economically sound decision to put our primary content on commercial sites. A trade-off of exclusive control of our own creations in order to be able to participate on the Internet.

What does that mean exactly?

Canadian paper money, photo by laurelrusswurm

Certainly everyone is aware of the Facebook privacy issues. When Facebook first began their default privacy settings offered users a very high level of privacy, and over the years they have summarily changed them, leaving the onus on their users to scramble to understand and try to re-protect their private information. So that’s the first thing: when your content is hosted on someone else’s site, they can change the rules without your consent.

Another issue is that most of these sites are physically housed in the USA. and so fall under the terms of American law, not Canadian. The United States has had the DMCA for twelve years now, and under this law it only takes is an allegation of copyright infringement before your content would be taken down by American hosts like YouTube. This is an allegation understand, facts don’t have to enter into it. Brit Rocker Edwyn Collins had his own music to which he was the rights holder pulled from his MySpace page after his former label alleged he was infringing copyright. So when Canadians put our content on American web pages we are placing it under the jurisdiction of American Law, in particular the DMCA, even before our own Bill C-32 is passed. That’s something else to consider.

But economic constraints may in fact force Canadian creators to place their own content under the control of others and outside Canadian legal jurisdiction because of extortionate Usage Based Billing costs.

Usage Based Billing will punish Canadian creators for their very success.

The Flip Side

The CRTC accepted Bell Canada’s application to apply Usage Based Billing to the customers of the Independent ISPs as a means of “traffic management”. The intent is to force Canadians to use the Internet less.

This will impact not just on small businesses but big businesses too, because Canadians will use the Internet less because using it the way we do today will cost us more. Since most of us don’t have the first idea of how much bandwidth we are actually using, we will simply cut back on anything non-essential. Instead of casually using the Internet for everything at the drop of a hat as we do now, Canadian Internet traffic will go down. It isn’t just small businesses that will feel this crunch. We are still in a recession after all.

Usage Based Billing will mean that all Canadian Internet traffic to all Canadian businesses will go down.

The first time we met Cody.

#1 Cody on the Deck...Original Size 18.5KB

Bell Canada’s Bandwidth Estimator?

Clearly Canadians don’t know how much bandwidth we are using. Most us us don’t understand what Bandwidth is.

That this estimator is even necessary is a good indication why Usage Based Billing is an incredibly bad idea.

If we don’t understand what our usage is, how can we be expected to budget for it?

Or pay for it?

As far as we know. they will be making it up as they go along. Certainly without understanding how our bandwidth consumption is even being measured we will be unable to effectively budget our usage.

Because I’ve been taking digital photographs for quite a while, let’s take a look at measuring digital photographs.

On the Bell Canada’s Estimator virtual gauge I’ll select 40 photographs as my monthly usage. The Bell estimator tells me that this would be an Estimated Total Monthly Usage of 0.30 GB

I have spent most of my life as a mathphobe. That said, even I can see a serious problem with the Bell Estimator page which is supposed to tell Canadians how much bandwidth what we do online will consume. It’s quite simple really.

All photos are not created equal.

Cody in a Field original size 141KB

#2 Cody in a Field original size 141KB

This is the part that doesn’t make sense. To demonstrate, let’s look at this sequence of photos of my dog Cody.

#1. Cody on the Deck: This image was 18.5 kilobytes. To use 40 photos this size would be = 740 kilobytes

#2. Cody in the Field: This image was 141 kilobytes. 40 photos this size would be = 5,640 kilobytes

#3. Cody on the Beach: This image was 1918 kilobytes. 40 photos this size would be = 76,720 kilobytes

#4. Cody at Soccer: This image of him was 4241 kilobytes. To use 40 photos this size would be = 169,640 kilobytes

Because my photo sizes are in kilobytes, first I’ll convert 0.30 GB which would be 300,000 kilobytes.

Forty copies of my smallest images adds up to a mere seven hundred and forty kilobytes.

Two hundred times that amount would give you a mere one hundred and forty eight thousand kilobytes, again half of the three hundred thousand kilobytes that Bell estimates would be the bandwidth needed for 40 photos.

The largest of my images is Cody at Soccer.

4241 kilobytes is quite a large photograph, yet forty images this size falls short of 300,000 kilobytes, only makes one hundred and sixty nine thousand six hundred and forty kilobytes. Yet Bell says I will be using three hundred thousand kilobytes, or almost twice as many kilobytes as forty copies of my large images would add up to.

Cody at the Beach original size 1918KB

#3 Cody at the Beach original size 1918KB

What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the measurement of download speed, measured in how many bits per second you can download.
Bandwidth has also come to refer to the transfer cap being placed on Canadian internet users, which is measured in gigabytes.

Put another way, bandwidth is a data transfer measurement of
(a) how fast you can go at any given time – your rate of speed, or
(b) how how far you can go in any given month – your allowed capacity.”

