Archive for January, 2010

CBC + iCopyright = Bullshit

Sunday, January 31st, 2010


Cory Doctorow posted on the BoingBoing blog about Cameron McMaster’s very detailed post on how the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has signed up with iCopyright.

iCopyright, the American copyright bounty hunters used by the Associated Press, to offer ridiculous licenses for the quotation of CBC articles on the web (these are the same jokers who sell you a “license” to quote 5 words from the AP).

iCopyright offers “licenses” to use taxpayer-funded CBC articles on terms that read like a bizarre joke. You have to pay by the month to include the article on your website (apparently no partial quotation is offered, only the whole thing, which makes traditional Internet commentary very difficult!). And you have to agree not to criticize the CBC, the subject of the article, or its author.

As Doctorow points out, the content of the CBC is funded by taxpayers and yet we are expected to pay for the right to quote from that content.

And as McMaster says in his post:

Seriously, this is really screwed up. Our public broadcaster is using an American company that follows American laws of Fair Use (and probably not the most liberal interpretations of it) to control its content and also inciting everyone to turn each other in and for everyone be on the look out for digital rights bounty hunters? It’s a good thing we’re in Canada where we don’t have the DMCA and we have a Supreme Court ruling that stops Big Media from getting information about our IPs from ISPs.

Because even if you share the story, even if you print it, you could be tracked down and fined.


That would mean I couldn’t quote Martin Morrow’s appreciation of the recently departed J. D. Salinger where he said:

The word “rebel” is so overused and misused in our culture that it seems pat and tired to apply it to J.D. Salinger. Yet, I can think of few prominent contemporary arts figures who actually deserve that label as much as he did.

Nor would I be able to include this portion from Charlene Sadlers piece on the use of iPhone apps by toddlers, where she said:

When Alexandra Samuel’s two-year-old first sat down to play a video game on her iPhone, the Vancouver mom was more worried about his impact on the device than the effect it could have on him.

Samuel was surprised by what happened next.

And Bob MacDonald’s commentary on the moth-balling of NASA’s shuttle program, where he says:

Back in the 70s, they were promised to be the cheap way to space, but after two of them exploded in flight, taking 14 lives, and after countless retrofits and rebuilds, every flight of the shuttle now costs about $1.5 billion. Granted, they are the most complex machines to ever fly and have accomplished amazing feats in space, but they demonstrate how NASA has turned into a cumbersome organization that spends a lot of money to go nowhere. No private transportation company could ever operate that way.

- could not be referenced without permission – and payment. No partial quotes are allowed, no excerpts – the entire article has to be paid for – by the month.

I include these quotes for the purpose of showing just how absurd and insulting is this most recent clusterfuck of CBC policy.

The pinheads at CBC responsible for this decision must have thought themselves to be extraordinarily clever when in fact they have shown themselves to be pitifully ignorant not only of the workings of the web, the basics of fair-dealing and fair-use and the differences between U.S. and Canadian copyright law – but also the very nature of the public trust which they are charged with managing on behalf of the citizens of Canada.

More from McMaster’s blog:

Thanks CBC! You serve your public well by outsourcing your DRM enforcement to an American company, which allows for money that could be invested in a Canadian company to be spent abroad. This company creates an atmosphere of self-censorship and fear. Because most Canadians don’t know the difference between Canadian copyright law and American, the users of your website, mainly Canadians, will be afraid to do anything – the digital rights bounty police will come after them. This company that limits non digital uses of your information and also disables the sharing of information, and most likely, subject your website viewers to all sorts of DRM tracking devices. Way to foster a public sphere!

Hey, CBC pinheads! Fuck you. How much is iCopyright going to charge me for the quotes in this blog? How much will I be asked to pay for quoting a video or audio snippet?

McMaster included a few page samples from the CBC website where they explain how (and for how much) you can license the right to use the content your tax dollars have already for. Here’s one:

You think I’m going to pay the CBC for the right to include the quotes above in this blog post? No. Duh. What do you think my response is going to be when any request for payment is made? Yeah – you got it. Fuck you.

By the way – iCopyright offers a reward of $1,000,000 for reported piracy. You want to report me? Fuck you too.

I don’t know what makes me more furious, the idiotic attempts of old media carpetbagger shysters selling their bullshit schemes to attach a meter to every friggin’ slice of information we use in conversation – or the dirt stupid idiots at the CBC who actually thought this was a good idea. I really hope more people make noise about this to not just embarrass the CBC but to also continue to insist that publicly funded works belong to the public.

Want to add your voice?

Join the Canadians against CBC’s iCopyright DRM Facebook group.

You can also go to the CBC Contact page and tell ‘em what you think.

The CBC would do well to take a lesson from the National Film Board who have been putting their works online – for free – for everyone to access.

