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Citizen Journalism: Sharing What Happened In Texas

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on June 27, 2013

Nothing better illustrates the truth of Jay Rosen‘s pronouncement that “the watchdog press is dead” than the events on the evening of Tuesday, June 25th, in the Texas State Senate.  The Republican majority planned to push though the anti-abortion Senate Bill No. 5. While CNN considered baked goods, the reportage from Texas was accomplished by citizen journalists, and global distribution was achieved various social media feeds.

This is a perfect example of why we need a free and open Internet.


Senator Wendy Davis vs. #SB5

by Karsten School

Posted on Twitter: @KarstenSchool  If the Texas Senate gets away with breaking the law in front of 170,000 people, the building should be razed to the ground #NoJusticeNoPeaceLast night something very important happened down in Texas, something that if you weren’t following as it happened, you’re probably not going to hear the whole truth about. I was one of the people who was in the right place to watch, and so I’m now going to try to pass on the word as best I can.

The Texas senate voted yesterday on a bill that essentially would have closed nearly every abortion clinic in the state. To try to counter the bill (which was heavily supported by the Republican majority, senator Wendy Davis attempted a one-woman day-long filibuster, during which time she spoke on the subject while going without food, water, bathroom breaks or being allowed to sit down or even lean on her table for support. She lasted nearly eleven hours before being ruled off topic on a technicality. A second female senator then stepped up and tried to continue the filibuster by asking for salient points to be repeated to her, as she missed part of the session that day to attend her father’s funeral.

But here’s where things get interesting. With fifteen minutes before the midnight deadline, the lieutenant governor ordered the senate to proceed, and actually had the democrats’ microphones cut off. The spectators in the assembly responded by cheering, chanting and generally causing a ruckus, in order to drown out attempts at a vote. The midnight deadline passed without a vote being taken, but the chair held a vote after midnight, as the spectators were forced out of the assembly. During all of this, there was no coverage on MSNBC, CNN or any other major news network, with the only coverage coming from a livestream set up by the Teas Tribune.

At 12:15, the Associated Press ran a story saying the bill had passed, which CBS picked up. This was based on a sole source, which the AP later admitted was a republican senator. Meanwhile in the chambers, the senators stood around, both sides confused if the vote had even happened, if they had even voted on the correct issue. The chair had left with the lieutenant governor without ending the session. The Tribune’s feed was cut at 12:20 with 70,000 people watching. CNN at this point was talking about the deliciousness of muffins.

Texas Senator Wendy Davis

Outside in the halls of the senate building, thousands of people were packed wall to wall, chanting “shame, shame”, while thousands more were outside.

State police had formed a barricade around the entrance hall, and were making sporadic arrests (50 or so by night’s end) and confiscating cameras.

In the thick of it was a guy named Christopher Dido, who used his cell phone and a live stream to report on what was happening. He was the only journalist in America who was filming at the senate, with as many as 30,000 people watching the stream at one time, and over 200,000 viewers by night’s end.

He did this while the state police surrounded the protesters in the building, some of them with nightsticks drawn. The police at this time refused to let through food or water that people tried to send in, instead eating and drinking it themselves. They also barricaded access to vending machines and water fountains within the building, and were said to have blocked off access to the washrooms for at least a period of time.

Meanwhile, journalists still inside the chambers tweeted out news updates, which were disseminated and retweeted by people like Matt Fraction, Felicia Day and Will Wheaton, reaching an audience that would otherwise have probably not seen or heard what happened next.

The senate was recalled 90 minutes after its midnight end point, to determine whether or not the vote was valid- behind closed doors with no microphones, and only the Senate’s own muted camera. Then something disturbing happened. The senate website carries the official record of the caucus. It listed the vote as happening past midnight, on June 26th. Until suddenly it didn’t.  The date was quietly manually changed to 6/25, the minutes altered to say the vote happened at 11:59, despite almost 200,000 people watching live who saw differently. Suddenly twitter and other social media sites blew up with before-and-after screen shots.

Inside the closed sessions, the democrats were made aware of the alterations and brought them up- without social media, almost no one would have known, and never in time. Ultimately, based on the fraudulent alterations, the GOP conceded defeat, admitting the vote had taken place at 12:03, and declaring the bill to be dead. When this happened, the AP and CBS said the vote was overturned, never admitting to shoddy journalism. CNN ignored the story until this morning, because muffins take priority.

Yesterday, I witnessed women’s rights under fire, a crippled legal system that didn’t represent its people, a corrupt government body attempting to commit a crime in front of hundreds of thousands of witnesses, and the complete failure of the main stream media. I also witnessed a woman performing a nearly superhuman act to do what was right, the power of the people making themselves heard both in person and online, and the extraordinary value of one young man with a cellphone making sure people saw and heard the truth about what was going on.

Anyone reading the papers or watching network news today won’t get the full story. Hopefully enough people saw it unfold live, that the lessons from last night won’t be forgotten.


“To make this clear, I was not in Texas yesterday, I’m on the far side of the continent. Wendy and her fellow senators made history yesterday. Christopher DiDo made history. The other protesters and supporters made history. I followed along from the comfort of my home.

“I wrote this because I wanted to get their message out to people who wouldn’t otherwise hear it. I didn’t want the truth of what happened to be list in a sea of more palatable lies and omissions. But I wasn’t a part of any of this. I did nothing but watch other people taking risks, speak to people who were making change, and type up a neat summary of history.”

Karsten School

This article was originally published on Facebook.


Image Credits
Karsten School Twitter Screen Capture used under Fair Dealing
Senator Wendy Davis by Equity Texas released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) License

Senator Wendy Davis vs. #SB5 by Karsten School is published under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License.

Creative Commons  Attribution 3.0 Unported  License button

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Meet CISPA, Son of SOPA

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 17, 2012

The EU is fighting the secret ACTA trade agreement, while India seeks to pass an Internet Censorship law. Surprised?

SOPA isn’t dead, just redesigned. Meet CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which picks up where SOPA left off. Similar legislation is being rushed into law by countries all over the world, including Canada, Belarus. Paralegal.net have produced an infographic which explains CISPA:

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are: you need to tell your government “No.”

As this infographic points out, when corporate interests diverge from citizen interests, we’re on our own. We have some great online resources, and many outspoken Internet freedom fighters, but we can no longer expect right to triumph just because its right. Because the other side can afford to hire lobbyists.

If we want right to triumph we have to speak up for it.

Make a phone call, send a letter or an email.


