silentbrad writes: The National Post reports: "The [Royal Canadian] Mint recently issued a warning to Halifax-based folk music singer Dave Gunning — whose upcoming album depicts pennies on both the front and back cover — that he has violated the government’s copyright on the currency. Most of us have probably never thought of inspecting our money in great detail, but Canadian bills do indeed contain a copyright notice in the lower right corner, and coins are covered under the same provisions. The album, entitled No More Pennies, includes lyrics about the coin and features a man sitting in a coffee shop with a bunch of pennies strewn across the counter on its front cover. On the back is a picture of a giant penny falling below the horizon like a sunset. The Mint says it will not charge Mr. Gunning a fee for the first 2,000 albums he produces, but will levy a charge of $1,200 for the next 2,000 copies — a cost this struggling artist says he cannot afford. According to one government bureaucrat, however, the Mint is helping 'this guy out by giving him a break.'... 'It is pennies to them but is pretty substantial for me,' said Mr. Gunning, who has launched a 'Penny Drive' to try and raise the money to pay this unexpected tax.... The Canadian dollar is not the only major currency protected by copyright — the British Pound and the Euro also feature copyright notices. But the idea that the government can own the copyright on its works is a concept that’s completely foreign to Americans and citizens of many other countries. Under this country’s Copyright Act, all government works 'belong to Her Majesty' and remain copyrighted 'for a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year.' This is known as 'Crown Copyright,' which is different from how public works are handled in countries such as the United States, where government documents are automatically put into the public domain."
silentbrad writes: From the Globe and Mail: Canada’s big banks are preparing to launch “virtual wallets” as early as this fall that will allow consumers to digitally consolidate their credit and debit cards from any financial institution, and use them to make purchases online and through their cellphones at cash registers. It is being called the biggest change to the way consumers pay for goods in Canada in decades, and for the banks moving quickly into this space, the strategy is about keeping ownership of the vast and potentially lucrative stores of data that are involved in transactions. Royal Bank of Canada is expected to be first into the market in October, when it launches a digital wallet for mobile phones that will use RBC cards at first, but will eventually expand to welcome all brands of debit and credit cards. A few months later, the bank will launch a digital wallet for online purchases in partnership with Visa that holds all varieties of cards, regardless of brand. The majority of the banking sector is expected to follow suit in the next year or so, with each financial institution relying on the concept of “aliases,” where a password lets consumers access their payment cards, but protects personal information from being passed to the merchant. The alias method is similar to how online services such as PayPal work.... Retailers can use the information contained in transactions, stripped of details that violate privacy laws, to tailor offerings or promotions to consumers. And the banks figure they can build a new business from that new world. Location data on phones can help neighbourhood stores connect with customers in the area, while transaction data online can give insight into consumer habits and tastes. Consumers will be able to turn this feature on and off, Mr. McKay said, but will have access to offers, promotions and sales that would make it attractive. It is a potentially lucrative new business for the banks – making money off the data collected from each payment made via credit or debit cards, and the access the bank has to the consumer.
silentbrad writes: The CBC reports that the Copyright Board of Canada will begin charging for music played at live venues: 'Money can't buy love — but if you want some great tunes playing at your wedding, it's going to cost you. The Copyright Board of Canada has certified new tariffs that apply to recorded music used at live events including conventions, karaoke bars, ice shows, fairs and, yes, weddings. The fees will be collected by a not-for-profit called Re:Sound. While the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (otherwise known as SOCAN) already collects money from many of these events for the songwriters, Re:Sound will represent the record labels and performers who contributed to the music.... For weddings, receptions, conventions, assemblies and fashion shows, the fee is $9.25 per day if fewer than 100 people are present and goes up to $39.33 for crowds of more than 500 people. If there's dancing, the fees double. Karaoke bars will pay between $86.06 and $124 annually depending on how many days per week they permit the amateur crooning. And parades, meanwhile, will be charged $4.39 for each float with recorded music participating in the parade, subject to a minimum fee of $32.55 per day.'
silentbrad writes: From the CBC: A mentally-disabled B.C. teen was hit by an $8,000 cell phone bill from Koodo after texting someone he thought was a girlfriend through a "premium" text dating site. “She had told me that she would meet me maybe in July . . . once we were ready,” said 19-year-old Brandon Kobza. “I just feel ripped off. With my disability, I only get $900 a month. That’s not enough to even pay like a portion of [the bill].” Kobza is a former foster child with fetal alcohol syndrome and other disabilities. Because Kobza didn’t qualify for a cell phone contract on his own, Ben Woodman, a church youth worker from Burnaby, B.C., reluctantly agreed to put the phone in his name — but with strict limits due to Kobza's disabilities. “I said, 'You know I don’t want any data or extra charges' and they said, ‘We can block that.' I made sure he had unlimited texts,” said Woodman. “I put a lot of faith in Koodo. I’m asking the representative 'What can go wrong ? Can I get charged for anything else?' And they said nothing about premium texts.”... “It’s preying on the weak. It’s preying on people. It’s preying on kids with cell phones,” Woodman said. After he saw the bills — $8,243.06 for a month and a half — Woodman cancelled Kobza’s phone. He said he also asked Koodo to cancel the texting charges, but the most the company would offer was 80 per cent off. “If they forgave my bill, I would not necessarily care to come to [Go Public]. But in some ways I’m glad that we get to do some of these stories, because people need to know. You can get totally ripped off.”
