Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Secret Copyright Gestapo

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It's generally thought that secret cloak and dagger operations with secret agents operating across boarders with rights to search and seize without requiring court warrants only existed on the other side of the Iron Curtain in the Cold War days. If 'they' get their way it could soon and it would come to be not in some oppressive regime but here in the free world.

There is a proposal to create an international copyright enforcement agency. The agreement called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement which the United States, Canada, The European Union Mexico and South Korea are involve would set up an enforcement agency that would have the power search, seize and destroy any device suspected to contain pirated content without having any court order or even a complaint from rights holders.

There has not even been any sort of international agreement on drug enforcement so how can this consensus come about so quickly? Why is it that legislators can be so concerned with the civil rights of drug dealers, but yet be so quick to take away little Sally's iPod just because it contains some songs that may have come from CD's that she borrowed.

Scary times people.

Original story from

Monday, May 26, 2008

Canada's New Potential Cell Phone Carriers Starting To Drop Out

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Like any race the the competition to create a fourth national cell phone carrier in Canada is starting to thin out. A consortium of American financiers known collectively as 6934579 Canada Inc. (sounds like a phone number than a company that sells cell phone service) has withdrew it's bid just after Primus Canada announced that they too would be dropping out.

Given how the auction process works it has become the norm for early entrants to drop out leaving those with the biggest wallets to win the title of new cell phone provider or satellite tv provider or what have you. Back in the days when both the FCC and the CRTC had open license application processes it was the market that chose who was going to be the successful TV network, cable company or cell phone provider back in the mid 1980's.

For all the billions of dollars spent by companies looking to get into providing Cell phone service, satellite tv or even high speed Internet using WiMax technology what is the public getting? For one thing more limited competition which could lead a fourth national cell phone carrier what acts like all the others.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Psystar Unveils Their Own Software Update System

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Legally unauthorized maker of mac clones Psystar has unveiled their own Software Update system allowing users of Psystar OS X based computers to get updates for the operating system, and application programs without getting bricked by Apple's Software Update system.

With Psystar pushing forward making OS X work on non Apple computers consumers wanting an easy to use alternative to Windows without having to pay the price for a computer made by Apple are those who ultimately come out ahead.

If Steve Jobs continues to try to keep OS X exclusively on Apple made computers it will take nothing short of an army of lawyers using their fingers to plug holes in a dam that is determined to burst. Millions of people with PC's wanting something other than Windows think about it Steve, just think about it.

Napster Goes DRM Free (So Everything Old is New Again)

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The original music download service, Napster is casting away the Digital Rights Management restrictions from the music they sell. Six million different songs are now available as unrestricted MP3 files which are just like the files that the original Napster helped people distribute way back in the day.

Napster is one of the growing number of online music stores that are now selling songs without DRM. The major labels are easing off the restrictions on what consumers could do with purchased songs partly to open up the market dominated by Apple's iTunes. While it's highly unlikely that the labels want a price war that would give consumers lower prices, they don't want Apple to be the gatekeeper between the labels and consumers.

It's great to see that despite the head planted in rear end thinking of the RIAA, Music bogged down with DRM restrictions is on it's way to becoming a thing of the past.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

EarthLink Pulls Plug on Philly WiFi, Helping to Kill the Muni WiFi White Elephant

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Earthlink announced that they are pulling out of the Municipal WiFi agreement with the city of Philadelphia, unable to reach an agreement with the city to take over the operation of the WiFi network the WiFi service will be turned off on June the 12th. Earthlink sank 17 million dollars of their own money and did not see any return on their investment.

Philadelphia's public private partnership with Earthlink was once seen as the model of how municipal WiFi networks were going to be built and operated. Earthlink seeing their dial-up subscriber base erode in the last few years was going to finally become a full fledged broadband provider. The city would provide low income earners a way onto the Internet, even if very few of them actually have computers.

The end of one of the most highly fiananced municipal WiFi projects is proving that one of the biggest eutopian dreams of the Internet age is proving itself to be the white elephant that it actually is. Network service providers simply have no interest being in partnership with City Halls when paying taxes to municipal governments and then have to compete against for residential consumers.

WiFi is a technology designed for small networks not as a broadband delivery techonology. Attempts to make this leap has resulted in poor performing broadband service which makes Municipal WiFi an idea that was dead on delivery.