Alt Text for the InfoGraphic:

WTF is CISPA

While protesters were occupied with SOPA, a new cybersecurity bill snuck its way into congressional consideration. Introducing CISPA: What it is, where it came from, and why it makes SOPA look like amateur hour.

CISPA GIVES THE GOVERNMENT ACCESS TO YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION IN A WHOLE NEW WAY

WHAT IS IT?

CISPA = Cyber Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act

It allows both private businesses and the government to share information about cyberthreats.

That doesn’t sound so bad.

But what’s a cyberthreat?

According to CISPA:

Cyberthreats are supposed to be anything making “efforts to degrade, disrupt or destroy” vital nerworks.

Or anything that makes a “threat or misappropriation” of information owned by the government or private businesses.

SO WHAT DOES IT REALLY DO?

While SOPA put companies at risk for subscriber activity, CISPA rewards companies for:

  • collecting data,
  • intercepting or modifying communications,
  • providing the government with information.

And unlike SOPA, CISPA doesn’t threaten the business interests of web companies.

So we shouldn’t expect their help in fighting the bill.

In fact, companies already supporting CISPA include:

  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • Facebook,
  • Microsoft,
  • IBM,
  • Intel

and over 25 other organizations, all of which play a role in how you communicate.

SCARED YET?

Then you should also know that:

Information collected from you is “proprietary,”
meaning you don’t have the right to know what’s being gathered.

Under CISPA, companies can also share your

  • Names,
  • Addresses,
  • Phone Numbers

from the data they give to the government.

CISPA ALREADY HAS OVER 100 CONGRESSIONAL CO-SPONSORS.

But it’s just now beginning to appear on the public radar.

If you share any information that the government or corporations find “inconvenient,” you could soon be labelled as a security threat, making your web activity subject to constant surveillance.


CREATED BY: PARALEGAL.NET
Sources:
http://rt.com/usa/news/cispa-bill-sopa-internet-175/
http://mashable.com/2012/04/08/could-cispa-be-the-next-sopa/
http://digitaljournal.com/article/322396/
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-grid/cispa-the-internet-finds-new-enemy-sopa/
http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2012/04/05/cispa-the-new-sopa/
http://occupyallstreets.tumblr.com/post/20614523602/
This work is under a Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial No Derivatives


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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!

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Talk Like A Pirate Day marred by DDoS Attacks

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 20, 2010

Boy in pirate gear looks through a spyglass

Avast mateys! Sunday September 19th was Talk Like A Pirate Day.  It’s always the 19th of September.

Kids (of all ages) around the world revel in a whole day in which they can “Talk Like A Pirate”.    Arrr.   Be a pirate.   Sing and play pirate songs like the Arrogant Worms classic pirate tune Last Saskatchewan Pirate.  Dress up in pirate gear.  There is even an online Pirate Translator for assistance with pirate talking.  It is nothing to do with politics, or copyright. The point of “Talk Like A Pirate Day” is fun. Yo ho ho.

This year, not so much.

The MPAA has been unsuccessfully trying to convince people that sharing is a bad thing by spending vast sums of money on ‘anti-piracy’ advertising. Of course it doesn’t help that they what they call piracy is not just commercial bootlegging, but includes personal use sharing and any number of things that users feel justified in doing. (Some copyright “reformers” say that we need to purchase copies of the same book for every member of the family.) Or format shifting. (Some copyright “reformers” say we should purchase copies of the same song for every device we would play it on.)

Although this campaign to make people think that piracy is terrible has been largely unsuccessful with citizen consumers, in combination with massive lobbying efforts it seems to have worked with governments. The USA passed the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), the UK passed the Digital Economy Act (DEAct), and the Canadian government continues to push ahead in the face of almost universal opposition to it’s Canadian DMCA Bill C-32. The MPAA /RIAA has also been pushing the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in an attempt to make an end run around WIPO, previously the way to achieve international copyright treaties. Although not perfect, at least the WIPO process was transparent. Even so, none of these laws are easy to uphold in the face of such widespread citizen dissatisfaction. The DMCA has been repeatedly amended in response to court challenges to various anti-democratic aspects over the 12+ years of its operation.

So the MPAA hired Aiplex Software to go beyond the law, and use what is called a “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack” to take down websites they allege infringe copyright. I believe this is done by overwhelming the site with traffic. I think that’s a bad thing. And apparently I’m not alone.

“Girish Kumar, managing director of Aiplex Software, a firm in India, told this website that his company, which works for the film industry, was being hired – effectively as hitmen – to launch cyber attacks on sites hosting pirated movies that don’t respond to copyright infringement notices sent to them by the film industry.”

Sydney Morning Herald: Film industry hires cyber hitmen to take down internet pirates

White Pirate Ship silhouette on one and A casette tape making the skull above crossbones for the other
Word went out that Aiplex used this tactic to take down the Pirate Bay website, which led to retaliation by the anonymous membership of the 4chan Message Boards. According to Torrent Freak,

“Following a call to arms yesterday, the masses inhabiting the anonymous 4chan boards have carried out a huge assault on a pair of anti-piracy enemies. The website of Aiplex Software, the anti-piracy outfit which has been DDoSing torrent sites recently, is currently down having been DDoS’d. They are joined in the Internet wasteland by the MPAA’s website, also currently under huge and sustained attack.”

TorrentFreak: 4chan DDoS Takes Down MPAA and Anti-Piracy Websites

I don’t know about the MPAA but I did see that the Aiplex site was indeed down yesterday. Today both are back up, as is the Pirate Bay site.

When the MPAA employs Aiplex to attack other sites, it makes the MPAA look very bad.

And the urge to retaliate is a natural human instinct. But striking back at your attacker isn’t always the best course of action. In this case, it doesn’t really help. In fact, replying in kind makes ‘pirates’ look bad.

Logo made of a purple letter P formed by a pirate sail enclosed in a circle surrounded by gold laurel leaves

Instead of talking about the great Software Freedom Day we had yesterday, people online were talking about DDoS attacks.

And suddenly it wasn’t any fun to talk like a pirate.

That’s too bad. Because raising awareness among those who might fall prey to misleading ‘piracy’ propaganda is important.

One constructive way to fight against bad law is to get involved politically. The European Union currently has two elected Pirate Party members. At this point pretty nearly every country in the world has a Pirate Party at some stage of development. (The United States has two. Coincidence? I think not.)

I believe that The Pirate Party of Canada is gearing up to register candidate(s) for the impending Federal Election, which is the last step in achieving ‘official party status’. Just the name “Pirate Party” draws attention to the issue. The point is not to engender lawlessness, but rather to fight for sane copyright reform.

