James Gannon – Is He Responding To His Master's Voice?

James Gannon of McCarthy Tétrault has written a blog post titled ‘Top 5 Myths About the New Copyright Bill and Digital Locks‘ in which he makes a variety of claims. His claims aren’t anything new, nor are they at all accurate, but I’m not going to dissect them right now. Instead let’s look at another issue.

His Master's Voice

Who exactly is James Gannon representing? He claims, as does Barry Sookman, that what he publishes in his blog is his own opinion. But is it really? Your life experiences, including work are part of what colors your opinions. We know that he’s a lawyer. We don’t know who his clients are – and those clients and their interests will have had an effect on his opinions. But he refuses to say who they are.

Word on the street is that his firm works for RIAA and MPAA member companies. This may or may not be true. I don’t know.

What I do know, and have documentation that proves it, is that his company has represented Rogers Communications in the past. They may still represent Rogers. If so, this could leave McCarthy Tétrault in conflict, as I’m certain that the interests of Rogers Communications would not be those of the entertainment industry distributors, but this may explain some of the more curious posts that both he and Sookman have made.

As I’ve covered in my article ‘ A Call For Disclosure – Who Do The Professionals Represent And Why Are They Hiding The Connection?‘ there is a need for legal professionals commenting on an issue to declare their alliances.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Tuesday June 15, 2010

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Night Owl BBS CD Rom Collection – Does Anyone Still Have It?

Folks, I’ve got a problem – I need access too a complete copy of the Night Owl BBS CD Rom Collection. I used to have a partial set, which I am digging for (but I think they may be lost). Does anyone still have a copy? Please contact me if you do.

Nighthawk
All of the Nighthawk CD Roms had a cartoon owl on the cover

This would really help! You’d have my eternal gratitude for at least the next fifteen minutes [GRIN]. And no, this is not a paying gig, I’m doing this for a friend.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Thursday June 3, 2010

Updated with correct name of the CD Rom set June 6, 2010

Bill C-32 – The New Canadian Copyright Act

A copy of the act has been posted on Scribd and I’ve been attempting to read it, however the pain has been so bad tonight, that my concentration is totally shot, and I’ll admit that it’s not making a lot of sense. So instead of trying to write an article that will sound like I’m totally stoned (I am – the pain would be even worse otherwise) I’m going to point out some of the more important articles that I’ve seen, and leave the commentary until I can make some sense.

First we have Copyright Modernization Act – Backgrounder from the Government of Canada website.

Barry Sookman tweeted about this one – The Professor Has No Clothes – another attack piece by Chris Castle targeting Michael Geist. I left a comment here pointing out to Chris that he’s an idiot to attack Michael, that Michael is a moderate, and that I’m far more radical. I think that we shouldn’t ratify the WIPO Copyright Treaties, Michael thinks that we should. I believe that Digital Locks should be banned, Michael seems OK with them. So we’ll see if Chris approves my comment, I have a suspicion that he won’t.

Barry Sookman appears to be missing in action – only two tweets, and no posts since May 27, 2010.

Michael Geist has posted The Canadian Copyright Bill: Flawed But Fixable – since I haven’t read the entire bill yet I don’t know if I can agree, but I’ve disagreed with him a lot in the past. Quite frankly Michael’s too damned moderate for my tastes.

Ars Technica has an article – “Canadian DMCA” defends DRM, legalizes DVRs – which points out that Digital Locks over ride consumer rights. What they don’t consider is that Digital Locks also over ride artist rights.

Mike Masnick over at TechDirt is also covering this – Canadian DMCA Introduced; Digital Lock Provision Trumps Any And All User Rights – Mike’s a bit weird at time, but I think his title hits the mark.

As you may have gathered from my comments I’m a cynical old bastard, and don’t usually agree with anyone. But that’s me. As I said earlier, this isn’t a popularity contest (unlike politics).

