Friday, March 28, 2008

Warner Music calls for Internet Tax to Support Their Poor Industry

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Now a recording company is joining a chorus sung by certain songwriters' rights holder groups that Internet service be taxed and the proceeds to compensate those whose songs are downloaded for free over peer to peer networks. Warner Music has hired a music industry insider to spear head a push to have a tax on Internet service enacted to make people pay (or pay for twice for users of legitimate online music services such as iTunes).

Unlike previous Internet service tax proposals aimed to help the poor suffering musicians and songwriters, the Warner Music proposal only helps the poor suffering recording companies. Yet just like previous proposals Internet service tax proposals, doesn't treat people fairly. Anybody who has access to municipal WiFi could just pop open their laptop, connect to their favorite peer to peer network and download just like they did using the Internet service that they pay for.

Just days Sony Music announced that they were exploring setting up a subscription service that allows unlimited downloads for about ten dollars a month, this announcement just goes to shows that backwards tyranical thinking still fills the heads of certain music industry executives. Sony's approach that is more likely to turn us all into legitimate paying downloaders is the way forward. Looks like some in the Music Industry still need a firm kick in the part of their bodies where they do their thinking.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Five Tech Issues that need to be addressed this Election Season

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This year like ever one out of four is a political silly season, the presidential election in the United States. While technology related issues could potentially get lost among the big issues like ongoing war in Iraq, and the floundering economy. Issues affecting technology don't just affect the technology industries but users of technology. It's not just Americans that can put questions to those seeking votes about policies that affect how they use technology. Canadians could face an election depending on how the wind is blowing, and in Canada technology and it's use will be a political issue when an election is called or when the minority government gets toppled. When an incumbent politician or those looking to take their jobs come knocking make sure that you get the answers and vote accordingly.

Do you support Net Neutrality?

One sticky issue that has been batted around by legislators but not seriously been debated is how to ensure equal access to online content or service regardless of Internet provider. The big telcos and cable companies want to allocate bandwidth to friendly content providers or to inhibit services that compete against the Internet provider. Potentially telcos could inhibit the use of VOIP services like skype or Vonage because it could take people away from tradition telephone service. There have been bills to prevent allocation of bandwidth but nothing has been passed yet.

Do you support allocating wireless spectrum for new carriers?

With analog over the air television getting eliminated in the next couple of years many radio frequencies are opening up to new services like WiMAX and expanded cell phone coverage. 40 of the 105 MHz of the new 2.0 GHz band is set aside for new companies entring the industry. Although the traditional telecom companies are crying foul, they currently hold licenses for hundreds of megahertz of radio frequency spectrum that aren't even being used. In order for the free market can truly be free is for new carriers in cellular and wireless broadband can easily enter the market. Those seeking elected office must support consumers' right to choose over the telco lobbyists.

Do you support funding education in emerging technology?

The one thing that is required above all else to sustain the current rapid evolution in technology is an educated workers entering the work force. As it stands now those educated workers are coming from India, China and Japan. If North America hopes to keep up funding has to come from both Government and the private sector. If the top employees are educated in foriegn countries then it will be those foriegn countries that will be supplying technology to North America, if we want to keep jobs in North America we have to do better.

Do you support preserving fair use provisions in copyright law?

Copyright laws around the world are getting re-written to protect the creators of intellectal property to ensure rights to make a living from creating intellectal property. The rights of creators have to be balenced by the rights of consumers. In 1998 consumers in the United States lost the right to make back up copies of such things as DVD's with the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Such narrow intrest groups as the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America are disguising corporate greed as an arguement for creators' rights. Some in the recording industry want all music sold online to come with digital rights management which inhibits what consumers can do with downloaded music and spoken word content. Consumer rights groups favor a ban on DRM so that music can be purchased anywhere and can be used on any portable player. Musicians songwriters, filmmakers, and authors deserve to make living but needs of consumers need to be taken into consideration too.

How do you protect children online?

