Downloading Music Ruled Legal In Canada – Canadian Recording Industry Association Cannot Sue Uploaders

Posted in In The News on March 31st 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: In what might be considered a landmark ruling in Canada, Justice Konrad von Finckenstein, a Federal Court judge, today “ruled against a motion which would have allowed the music industry to begin suing individuals who make music available online.” Of interest to me is his comparison of placing music files into a shared directory with the placement of a photocopier in a library surrounded by copyrighted material:

    Von Finckenstein said that downloading a song or making files available in shared directories, like those on Kazaa, does not constitute copyright infringement under the current Canadian law.

    “No evidence was presented that the alleged infringers either distributed or authorized the reproduction of sound recordings,” he wrote in his 28-page ruling. “They merely placed personal copies into their shared directories which were accessible by other computer users via a P2P service.”

    He compared the action to a photocopy machine in a library. “I cannot see a real difference between a library that places a photocopy machine in a room full of copyrighted material and a computer user that places a personal copy on a shared directory linked to a P2P service,” he said.

The ruling means that the Canadian Recording Industry Association cannot file lawsuits in Canada against individuals who allow for the uploading of music files from their computers. von Finckenstein’s ruling reaffirms what the Copyright Board of Canada ruled in December 2003: downloading music in Canada is not illegal.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, based in Europe, is filing lawsuits against 247 file-sharing individuals in Italy, Germany, Denmark and Canada.

The full, 34-page text of Finckenstein’s ruling is available here, in .pdf format. In essence, what is being said is this: downloading a song from the Internet for personal use does not constitute copyright infringment. If Big Music wants to solve the downloading issue, they may need to go about it a different way. And if you think all successful artists are fighting this, read Janis Ian’s two essays on the subject: The Internet Debacle – An Alternative View, and Fallout – A Followup to the Internet Debacle.

Skype – Free Long-Distance Phone Calls Anywhere on the Planet

Posted in Technology on March 30th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: While browsing through Time Out New York #437, I read an article called Talk is Cheap – No-hype Skype lets you make long distance calls for free, by Lisa Sweetingham.

    Skype is a Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, program that transforms your voice into data and then transmits it over the Net. The London-based Skype company joins a string of other VoIP players: Net2Phone and Vonage (see TONY 400) already offer VoIP plans, and Time Warner Cable and Verizon are gearing up to enter the game. But only Skype lets you make calls to anywhere for free—all you have to do is download the beta program.

    Developed by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the two Swedes who created the peer-to-peer file-sharing program KaZaA, Skype is like Friendster for your phone—but no invitations are needed. And while commercial VoIP providers use a centralized system of computers to route calls, Skype cuts out the middle man; your computer calls your contact’s computer directly.

    Skype works on PCs running Windows 2000 or XP operating systems (Apple users are out of luck for now, but Zennström says they may introduce Apple platforms in the future), and the download takes about 30 seconds. Just plug a mike/speaker headset into your computer (about $30 at any electronics store) or go speakerphone-style with a mike and your computer’s internal sound card, and you’re ready to chat it up with your long-distance Skype friends.

Naturally, I am curious to see how good it is. If you download the program, let me know. The latest version allows for conference calls for up to five people at once. The one weakness, as mentioned in the article, is that you can only call other Skype users for now – to me, not a huge issue. If you have friends or family that you call regularly, and you want to save $$$, this might be the solution. I’m looking forward to trying it as soon as one of you loads it on your machine.


Posted in Mixed Bag Special, Pop Culture, What? on March 27th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: George Carlin offered the “Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV” on his 1972 album, Class Clown, which caused more than a few legal problems for broadcasters at the time. Read: Appendix to Opinion of Court, to see the words. (NOTE: Appendix is NOT for the faint of heart.)

Anyway, the US House of Representatives recently passed an amendment to a section of the US Code “to provide for the punishment of certain profane broadcasts, and for other purposes.” What the punishment might be is not clear. But six of the seven words made it into the amendment – only the word that rhymes with “sits”, and refers to a part of the female anatomy, was left out. Lewis Black, rapidly becoming one of my favorite comedians, delivered a scathingly funny take on the new amendment on his most recent Back in Black segment on The Daily Show. It’s not available yet, but when it’s uploaded, I’ll link to it. In the meantime, check out “Back in Black – Series Finales“, to learn why he didn’t give two shakes about the end of Sex and the City. I’m looking forward to watching his HBO special, Black on Broadway, when it airs – wait a minute – oh yeah, we DON’T GET HBO in Canada. I forgot.

:: Tonya has a new Challenge of the Week. I may try to meet 10% of it.