Music on the other hand is a popularity contest – here’s a couple of out takes from an album that I’m engineering, they are under the same Creative Commons License that I use for my blog.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Wednesday June 2, 2010

PS: Here’s all of the tweets I saw on Bill C-32. The are in rough chronological order.

techdirt – Canadian DMCA Introduced; Digital Lock Provision Trumps Any And All User Rights http://dlvr.it/1P28h

mpjamesmoore – Canadian Film and Television Production Association: “We applaud the Government’s announcement today to bring about copyright reform.” 7 minutes ago via TweetDeck

mpjamesmoore – What he said RT @TonyClement MP If your phone contract expires & if it’s your phone, you CAN break the digital lock if you switch carriers 28 minutes ago via UberTwitter Retweeted by you

mpjamesmoore – Canadian Photographers Association: “We welcome the Government’s copyright reform.” 29 minutes ago via UberTwitter

TonyClement_MP – Okay tweeps. If your phone contract expires & if it’s your phone, you CAN break the digital lock if you switch carriers. #copyright 30 minutes ago via Twitterrific

TonyClement_MP – No bec damages would always be proportional RT @bettiol So technically if I burnt a CD of iTunes music for my car I could get a $5,000 fine. 32 minutes ago via Twitterrific

TonyClement_MP – Alas Ive no superpowers RT @scottfeschuk Important question: Will your new copyright legislation make the latest MGMT CD suck any less? 33 minutes ago via Twitterrific

TonyClement_MP – So long as no TPM RT @xentac @TonyClement_MP with BillC32 can I buy DVDs and rip them for my iTunes, so long as I don’t share? 44 minutes ago via Twitterrific

TonyClement_MP – Doin’ my best! RT @macdk3 Kudos to @TonyClement_MP for responding to questions from the twitterverse re: Bill C-32 #roft #cdnpoli about 1 hour ago via Twitterrific

TonyClement_MP – Correct. But that’s not ind practice RT @stewssr But not if they are digitally locked downRT @Sashgrrl can I still buy CD’s and rip them about 1 hour ago via Twitterrific

mpjamesmoore – (RT @ricktheis) Not sure ppl have got their heads around how huge & positive the proposed ‘education’ fair dealing exemption in Bill C32 is about 1 hour ago via web

mpjamesmoore – Canadian Chamber of Commerce: “The Copyright Modernization Act takes a balanced approach.” about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

DanPagan – The full text of Bill #C32 is up online, thanks to @andrewmcintyre http://scr.bi/cdzVlb #copyright #cdnpoli #fixc32 about 4 hours ago via web Retweeted by piratepartyca and 10 others

JesseBrown – What a fantasyland, where digital locks are unhackable and somehow get artists paid, where industry never sues casual users…#copyright about 3 hours ago via web Retweeted by piratepartyca and 9 others

arstechnica – “Canadian DMCA” defends DRM, legalizes DVRs – http://arst.ch/kyx about 1 hour ago via Ping.fm Retweeted by you and 8 others

TonyClement_MP – Fairness in feedback: RT @dblohm7 Why can’t breaking a digital lock be legal if it is being broken for non-infringing purposes? about 2 hours ago via Twitterrific

TonyClement_MP – Bill C32 will allow this RT @dstamler @TonyClement_MP carriers should be required to unlock out-of-contract phones. about 2 hours ago via Twitterrific

TonyClement_MP – RT @JimiSuperstar Great interview. I am a Liberal but think you’re the best of the lot. Appreciated you honestly answering Evan’s questions. about 2 hours ago via Twitterrific

TonyClement_MP – Princess Di version #1 in 1997. Bazinga! RT @rjkuyvenhoven .@TonyClement_MP uh, “Candle In The Wind” is so-1973 about 2 hours ago via Twitterrific

mpjamesmoore – RT @MusicTechPolicy Canadian indies support new copyright legislation http://www.poten.com/NewsDetails.aspx?id=10422017 19 minutes ago about 2 hours ago via web

mpjamesmoore – Business Software Alliance: “We commend the government for modernizing Canada’s copyright laws for the digital age.” about 2 hours ago via UberTwitter