Woman in Orange smoking text encircling her reads A TPB WORLD PREMIERE Die Beauty

When I went to check if Pirate Bay was down yesterday, I got a glimpse of one of the best ways to fight against the negative propaganda being peddled by the MPAA.

A new movie Die Beauty is being released on The Pirate Bay. You can check out the Die Beauty movie trailer on FaceBook (you don’t even have to log in to see this) and it looks quite interesting.

This is of course is the real reason the MPAA is so eager to shut down p2p sites like The Pirate Bay. The MPAA needs to kill or control this new distribution medium because it means that film makers don’t need a Hollywood monopoly to distribute their movies. Making effective use of this distribution channel to legally distribute movies is a far more effective way of fighting the MPAA.



[If you’re aware of any movies, videos, music, books and art that make use of or plan to use Internet p2p distribution and/or creative commons licensing please let me know so I can add them to the list I’m compiling of of the new media. Thanks! —laurel]

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

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 »

#digicon

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 21, 2010

was #copycon futile?

No Usage Based Billing
Last year the Canadian Government held a Copyright Consultation to ask Canadians what we thought was important for Canadian copyright law. More than 8,000 Canadians from all across Canada made #copycon submissions. We have yet to see if we were heard, although rumour has it that the legislature will be seeing a new Canadian Copyright bill soon… possibly for June 2010. Many of us have serious concerns about whether it was an exercise in futility or not.

No.

From my perspective, even if the government does not listen and learn from the #copycon, I know I have learned an enormous amount about copyright and how we think from other Canadians who made submissions. From things I’ve read and learned from the #copycon, if I were to make a copyright submission today it would be very different. But that’s another post.

Canadians are talking about copyright, and understanding the forces at play much better. The conversation is far from over, and we need to get a handle on things and come to a consensus about before law is made.

What was said by Canadians in the formal Copyright Consultation submissions has laid the foundation of a valuable resource for all Canadians. A reference primer of “What Canadians Want”.

we don’t want bad law

But the law may be made anyway. Rumours that the government will try to push through a Canadian DMCA (a Bill C61 clone) have many citizens worried. But sometimes that happens, bad laws get passed.

Probably one of the biggest exercises in lawmaking futility was the American 1919 Volstead Act which we know more familiarly as Prohibition. God fearing law abiding solid citizens— people who wouldn’t have so much as dreamt of jay walking before Prohibition— instantly transformed into criminals frequenting speakeasies when the American law outlawing alcoholic beverages went into effect. The roaring twenties came and went before Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

Because prohibition favored the goals of a special interest group over society’s mores it just couldn’t work. Aside from fostering near universal flagrant contempt for the law among citizens, a serious byproduct was the support this bad law gave to the growth of organized crime. Before American Prohibition, the mafia was just some petty disorganized criminals. After Prohibition gangsters became rock stars. How many books, articles, movies and even musicals have grown up out of the gangster mystique. Canada’s own gangster wannabes in The Boyd Gang seem to have hatched out of the gangster mythology. Folk heroes even.

Friar Tuck and Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, Robin In The Hood Festival

Hundreds of years later we still idolize Robin Hood

What I know of history has shown that when bad laws are passed the populace initially chafes and suffers. Although the government passing the bad law hopes that people will put up with it, one thing that they never seem to expect is that bad laws provide their opponents with points of commonality.

Often people who are ideologically incapable of co-operating are galvanized into finding a way to work together when a bad law is passed. The bad law itself becomes a visible rallying point, a specific dragon to slay.

But one of the most compelling things that any bad law provides to its detractors are the martyrs.

Although I talked about this story as an example of what to expect if the secret A.C.T.A. treaty is passed, it is a real life demonstration of what is happening right now in the US under the existing American DMCA. A young woman went to jail for the crime of recording her sister’s birthday party.

And although history shows that bad laws tend to be overturned in time, I still think it’s better not to have bad laws in the first place.

In the case of copyright, the people who will be most harmed by bad copyright law are the younger generation, many of whom have not attained voting age. As a mother, this special interest group is important to me, because I don’t want to see bad things happen to our best and brightest.

As a student of history I do know that there will very soon be a time when this generation will not only be able to vote but, may well be able to form a government. When I was a teenager we thought running for student council was a big deal. Today Canada’s newest political party has been formed largely by people barely old enough to vote.

Digital Economy Consultation

In the meantime the Canadian government has again asked us for our input.

This time it is for a Digital Economy Consultation. How the Canadian Government reacts to the changes caused by the digital world will have a huge impact on our future. Our economy.

A long time ago Canada had climbed to the forefront of the world of technology with the Avro Arrow. Yet an incredibly short sighted government pulled the plug on that and well and truly killed the project. Naturally it triggered a “brain drain”, as many of Canada’s best and brightest migrated to the United States to work at NASA. Surely we don’t want to go that route again.

Acryllic on Illustration board painting by Aviation Artist Lance Russwurm

Once Canada led the world in technology...

We certainly don’t want to end up in a legislative shambles the way the United Kingdom has. Their ill advised Digital Economy Bill (know to Twitterati as #DEBill) which was rushed through the legislative procedure without proper scrutiny resulted in a hung parliament and the fall of a Prime Minister. Surely Canada doesn’t want to go that route either.

All Canadians should try to participate…

…even if we say what we think and what we want, and they choose not to hear, the ideas will still be out there floating in the ether.

Judging by the quantity and passion of the comments I’ve been reading in online articles to do with weighty issues like UBB and copyright, many of us have thought about this and have a lot of good ideas. This is a good place to put them. And what better time to be heard than when we are lucky enough to have a minority government. At times like this, governments at least try to give the appearance of listening.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but as a mom I can tell you, when you ask your kid to pretend to go to sleep, before long he really is asleep. Maybe if our government starts out by appearing to listen to our submissions they will accidentally find themselves actually listening.

It’s worth a shot.

#digicon

I think that the #digicon will be just as valuable for Canadians as the #copycon was. The process isn’t quite the same as the earlier consultation. As I understand it, off topic comments (such as talking about copyright reform) are likely to be moderated out of the forums.