:: Jerry Orbach may be leaving Law & Order to join – wait for it – the 3rd spinoff series, Law & Order: Trial by Jury. When will Law & Order: Library Fines, go into production?

:: I’ve received links to a few interested videos lately. Check out the History of the BBC News site, choose 1950s, and click on “Panorama.” You’ll watch a short documentary on the annual spaghetti harvest in Switzerland, broadcast on April 1, 1957. The BBC switchboard was lit up with callers wanting to know where they could buy spaghetti trees. (via Robert.)

Another message led me to this “index of videos” page. If your vehicle has ever been stuck in snow, and another vehicle tried to tow it out of the drift, this video will make you laugh and cringe (takes a while to load – forget it if you have dialup). Some of the videos are rude, some hilarious, some offensive – you’ve been warned.

:: Robert also sent a note about this: a non-English language site (appears to be Scandinavian) for the upcoming Thunderbirds movie. (Click on the viewer to see the trailer in Quick Time.) Yep, a live action version of the 1960s Supermarionation hit by Gerry Anderson, who also created Space: 1999.

:: From Jena’s site, a link to The Crimson Room. The English translation may remind you of “All your base are belong to us.” If you solve this, let me know before I commit suicide by beating myself to death with a wet sock. So far I’ve found only 10 of the items in the room. Jena, what did I do to you to deserve this?

:: I’m not much older than the Fender Stratocaster.

What’s Wrong With These Pictures?

Posted in Miscellaneous on March 23rd 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: While driving home after my workout tonight, I was listening to CBC News. The newscaster reported that the new leader of Hamas, in the Gaza belt, is a 54-year old avowed militarist and hard-liner, bitterly opposed to Israel’s existence, who has warned there will now be “total war” with Israel. In the same breath, the newscaster also mentioned that he is a pediatrician. A pediatrician!

The world is a scary place right now. The Middle East is set to either explode or implode, and even though I live in perhaps the safest country in the world, right now I don’t feel particularly safe, as a world citizen. Are we that naive, those of us who don’t understand such hatred as it exists in other parts of the world?

Any openings on the next flight to Mars?

:: Meanwhile, the best analysis and criticism of the recent neck-breaking assault of Steve Moore by Todd Bertuzzi turned up in, of all places, a cartoon by Ward “Slap Shot” Sutton, in the Village Voice.

TypeKey Almost Ready

Posted in Blogging on March 22nd 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: Six Apart, creators of Moveable Type and TypePad, is nearing release of its authentication service, TypeKey: “TypeKey is a free, open system providing a central identity that anyone can use to log in and post comments on blogs and other web sites.” I’ve been using Jay Allen’s MT Blacklist, which has worked quite well, to block comment spam. But even Jay is acknowledging that with TypeKey and the forthcoming Moveable Type 3.0, MT Blacklist’s continued development won’t be needed.

:: For those of you interested in a wallpaper update, yesterday I applied Polyfilla to the wall where required, and sanded it afterwards. I’ll check it today for touch-ups, and then begin washing the wall, in breathless anticipation of the forthcoming application of primer. Does it get any more exciting than this?

:: A slightly different version of my Dennis Miller post was uploaded to Blogcritics, and has garnered a few interesting responses.

Deadwood and Other Big and Small Screen Stuff

Posted in Film on March 22nd 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: The third episode of the 5th season of The Sopranos tonight was a good one (but no Lorraine Bracco for the second week in a row, and no Edie Falco in this one either). I also watched the debut episode of David Milch’s new western series, Deadwood, based on the mid-1870s history of the real town in South Dakota. Deadwood’s local magazine, called, oddly enough, Deadwood Magazine, has a feature on the new series in the Mar-Apr 2004 web edition. The HBO website has a page called “The Real Deadwood“, which gives more background about and history of the town in South Dakota.

David Milch has been around for a while, having worked on Hill Street Blues in the 80s, and co-created NYPD Blue. He also co-created one of my favorite series of the past few years, The Big Apple, set in an NYC FBI office. The series only lasted a few episodes.

If you saw the first episode, you may have been caught off guard by the language – needless to say, the profanity spews forth with such rapidity and volume that I thought for a moment I was watching Oz. But Milch insists this is how the residents of Deadwood spoke of and to each other in 1876.

:: Saw four movies this weekend: The Corporation, Dawn of the Dead, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Spartan.

:: I’ve been working on changing a few eating habits. I discovered recently that I enjoy snow peas, which are selling at a low price at the local grocery stores. Mixed together with grape tomatoes and low-fat mozarella cheese, it’s healthy and tasty.

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