TonyClement_MP – About to go live on CBC Power and Politics. #copyright about 2 hours ago via Twitterrific

TonyClement_MP – Tweeps: thanks for all the initial feedback, both +ve & -ve, on Bill C-32. Looking fwd to getting the best Bill possible! #copyright about 2 hours ago via Twitterrific

mpjamesmoore – Canadian Independent Music Assn: “We are pleased that the govt not only has recognized the need for copyright reform, but is taking action.” about 2 hours ago via UberTwitter

mpjamesmoore – Canadian Recording Industry Assn: “Canada’s independent record labels & the artists they represent thank the govt for this legislation.” about 2 hours ago via UberTwitter

TonyClement_MP – Tweeps I cannot avoid this: “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” was so-1976. Should’ve said “Candle In The Wind”. Sorry! #copyright about 2 hours ago via Twitterrific
DanPagan – Here we goes – Reading: Profs slam new copyright restrictions: http://www.caut.ca/pages.asp?page=894 #cdnpoli #cdnpse (via @dalegkirby)

mpjamesmoore – Je suis en ondes au 98,5FM a Montreal avec Mario Dumont en ce moment parlant de droit d’auteur about 2 hours ago via UberTwitter

mpjamesmoore – Canadian Federation of Students: 1st read looks good for students. New fair dealing exemption for ‘education’ (@RickTheis) about 2 hours ago via UberTwitter

mpjamesmoore – Oui, c’est vrai! La Presse Canadienne: Les Canadiens pourront continuer d’enregistrer leurs oeuvres preferees about 3 hours ago via UberTwitter

mpjamesmoore – Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network: “New copyright legislation is long overdue. We strongly urge MPs to pass this legislation.” about 3 hours ago via UberTwitter

mpjamesmoore – Very important RT @WGCtweet Getting the ‘not DMCA’ speech now from @mpjamesmoore – definitely important distinctions about 3 hours ago via UberTwitter

mpjamesmoore – Entertainment Software Association of Canada: “The Government’s copyright legislation is good public policy & is essential to our economy.” about 3 hours ago via UberTwitter

mpjamesmoore – Entertainment Software Association of Canada: “This bill is critical to the success of Canada’s digital economy.” about 3 hours ago via UberTwitter

USPirateParty – Just so that everyone’s apprised on intnat’l matters, Canada is overhauling their #copyright law, labeled as #DMCA 2.0 – follow #fixc32 ^GK about 3 hours ago via HootSuite

mpjamesmoore – Canadian Film and Television Production Association: “We applaud the Government’s copyright reform.” about 3 hours ago via UberTwitter

michaelgeist – Get active on copyright: join Fair Copyright for Canada FB Group http://bit.ly/8X8j3e & Page http://bit.ly/9Er2p0 #fixc32 about 3 hours ago via HootSuite

michaelgeist – Speak out on Copyright relaunched for new bill – info on bill & getting active http://SpeakOutOnCopyright.ca #fixc32 about 4 hours ago via HootSuite

michaelgeist – Distance learning, education & library exceptions return – with digital lock restrictions. #fixc32 http://bit.ly/aTYESy about 4 hours ago via HootSuite

michaelgeist – Statutory damages reform: lower liability range for non-commercial infringement ($100-5K). #fixc32 http://bit.ly/aTYESy about 4 hours ago via HootSuite

michaelgeist – New “YouTube” exception: no liability for non-commercial user-gen vids #fixc32 http://bit.ly/aTYESy about 4 hours ago via HootSuite

michaelgeist – New print disability exception to facilitate export of special format books. #fixc32 http://bit.ly/aTYESy about 4 hours ago via HootSuite

michaelgeist – New liability for Torrent sites that know site designed for infringement. #fixc32 http://bit.ly/aTYESy about 4 hours ago via HootSuite

