Post Tagged with: "apple"

CPCC Goes For Broke, Part One

A remarkable week in music that started with the Steve Jobs call to drop DRM, followed by speculation that EMI will drop DRM, concluded with another critically important development – the Canadian Private Copying Collective, which administers the private copying levy, has asked the Copyright Board to increase the levy on blank CDs and add levies to electronic media cards (storage media) such as SD cards as well as digital audio players such as the Apple iPod.  There is much to consider here, which I will divide between the specific issues raised by the tariff application and the bigger story that is at work.

On the specific tariff application, I think the CPCC is going to have a tough time convincing the Copyright Board (and almost certainly the federal court) that the levy increases and extensions to other media are warranted.  The blank CD increase represents an astonishing request as the CPCC is now openly asking that more than half of the retail price of blank CDs to be comprised of levy costs.  A backgrounder on the CPCC notes that blank CDs cost about 50 cents and that the levy currently comprises 21 cents of that cost.  That is an enormous cost – 42 percent – and the collective wants to increase that by an additional 28 percent.  This is a staggering market distortion that will obviously face very stiff opposition.

The proposal to extend the levy to storage media and Apple iPods also face an uphill climb. The storage media usage data simply does not come close to supporting a levy.  The CPCC's FAQ says that its surveys suggest that 25 percent of content copied onto these cards is music and that 20 percent of people say that the last time they copied onto an electronic memory card, the content was music.   Put another way, 75 percent of content copied onto these cards is not music and 80 percent of people say that the content they last copied onto these cards was not music.  These results are obvious to anyone who owns a digital camera, but apparently not to the CPCC.  While the Copyright Board's definition of ordinary use opens the door to considering storage media, this represents bad, market-distorting policy that (if approved) would force the 80 percent of non-music copiers to subsidize the 20 percent of music copiers.

The attempt to extend the levy to Apple iPods is similarly flawed.  

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February 11, 2007 14 comments News

Steve Jobs on DRM

A true must-read.

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February 6, 2007 1 comment News

We Are All Journalists Now

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, BBC version, homepage version) examines the implications of the recent California appellate court decision involving Apple Computer and two online news sites.  I argue that the implications of the California decision are profound as they may change more than just journalism.   The California appeals court was faced with a novel question – are online journalists entitled to the same legal protections as their offline counterparts? 

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June 5, 2006 11 comments Columns

The Legal Limits of Government Tinkering With Technology

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) uses the recent French Parliament law involving interoperability and Apple's DRM as the basis for a discussion of governments that tinker with technology through regulation.  The law should be understood as a logical reaction to mounting consumer frustration with technological limitations on their purchases and a desire for balance in copyright. 

Although the French law may appear to be unique, many governments regularly tinker with technology through regulation.  For example, the Liberal government last year introduced "lawful access" legislation that would have required Internet service providers to dramatically overhaul their networks by inserting new surveillance technologies.  Similarly, the U.S. established "broadcast flag" requirements that would have mandated the inclusion of copy-controls within a wide range of electronic devices (a court struck the requirements down as unconstitutional).

Moreover, experience demonstrates that the private sector may not respond to consumer demands to offer compatible products.  The satellite radio market provides a recent example, with the two major providers – XM and Sirius – steadfastly refusing to offer a device that supports both services despite the fact that they have jointly developed just such a product.

With government intervention looming as a possibility and the private market unlikely to resolve compatibility concerns, what principles should regulators adopt to provide all stakeholders with greater certainty about the appropriate circumstances for lawmakers to tinker with technology?

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April 18, 2006 3 comments Columns

The CBC as a Role Model

I’ve been critical of the CBC over the past few months, emphasizing the need for Canada’s public broadcaster to do more to embrace the potential of new technologies and the Internet.  To that end, there are signs that the CBC is moving in the right direction.  In addition to a […]

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February 8, 2006 3 comments News