Canadian Tech News, September 16th – Spark, Copyright, RIM, Boxee, Bell’s IPTV

Spark is Back
CBC’s brilliant technology radio show (available in podcast form) is back for another season of Nora Young‘s soothing voice and intelligent commentary on tech issues.

Official Opposition Opposes Copyright Bill
Digital Copyright Canada posted an email they received from the Office of the Official Opposition. TLDR

…we believe that Canadian consumers who have legitimately purchased a CD or a DVD or other product should also have the ability to transfer their purchase onto their iPod or make a personal backup copy on their computer, so long as they are not doing so for the purposes of sale or transfer to others.

RIM Acquires Documents To Go
Earlier last week RIM confirmed rumours of their acquisition of the makers of popular mobile app Documents To Go – a smartphone app that allows native editing of doc,ppt,xls and pdf. I guess RIM was feeling left out without their own documents offering.

Boxee Box out November 21st
OMGNOTTHATBOXXY! In Canadian product release date news: the long awaited D-Link Boxee Box – set-top media extender, online tv streamer of your nerdy dreams – is going to be available on the same date for the same price as the US. November 21st, for $199. It’s unclear whether this price is an introductory pre-order price or the final retail price. Hopefully Netflix Canada will have launched by then…

Bell Launching Internet-Based TV
I’m pleased to see that all the big telecom players are slowly coming on board with IPTV offerings. This move from Bell Canada mirrors service we’ve seen out west from the likes of MTS and Telus for a few years now. Once all cable TV providers offer phone service and all traditional phone providers offer TV, maybe we’ll start seeing some real country-wide competition.

Canadian Tech News Round-Up

I listen to a fair few tech podcasts every week, I often find myself quite frustrated by the US-centric nature of the stories they cover. While most of the major tech stories have global implications, just as many – if not more – are about US companies and issues. In an attempt to keep myself up to date onĀ  clearly Canadian tech stories I’ve decided to seek out 5 or so important tech stories from North of the 49th every week.

Ontario Parents Try To Ban Wi-fi in School: Parents group blames wi-fi for headache and nausea reported by their children. Health Canada rejects their claims, citing science. Teacher’s federation rejects proposal. Chalk one up for science.

iPhone Competition, Galaxy S Comes to Canada: To my knowledge this is the only phone in available on a Canadian carrier capable of running Android 2.2. Bell launched the Vibrant August 6th. Rogers, SaskTel and (possibly) Virgin are following suit…soon.

CRTC Requires ISP’s Financial Data: I’m totally sure exactly what this is about, it almost sounds like the CRTC is trying to get a handle on just how much profit the telecommunication industry is making. In any case, the industry seems ticked and I can get behind legislation that’s going to make those money-grubbing grubber’s lives harder.

Digital Lock Rules “Fundamentally Flawed”: Canadian Library Association is sticking it to the man, well, as much as they can without raising their voice.

Police “Body Cameras” Becoming Common-Place: cameras worn by police officers directly on their person (on an ear clips or helmet) are making there way into forces across the country. Good move, imho.

Warner Bros. Using DMCA Against Free Speech

I work as the chief nerd for Cheri Media Group. A company who runs a number of websites including the 3rd largest Hip Hop news site HipHopDX.com. We occasionally get DMCA takedown notices from various record labels, they are usually the result of a lack of communication between the label’s PR department and the legal department or RIAA (ie. someone in PR will clear a track for play on the site, but the legal/RIAA will not be informed).

Last week we received a DMCA takedown notice that appears to be asking us to remove “controversial” forum threads under the guise of copyright violation. The full text of the letter is under the jump, but here’s the relevant portion:

IMMEDIATELY REMOVE THE FOLLOWING THREADS INCLUDING ALL LINKS AND REFERENCES
TO UNAUTHORIZED MATERIAL ASSOCIATED WITH THE ARTIST E-40.

E-40 / Biggie Smalls
http://www.hiphopdx.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php?p=526817

http://www.hiphopdx.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php?p=526073

Some context: The are links to two seperate pages from a forum thread entitled “E-40 almost had Biggie killed.” The original poster, embedded a youtube video clip from a DVD entitled Beefs IV. I have not seen the clip – it had already been taken down by youtube by the time I saw the DMCA notice. As best as I can tell, it was a clip of a rapper called E-40 talking about how he tried to have Biggie Smalls killed. You can see why E-40s record company might want to kill these sorts of rumours (although, in my opinion any publicity is good publicity – especially in the rap world).

Here’s the thing…
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act only covers copyright material! The only thing that’s vaguely copyright in that forum thread is the youtube embed. The forum thread itself free speech! The forum thread itself is copyright of Cheri Media Group! By demanding that Cheri Media Group “IMMEDIATELY REMOVE THE FOLLOWING THREADS…” Warner Brothers Music is demanding that Cheri Media Group give up its right to free speech! This is a gross and disgusting misuse of the DMCA!
These forum threads absolutely do not contain any copyright material hosted on HipHopDX.com’s servers. If Warner Bros. was legitimately trying to remove the infringing content from the web then they wasted their time contacting the wrong company. Oh but wait, the video clip is owned by Image Entertainment, an independent studio – Warner Brothers does not even have the right to demand that to be taken down!

It gets worse…
The hosting company running HipHopDX.com’s dedicated servers has a policy of suspending network access to all services in violation of a DMCA takedown request. I assume this is because they have some liability as the owners of the hardware the content is ultimately stored on. It’s probably a fairly standard policy. What this means is that even if a website gets a completely meaningless takedown notice like this, the site will still be obliged to take down the content or have their site shut down by their service provider! Whereas a more relevant legal demand such as a libel suite would not have the same sort of immediate consequences. So publishers are free to send off DMCA notices whenever there’s a public relations mess to take care of – imagine what would happen if Governments started doing this.

Luckily for my paycheque, HipHopDX’s hosting company is very reasonable. They agreed to keep the site online after a brief conversation.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, I have no formal training in law and I have not read the DMCA in full. I could be getting a lot of things wrong.

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