michaelgeist – Mandatory review of the Copyright Act every five years. #fixc32 http://bit.ly/aTYESy about 4 hours ago via HootSuite

michaelgeist – ISP liability – Gov’t smartly sticks with notice-and-notice approach. #fixc32 http://bit.ly/aTYESy about 4 hours ago via HootSuite

ccercanada – Right on cue @mpjamesmoore has begun tweeting out quotes from lobby groups praising #copyright Bill C-32. http://bit.ly/bF7UiC #fixc32

bsookman – Backgrounder to the new copyright Bill at http://ow.ly/1TfQT about 4 hours ago via HootSuite

mpjamesmoore – Here we go about 4 hours ago via UberTwitter

bsookman – The Professor Has No Clothes http://ow.ly/1TeJQ about 5 hours ago via HootSuite

You Absolutely Have To Love It When…

About two years ago I wrote the first of several articles critical of Microsoft President Steve Ballmer. It seems to have taken a while, but now the mainstream press has started to catch on. I think. Seattle Weekly, which when it talks about Microsoft reads more like Pravda talking about the Soviet Communist Party, even has an article. SF Gate says ‘Ballmer is not a product person,’ something totally obvious to anyone who had used Windows Vista or Seven for more than five minutes. Steve J. Vaughn-Nichols thinks that it’s RIP-PC (I don’t agree with him, I think it’s RIP Microsoft – Microsoft does not equal PC). It almost seems like a perfect storm.

I almost feel guilty writing articles critical of Microsoft. You have to understand, I never did like Bill Gates. But I did respect him to a certain extent, and I’ve never had the least bit of respect for Ballmer. The man is so totally clueless that I’ve wondered for years how he ever ended up in control of Microsoft. Yeah, he’s Bill’s friend. Still…

Rob Enderle is convinced that Apple has a Fifth Column inside of Microsoft. I’ve seen this sort of thing happen, but you should never ascribe to malice what can be ascribed to stupidity, and there’s a lot of stupidity out there.

Me? I think that Microsoft has lost it’s way, that it’s concern with blocking competitors instead of providing products that people want, is killing it.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Wednesday June 2, 2010

PS: Bill C-32 has officially been announced, I will have more information after I’ve been able to read it.

Major Loss For Microsoft – Google Bans Microsoft Windows

A while back I stated that I thought that Microsoft was where General Motors was seven years ago, and the trolls came out in droves. They told everyone that I was nuts, that Microsoft was the greatest company on the planet, that Windows was the greatest operating system ever, that I was a lunatic, etc., and so on. It was quite funny really. I’d posted a bunch of numbers from Microsoft’s own annual report. No one questioned the numbers, they just attacked the messenger. See these articles for details – one, two. For a full list of articles about Microsoft click here.

Guess what – it looks like I was right :]

The Microsoft Ship - SInking Into OblivionThe Microsoft Ship – SInking Into Oblivion

Google has decided to ban Microsoft Windows. Seriously. The Financial Times appears to have been the first to cover this in an article titled ‘Google ditches Windows on security concerns‘ with quotes from Google employees. Now Google is a large company, but this is only 10,000 copies of Windows, so it doesn’t look all that damaging to Microsoft, if looked at in isolation. But when you look at the wider picture, this is a disaster for Microsoft.

Google is highly respected – they provide a great service, at a great price, and the company name is practically synonymous with search. The company’s technical skills are recognized worldwide, by Information Technology staffers, by Chief Information Officers, and for that matter nearly everyone who uses a computer. When Google does something, other companies often follow.