Social networking has only been popular for a couple of years but is now considered to be the biggest threat to young people online. Once upon a time parents only had to worry about chat rooms but now sexual predators are finding victims on myspace, facebook, bebo and other sites. Law enforcement needs more resources for the protection of young users of social networking sites. There are changes to laws that need keep overzealous cival liberitans at bay. The right to online safety for our children is way more important than any rights for pedophiles.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dell About to Launch a Smartphone (yawn)

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The latest rumor in the tech industry is that computer manufacturer Dell is about to launch a smartphone running the Windows Mobile operating system. Unknown is the sales model Dell intends to use for their new phone. If they use their traditional direct to the consumer model then how does the consumer go about activating the phone with a carrier. Cell carriers have been so far been unwilling to activate or support any cell phone they didn't originally sell. That is supposed to change when Verizon is going to open up their CDMA network to unlocked phones. A deal with Verizon would be a good fit for Dell.

The problem with any upcoming smartphone from Dell is that it's going to be just like every other smartphone running Windows Mobile. It's true that Dell built their company selling PC's that worked and looked like every other PC on the market but in smartphone market Microsoft's operating system doesn't dominate the market. Blackberry with their own operating system is still the market leader.

The best approach is to partner with Google and put some money to speed along development of the Android operating system for smart phones. That's what will make consumers who aren't Blackberry or iPhone fanboys want to buy Dell's smartphones

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CBC To put reality show on BitTorrent without DRM

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The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is going to make their new reality show "Canada's Next Great Prime Minister" available for download on BitTorrent without using DRM to restrict online viewing. It comes as very little surprise that it would be a public television network that would make such a move. It was PBS that put a made for the Internet show called Nerd TV up on BitTorrent. The online distribution of "Canada's Next Great Prime Minister" would be the first time that a show produced for broadcast will be distributed using BitTorrent and without DRM.

While the private networks are distributing content online, it's with heavy restrictions, the move by the CBC is going to be interesting to watch, while it's highly unlikely that the private broadcasters will follow suit. Unrestricted online distribution will help CBC build an audience for their original content. Some broadcast industry pundits may speculate that distributing TV shows this way will be risky, for CBC it maybe the kind of crazy thinking that they need.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Verizon Plans to speed up Peer to Peer

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In a surprise move Verizon announces to make improvements to their network to make downloading through peer to peer networks faster in a time that competitors such as Comcast and Time Warner are inhibiting P2P network traffic to appease the Recording industry and the movie studios. This is a move that could be seen as risky by Verizon as a way to sway customers away from competing broadband providers which Verizon could face billion lawsuits from the giant media corporations.

Verizon does have a history of standing up to the recording industry on behalf of their customers. Several years ago when the RIAA started suing end users of peer to peer networks, ISP's were required to turn over the names of P2P networks even without a court order. Verizon refused to turn over the names of their customers. The RIAA took Verizon to court and Verizon stated that the RIAA didn't have substancial proof just circumstancial evidence that Verizon's Internet subscribers committed illegal acts of copyright infringement.

When ISP's defend their customers' rights to use the Internet as they feel, they'll have more customers to defend.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

AOL buys Bebo, 850 Million for what?

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AOL the once high and mighty provider of dial up Internet service now a floundering web portal has purchased Bebo, the third most popular social networking web site for 850 million dollars. While Bebo has a high popularity in Britian, Ireland and New Zealand, in North America social networking is dominated by Myspace and Facebook.

The acquition of Bebo will give AOL a presence in Europe and in New Zealand, it's doubtful that Bebo can gain a foothold in North America, becase of dominant position that Myspace and Facebook in the social networking scene.

AOL is pinning it's hopes on Bebo users adopting AIM as their instant messenging client and AIM users becoming users of Bebo.

The early reaction of technology analysts is that 850 million is a lot for AOL to pay for Bebo. Will AOL get it's money worth. Somehow seems doubtful

Monday, March 10, 2008

News Corporation passes on Yahoo

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Rumored suitor News Corporation announced that they will not be buying Yahoo as way to keep Microsoft from launching a hostile takeover. The parent of everything Fox and Myspace says that the over 40 billion price tag was just too much. This leaves Time Warner in the list of potential suitors.

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