silentbrad writes: The National Post reports on what could become common practice if Canada's Bill C-30, the Lawful Access / Online Surveillance bill, is passed: "Security experts with Calgary’s Police Service broke provincial privacy legislation by snooping in a civilian employee’s personal email account and copying topless photos of the woman as part of an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.... According to the order that was released Monday, the IT security manager at CPS began monitoring the woman’s corporate email in March, 2010, after co-workers told her manager about alleged inappropriate conduct with a police officer while on the job. When the manager found a message sent to a family member containing the woman’s log-in and password for her personal email, he used that information to access the account. He found two photos that the woman apparently had taken of herself in a washroom stall. The checkered green and white tile in the images was similar to the pattern at the police headquarters, leading him to believe they were taken while the woman was on duty. The photos were copied, given to her supervisor and HR consultant, and subsequently used by the CPS in its decision to fire the woman.... Officials with CPS were not immediately available to comment."
silentbrad writes: From the CBC: The former Liberal staffer who set up a Twitter account to publicize details from the divorce filings of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews fought back today against Conservative MP questions, calling some of them "baseless smears." Adam Carroll resigned from his position in the Liberal Party's research bureau when House of Commons IT staff traced the computer that had been posting to the social media site to him.... Carroll told MPs on the committee that while the divorce documents are publicly available at a courthouse in Manitoba, he got them out of a filing cabinet in the Liberal Party's research office.... Carroll used an account on Twitter under the username vikileaks30 to send 140-character quotes from Toews and his ex-wife's divorce filings, noting in the first few tweets that it was in retaliation for Toews' online surveillance bill. The bill, C-30, sparked a huge public backlash over provisions that gave police more power to demand customer information from internet service providers, among other problems.... The password Carroll chose for the Twitter account poked fun at the Conservatives, Carroll revealed, telling the committee it was "strongstablenationalmajorityConservativegovernment."... Speaking to the procedure and House affairs committee last month, Toews said criticism of his personal life is fair game. Carroll says he broke no laws and didn't breach any House of Commons policies.... "I know it's a difficulty even for members to accept that your personal life is fair game. That's the world we live in, and I'm not going to try in any way to suggest that somehow aspects of my life are off-limits." Toews had said earlier at the committee that attacks on an MP's personal life were not appropriate.
silentbrad writes: From the GLobe and Mail: A number of Canadian media companies have joined forces to try to shut down a free music website recently launched by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., claiming it threatens to ruin the music business for all of them. The group, which includes Quebecor Inc., Stingray Digital, Cogeco Cable Inc., the Jim Pattison Group and Golden West Radio, believes that CBCmusic.ca will siphon away listeners from their own services, including private radio stations and competing websites that sell streaming music for a fee. The coalition is expected to expand soon to include Rogers Communications Inc. and Corus Entertainment Inc., two of the largest owners of radio stations in Canada. It intends to file a formal complaint with the CRTC, arguing that the broadcaster has no right under its mandate to compete with the private broadcasters in the online music space.... 'The only music that you can hear for free is when the birds sing,' said Stingray CEO Eric Boyko, whose company runs the Galaxie music app that charges users $4.99 a month for unlimited listening. 'There is a cost to everything, yet CBC does not seem to think that is true.'... The companies argue they must charge customers to offset royalty costs which are triggered every time a song is played, while the CBC gets around the pay-per-click problem because it is considered a non-profit corporation.... Media executives aren’t the only ones who have expressed concern. When the CBC service was launched in February, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers said that when it set a flat fees for the more than 100,000 music publishers it represents, it never envisioned a constant stream of free music flooding the Internet.
silentbrad writes: From the Globe and Mail: "Canada’s largest private radio broadcaster has come out swinging against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s move to start selling advertising on its CBC Radio 2 and Espace Musique stations. Astral Media, which is in the process of being sold to telecom giant BCE Inc., said it will oppose the CBC’s application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to change its licensing conditions to allow the two secondary CBC stations to begin airing commercials.... 'Astral is fiercely opposed to seeing the public broadcaster start selling advertising,' the company said in an e-mailed statement late Wednesday, hours after CBC president Hubert Lacroix told staff in a memo of the CBC’s proposed move to sell advertising, part of an effort to find $50-million in new revenuesto offset the impact of federal budget cuts.... But industry representatives warned the move could distort Canada’s thriving commercial radio business, which has enjoyed years of steady profitability and is soon to be dominated by three of Canada’s largest telecommunications and cable firms. 'They can’t have it both ways,' said Carmela Laurignano, vice-president of Toronto-based Evanov Communications, which owns 14 radio stations, including Toronto’s Z103.5 FM. 'They’re either a private or a public broadcaster. If they can get advertising revenues and receive taxpayer funds to do their programming, the competitive balance is not the same.'