And the companies that follow won’t be doing so to make a fashion statement – this is a lot more serious – we are talking about security concerns. Google got hacked, and apparently the vector was Microsoft Windows. Google thinks that abandoning Windows for other operating systems is their best option. But where does this leave the Canadian Government? While their servers run Solaris, the Canadian Government is heavily reliant on Microsoft Windows as a desktop computer operating system, which leaves them open to the same sort of attacks that gave Google so much trouble. This means that Canadians are exposed to data breaches through hacking (and this may be why BILL C-29 – An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act is so toothless). Americans are in the same position, the United States Government is heavily dependent on Microsoft Windows, as are many other governments like the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Of course Google has one of the best technical staffs in the world – switching will be easier for them than for anyone else. The problem is that Microsoft has often ‘extended’ basic protocols (the ways computers communicate) in ways that makes Microsoft Windows incompatible with anything except Microsoft Windows. Anyone who tries to switch may find switching difficult, the City of Munich being a good example. But with Google leading the way, and providing free tools to help migration away from Microsoft, a lot of companies are going to look at this. Security is a huge issue – many companes who have had data breaches have been sued by customers who’s personal information was stolen. After all we are talking about possible use of the information for identity theft – an increasingly serious issue.

And the more customers who dump Windows, the lower the sales of Microsoft’s real cash cow, Microsoft Office. Microsoft has already been suffering from huge drops in profitability due to Oracle’s OpenOffice.Org, a free office suite that is as capable as Microsoft Office, but which is a free download, and is capable of running on Windows, Linux, Mac OSX, and a several other operating systems. Google offers a web based Office Suite, which while it isn’t in my opinion as good as Open Office, is still good enough for 90% of most people’s needs. Another option is KOffice, another free download, which is Linux based, but Windows and Mac OSX versions are available. And what possibly hurts worst is Apple’s IWork. Microsoft used to own the Macintosh Office Suite market until Apple released IWork at a fifth of the price, with better capabilities, killing Microsoft’s sales to Mac owners.

As take up increases in the alternatives to Microsoft Office, the financial pressure on Microsoft increases. The company has been losing money on every product they produce except Windows and Office, and has a large debt load. This is why Apple’s market capitalization recently surpassed Microsoft’s. Investors no longer have confidence in Microsoft’s ability to deliver good products that people want to buy. The ‘Microsoft Only’ world that Andrew Grygus foresaw in 2003 didn’t occur, partially due to the massive security problems that Microsoft products have. And this isn’t helped by Microsoft’s lies of omission – they have admitted to not telling customers about vulnerabilities that they are patching. Some people seem to think that this isn’t serious, as long as the vulnerabilities get patched, however Microsoft has been using number of reported vulnerabilities in the marketing materials. To quote Dr. Roy:

Let’s remember how much damage was caused this year because Microsoft had refused to patch known Internet Explorer flaws for five months [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. Where is the liability [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]? Watch what is happening in Denver right now.

We can assume that Google would be well aware of this, and that this factored into their decision to stop using Microsoft software.

This is not a single, simple issue. There are several trends which all appear to be rising at the same time. I don’t expect Microsoft to disappear tomorrow. In fact I don’t expect Microsoft to disappear at all. If these trends push Microsoft into severe financial problems, Microsoft may be forced to declare Chapter 11 (part of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that allows companies to attempt to reorganize their business with the aim of at least partially paying off vendors, and of course keeping some of the employees employed). Since Microsoft is such a large firm, I would expect the United States government to help bail out Microsoft, like they helped bail out General Motors, if it is necessary to keep the company operating. However even with government help, the company would suffer severe damage, which would heavily impact their customers. It’s damned hard to write quality software, when you are laying off large numbers of software engineers (as an aside, I’ve worked on projects with several companies that were undergoing Chapter 11 reorganization, and while it’s better than the alternative – no company – it’s still a nightmare).

Corporate Information Technology departments are going to have to start contingency planning for a future where Microsoft may not exist, or may be a far different company. They may never need to use these plans, but ‘better safe than sorry’ as my mother used to say. And I’ve just scratched the surface in this article. There are undoubtedly thousands of things that I haven’t considered. There are probably issues that no one has considered, because the won’t become visible until two or three years from now.

While I don’t like Microsoft, quite frankly this is a nightmare scenario – one that could cause as many (if not more) problems than the U.S. financial meltdown.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Tuesday June 1, 2010