Monday, May 12, 2008

3G Iphones coming June 12th, all signs point that way

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According to a story on Apple is going to announce the next generation of their iPhone that will operate on AT&T 3G wireless network to provide faster Internet surfing speeds when not using WiFi. Support an imminent release of a new iPhone is that on Apple's US and British online stores are sold out of the original iPhones. What remains to be seen is if other countries will get the 3G iPhones right away or will have to wait until carriers outside of the United States and the United Kingdom have HSDPA based 3G networks that will support the advanced functions of the iPhone.

What still remains to be seen is what iPhone will Canada get when the iPhone launches on Rogers towards the end of 2008. 3G on Rogers only works in a few of the major cities and everywhere else is still stuck with EDGE or GPRS.

Friday, May 9, 2008

New E-bay Policy About To Get Test Run Down Under

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E-bay proposed policy that would require all transactions to use PayPal is going to get a trial run in Australia. The new policy that E-bay claims is going to reduce fraud and other disputes is already drawing fire from Australia's banks. Many claim that it's just a money grab for E-bay since PayPal charges larger fees than Australian banks charge for transferring money.

However in North America banks charge more for money orders and direct transfers than PayPal charges on their transactions. It's going to be the little guy who uses post office money orders to pay for items bought on E-bay that is going to be the worst affected. While having a credit card isn't a requirement to use PayPal, not everybody has a bank account that can authorize electronic funds transfers.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Clueless RIAA Executives Claim That DRM Isn't Dead Yet

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As if anybody needs any proof that RIAA is still so very totally out of touch and out to lunch, David Hughes the head of the technology unit for the RIAA claimed that the death of DRM is greatly exaggerated and that DRM will re-emerge.

That's incredibily gutsy but incredibly shortsighted since Apple's iTunes, and even the Zune Marketplace offers parts of their catalogs of songs without DRM. The entire catalog of songs available for download at is completely free of DRM.

The movement towards the end of DRM isn't about enabling piracy, it's about consumer choice. Selling downloaded songs without DRM allows anybody to use any online music store with any portable music player. People can buy songs from for use with their iPods.

Mr. Hughes claims that DRM is required for services that offer songs using a monthly subscription model. Selling music through a monthly subscription is an idea that has fallen flat on it's face. Customers of Napster, Rhapsody and the Zune Marketplace largely buy downloaded music outright with very few to pay a monthly subscription fee. This is most likely due to the DRM restrictions placed on subscription music.

Consumers are choosing to buy music without DRM and even the recording companies themselves are giving in to consumer demand. It's just the RIAA that is holding on to the draconian vision that they can tell consumers where and when and on what devices can play music. Copy protected CD's died a quick death it's time for DRM on downloaded music to follow suit. It's the consumer who are buying downloaded songs and yes even buying CD's which pay the salaries of anybody working for the RIAA. It's consumers who are in charge not the RIAA.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Qwest picks Verizon And Dumps Sprint for Wireless

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Qwest Communications largest seen as the target of the next big telco merger is ending it's agreement with Sprint Nextel and makes a new agreement with Verizon to provide cellular service to Qwest wireline customers.

This breaks with the theory that Sprint Quest merger was only a matter of time. Sprint having no local wireline exposure and Qwest without their own cellular infrastructure and just reselling other cellular services would join and create a company that would be able to compete against the behemoths of telecom, Verizon and AT&T.

Now the spectulation is going to be when a Verizon Qwest merger will happen. Get ready to pay more and get even worse customer service from the phone company.

Mid June the Zune Officially Arrives in Canada

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Just days after Rogers and Apple announce an agreement that will finally allow Canadians to get iPhones legitimately, Microsoft comes out with their own announcement that affects the Canadian tech marketplace. In mid June, the Zune portable music player arrives in Canadian stores. The Zune software is already available for download for potential Canadian Zune users, however the Zune Marketplace online store is not yet available to sell songs to Canadian customers. Microsoft hasn't even announced when or even if songs will become available in Canada.

The Zune hasen't even put a dent in the portable media player market that is dominated by Apple's iPod. Using the most restrictive Digital Rights Management technology by any online music store is probably why the Zune's market share has dwindled into the low single digits. Canadians largely more resistant to DRM than American consumers which means that Microsoft will have an even tougher time selling the Zune in Canada.

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