silentbrad writes: From the Financial Post: "BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc., and Shaw Communications Inc. which together control two-thirds of the $8.3-billion broadcast distribution market, are lobbying against the so-called 'a la carte' model that would allow customers to pick and pay for individual networks, arguing the change would have disastrous consequences for programmers, such as Bell Media and Shaw Media. 'A regulation requiring that all programming services must be made available to consumers on a stand-alone basis would have far-reaching ramifications,' BCE, whose Bell owns 30 specialty networks, said in a submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. 'Undoubtedly, a market shake-out, causing many specialty services to exit, would ensue.' The three big players, led by BCE, have told the CRTC they support the status quo of 'tied selling,' or the practice of grouping weaker-performing networks in with a popular channels, versus a new approach to sell channels individually.... In the race for subscription dollars, rates for TV services across providers have risen sharply over the last decade as the number of specialty channels, each commanding its own fee, has soared. Net costs to subscribers climbed another 2.6% in 2011, while average bills now hover around $60 a month.... Nonetheless, with the old TV model likely at its peak, analysts are near unanimous that change must be met with innovation. 'We believe those distributors that offer the greatest value and choice will be best positioned to defend their subscribers and [revenue],' Credit Suisse analyst Colin Moore said in a note last month."
silentbrad writes: The Globe and Mail reports on the print and digital markets for magazines and newspapers: "... a poll commissioned by the industry association shows those who do read magazines overwhelmingly prefer to read on paper, despite the ever-widening list of digital alternatives made available by publishers anxious to keep them reading. Those who do buy digital editions are nearly twice as likely as the average reader to buy additional printed magazines in any given month. 'The so-called doomsday scenario that has print magazines doomed to obscurity is just a myth,' said Ray Argyle, executive director of the Periodical Marketers of Canada. 'The trend seems to point toward the purchase of single copies and away from mail subscriptions.'... The publishers will soon have an unexpected ally to help them address the problem, at least in the short term. Canada Post will announce an initiative that would see the postal service handle digital distribution of magazines so the publishers could focus on content, rather than logistics. The initiative was led by Canada Post chief executive officer Deepak Chopra, who believes Canadians aren’t ready to give up on traditional printed products just because digital alternatives are available. Under his plan, publishers would pay the post office to not only deliver printed copies but also ensure a digital copy was available on a secured site for any reader who was interested."
silentbrad writes: An investigation by CBC News has turned up voters all over Canada who say the reason they got robocalls sending them to fictitious polling stations was that they'd revealed they would not vote Conservative. Although the Conservative Party has denied any involvement in the calls, these new details suggest that the misleading calls relied on data gathered by, and carefully guarded by, the Conservative Party. Known as "CIMS," the database assigns a "smiley" face to supporters, and a "sad" face to non-Conservatives. Liberal and NDP politicians say it would make no sense to call randomly, since many of the voters misled would be Conservatives.
silentbrad writes: Michael Geist talks about Bill C-11, which has just gone into review: "The Bill C-11 committee has just opened the clause-by-clause review of the copyright bill with 39 amendments on the table: 8 from the goverment, 17 from the NDP, and 14 from the Liberals. The good news is that the misinformation campaign on issues such as fair dealing, user generated content, consumer provisions, statutory damages, and Internet provider liability has largely failed as the government is not proposing significant changes to those provisions. Unfortunately, the digital lock provisions will also remain largely unchanged as the government is not proposing to link circumvention to copyright infringement (both the NDP and Liberals will put forward such amendments). The music and movie lobby are getting one of their demands as the enabler provision will be expanded from targeting sites "primarily designed" to enable infringement to providing a service primarily for the purpose of enabling acts of infringement. The CIMA demand for an even broader rule has been rejected."
silentbrad writes: By every account, the release late last year of Margin Call, a motion picture starring Kevin Spacey centred on a fictional Wall Street bank brought low by reckless bets during the financial crisis, was a smash success.... But Lions Gate also took the unusual step of distributing the film at the same time through the on-demand services of select U.S. cable and satellite providers. Unlike in the film, the distributor’s bet was well-placed. The revenue boost nearly doubled Margin Call’s take through the first eight weeks.... The introduction of a new “premium” on-demand window is being explored by Canadian television and wireless power Rogers Communications Inc. Analysts expect others to pursue the idea.... While Margin Call was not a blockbuster, major titles are being eyed for release through TV providers such as Rogers, which would charge as much as $60 for a one-time rental.
A cultural coalition made up of several Canadian media industry groups — including the Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA), the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) and others — argued ISPs should be required to help pay for the production of made-in-Canada music, films and television. Conventional broadcasters, of which Bell and Rogers already qualify, have long been required to do so by law.