Usage Based Billing: A Glossary

Since we are talking here about allowed capacity, I can’t begin to imagine what the measurement of usage is based on if not on the physical size of the photograph.

Then if we look at the difference in the size if the large and small images. Forty copies of the largest photo are much bigger than the smaller images. More than two hundred times greater in size. Yet Bell’s Estimator makes no such distinction. Bell says Forty pictures = .30GB = 300,000 kilobytes

Cody at Soccer Original size 4241KB

#4. Cody at Soccer Original size 4241KB

But in my world Forty pictures = (size 4) 4241 kilobytes = (size 3) 169,640 kilobytes = (size 2) 76,720 kilobytes = size (2) 740 kilobytes.

That’s quite a size range.

The kilobytes sizes I’m talking about are the physical size of my digital images. But even forty of the largest images only adds up to half the number the estimator says are necessary for 40 photos. How can that be? What is the bandwidth Bell is talking about?

I’ve also read somewhere that there was a considerable difference of opinion between Bell Canada and the Independent Internet Service Providers in respect of bandwidth measurement. As much as 800% discrepancy. So how will these usage figures to be determined? Will Bell Canada pulling figures out of a hat?

If Bell’s photo guideline is so vague as to be useless, even nonsensical, how can Canadians possibly be expected to keep track of our usage?

At least back in the days when AOL charged by the minute, Canadians could budget our internet use accordingly. We understood minutes.

Red Maple Leaf graphic

Cut to the Chase

Start-ups and trial sites ventured on personal web accounts will be less likely to use the internet as much or as freely — if at all — when Usage Based Billing is added to the cost. Doubling (or more) the cost to slow down Internet use will work. Canadians will be less inclined to use the Internet.

This will be bad for all Canadian business.

Bell Canada Logo

Oh wait: there is ONE Canadian Business that this won’t be bad for: Bell Canada.

Unlike businesses that have to function in a free market, Bell doesn’t have to trouble itself with reinvestment to improve the aging infrastructure.

Bell now has CRTC permission to charge whatever it likes, not only for their own customers, but for their competitors. I have no doubt that Bell Canada is happy that they will be able to double their rates without even having to improve the service. Sounds like a dream business plan to me.

Any corporation trying such a thing in a free market would shortly find themselves out of business. That really doesn’t sound very healthy for Canada’s economic future.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10848 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 both Canadians and our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Parody: Downfall

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 23, 2010

Canadian Copyright

Johnny Wayne holds a brush under his nose to compliment his Hitler Hairdo as Frank Shuster reads from the script at a CBC microphone

the past

Growing up in Canada, had I thought about it at all, it would never have occurred to me that parody was not protected under Canadian copyright law. After all, parody has long been a major staple of Canadian comedy. Who could forget the classic CBC comedy specials featuring the famed Canadian comic duo Wayne and Shuster?

Wayne and Shuster were parody. Generations of Canadians grew up laughing at their comedy.

Who could possibly forget Johnny Wayne in Spock ears…?

Or a a bald Frank Shuster captaining the Love Boat…?

Wayne and Schuster satirized, lampooned and parodied anything and everything over the course of their career which spanned decades. In those days, producers of the American television programs that Wayne and Shuster parodied probably had no idea that Canadian copyright law was any different than American copyright law which does allow parody. It would never have occurred to any of them that they could have sued the CBC on the basis of Wayne and Shuster content. In those days the big media companies were just happy Wayne and Shuster gave them such great free publicity.

It is absurd that parody is NOT protected under Canadian copyright law

Canadians have contributed a vast amount to the world of humour over the years. The fact that parody is not protected in Canada is probably one reason why so many Canadians in the funny business have emigrated south. Yet Canadians are always willing to laugh at ourselves and our foibles through parody. Parody helps us let off steam so we don’t take to the streets and storm the Bastille.

Yet in today’s world Canadians reckless enough to who commit parody in Canada expose themselves to legal penalties for copyright infringement.

“the” parody meme

There is a powerful scene in a 2004 German movie called Der Untergang in the original German, more familiarly known to English speakers the world over under the name Downfall. This one scene from this film is quite probably the single most re-mixed bit of video in the history of the world.

The first time I saw a Downfall parody re:mix it was lampooning ill advised Canadian government activities.   But that was not the last time I saw a Downfall (Der Untergang) parody. There have been many many more.

I had never even heard of Constantin Film or Downfall (Der Untergang) before the subtitled parodies of began surfacing on YouTube a couple of years ago. I think that’s probably true for most of the world’s population outside of Germany.

But over the last couple of years this one Downfall scene has been subtitled, and subtitled, and subtitled again, and uploaded to YouTube, to illustrate a wide variety of issues and causes. Some are political minefields, while others are purely frivolous, like this anti Comic MS font Downfall parody.

