Apple has announced plans to offer downloadable movies in the Canadian market. The development points to the two big policy issues of the moment – first, will these downloaded movies face ISP throttling in light of the competition with ISP's own video-on-demand services? Second, why does Industry Minister Jim Prentice […]
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On the day when the government will claim that new copyright laws are needed for a digital marketplace, Apple provided yet another example of why the market is managing just fine without a DMCA. Having sorted out the licensing issues, the company has launched a Canadian version of its television […]
This was report-card week for the global recording industry as they issued reports on music sales for 2006. Lost among the various headlines (Howard points to 10% growth in Canada; press reports talked about the IFPI targeting ISPs) is a far more significant development. Canada was among the fastest growing digital download markets in the world, outpacing the United States and Europe. Last week, CRIA President Graham Henderson was telling the media that the Canadian digital market was not taking off and that "people are simply abandoning the marketplace altogether, and they've made the decision they'll just download the music and worry about how the artist gets paid later."
Not so. Canadian digital download sales grew by 122 percent last year, increasing from 6.7 million to 14.9 million (digital albums increased by a similar percentage). By comparison, the U.S. grew 65 percent and Europe by 80 percent. These are the industry's own numbers – far from abandoning the digital market, the Canadian market is growing faster on a percentage basis than the United States and Europe.
Interesting story how download numbers for The Office saved the show from near-certain cancellation.
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?