Read the #digicon Consultation Paper
Participate in the digicon forums – see what other people have to say
DENT about #digicon
tweet about #digicon.
Talk about it on your wall.
Then write your own submission.
**Note: They want a 250 – 500 word summary of the submission as well. I assume to make it easier to sort the piles.

the process

It seems that although the 40 page Submission Guidelines can be downloaded as a PDF, they are also available in clear HTML on the website. Yay! I love that they are asking for submissions in

“text-only format or as a document upload (e.g., Word, RTF or WordPerfect formats”

http://de-en.gc.ca/submissions/

Sounds like they’d rather not get stuck in the PDF morass they had for copycon. Deconstructing all the PDF submissions is probably the chief reason why it took so long for all the submissions to be posted online.
(I hate PDFs!)

time limit

As of today, there are 49 days to make a submission. But there’s a lot to think about, so don’t leave it until the last minute (as so many of us did with #copycon)

Things you might say today may help someone else develop a brilliant strategy that would benefit us all. (Hint: that’s why re:mixing is such a good idea)

back-up

I read a comment yesterday from someone who was concerned that the comment or link they’d posted to the #digicon page had been subsequently removed (or moved somewhere else).

If you’re concerned that may happen to your comments or links, or if you’ve something you want to say about the Canadian Digital Economy Consultation that you feel may not survive their moderation, feel free to put it in the #digicon links & comments
My only rules: no spam, no personal attacks/hate mongering.

Similarly, if you have pertinent links you think may help answer questions or examine the issues, feel free to include them. If they start to pile up, when I have a minute I’ll list them under #digicon links in the sidebar.

insurance

Because some Canadians are a bit cynical, we not only submitted our formal #copycon submission to the government, we also posted it on our blogs or websites as (ahem) insurance.

As any emerging artist knows, the wider you can disseminate your art the more people will have the opportunity to become a fan. Or in this case, the more people who can see and read the argument, the more can understand the argument.

to blog or not to blog

If you don’t have one, you can get a free blog from various sources; personally I’d recommend WordPress.
If you don’t want a blog, but want to be heard, I’m willing to post submissions on the Oh! Canada blog as a guest post.

Consultation Questions

Innovation Using Digital Technologies

  • Should Canada focus on increasing innovation in some key sectors or focus on providing the foundation for innovation across the economy?
  • Which conditions best incent and promote adoption of ICT by Canadian business?
  • What would a successful digital strategy look like for your firm or sector? What are the barriers to implementation?
  • Once copyright, anti-spam and data breach/privacy amendments are in place, are their other legislative or policy changes needed to deal with emerging issues?
  • How can Canada use its regulatory and policy regime to promote Canada as a favourable environment for e-commerce?

Digital Infrastructure

  • What speeds and other service characteristics are needed by users (e.g., consumers, businesses, public sector bodies) and how should Canada set goals for next generation networks?
  • What steps must be taken to meet these goals? Are the current regulatory and legislative frameworks conducive to incenting investment and competition? What are the appropriate roles of stakeholders in the public and private sectors?
  • What steps should be taken to ensure there is sufficient radio spectrum available to support advanced infrastructure development?
  • How best can we ensure that rural and remote communities are not left behind in terms of access to advanced networks and what are the priority areas for attention in these regions?

Growing the ICT Industry

  • Do our current investments in R&D effectively lead to innovation, and the creation of new businesses, products and services? Should we promote investments in small start-ups to expand our innovation capacity?
  • What is needed to innovate and grow the size of the ICT industry including the number of large ICT firms headquartered in Canada?
  • What would best position Canada as a destination of choice for venture capital and investments in global research and development mandates?
  • What efforts are needed to address the talent needs in the coming years?

Canada’s Digital Content

  • What does creating Canada’s digital content advantage mean to you?
  • What elements do you want to see in Canada’s marketplace framework for digital media and content?
  • How do you see digital content contributing to Canada’s prosperity?
  • What kinds of infrastructure investments do you foresee making in the future? What kinds of infrastructure will you need in the future to be successful at home and abroad?
  • How can stakeholders encourage investment, particularly early stage investment, in the development of innovative digital media and content?

Building Digital Skills

  • What do you see as the most critical challenges in skills development for a digital economy?
  • What is the best way to address these challenges?
  • What can we do to ensure that labour market entrants have digital skills?
  • What is the best way to ensure the current workforce gets the continuous upskilling required to remain competitive in the digital economy? Are different tactics required for SMEs versus large enterprises?
  • How will the digital economy impact the learning system in Canada? How we teach? How we learn?
  • What strategies could be employed to address the digital divide?

Improving Canada’s Digital Advantage

  • Should we set targets for our made-in-Canada digital strategy? And if so, what should those targets be?
  • What should the timelines be to reach these targets?

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves


There are a lot of questions. After reading the material, listening and/or participating in the forum discussions, chatting with co-workers around the water cooler or the oil rig, or the kids in your youth group, or with your e-friends on Identi,ca, Twitter or Facebook…

Say what you think.

Our government is asking us for input. Let’s give it to them.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

[Digital Economy Simulpost: Since this will affect all Canadians, I’m posting the same post in all three of my blogs, Oh! Canada, StopUBB, and in the wind]



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10796 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Write Letters to Stop UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 18, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

Living in a democracy means that citizens are free to communicate with our government.

Opinion expressed in one letter from one constituent has long been weighted with a great deal of importance. The presumption is that if one person invests time and effort in writing a letter and posting it, there are very likely a whole bunch of people out there grumbling about the issue who simply haven’t invested the time and effort in writing. After all, not everyone is comfortable writing a letter.
envelopes and fancy stationary

the formula

I don’t know what the actual formula is, nor even where to look for it. (If anyone knows, I’d love a link.) But people who have studied this stuff have worked it out that:

X number of petition signers = Y number of letter writers = Z number of email writers

So even though 100 people might sign a petition, and another 100 people might send a letter and a third hundred people may send email, the concerns of these three different groups of people will be treated differently. Doesn’t sound very democratic, does it?

Canada Post canceled Royal Canadian Military College stamp

petitions

The thinking goes something like this: it takes only a few seconds to sign your name to a petition.
Therefore the idea presented by the petition may mean little or nothing to those signing it.
Maybe it is something you agree with passionately.
But maybe you just signed it as the easiest way to get the person with the petition off your back.
A petition signed by 100 people would therefore have less authority– much less– than individual letters from those same 100 people.

Canada Post Mary Pickford Stamp

form letters

A form letter is going to be given less weight than an original letter, probably because the sender did not craft the letter themselves. The thinking seems to be that the sender put less work into it personally, so therefore it wasn’t important to them.

I think that is a serious error of logic. Just because some people simply aren’t letter writers, or comfortable putting their ideas down does not make their opinion less valid, it simply means that they have a different skill set than someone like me who writes endlessly.

