Music rights holders want to tax ISPs

The hits just keep on comin' up here in the Great White North.
The Supreme Court here will hear a landmark Internet case on Wednesday Dec. This is from my report on this today:
Canada's songwriters will ask the Supreme Court of Canada next week to force Internet service providers to pay them royalties for the millions of digital music files downloaded each year by Canadians. The case has broad ramifications for the Internet industry in Canada, legal experts say.
“This is the big case for the Internet. This will set the position on how we are going to treat Internet service providers, whether they are going to be seen as people who are responsible in some way for content that goes through their services,” said Mark Perry, a professor of law and a professor of computer science at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.
If successful, the legal pleadings of the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) could open the door to other rights holders — groups as diverse as software publishers or Hollywood movie distributors — who could use SOCAN's precedent to force Internet service providers You can read the full version of this story and watch my TV version of the same story at CTV's site. Or you can read a shorter version of the piece at the Globe and Mail's site.
The piece is also getting kicked around on Slashdot.

Seoul tops, New York 4th, Toronto 10 in digital city ranking

The e-governance Institute at Rutgers University and a Korean university surveyed the online presence for 100 of the world's biggest cities and determined that Seoul, Korea is the model cities should emulate when it comes to providing services and information to its citizens. New York was 4th, and Toronto was 10th. But here's something: New York was the only U.S. city evaluated and Toronto was the only Canadian city evaluated. The study's authors. The authors say they “selected 98 countries with the highest percentage of Internet users, and examined the largest city in each of those countries as a surrogate for all cities in the country.” I don't know about the rest of the world, but I guarantee you when Montrealers or Vancouverites hear that Toronto is acting as a surrogate for the rest of the country, they ain't going to be happy. Seriously, though, municipal governments are usually among the most independent of any jurisdiction, particularly in Western democracies and derive their revenues from vastly different and incomparable resources. For that reason, it seems pointless to have cities stand in as surrogates for others in as artifical a division as a country. (Why not have New York stand in as the surrogate for the northeastern part of North America, including Toronto, and let San Francisco stand in for the southwest). You can read the survey results here. The researchers claim that, based on their survey, there is a digital divide and the divide is drawn, in this case, along wealthier countries and less wealthy countries. (Apparently, they needed some research to come to that seemingly obvious conclusion.) But even if that conclusion is obvious, the lousy rationale for their city selection makes it easy to poke holes in their methodolgy and, as a result, their conclusion.
[Tip to the ITU Weblog for this.

Blogs are bad, blogs are good, blogs are . . . I don't know

John Dvorak, PC Magazine's high-octane columnist, writes:

Blogs, or Web logs, are all the rage in some quarters. We're told that blogs will evolve into a unique source of information and are sure to become the future of journalism. Well, hardly. Two things are happening to prevent such a future: The first is wholesale abandonment of blog sites, and the second is the casual co-opting of the blog universe by Big Media.

Dan Gillmor, who would be the opposite of Dvorak when it comes to octane, wanted to respond but instead let his brother jump in.
Here's what Steve Gillmor had to say:

The dirty little secret Mr. Dvorak is ignoring is that blogs (and more profoundly, RSS) have changed the dynamics of professional journalism, not by replacing it, but informing it with the authentic voices of the creators of the technology while it's being created. This can be uncomfortable for the embedded media — witness John Markoff's reluctance to handicap blogging's survival long-term in a recent story for the New York Times.

Me? I'm with Markoff, reluctant to handicap but when asked if he has a blog replies “'Oh, I already have a blog, it's Don't you read it?”

Telephones and TV are so 1999 . . .

The Pew Internet and American Life Project (and if that isn't a pretentious name for an ongoing research project, I don't know what is) concludes that television is on the outs as an information applicance and the landline telephone is becoming less relevant as a communication tool, particularly for people in their 20s. The Internet is supplanting the TV and landline phone in its traditional roles, Pew says.
“Although only 2% of all Americans have cancelled a wireline phone since getting a cell phone, 7% of the most enthusiastic tech users have done this,” the Pew folks reports. “Another 20% have seriously considered doing so.”

Canada best for access among world's largest economies

There are a number of surprises in the first ever global index that ranks countries based on the ability of citizens to access information and computing technologies. The index was prepared and released by the International Telecommunications Union. Canada ranked 10th, the highest ranking among the world's developed economies. From the ITU press release:

The first global index to rank Information and Communication Technology (ICT) access has turned up some surprises. Slovenia ties France; and the Republic of Korea, usually not among the top ten in international ICT rankings, comes in fourth. Apart from Canada, ranked 10th, the top ten economies are exclusively Asian and European. The Digital Access Index (DAI) distinguishes itself from other indices by including a number of new variables, such as education and affordability. It also covers a total of 178 economies, which makes it the first truly global ICT ranking.

Scandinavia is the place to be, the ITU says, as far as access goes. Each Scandinavian country ranked among the top 10 for access: Sweden (1), Denmark (2), Iceland (3), Norway (5) and Finland (8).

Frederiction goes Wi-Fi

Frederiction, New Brunswick is a charming city in a charming province and is even more so now for the foresight of its municipal council and leaders. Late last week, Frederiction announced it was, so far as anyone knows, the first municipality in Canada to light up a Wi-Fi network. The Fred e-Zone will be available in many of the city's public areas, the city said. “Like streetlights and sidewalks, this intellectual infrastructure is becoming the new municipal infrastructure of the 21st century for smart communities,” the city said in a press release announcing the deal.
New Brunswick is actually a hotbed of techno-activity. A few years ago I got to visit some test facilities run by the provincial phone company Aliant in Saint John. This Living Lab, as they called it, was a place for vendors like Cisco and Nortel to deploy and test new types of equipment and services. Over in New Brunswick's third city, Moncton, Aliant was trying out a fabulous DSL product called Vibe, which put 30 megabits of bandwidth to its customers for the price of most 1 megabit services in other parts of Canada. Considering it takes about 6 megabits of bandwidth to deliver a television signal to a home, the Vibe service offered all sorts of possibilities for Aliant. But then Aliant became absorbed by one of its minority shareholders, the same company the owns my employers, CTV and The Globe and Mail, and the Vibe service was killed. A shame really. Still, DSL services in Atlantic Canada are among the best in the country. And now, of course, there's Wi-Fi all over Frederiction.

A new crime in Canada

Toronto police arrested a man this week and laid what is believed to be the first-ever charge of “Theft of Telecommunications”. The case involves accusations of child porn and Wi-Fi. We led our national newscast with this item on Friday night and yet, so far as I can tell, no other major media outlet picked this up and it received only cursory treatment in The Toronto Star and from The Canadian Press.
You can view my report on CTV News from a link here.
This charge is a bit murky from a legal standpoint. The police cannot say who the victim of the theft was. At the press conference announcing the charge, they could not say if the telecommunications services that were stolen were owned by a residence or a business. (The man was driving in a residential area, however, so it seems to a decent assumption that it was a home.)
It raises some questions for Wi-Fi users in Canada: If you find an open Wi-Fi network and jack in, can you be charged with theft?

An instant message change

I've been telling PR types and others for more than two years where they can find me on various instant messaging networks and I'm surprised that the response has been so underwhelming. I almost never hear from someone via IM who's trying to reach me in a professional capacity, i.e. to wonder if want a press release, a phone call, or some information about their company. And yet, many PR types think nothing of interrupting me with a phone call. I would much rather deal with an IM message than a phone call, if for no other reason than I can archive my IM conversations and they can be searched easily later.
For the PR folks, I would think IM would be particularly helpful because I try to let people know, via my status message if I'm online, on the phone, or whatever.
My IM nicks (and all my other contact info, for that matter) is always correct at . I prefer Yahoo's IM service. My nick there is davidakin2372 but a lot of folks are on MSN Messenger and there, you'll find me by typing in Just a few minutes ago, I finally took out .mac account and am running iChatAV on my Macs (no camera just yet is hooked up). On iChat, I'm to be found at jdavidakin .