Archive for September, 2010

Media Mergers the Last Stab at Failed Walled Garden Strategy

In the years before the emergence of the Internet, three online service providers battled in the United States for market supremacy.  America Online (later AOL), Prodigy, and Compuserve each adopted “walled garden” strategies that pinned their hopes on exclusive content to attract large subscriber bases.  

AOL ultimately won, becoming the largest online service provider in the world in the late 1990s. With tens of millions of subscribers, the company continued to bet on its walled garden approach, even as many people merely wanted their services to access the Internet.  Over the years, AOL saw its market share shrink dramatically, overtaken by an open Internet that offers infinitely more choice than any single company can.

While others attempted to erect their own walled gardens – Minitel in France, early Internet access on wireless devices that only pointed to company-approved sites and services – consumer demand for open Internet access consistently won out.

Despite the poor track record, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that walled gardens seemingly still hold appeal to companies that believe the best way to distinguish their services is to offer exclusive access to content.  In recent months, Canada has experienced perhaps the last stab at a walled garden strategy with Shaw Communications’ purchase of Canwest Global Communications and BCE’s acquisition of CTV.  Throw in the broadcast assets owned by Rogers Communications and Videotron and control of the major Canadian private broadcasters is solidly in the hands of telecom and cable companies.

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September 23, 2010 4 comments Columns

ACTA Round 11 Begins: Locking Out Civil Society

As the latest round of ACTA negotiations begins in Japan, PIJIP posts on what appears to be a concerted effort to exclude civil society groups from the meeting.  PIJIP is not alone with their concern – Members of the European Parliament have written to Japanese officials to request an opportunity […]

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September 23, 2010 4 comments News

Privacy Commissioner Completes Facebook Review

Lots of coverage today of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s announcement that she has completed her review of Facebook’s compliance with the recommendations arising from the first complaint.  The office is currently investigating two other Facebook-related complaints.

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September 23, 2010 1 comment News


CIRA has taken on the Domain Registry of Canada, a registrar that has been accused of domain slamming. DROC has responded by suing CIRA for $10 million.

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September 23, 2010 2 comments News

Lawful Access Bill to Return this Fall

The Law Times reports that Justice Minister Robert Nicholson plans to reintroduce lawful access legislation this fall.  Two prior bills died on the order paper late last year.

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September 23, 2010 1 comment News