If someone provides the words in a form letter that expresses what you think, it should be perfectly valid. As an expression of your views it should have just as much weight as an original letter. After all, FINDING the right form letter might even take even more work than writing your own. Not everyone is a writer. Your ability to participate in Canada’s democratic process should not be jeopardized by whether or not you are a confident letter writer.

Canada Post canceled Yousuf Karsh stamp

postal mail

In actual fact, it does not directly cost a citizen anything to mail a letter to our elected representatives. That’s a right that Canadians have based on the fact that our government is supposed to be a democracy. We are allowed to post our thoughts and ideas to our government without having to pay postage.

But if I send a physical letter, known to many in today’s world as “snail mail” because it is not as nearly instantaneous as email, the physical letter has to be collected from the pick-up point, transported to the sorting station, sorted, transported to the destination post office, sorted, and then delivered. When constituent mail arrives at the Parliament Buildings, it has to be sorted for delivery within to the office of our MP, or the Minister of Industry, or the Prime Minister, wherever it is supposed to go. The reality is of course that all of this physical handling is in fact paid for out of government coffers which come from– you guessed it– our tax dollars. So although we are not paying directly out of our pockets, we are paying indirectly out of our tax dollars for sending physical mail to our government.

email

Canada Post Permanent Stamp

Politicians also seem to put a lot less value on email letters, giving them substantially less importance than a physical letter delivered by Canada Post.

Yet writing an effective email letter is just as difficult as writing a physical letter. It takes the same amount of effort as writing a physical letter.

So why do politicians routinely devalue our email and count it as less than a physical letter? I think this differentiation is purely financial. It probably came from market research that says if a customer invests in a stamp in order to mail a letter, although small it is a financial commitment. And in today’s world we also have to figure out where we can even mail a physical letter since there are fewer post offices and mailboxes available.

When we send email to our representatives, the routing is all done electronically, but in this scenario no Canada Post physical presence is required. In fact there is no physical human labour until the last lap when presumably the email arrives at the office of the recipient. Depending on their computer skills, the letter might in fact be printed or possibly read off a screen by the person we have addressed.

But in reality, if I send an email to my elected representatives, no letter carrier has to carry it. Canada Post does not have to expend any energy in delivering my letter.

Canada Post Permanent Stamp

email is free (for now)

At the moment, email is pretty well free in Canada. Any Canadian who is hooked up to the Internet gets at least one free email address. But you don’t even need that anymore. Even if you don’t have an internet account, you can log onto the internet for free at a public library, or perhaps on a friend’s connection and get a free email account of your very own from hotmail or Yahoo or any one of dozens of free email providers.

The fact that email is free is is a big part of why spam is so prevalent; spam can be automatically sent to hundreds of thousands of recipients at virtually no cost. So long as one person falls for the scam or purchases the product spam will never ever go away.

Except Usage Based Billing means that everything we do online will cost money. Including email. In many cases we won’t be paying the email provider but we will be paying Bell Canada. So those of us who chose to use email will in fact be paying for the privilege of emailing our elected representatives.

Right now though, until UBB is implemented, email is still free. So it does not cost us directly OR indirectly.

politicians

My email is set up to request a delivery confirmation when I send email. That way, I get a notification that the email I have sent has been received. This is very handy in a lot of situations. Last year when I emailed politicians about an issue, some of them weren’t tech savvy enough to turn off the email confirmations. Of those, about half confirmed that my email was deleted without being read.

That’s unsettling on more than one level. The whole point of a democracy is that constituents are supposed to have access to their government. Government officials who delete constituent email without reading it are hardly behaving in a democratic manner. Although I do not reside in the electoral ridings of these MPs, in their capacity as members of the Canadians Government, they were serving on a committee deliberating about issues that will affect me. So it wasn’t simply impolite, it was a clear case of deliberately not even giving a hearing to a citizen.

What is even worse was that these same politicians who don’t understand a simple email function like automatic confirmations are making laws about Canadian access to technology. That doesn’t bode well for Canadian access to technology in the 21st century.

Canada Post Permanent Stamp

fiscally responsible government

Since physical mail costs the Canadian Government far more than email, they ought to be encouraging citizen email use, regardless of marketing formulas.

what goes around comes around

When we send our elected representatives email, they respond with email. When we send them physical letters they respond with physical letters.

In my experience, there is always an awfully long time before I get a response. I wonder if the intent is to wait a really long time to answer because by then I will have forgotten what I have written? Like most Canadians I keep copies of my correspondence so it doesn’t matter how long the reply takes, I can always refer back to my original letter. And the response doesn’t ever seem to actually answer my letter.

Canada Post 160 stamp - orange flower

But even if we are not going to get a prompt or good response from our elected representatives, and in fact all members of our government, we still have the right to be heard. Which is why I think we should write letters to our government to tell them why Usage Based Billing is not a good thing for us. And if we send paper letter s through the mail, someone in the office has to at least open it before throwing it out. If it is email, apparently it can be deleted without being read.

Because right or wrong, politicians attach far more weight to paper letters than email.

why write?

Are you struggling to pay for the Internet now? Tell them that.

Canada Post Oscar Peterson cancelled Stamp

Are you making a blog or do you have a web page that you are trying out as a way to promote a home business?

Are you a creator, do you have books, music or movies that you want to distribute online?
Do you have school kids who need to access the Internet to be able to participate fully in their own education?
Are you a shut-in who can access the world through the Internet?
Are you a researcher who needs to be able to access information?
Are you one of the many Canadians who is getting their news exclusively online? Do you use Internet banking? Are you looking for work? Are you selling or are you buying? Do you download public domain ebooks from Project Gutenberg? Or FLOSS? Are you a Facebook denizen or a Twitterer?
Tell them.

what to write?

If you need help with wording, I have written thousands of words in this blog I have been writing since I first heard about UBB. And I’ve put every word I’ve written in this blog directly into the public domain. That gives you the right to pick and choose anything I have said to create your own letter to tell them why you think UBB should be stopped. Because I’ve been trying to make this a work of reference, I’ve listed all the blog articles in the left hand sidebar, so I hope that should help you find any appropriate bits.

Canada Post Red flowers 50 cent cancelled stamp

Since the Minister of Industry, Tony Clement was able to overturn the bad CRTC Windmobile decision, he should also be able to overturn this bad UBB decision.