But even though parody has been protected under American law for many years, the American DMCA allows take down notices on the basis of mere allegations. Contrary to the body of law that came before, this reversal puts the onus of defense on the accused, and allegations of infringement are treated as proof, and it YouTube seems to pull videos at any rights holder request, whether under DMCA or not.

This puts the accused in the dubious position of guilty until proven innocent. This also means the rights holders can censor parody by saying it copyright infringement.

MIT Free Culture has created an internet research project called YouTomb, to track videos taken down from YouTube for alleged copyright violation. You can see their Constantin Film Produktion GmbH results here.

A few days back UK blogger Glyn Moody passed along an online article warning of that Constantin Film the company that made Downfall decided to take action against these parodies.

“Also, someone really needs to make a video about Hitler being upset that Constantin Film is DCMAing Hitler parodies.”

MG Siegler, Techcrunch: Hitler Is Very Upset That Constantin Film Is Taking Down Hitler Parodies

Of course, in true internet fashion, the reaction to this is, naturally enough, a parody. I learned about this new parody clip, easily the funniest parody version I’ve yet seen, from a Malaysian friend who was heard about it from a New Zealand friend who was ReTweeting the Electronic Freedom Foundation. I hope it stays on YouTube as long as possible. Because not only is it funny, it makes some excellent points about copyright. In the interim, by linking to it here I may help a few more folks see it: The Downfall Parody in response to the Downfall Parody take-down notices

I can certainly understand that the film makers who crafted this ultra serious historical film Der Untergang might have a hard time accepting the fact that what is probably one of the most powerful scenes in the film has been transformed into a re:mix parody meme. At the same time, this has enormously raised the visibility of both the film and the film company on an international level. I know at least one person who intends to purchase a copy of Downfall (Der Untergang) specifically because the scene that has been parodied so many times is clearly so well done.

Another other notable copyright reform parody was created by E.F.F. director Brad Templeton, whose parody Hitler, as “Downfall” producer, orders a DMCA takedown promoting parody and the Electronic Freedom Foundation was actually taken down, but is now back online. You can read all about it in his blog Brad Ideas. At the end of Brad’s film he gives a link to the E.F.F. Fair Use page

I hope that Constantin Film decides to change their position on this issue. Clearly, they have a name that is now known around the world because of this much parodied film clip. And although some factions of the American Government are pushing for A.C.T.A., United States copyright law does clearly protect parody. Should this go to court, not only will Constantin Films have alienated a vast potential audience, but they are likely to spend a fair bit of money prosecuting an un-winnable court case.

what could Constantin Film do?

special features text graphic

The best idea I’ve heard for a  Constantin Film solution was Canadian Bob Jonkman‘s suggestion to release a Downfall YouTube Special Edition. Naturally this DVD set would contain the original film in German, with subtitles in all appropriate languages. The special features would include all the YouTube parodies.

Perhaps Constantin Film could even put together a special interactive “make your own captions” feature that would allow you to caption your own and upload it to YouTube. I’m not sure if that would be technically feasible, but if it was I’d guess it would be a huge moneymaker.

The beauty of a strategy like this is that it would not alienate a potential global audience, but would instead sell them a lot of DVDs.   Once people have bought the DVD, they are rather likely to watch the actual film.

Win-Win, don’t you think?

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

errata: A.C.T.A. is BAD

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 8, 2009

er⋅ra⋅ta
  /ɪˈrɑtə, ɪˈreɪ-, ɪˈrætə/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [i-rah-tuh, i-rey-, i-rat-uh]
–noun
1. pl. of erratum.
2. a list of errors and their corrections inserted, usually on a separate page or slip of paper, in a book or other publication; corrigenda.
Origin:
1625–35

Usage note:
Errata is originally the plural of the singular Latin noun erratum. Like many such borrowed nouns (agenda; candelabra), it came by the mid-17th century to be used as a singular noun, meaning “a list of errors or corrections to be made (in a book).”

–dictionary.com

analogy revision

It has been impressed upon me that it is better to create an additional blog post than to edit one which has already been published. So here are the (is the?) errata for A.C.T.A. is Bad.

I’ve had a few verbal comments about the two analogies I presented in respect of the Chicago woman arrested for trying to record “Twilight” on digital camera. The point I was initially trying to make was that the wrongheaded copyright laws are causing minor infractions to be unjustly treated as very large and serious crimes.

