Sunday, June 16, 2019

Importance of GOSSIP and David Graham (MP for Laurentides—Labelle)

(Photo from recent GOSLING gathering copied from tweet by Mike Gifford.  Mike is sitting beside MP David Graham in the top-right, and I'm sitting beside John Hall on the bottom-right)

In May of 2002 I was one of the co-founders of what became known as GOSLING (Getting Open Source Logic INto Governments).  While many participants were focused on how the government creates/distributes and uses FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software), my primary concern was in how the government regulated software.

Starting in the summer of 2001 when the government launched the consultations towards that copyright section 92 report until copyright bill C-11 passed in 2012, I spent a considerable amount of time talking to parliamentarians, attending all committee meetings studying the bill, and giving public talks on copyright focused on the regulation of software and hardware.

During that time I fairly regularly had people come up to me and ask if they could financially support me, or if I would ever consider running for office so that they would have a representative in parliament.

Having members of our community in parliament would be towards GOSSIP (Getting Open Source and Standards Into Parliament).

We currently have a situation far better than me trying to get elected, which is someone from the FLOSS technology community who is fluently bilingual, a much better public speaker, and has  an intimate understanding of parliamentary process from prior experience: David Graham (follow him on Twitter)

Shortly after his election he was written about on SlashDot, referencing a video of him talking tech in committee.  With it is possible to subscribe to get an email notice whenever he speaks in parliament, and I've been following his house and committee participation closely over the years.

If you were wondering why the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology report on copyright was so much better than what we've seen in other committees (Industry or Heritage, including in previous years), you only need to notice David's name as an active participant in that study.

For the partisans who support other parties, please note that I'm not endorsing any particular party.  The backward-facing report from Heritage committee is just as much a Liberal party report as the report from Industry as the party makeup of the committees are the same.  My experience has been in this area of policy that there are greater differences between the views of people on Heritage committee and those on Industry committee than between the political parties.

I am strongly endorsing David Graham, and hope that other non-partisans like myself or partisans from the FLOSS community will endorse and help ensure David is re-elected in the October federal election.  Even if you don't live in his riding there are other ways to help.

Please consider donating (Ensure riding is set to Laurentides—Labelle) before and during the election campaign.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Misinformation/corruption with the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review

The following is a letter to my MP.

David McGuinty, my MP for Ottawa South,

I find the processes involving analog-era communications companies to be very problematic.  This latest note from Mr Geist is only an example.

Submissions to the government should be proactively disclosed during the process, so errors and/or misinformation from lobbiests can be corrected by the public.  The government should not be allowing submissions to be claimed proprietary, except when specific proprietary information is required by regulatory agency -- never for a consultation process.

I say analog-era as many of these vertically integrated companies are structured the way they are due to limitations with analog communications technology.  Analog communications technology required that a wire or part of spectrum be dedicated to an application.  With digital technology the OSI layered approach upon which nearly all digital communications technology is modelled allows for deployment and regulation much like highways: neutral infrastructure upon which a broad set of uses can be built.

The Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review should be looking at ways to sunset analog-era policy and replace with digital-era policy, not privilege the submissions from analog-era companies who have been misleading governments on this area of policy for decades.

We don't have road infrastructure vertically  integrated with UPS, Ford, Wall Mart or Pizza Hut - so why in 2019 do we still have digital communications infrastructure vertically integrated with analog-era phone, cable, and broadcast companies like Bell, Telus, Rogers, Corus or SaskTel?

[Note: I always include my address and postal code in letters, as it allows staffers to look up the postal code and confirm I'm a constituent].

This letter can be treated as public, and shared.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Here's how to (legally) watch Game of Thrones live in Canada

On April 12, 2019, Chandler Walter wrote Here's how to (legally) watch Game of Thrones live in Canada.

I've not been shy over the years stating that I believe that Bell Canada is the largest contributory copyright infringer in Canada.  By blocking or making extremely inconvenient legal options for accessing streaming content in Canada, Bell's business practices have induced far more infringement than ISOHunt or any other the other alleged copyright villains ever have. You can abuse exclusive licenses to force audiences back in time to legacy cable television, or you can provide people legitimate options to pay for streaming content, but you can't do both.

This final season is the first year I'll be watching Game of Thrones when it is released, as this is the first year that Bell Canada has allowed Canadians to do so legally.  While Bell's Crave streaming service is inferior to all of the digital native streaming services like Netflix, Google YouTube/Play, or Amazon Prime video, it is at least legal streaming of content that Bell and it's analog-media partners have otherwise been blocking.