As it sez in the CBC article on the subject:

The online screening room was created as part of a $1.3-million project to digitize the NFB’s collection of historic films.

“This is part of our ongoing response to the digital revolution,” NFB chair Tom Perlmutter said in an online news conference on Wednesday.

The NFB, which restructured its film programs over the past 18 months to free up resources for the digital project, plans to put 10 new films a month online.

That’s how it should be. Instead the CBC is acting in a crass penny-ante manner by signing up with a U.S. based group of extortionists, attempting to charge people a fee for the right to quote from articles. It is an ill-advised and ignorant scheme which reeks of U.S. copyright policy snake-oil that CBC pinheads have bought and swallowed. You dumb fucks.

CBC – fuck off.


P. S. Cameron McMaster is far more level-headed than I and he has posted a very cogent response to the groundswell of outrage about all this. You can read his post here and follow his thoughtful advice on what else we can do.

And whilst I do just that I shall also continue to tell the CBC to fuck off.

Cameron McMaster has responded in the comments and suggested a post by The Torontoist which includes a response from the CBC. Good reading.

Download Disobedience

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Nifty little info comic courtesy of the InfoAnarchy Wiki. Just cick on the image to see it full size.

Download Disobedience

Pass it on.

And while you’re at it – go sign the Public Domain Manifesto. As blogged on BoingBoing by Cory Doctorow:

The Public Domain is the rule, copyright protection is the exception. Since copyright protection is granted only with respect to original forms of expression, the vast majority of data, information and ideas produced worldwide at any given time belongs to the Public Domain. In addition to information that is not eligible for protection, the Public Domain is enlarged every year by works whose term of protection expires. The combined application of the requirements for protection and the limited duration of the copyright protection contribute to the wealth of the Public Domain so as to ensure access to our shared culture and knowledge.

Read it. Sign it. Talk about it.


P. S. Thanks for the comic link, Fred!

P. P. S. If you want to get really fucked up squirrely ass mad about all this corporate ownership of the entire fucking world bullshit be sure to drop by Michael Geist’s blog where he looks at the secret ACTA negotiations that start today in Mexico where this agreement is being designed to extend far beyond counterfeiting and how it will reshape domestic law in many countries, including Canada.

Our World – Through The Looking Glass Of Augmented Reality

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I’ve posted before about the advent of Augmented Reality. Bruce Sterling has been all over this as well. Today he posted about this fucking awesome video by Keiichi Matsuda, a student at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.

Here’s what Matsuda had to say about the video:

The latter half of the 20th century saw the built environment merged with media space, and architecture taking on new roles related to branding, image and consumerism. Augmented reality may recontextualise the functions of consumerism and architecture, and change in the way in which we operate within it.

Here’s the video:

This shows a pretty freakin’ accurate look at how our kids are going to be seeing the world around them in the fairly near future. I’m gonna be trying to hold together my damaged synapses long enough to be able to experience this myself and not run away screaming like some old fogey from a past century – which I am – and instead plunge my face deep into that bucket of apples and see what I can come up with.

As I noted before, there will be commercial noise in the AR world as every form of information struggles to gain our attention. The systems we employ to diffuse, arrange, organize and otherwise control this flood of sensorial data will be vital to our existence. Like learning to tune out the noise of a busy city street and still function as a human being – our minds and attendant culture will be adaptable to the cause.

Hard for those us who are not digital natives – (I hate that fucking term) – to conceive of ever being able to survive under such a continuous barrage over overlaid visual and aural stimulation. And yet the most basic of extended communications skills we employ today would have been mind warping to anyone who lived a mere 100 years ago.

This kind of immersive, technological, self-imposed evolution is inevitable and being able to see such forward-thinking examples of what might be will help us prepare for what we need to accomplish as we ease ourselves into the hot bath water of information overload in the years ahead. The further reaches of where we are going with all this is to have a similar experience that involves massive and simultaneous communication with others around the globe – pressing our faces not just against the glass of the candy store window but through the glass of the screen – allowing our senses of the world and our sense of self to merge with the greater shared mind of the net.

Oh yeah – and still retain our individuality and our sanity.

Can we do it?

Or is this just another thing we’re most likely to fuck up?


P. S. I particularly liked the use of the Honest Ed’s ad on the dish washer door.

Kate McGarrigle – RIP

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

I just heard that Kate McGarrigle, sister of Anna, mother of Martha and Rufus, has passed away. The music remains.

Hug those you love.

Martin Luther King

Monday, January 18th, 2010

It’s his day today – I’ll let him do the talking.

Canada – E.U. Trade Agreement Seeks To Fuck Canadian Democracy

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Yeah – you read that headline correctly. Cory Doctorow posted an item on BoingBoing about Michael Geist’s reaction to a leaked negotiating document for CETA, the Canada – E.U. Trade Agreement.