However it’s been pointed out to me that this woman wasn’t even committing an infraction so much as being a byproduct of daily life, a happenstance. Looked at in that light, she wasn’t in the wrong at all. At worst, she broke a theatre rule, which at most should have gotten her kicked out, not sent to jail.   So it was an error on my part to even suggest that she was legally in the wrong at all, as in the case of a teenager with a joint. Although smoking pot is only considered a minor crime, it is still clearly illegal in Canada. So, I needed to craft a more accurate analogy (as follows):

This is the equivalent of charging a teenager who has walked through a cloud of marijuana smoke as a drug dealer.

a second correction due to imprecision

A lack of clarity is more to blame for the problems with the second analogy than error. But the point is to communicate an idea, and if done too broadly it can result in a spectacular failure. The problem was with this:

“the child who swiped a tempting lollipop from the grocery store.”

In my mind I was picturing an innocent toddler in a stroller passing the lollipops (fiendishly placed at stroller height) and naturally the angelic baby reaches out for the temptation. The intent was to produce an illustration of a guileless infraction, entered into without any awareness of wrongdoing.

However it has been brought to my attention that “child” can just as easily bring to mind a practiced semi-professional young offender, so if that’s how you read it you’ll go away with a rather different idea than I intended, so that analogy doesn’t achieve the desired result.   (It is also an excellent argument for beta-readers.)

From a purely common sense point of view, there is no way that the product of this “infringing” recording would be commercially marketable to even the most die hard Twilight fan, so clearly there can be no demonstrable intent to bootleg the film, making the very charges a gross miscarriage of justice.

accidental recording

When I was writing the original I didn’t get into another area which will certainly lead to trouble for innocent citizens, because these absurdly punitive laws also criminalize accidental recording.

Since video cameras first appeared on the market it has always been extraordinarily easy to record accidental footage. I can’t tell you how many hours of video I have inadvertently recorded over the years of feet, floors, sky, or, my personal favorite, more than an hour of the zippered interior of the camera bag.

This is accidental footage, and it may very well contain inadvertent copyright infringement. When you are not aware that the camera is recording you could easily be playing a music CD.

One of my saddest moments as a videographer was when my son was spontaneously invited on stage to perform with an amazing local musical group at a Canada Day celebration. Although I stood on a picnic table (quite likely annoying the people sitting there) to record my child’s 15 minutes of fame, I was SURE I was recording. However, looking at the tape at home although there is an entire inadvertent documentary on the doings of the ants in the grass, the one thing that was NOT recorded was my child’s stage debut. (Fortunately the local paper took a picture, but still.)

Because it is as easy to not record when you want to as it is to record when you don’t want to.

Digital cameras are doing video so well now, but sometimes it is even easier to accidentally record on them.

What we need to realize is that the companies who are creating this technology we are using to record our daily lives are quite often the very same ones who want to send us to jail for what they call copyright infringement.

At this point, it is looking more and more dangerous for us to go to the movies. It will certainly be much safer to not buy or play commercial DVDs in our homes. After all, we might end up in jail as a result.

It is certainly safer to alter our habits and watch movies and listen to music produced by companies who do not want to put us in jail.

Movies like Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues or legal free music downloads available from the Pirate Party of Canada’s Canadian Pirate Tracker

Because 3 Strikes Laws & secret ACTA treaties are nothing more than a declaration of war on consumers.

chocolate frog*

With all of the bad copyright things going on, today Michael Geist’s blog provided Canadians with a most amazing chocolate frog:

Canadian Recording Industry Faces $6 Billion Copyright Infringement Lawsuit:

“ The defendants in the case are Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada, the four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.”

Like many of the people who commented on Mr. Geist’s home page, my attitude is that it looks good on them, and I for one expect the court to NOT go easy on them. As a cynic I expect the defense they will drag out is the “we can’t afford to pay what we owe or we’ll have to go out of business” plea. And sadly the judge/jury will probably fall for that.

Yet every one of those corporations are Canadian “branch offices” so there is no reason the mother companies couldn’t be convinced to contribute. Since these guys give no quarter to non-commercial infringement, as deliberate systemic commercial infringement they should get none, otherwise our government is condoning bootlegging which should be illegal and prosecuted.

Personally, I would rather see these corporations put into receivership if necessary. All the copyrights they hold could revert to living creators, the assets can be sold off, perhaps at fire sale prices to the technicians who actually did the hard work of pressing disks and distribution.

Maybe this is just what we need to jump start the digital music industry. Artists who have established a following can enter equitable agreements with the music distribution companies who will not own the soul (or copyright) of the creators in the manner of a “company store”. Because after all its better for our talented musicians and songwriters to do the work they are suited for. This could be the beginnings of a GOOD music industry, and a celebration of Canadian musical culture not seen in this country since the 1930’s. Bravo.

[*Chocolate Frog:   Sorry, no actual chocolate here, or frogs either for that matter. My family watches the end credits of movies all the way to the end, and are sometimes rewarded for doing this by way of a bonus scene at the end, usually something to make me smile. After reading the Harry Potter books we started calling this a “Chocolate Frog” because it was an unexpected extra.]

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