This year I gave up trying to watch the Arrow-verse (Arrow, Flash, Legends, Supergirl) as it is released, as I got tired of fighting with Canadian broadcasters.  While this is great scripted television made in Vancouver, I'll  wait until these show are available on digital native services.

While in the past it was legitimate to say "content is king", in the digital era of abundance this is now "convenience is king".  If Canadian producers want to have viewers and get paid, they need to make things convenient for people to access and pay.  Given how long they wish to delay the inevitable, that means not offering exclusive licensing deals to analog-era broadcasters or BDUs (cable companies).

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Imperialism of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Whether it is SNC-Lavalin, CGI IncBCE Inc. (which owns Bell Canada) , or CBC, there is always a lot of flag-waving from lobbiests and defenders when these corporation are doing or saying things that corporations with different addresses of their headquarters would never get away with.

CBC President Catherine Tait's attempt to flag-wave recently went as far as to claim digital native companies were imperalists.

The problem with her analogy is that when it comes to post-convergence digital communications policy, it is representatives of analog-era companies like the CBC that are the foreign entities. Protecting the interests of Canadians from this imperalism is why I have called for a shift of funding away from the CBC to Canadian creators.

We need to put the policies which the CBC and Bell promote in a proper context.

Taxing Internet connectivity, or digital media distribution companies, to subsidize analog-era broadcasting is about as legitimate as putting a tax on salt in India.  While it is obvious why the foreign interests want natives to subsidize them, it should be recognized immediately as wrong.

Modern media distribution companies like Amazon and Netflix started with distribution of physical media: books in the case of Amazon (quickly moving to digital distribution with CD's and DVDs), and DVD's in the case of Netflix.  At that point nobody suggested that these content distribution companies should be subject to broadcast policy.  It is still the case that nobody suggests that Walmart, Costco, Best Buy, or the hundreds of other companies involved in the distribution of digital content on physical media should be thought of as if they had anything in common with broadcasters.

As these digital native content distributors added online distribution to their offerings, nothing changed that has anything to do with broadcasting and yet the analog-era broadcasters have been on the offensieve against digital natives for as long as Internet bandwidth has been sufficient to stream video.

You might ask why we haven't had digital native companies that are also headquartered in Canada.  To understand why this hasn't happened you only need to look at decades of successful flag-waving misdirection campaigns from the analog-era broadcasters and BDUs (cable/satellite/etc companies).  In 2002 they convinced parliament to pass a bill that would disallow a "new media retransmitter" the same exceptions to copyright which enable analog-era cable companies to exist.  If  iCraveTV and JumpTV had instead been appropriately embraced as the innovators that Canada desprarately needed, we would have had domestic new media companies long before Netflix launched in 2008.  Other than the additional bandwidth that currently exists today, what iCraveTV and JumpTV attempted to offer with their IPTV service wasn't technologically different to Bell Fibe TV.  What was different is that Bell is constantly able to get away with activities which would be considered illegal if other companies did it.

When Bell and the CBC make any complaints about Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Google (Play/YouTube) in Canada, we need to remember that it was the imperalist lobbying from Bell and CBC which blocked Canadian digital native companies from forming.   If we are to facilitate Canadian companies in this marketplace we need to provide assurances and incentives to protect digital natives from the imperalist broadcasters and BDUs.

I can only hope that blindly protecting the activities of Bell and CBC will eventually be as politically toxic as blindly protecting SNC-Lavalin has become.

Feels like Timothy Denton's Blog is relevant.

There appears to be an SNC-Lavalin-style relationship of telcos to government that needs further exploring and, if necessary, expunging.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Re: Bell Media and BBC Worldwide North America Sign Exclusive Multi-Platform Deal for DOCTOR WHO

The following was sent to the contacts listed on the Bell Media press release from 2016.

Ever since this deal it has been harder to legally stream Doctor Who in Canada. While previously offered episodes, it is now locked down and requires login via a legacy cable package. While Crave is mentioned for previous seasons after they were taken off of Netflix, a Crave subscription (even the add-on package) doesn't enable legal streaming of new episodes.

Bell finally folded HBO Canada into Crave to make that content available for legal streaming, and clearly it needs to do the same with SPACE rather than driving people away from legal streaming options.

I have been paying for the full seasons of Doctor Who through Google Play. Episodes are often late and in the case of the latest episode from New Years it didn't show up at all. I found the Google Play option on my own, and Space has been unwilling to even disclose this legal streaming option when asked multiple times. All legal options for Canadians should be advertised clearly on the website!

With the exclusive license comes a responsibility for Bell to protect Doctor Who copyright in Canada. You have been doing a horrible job and have been inducing infringement.

See also: