Archive for March, 2011

Gilded Age for Cable

The Globe’s Derek DeCloet has a terrific piece on the fat profit margins for Canadian cable giants – bigger than those in the U.S. due to massive price increases and no foreign competition.

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March 21, 2011 3 comments Must Reads

The UBB Deception

Francois Caron has produced The UBB Deception, which does a nice job of explaining UBB and some of the reasons behind it.

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March 21, 2011 4 comments Must Reads

CRTC Makes It Easier To Switch Providers

The CRTC announced new rules on Friday that should make it easier for consumers to switch providers. The new rules allow consumers to switch TV, home telephone, wireless or Internet services in a single call and require providers to comply with 2.5 hours.

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March 21, 2011 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

Same As It Ever Was: Canada’s New Open Data Portal and Restrictive Licence Terms

I was offline yesterday and thus missed the official launch of the federal government’s open data portal.  Like many, I think is great that the government has finally moved on this issue as Canada has trailed far behind many other countries in making government data openly available for reuse for far too long. The immediate reaction to the launch included some disappointment at the licensing terms, as David Eaves quickly pointed to restrictive language that would even stop someone from using the data “in any way which, in the opinion of Canada, may bring disrepute to or prejudice the reputation of Canada.” Treasury Board Secretary Stockwell Day responded to the concern by indicating that was not the intent and that the language would be addressed.

That too is good news, but I think it is important to identify the source of the licensing language and the larger issue at play. First, the licensing terms, including the disrepute provision, have been used by the government for several years. The licence terms at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which has offered open data for several years, features the same language on a webpage that was last modified in 2008.  In fact, the GeoConnections program, which disseminates geographic data, published a 184 page best practices guide in 2008 (and that was version 2) that discusses licensing terms in great detail and includes several samples.  In each case, the licence includes the disrepute provision. While it may be true that few people ever read the licence – Transport Canada published the new GC Open Data Portal licence weeks before yesterday’s launch and no one seemed to notice – the terms are important both because they can be used to later restrict activities and because they reflect the government’s view of the rights of Canadians to their data.

The government may revise the licence by removing the disrepute term, but I think a larger issue will remain.

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March 18, 2011 7 comments News

EU Report Says CETA IP Provisions Would Increase Consumer Prices, Royalty Deficit

The European Commission has commissioned a study on the likely economic effects of the proposed Canada – EU Trade Agreement.  The report includes a detailed analysis on the likely effects of the intellectual property provisions in the agreement.  According to the report, those provisions – which come largely as a result of EU demands – would result in more dollars flowing out of Canada and in increased Canadian consumer prices. Moreover, the report acknowledges that the incremental IP reforms are unlikely to increase spending on research and development.  It notes:

Most scientific studies “fail to find evidence of a strong positive response by domestic innovators that could be reasonably ascribed to the effect of stronger IPR.” To clarify, it is undisputable that R&D spending is associated with higher GDP growth and, given current business models, a certain level of IPR protection is essential for investment in innovation and creativity. Incremental IPR reforms in OECD countries, however, do not seem to increase domestic spending in R&D. Some stakeholders interviewed for this study and several academics consider that excessive IPR could actually harm economic growth, even in OECD countries, if their holders can block follow‐on research.

As for the costs of the CETA IP provisions, the report notes that more dollars will flow to Europe, but Canadian IP holders would not see increased revenue flow back.  In fact, it is Canadian consumers that will pay the price with “inflationary pressure” on consumer prices:

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March 16, 2011 6 comments News