Similar to the still “secret” negotiations of ACTA, the E.U. is seeking to impose copyright reforms that include term extension, DMCA legislation, resale rights, and ISP liability.

Geist writes:

Having viewed the document, I can report that it goes downhill from there, promoting the key message that Canadian laws are inadequate, while liberally quoting a report from the Canadian IP Council and discredited counterfeiting data.

The document states that the trade negotiations are a “unique opportunity [for Canada] to upgrade its IPR regime despite local anti-IPR lobbying.” It includes an assessment of recent copyright reform efforts, noting that two bills have died due to “political instability.” The document adds that the copyright reform process was revived in 2009 with the national copyright consultation, but notes dismissively it may have been a “tactic to confuse.”

I am so fucking sick of this trade negotiation bullshit where corporations bypass the will of citizens, dictating social policy outside of any legislative process and shitting down our throats. It’s not just business and it’s not just Canada. This kind of crap is going on all over the place.

In Italy the Berlusconi government is proposing a mandatory license for the right to upload video to the internet. As it says in the Standard:

“The decree subjects the transmission of images on the Web to rules typical of television and requires prior ministerial authorization, with an incredible limitation on the way the Internet currently functions,” opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Paolo Gentiloni told the press conference.

Article 4 of the decree specifies that the dissemination over the Internet “of moving pictures, whether or not accompanied by sound,” requires ministerial authorization. Critics say it will therefore apply to the Web sites of newspapers, to IPTV and to mobile TV, obliging them to take on the same status as television broadcasters.

“Italy joins the club of the censors, together with China, Iran and North Korea,” said Gentiloni’s party colleague Vincenzo Vita…

“It’s the Berlusconi method: Kill your potential enemies while they are small. That’s why anyone doing Web TV — even from their attic at home — must get ministerial approval and fulfill a host of other bureaucratic obligations,” Gilioli wrote. He said the government was also keen to restrict the uncontrollable circulation of information over the Internet to preserve its monopoly over television news.

Business and government don’t like it when the citizens can speak to each other and hear other voices than those which have been approved.

Fuck them.

Internet Growth Chart

I can only hope the net is growing fast enough and becoming pervasive enough that it will be impossible to regulate like this without causing massive unrest and the public dismemberment of the greedy cretins responsible. But that doesn’t mean they won’t stop trying.

In the early days of radio the airwaves were public. Supposedly they still are but they are held in trust by governments who auction off the rights to the highest bidders. They call it spectrum management – also known as theft and control. In the very early days of radio anybody could be a broadcaster if they could get their hands on the gear. It was chaotic and anarchic and a shit load of fun. Imagine what the world would be like today if those airwaves hadn’t been hijacked by government and big business. It’s too easy to say it needed regulation or (with the benefit of hindsight) that the cultural treasures from those days (including news, music, comedies, dramas and their attendant advertising and propoganda) would have been lost. I’d like to think the airwaves would have evolved in a manner similar to the growth of the web – with innovations being introduced to help manage the chaos and new economic opportunities arising from it all. We’ll never know.

The web benefits from the rapid and ongoing acceleration of technological development. It is self-healing and does not require regulation to control it – it needs regulation to keep it free. If we’re lucky the web will grow in size and ubiquity to such a scale that it is no longer feasible – technically, culturally and politically – to wrestle it into a locked box.

Of course, stranger shit has happened in this world – if we let it happen.

No matter what kind of fancy sauce the politicians and lobbyists smear all over their pious reasons for wanting to control the net – and you – it will always smell and taste like bullshit. Trust your senses.

2010 marks the beginning of a crusade against the public use of the net. This decade will define what the net becomes – or is allowed to become. The outcome of these forces which seek to control your eyes, ears and minds will define how free you will be. This is no exaggeration.

Get angry. Get loud. Tell everybody. Be heard.

The net doesn’t just belong to you – it is you.

Defend yourself.


Symphony Of Science – The Unbroken Thread

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

I posted other Symphony Of Science music videos here – and you can find them all, four so far, (and the lyrics) at the web site. This one is about biology and is called The Unbroken Thread. It features Carl Sagan, of course, since he’s like the Mick Jagger of this scientific supergroup. We also get to see David Attenborough and Jane Goodall – sing!


This series of astonishing, inspiring and informative musical pieces are the creations of John Boswell and should be shared with everyone you know – especially your kids.


Lhasa de Sela – RIP

Monday, January 4th, 2010

It was so sad today to hear of the passing of Lhasa de Sela. She was such a brilliant performer and will be terribly missed.

This is one of a series of videos of her performing live in Montreal.

You can find other links to her work here.