And for the same reason: it will be bad for Canada’s technological future.

write to your mp

Even if our MPs might not be very tech savvy, the Canadian Government has in fact invested oodles of money in setting up excellent internet access to all aspects of our government. Of course, when Usage Based Billing starts, it will make Canadians hesitate before using these excellent online governmental resources because we may not be able to afford them come UBB.

This excellent link will allow you to find your MP even if you don’t know who it is. This will find the MP for your riding based on your home postal code.
Find your MP

cancelled Canada Post 51 cent stamp with 2 red flowers

write to our government

This is an issue that will affect all of Canada, so all of our government should be aware of it. Because there is so much on the go, however, it is reasonable to assume that many of them are just as much in the dark about UBB as the rest of Canada. So it certainly wouldn’t hurt to write to all of the leaders. Should a Federal Election come to pass in the near future this could be an important issue.

Conservative Party of Canada logo

Prime Minister
The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Minister of Industry
The Hon. Tony Clement, P.C., B.A., LL.B.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Minister of Heritage
The Hon. James Moore, P.C., B.A.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Liberal Leader
Michael Ignatieff, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Bloc Quebecois Leader
Gilles Duceppe
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
[*M. Duceppe would prefer communication in French, but I’ve heard that he’s classy enough to respond to mono-lingual English speakers in English
(in other words, English would be better than a bad Google translation]

NDP Party of Canada

NDP Leader
The Hon. Jack Layton, P.C., B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

NDP Technology Critic
Charlie Angus
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Even though the Green Party got nearly a million votes across Canada in the last election, the green party still has not elected a single member, due to our unfair and antiquated “first past the post” electoral system. If you’re interested in working to change that issue, you might want to contact your local chapter of Fairvote Canada and participate in effecting change so that all Canadians will have a voice in our government.

In the meantime, although unelected, the Green Party Leader Elizabeth May does in fact have a larger constituency than many who hold office, so it certainly would not hurt to contact her about your UBB concerns.

Green Party LogoUnelected leader of the Green Party
Elizabeth May
The Green Party of Canada

Contact the green party of canada

The Pirate Party of Canada is brand new, but since they have come to exist in defense of copyright law and the Internet, it makes sense that they would be interested in fighting Usage Based Billing because it too will impede citizen access. Because they have not yet stood in an election and have no elected representatives, I’m pretty sure that postal mail to the Pirate Party of Canada is not free. However, you can mail them your concerns if you spring for a stamp, or head to their website and leave comments there.
The Unelected Leader of the Pirate Party of Canadapirate party of canada
Jake Daynes
Pirate Party of Canada
43 Samson Blvd #165
Laval QC H7X 3R8

A graphic of fireworks on a Canada Post Permanent Stamp

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to ferret out any smaller political parties that may exist in your riding. According to Wikipedia, there are a great many, so check it out to see a list of canadian political parties which would be an excellent starting point. The more people we have talking about Usage Based Billing the greater the possibility to stop it.

It is also possible to mail a letter to every single Member of Parliament. I would caution you about doing this by email. One person I spoke with in a Facebook CAPP forum told me that she had sent email to all of the Members of parliament during the Premature Prorogation, and had her Yahoo email account frozen because of it– because she was sending the same letter to hundreds of people, her her account flagged it as a spammer.

I suggest if you want to do something like that by email, do it in smaller increments. I’m contemplating sending them all postal mail letters. Wonder how many replies I’d get…

Canadians need to know about Usage Based Billing.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10787 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



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Cat Joke: Making Light of A.C.T.A.

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 12, 2010

No Usage Based BillingThe following cautionary cat tale was found in one of the Pirate Party of Canada’s forums.

Pirate Party of Canada logo

Hindgrinder
Re: ACTA Task Force

3 Canadians and 1 American were sitting together watching the Mens Gold Medal Game in Vancouver bragging about how smart their cats were.

The first man was an Internet Service Provider,
the second man was a Copyright Law Professor,
the third man was a New Democrat Member of Parliment, and
the fourth man was a US Corporate Lobbyist.

To show off, the Internet Service Provider called his cat, “Broadband”, do your stuff.”

Broadband pranced over to the computer, logged in as admin and started downloading the entire internet.

Everyone agreed that was pretty smart.

But the Copyright Law Professor said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Public Domain, do your stuff.”

Public Domain went over to the computer, instantly sorted all of what Broadband was downloading and printed off a fair copyright royalties due spreadsheet.

Everyone agreed that was good.

But the New Democrat M.P. said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Parlimentarian, do your stuff.”

“Parlimentarian got up slowly to the computer, created a Facebook page, linked it to Broadband and Public Domain, drafted a dozen emails and bill 398, made a YouTube video meowing for transparency from ACTA cat and meowed an indian war dance song.
Everyone agreed that was pretty good.

Then the three men turned to the US Corporate Lobbyist and said, “What can your cat do?”

The US Corporate Lobbyist called his cat and said, “ACTA, do your stuff.”

ACTA jumped to his feet…….

Throttled Broadband’s torrents to a crawl and initiated a lawsuit for copyright infringement against both Broadband and Internet Service Provider……..
Scrambled Public Domains online excel sorting rules and shit on the fair royalties due spreadsheet……..
filed an inflated grievance lawsuit for RIAA lost revenue…….
bypassed due process to convict 90% of humans under 40 years old of copyright infringement……
screwed the other three cats and claimed he hurt his back while doing so…….
put in for Corporate Compensation for injury on the job in a foreign country……………and
went home for the rest of the day on paid sick leave…………

Internet Service Provider, Copyright Law Professor and N.D.P. M.P. where last seen pooling their money to buy a dog.

Geist

Angus

Of course, I’m wondering who everyone is…

Copyright Law Professor would have to be Michael Geist.

And it’s more than reasonable to assume that the N.D.P. M.P. would be the most vocal Canadian MP opponent of A.C.T.A. Charlie Angus, but who could the Internet Service Provider be?

talktalk logoIf this was the U.K., it would be talktalk, the brave ISP waging war with the dread Digital Economy Bill (the U.K.’s opening act for A.C.T.A.)

Within the joke, “ISP” couldn’t possibly be Bell Canada or Rogers, since their use of consumer monitoring tools like DPI to help run their empires clearly place them in the pro-A.C.T.A. camp.

MTSallstream logo

So if we’re going to extrapolate the casting for this joke, for Canada the ISP would have to be one of our endangered Independent ISP’s like MTS Allstream or Tek Savvy (you can find a comprehensive listing of Independent Canadian ISPs here).

pseudo FBI Warning

And the U.S. Corporate Lobbyist, well, lobbyists are faceless representatives of the business, or in this case group of businesses in back of a piece of legislation, or in this case a whole body of international legislation.

These businesses have been trying to convince the citizens of the world that we don’t own what we’ve purchased for years. They started by placing supposed FBI warnings on videotapes threatening huge fines for non-commercial infringement. Then the earliest attempts at copy protection (DRM/TPM). Followed by aggressive marketing campaigns directed at the media customer base, in attempts to demonize personal use copying.

Now, in the face of these failed attempts to change global attitudes about copyright and ownership through advertising/propaganda, the copyright lobby seeks to change the laws to force the world to follow their rules.

They’ve been pursuing this war actively on two fronts. First, by lobbying individual countries to criminalize copyright infringement. But lately, this group (dubbed by Michael Geist “The Copyright Lobby”) has gone much further, by convincing the U.S. Government to push the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” which seeks to force the world to change copyright law through this secret treaty on a global scale.

The “Copyright Lobby” is made up of the American led Movie and Music Corporations along with their Interested Associations and Copyright Collectives. Of course this lobby group is attempting to remain faceless. because the real victim in their nefarious activities is their customer base. This is why they are attempting to get governments to do their dirty work, particularly through secret treaties like ACTA. They have the vain belief that they won’t alienate their customers.

The copyright lobby doesn’t have a logo, precisely because the companies they represent are attempting to stay out of the public eye. It’s a thinly veiled secret that the corporation unofficially leading the fight for terrible copyright “reforms” is the same company that once had to be legally compelled to give credit to the animators, actors, writers, musicians, technicians etc. who actually created their movies. Though he hadn’t actually picked up a pencil himself in years, the corporate founder felt that the only name attached to movies made by his corporation should be his own. In those days the law disagreed.

Nearly a century later this same corporation seeks to change the laws of all the world so they can maintain control of a mouse cartoon. Which is why interested parties have created this logo (right) for A.C.T.A.

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A.C.T.A. is BAD

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 7, 2009

Hollywood taught me about Democracy

Jesse Brown reported a very scary story How do you say “clueless” in Italian? on his Search Engine site.

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

Four Google execs may face jail terms because they didn’t pull an offensive video from their site BEFORE anyone complained about it.

Surprisingly, it didn’t seem to be a very big story, yet it is a perfect illustration of the incredible danger facing the internet. There is no way that large busy websites or the ISPs that host them can possibly monitor all of the material that is uploaded to the internet without seriously curtailing what is being uploaded to the internet.

For instance, when logging into Flickr I am told:

“There were 2,710 uploads in the last minute ”

Thousands of people upload images to Flickr every minute. It would take thousands of people to screen those images. If Flickr was forced to hire thousands of people to police the images members upload to the site, suddenly what Clay Shirky calls “ the transaction cost” would stop being nearly nil because the cost to maintain Flickr would skyrocket. It is doubtful that Flickr or YouTube or any other wildly successful website could cope with this without going bust.

Wikipedia, for example, has many people all over the world contributing articles and changing other people’s articles all the time. You would think that this would result in all kinds of internet vandalism happening.   But it doesn’t.   Sometimes people make mistakes, and the way Wikipedia works is that other people can fix those mistakes, And they do. And Wikipedia users also correct deliberate misinformation or vandalism.   So even if someone attempts to do a bad thing and vandalize wikipedia articles or disseminate misinformation on Wikipedia, Wikipedia is policed by its own editor/users.

As soon as anyone complains to Google, or YouTube, or Flickr about offensive content, the content is taken down. Now, I have to tell you, even though I am not by any means a young pup, in terms of understanding the internet, “I am only an Egg.” The internet we know today didn’t exist twenty years ago.

Like most people, I’ve been busy, so I wasn’t paying very much attention. Every now and then some new toy or gizmo having to do with computers would pop up — like iphones or ebooks or blackberrys. Or some new uber-cool thing like blogging or facebook or twitter or VOIP would suddenly be everywhere. And we can’t forget endless tales and dreams of dot com millionaires. The way the wold works has been changing very very fast. Six months ago I had no idea what Usage Based Billing was. About two months ago I started writing a simple little article explaining the mechanics of how the internet works. It turned out to be incredibly difficult to learn, let alone explain and mushroomed into “the alphabet series”. Simple? No, and the more I learn the more important I realize Net Neutrality is.

So I do understand why most people don’t even realize that this stuff is going on, or even that it matters. But the thing is that the internet has been slowly growing up and becoming more important in the world, and at the same time a much larger force for change. Which is why it is so important that there be Net Neutrality. Because the internet has come so far so fast it is especially important that it not be turned against it’s users.

Alongside Net Neutrality people in this brave new world are also talking about file sharing, “3 Strikes laws” and ACTA. Terms like piracy and theft are being hurled around and “copyright infringement” has been elevated to a near executable offense.

Why now?

It is no secret that governments around the world have been lobbied long and hard by the “copyright lobby” large media corporations, music and movie companies who are attempting to legislate prograss back into the twentieth century and change the way we think. They have been turning their media might into a propoaganda tool of epic proportions. Because of the incredible power that they can bring to bear, copyright laws around the world are being changed to appease these lobbyists.

Hollywood taught me spying on citizens is bad.

Hollywood taught me spying on citizens is bad

Copyright law “improvements” enrich the lives of Americans

An inflammatory Chicago Sun Times headline reads Woman arrested for trying to record ‘Twilight’ on digital camera. The article recounts a story about a young woman who is being criminally charged– to the same extent and in the the same way a professional bootlegger would be charged– for recording scenes of her sister’s birthday party at the movies. The video picked up about 4 minutes of movie fragments. This is the equivalent of charging a teenager with one joint as a drug dealer, or the child who swiped a tempting lollipop from the grocery store with grand theft. It is simply not reasonable.

I’ve taken photographs of family and friends on special occasion trips to the movies. I’ve made videotapes of birthday parties. If you make a video of a child’s birthday party and a movie or video game was playing on the TV in the background, you too could be criminally charged. Under ACTA what will happen when you email a copy of this copyright infringing video to Grannie in England? Will she be fined or jailed or will you?

These laws are already absurd. And then… here comes ACTA.

All of the citizens of the world are being deliberately excuded from all ACTA negotiations. President Obama, so recently praised for his commitment to Net Neutrality, believes this to be a matter of National Security.

There is a huge difference between “personal use copying” and “commercial bootlegging” which the copyright lobby is lumping together as “piracy”. This is all a wrongheaded attempt to legislate away progress. Instead of trying to adapt with the technology, the copyright lobby has chosen to pour millions (billions?) into lobbying for this legislation that will not in fact do anything to stop commercial bootlegging. To give the appearance of doing something they instead choose to criminalize the mostly young citizens who are not harming this special interest group. Personally, I would rather see the best and brightest of Canada’s younger generation find themselves in universities rather than jail.

ACTA is bad. Very Very Bad.

Hollywood Influences

Growing up I learned a lot from “Hollywood”.

Like most Canadians of my generation TV and Movies gave me a better understanding of the American legal system than the Canadian.

Hollywood taught me that:

  • free enterprise is admirable.
  • free speech is important
  • individuals have rights
  • democracy is good, and good government is responsive to the wishes of the citizens
  • communism is bad, because the government spies on its citizens
  • a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty

BUT.

Hollywood taught me "innocent until proven guilty"

Apparently that was all just “content”.  ACTA makes it pretty clear that Hollywood’s true objective is for governments around the world to:

  • suppress free speech,
  • shackle their competitors,
  • dismantle democracy,
  • spy on citizens and
  • throw out the rule of law to punish people on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations.

The saddest part is that it isn’t for some misguided ideological reason that they think will improve the world. This is pure greed.

ACTA links

“Canada and its international trading partners each have distinct copyright policies, laws and approaches for addressing the challenges and opportunities of the internet. Canada’s current framework provides strong intellectual property protections and our copyright laws apply in the digital context, including on the internet. Moreover, Canada’s regime for

the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights is fully consistent with its international obligations.”

The Honourable Tony Clement, The Hill Times – Canada’s Politics and Government Newsweekly

YET.

Somehow Canada continues to participate in the secret ACTA treaty negotiations.

“Secret ACTA negotiations would criminalize Canadian internet use” says New Democrat Digital Issues Critic Charlie Angus, who demanded that Tony Clement reveal the ACTA negotiation mandate letter. Tony Clement Responds To Concerns That ACTA Will Circumvent Canadian Copyright Law

Ambassador Kirk: People would be “walking away from the table” if the ACTA text is made public . Maybe that is what should be happening.

Russell McOrmond tells us about:

Word manipulation, hypocrisy, and the so-called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in it world.

Bytestyle TV’s Shelly Roche tells us a few things about ACTA, including the fact that it is being undertaken as an executive order, and therefore will not require ratification by the U.S. Congress. If it’s any consolation, American citizens are being kept just as much in the dark as Canadians, and, well, every other country in the world. ACTA: Internet Users Guilty Until Proven Innocent and ACTA: Will Corporate-Run US Government Destroy the Internet?

The Electronic Freedom Foundation Senator Bayh Responds on ACTA illustrates just how badly informed Americans (including Senators) are about ACTA.

Fortunately all Senators weren’t created equal. Senators blast Obama’s secret trade talks as Fox head calls for ‘3 strikes’

Michael Geist brings us: EU ACTA Analysis Leaks: Confirms Plans For Global DMCA, Encourage 3 Strikes Model

Where Paolo Brini passed along the news that the ACTA “negotiations now are not compliant with the Lisbon Treaty, which has come into force the 1st of December” EU negotiators show too many incompatibilities between ACTA and EU laws and Telecoms Package: 3-strikes forbidden in Europe He says further that “The agreement between the Council and the Parliament led to a new amendment which clearly forbids 3-strikes, in the sense meant by ACTA, and restrictions to fundamental rights without following very precise parameters (not respected by ACTA).”

Jamie Love’s blast from the past: Seven Secret ACTA documents from 2008 which includes the link to a PDF of the “Canada Non-Paper on institutional issues under the Agreement” is then discussed in Howard Knopf’s EXCESS COPYRIGHT: Canadian Proposal for ACTA Secretariat

Wired Magazine weighs in with the Threat Level column: Privacy, Crime and Security Online Report: U.S. Fears Public Scrutiny Would Scuttle IP Treaty Talks

New Zealand would like to know: Dunne: What are we signing up to, Mr Power? – 4 December 2009

Last week on BoingBoing Cory Doctorow passed along Javier “Barrapunto” Candeira’s information on the Spanish activists issue manifesto on the rights of Internet users which was created to battle the proposed suspension of due process “in the name of ‘safeguarding Intellectual Property Laws against Internet Piracy.”

1 .- Copyright should not be placed above citizens’ fundamental rights to privacy, security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression.

2 .- Suspension of fundamental rights is and must remain an exclusive competence of judges. This blueprint, contrary to the provisions of Article 20.5 of the Spanish Constitution, places in the hands of the executive the power to keep Spanish citizens from accessing certain websites.

3 .- The proposed laws would create legal uncertainty across Spanish IT companies, damaging one of the few areas of development and future of our economy, hindering the creation of startups, introducing barriers to competition and slowing down its international projection.

4 .- The proposed laws threaten creativity and hinder cultural development. The Internet and new technologies have democratized the creation and publication of all types of content, which no longer depends on an old small industry but on multiple and different sources.

5 .- Authors, like all workers, are entitled to live out of their creative ideas, business models and activities linked to their creations. Trying to hold an obsolete industry with legislative changes is neither fair nor realistic. If their business model was based on controlling copies of any creation and this is not possible any more on the Internet, they should look for a new business model.

6 .- We believe that cultural industries need modern, effective, credible and affordable alternatives to survive. They also need to adapt to new social practices.

7 .- The Internet should be free and not have any interference from groups that seek to perpetuate obsolete business models and stop the free flow of human knowledge.

8 .- We ask the Government to guarantee net neutrality in Spain, as it will act as a framework in which a sustainable economy may develop.

9 .- We propose a real reform of intellectual property rights in order to ensure a society of knowledge, promote the public domain and limit abuses from copyright organizations.

10 .- In a democracy, laws and their amendments should only be adopted after a timely public debate and consultation with all involved parties. Legislative changes affecting fundamental rights can only be made in a Constitutional law.

The Spanish government withdrew the draft law that would have legalized punishment without due process.

Spanish Blogroll:

[this is only a smattering of the websites bearing the manifesto… a Google search shows “de aproximadamente 351,000 de manifiesto en defensa de los derechos fundamentales en internet”]

and the list goes on….

Bravo Spain.

Talk about this.

And please, contact your MP, Prime Minister Harper as well as the Honourable Ministers Clement and Moore.

Because ACTA is bad. Very very bad.

STOP Usage Based Billing

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